Apologies to those worried about the Irish losing momentum with a bye week interrupting their four-game winning streak, but it’s never seem to hurt Brian Kelly. The Irish head coach is 12-1 coming out of an off week in his head coaching career, and the break comes at a perfect time for the Irish after six straight games against physically demanding opponents.
Kelly talked about what’s made his teams so successful after a week off.
“I think the utilization of bye weeks is really twofold,” Kelly said. “One, is mentally you’ve got to get your players some rest. It’s not just physical. Everybody seems to think it’s the physical element. These guys are in in a pretty good place.
“I’ve always felt it’s the mental end of things that you look for, both for your players and your coaches. That’s important as well. The second thing is to do a good job self scouting. In other words, what are you doing, what have you done the first six weeks, what are your areas that you can maybe break tendencies, maybe change some things up in terms of what you’re doing on offense, defense and special teams. I’ve always looked at the mental health of your football team. And then internally how you can maybe break some tendencies.”
Mentally, it gives a group of young contributors like Aaron Lynch, Stephon Tuitt, Ishaq Williams and Troy Niklas a chance to go home and see their families. It also gives the Irish a chance to heal up, with Manti Te’o nursing a tweaked ankle and Sean Cwynar getting the cast removed from his hand.
For Cwynar, it’s a reprieve at a perfect time, with the Irish likely hoping to shut down the Trojans’ running attack from their base defense.
“His cast came off today. He felt like a new man out there today,” Kelly said. “So he’s able to get back in there. He’s got to be able to use his hands. He wasn’t able to control both gaps. He feels really good.”
With today the final day of practice for the week, the extra time gives the Irish coaching staff a chance to hit the recruiting trail and add a few wrinkles into the game plan for the Trojans. It also gives the players a mental break in the midst of a strenuous time on the academic calendar.
“We’ve worked hard to make sure their classes have been taken care of and of course as you know a lot of them are exams, a lot of them are able to get out of here,” Kelly said.
Here’s more from Kelly wrapping up Air Force.