After big Purdue win, focus shifts to Air Force

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The Notre Dame victory over Purdue was an important one. For the Irish to play the kind of football they know they can, they need to have games like last Saturday’s, where the superior team enacts its will onto their opponent. The Irish did that, and they took a big step forward, pushing them to 3-2 and putting the offense back on track.

For a tremendous inside look at Saturday’s game, the guys at UND.com have you covered with their Irish Connection episode. It’s the kind of behind-the-scenes stuff you can’t get anywhere else, and really gives you a look at the mindset of Brian Kelly’s team.

(If you’re wondering whether or not this team respects and listens to Brian Kelly, just listen to the halftime speech about personal foul penalties. Kelly said in his postgame comments that he addressed the situation. We see him do it here… quite impressively.)

Still, if you’re wondering how important this Saturday’s game against Air Force is, just listen to the postgame talk Kelly delivers to his troops.

“We laid down on Monday what you needed to be focused on. We said you had to match their intensity. That had really three weeks off to prepare for you, and you matched their intensity. We did the right things during the week, we prepared the right way. We made sure that practices were short so you would have your legs and we could execute and win this football game. All of that happened and that’s the way it works each and every week with winning programs. They continue to do that. You out physical-ed them, you out hit them, you played smarter, and you won the football game on the road against a Big Ten team.

“So congratulations and enjoy it, but let’s understand this. We have not arrived yet. We have not arrived. You know that and I know that. And we need to beat Air Force. Because we then go on a bye week. We’ve got one week that we have to commit ourselves to playing our very best. One week, and that means our focus is on Air Force. Enjoy this win, you earned it. But everything now points towards that home game against Air Force and playing our absolute best.”

The Irish saw first hand a few weeks ago what Denard Robinson can do to a defense under pressure. Now they’ll prepare for Air Force’s Tim Jefferson, a guy who couldn’t have played better last weekend in the Falcons’ overtime victory against Navy. Jefferson completed 9 of 10 passes, including one for a 52-yard touchdown pass and also ran for two touchdowns in the hotly contested victory.

It’s clear Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun respects the Irish, he’s got Notre Dame as the 19th best program on his coaches poll ballot this week. It’s also clear Kelly and the coaching staff know what Air Force can do — and this Saturday marks another proving ground for Bob Diaco and his defensive staff’s gameplan against the option.

For those expecting just another service academy match-up, get out of your time machine and get ready for a big football game. We’ve got a lot to cover this week before a really important Saturday on the Irish schedule.