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Schedule tweaks make for unique spring

Mar 6, 2014, 12:08 PM EDT

Brian Kelly Brian Kelly

As we look for subplots to cover with practice now on a two-week hiatus, the schedule of this “spring’s” 15 sessions is definitely worth discussing. It’s no secret that football coaches are creatures of habit. So it’s likely that a ton of thought went into determining the unorthodox set-up for the Irish’s 15 critical workouts. 

Planning for a football season is more than getting ready for 12 Saturdays in autumn. As program’s chart out the calendar year, every week serves a purpose and follows a plan.  Kelly gave a small window into his thought process for pushing two workouts before spring break, and the 13 others finished before Easter.

“It’s spread out a little bit better than trying to get all 15 in after spring break with obviously trying to finish up before Easter,” Kelly said. “That’s the reason why we try to stretch out spring ball a little bit longer because of the way the schedule fits this year.

“Consequently, it’s changed a little bit the way we went to work in the weight room, in our conditioning elements. We were on a more accelerated pace to get our guys ready for practice.”

The biggest tweaks likely came in the strength and conditioning schedule. With the schedule pushed up, Irish players had just two months to go from the 2013 season to spring football. That played a role in dealing with injuries and surgeries as well as the conditioning and fitness approach to get prepared for competition.

While traditionally spring practice usually marks the first time coaches get the opportunity to work with their players, NCAA rules allow the coaching staff to be present for a portion of conditioning workouts (as you saw in the winter workout teaser video).

That’s likely heightened the intensity of the sessions. And also kickstarted the identity building of a 2014 team that could be a lot of fun to watch.

With Everett Golson’s return, a depth chart that gives a ton of young players a chance to compete for playing time and fresh blood on the coaching staff, things certainly look different. And if there’s another bonus, pushing the start of practice forward likely also removes the relatively sour taste from the program’s collective mouth after a disappointing 9-4 season.

So while we wait two weeks for any true news to come out of spring practice, the scheduling tweaks have already added a unique element to a relatively ho-hum time of year. 

“Frankly, it’s different than any one I have experienced in my 25 years as a head coach,” Kelly said. “So it’s exciting in that sense because there’s a new twist to it for everybody.”

  1. papadec - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Well, there’s always the ND Women’s basketball team for entertainment the next few weeks!

    • notredameirish1980 - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      Got my regional tickets yesterday.

      • bernhtp - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:42 PM

        The Championship game against UCONN will be epic.

      • papadec - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:11 PM

        I understand that the scheduling powers @ ND & UCONN are very close to setting a non-conference series between the two, since they are no longer in the same conference.

  2. fnc111 - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    Can Kelly please put whooping the crap out of Michigan into his plan finally?

    • knuterocknesghost - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:42 PM

      fnc:

      Couldn’t agree more. I’d put it a little differently, however. I want ND to absolutely humiliate Michigan.

      Please, BK, take full advantage of the fact there is no “slaughter rule” in CFB.

      • bernhtp - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        i certainly want to see a “but save Jimmy Johnson’s ass for me” type attitude that day.

  3. papadec - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    fnc – multiple thumbs up for that post!

  4. tony34343434 - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    As an Alum and we can all attest to this, especially this year. Winters are long in South Bend so moving up practice gives the players something to look forward to, a schedule which many athletes need. Might cut down on our recent transfer problem the last few years. Anyway to shorten the winter blues is good. GO IRISH!!!

    • irishdog80 - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      I completely agree…especially after a true and long South Bend winter like they have had this year.

      I am also glad to see competitions like Tire Wars going on in the off season. Teams that compete together win together whether it be Trick Shot Monday, Tire Wars or any other competition the team can dream up, they need to compete.

      I remember a story that Steve Kerr told about Michael Jordan. Kerr is a pretty good Ping Pong player and beat Jordan soundly in an initially friendly game. Jordan insisted on playing again and again and again…he just couldn’t stand the thought of losing at anything. Great teams need players with that type of attitude and you foster it by having “friendly” competitions within the team.

  5. yaketyyacc - Mar 7, 2014 at 6:42 AM

    considering the difficult schedule, and that is an understatement, anything to give more time will be most appreciated. Keith, you hit all the main points: new coaches, players, return of Golson, offensive and defensive lines. thank you again

  6. papadec - Mar 7, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    The ND Women’s basketball team blew away Florida State 83-57. I’d like to see the Football team win games by that point difference, this season – and any season for that matter.

  7. paulhargis53 - Mar 8, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    Women’s Basketball?! Lol…ugh.

    If they make the title game, it will just be an epic beatdownike the foot all game against Alabama.

    Sorry guys, I’m kinda busy on the NBA basketball site, I just didn’t want you to forget Mr.

    • papadec - Mar 8, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      ph – I was wondering how you were, just this morning – I almost ran over a squirrel.

  8. heartofgoldandblue - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Off-topic but something I’ve been thinking about, curious to hear your thoughts. There seems to be a transition leaning towards a 4-3 D. BK maintains they’ll be playing multiple fronts depending on the opponent but there seems to be a trend towards a 4 man front. 1. We all know Van Gorder is/has been primarily a 4-3 guy. 2. Multiple recruits have said that the coaching staff sees them as a 4-3 OLB 3. The recruiting of more athletic guys rather than size at OLB and what looks like the move of Ishaq and Romeo (whether it’s permenant or not) to DE. Assuming they do play a 4-3 or when they do, who fits best at the other OLB opposite Jaylon? Even if the move weren’t permenant, I don’t think Ishaq moves well enough to play that much in coverage and it looked like Romeo has gained quite a bit of weight. Does Ben Councell get a look at the other side? Doug Randolph? There’s a lot of question marks in the front 7 other than Jaylon and Sheldon. Jarret is solid but will he be healthy? Springman, Hounsel? Rochell has some good experience but can he make an impact as a starter? Same with Jarron Jones. Just interested to hear what you guys think…

  9. papadec - Mar 8, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    heart – I don’t know about the specific players you discussed – maybe we’ll have a better idea after the remainder of Spring practice. I did notice, as you mentioned, that it is looking like a switch to 4-3. Also, it seems like there has been more than one reference to a “more aggressive” defense. I hope so.

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