54F Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- - The only break Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wants the Fighting Irish players taking this week is from classes.
Midterm exams and a hard-fought win over No. 22 Stanford are behind them and a big game is looming next week on the road at 10th-ranked Oklahoma. Still, Kelly said he doesn't expect the fifth-ranked Irish (6-0) to overlook this week's game against Brigham Young (4-3).
"I think it's a trap game each week if you think that you can take a breather," Kelly said.
Although quarterback Everett Golson was cleared to return to practice Wednesday after suffering a concussion against Stanford, Kelly said his starter will be a game time decision after he evaluates Golson at practice Friday and again prior to Saturday's contest.
Golson's had been limited in practice the previous two weeks because of turf toe and a shoulder injury.
"Our kids turn on the film and look at BYU and go, 'that's a good football team,'" Kelly said. "We are not turning on the film and looking at a team where the kids go, 'oh, these guys can't play'. They are physical, play hard and play for four quarters."
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said he's not concerned about whether the Irish might be overlooking the Cougars.
"Right now I'm just worried about improving our team, so who knows what their mindset is?" he asked.
Those improvements will have to come fast as the Cougars attempt to regroup from their 42-24 home loss to then-No. 10 Oregon State last Saturday. BYU allowed 21 fourth-quarter points and 450 yards overall in losing its second game to a ranked opponent this season.
If the Cougars are to spring an upset, quarterback Riley Nelson will have to do a better job protecting the ball. In his first game back after missing two with a back injury, Nelson threw for a season-high 305 yards but also matched a season worst with three interceptions.
"Hopefully we can put a whole game together, offense, defense, special teams, take care of the football, control field positions and do all those things," Nelson said. "We've done those in spurts, but it hasn't been good enough."
Despite his uneven play, Irish players said following the win over Stanford they wouldn't be overlooking BYU or anyone else.
"We can't be focusing on being 12-0," linebacker Manti Te'o said. "We can only focus on 7-0 and 8-0 and so on and so forth."
Tight end Tyler Eifert said the coaches make sure the Irish remain focused.
"The coaches do a good job of keeping us humble and reminding us that it's not easy to win in college football and to take every game seriously," he said.
Kelly said although the Irish may be sleeping in a bit later during the fall break while other students are away from campus, he is tightening things up to make sure they know this is not an easy week.
"If that locker room is a mess, there's going to be a long practice today - and they know that. If the game room looks like a pigsty, it's going to be a long practice today," he said. "My point is this: I think they are all trap games, every single one of them, if you take a breather. But if you just stay on the course, continue to do what you're doing, we'll be fine."
Kelly said anyone watching him on the sidelines can tell he has more confidence that his team knows what he expects from them. He has a much calmer demeanor this season compared to the occasional tirade he showed last season.
"This just didn't happen, you know," he said. "This is demanding, that mental and physical toughness. The pride and tradition of Notre Dame football will not be left to the weak, the timid or the non-committed. That's in our locker room. That was put up the first day I got here."