Irish get a head start on Cotton Bowl prep, will arrive in Dallas early
|Monday, December 10, 2018, 7:08 PM- -|
No. 3 Notre Dame didn’t have to play in a conference championship game, allowing the Irish a head start on Cotton Bowl practice. No. 2 Clemson won’t start Cotton Bowl practice until Wednesday, but Notre Dame began preparations Saturday.
Irish head coach Brian Kelly says he was ready to get back to his team and off the awards circuit.
“I like doing this a whole lot better than being on the road, sleeping in hotels and going to awards shows where we should get the awards, but we don’t,” Kelly said. “I’m looking forward to being with my team. That’s the fun part about it regarding getting with the guys. We had a great banquet last night, so that was a great celebration of our seniors and their accomplishments this year. Just getting back out there with the guys, who are obviously excited with a great deal of energy.
“That’s energizing as a coach to go back out there with your team and watch them run around here today with so much energy. Very purposeful and intentional. This doesn’t feel like in any way another practice in the postseason that I’ve been a part of it. Very locked in and purposeful in terms of their work. As a coach, that’s as good as it gets.”
With almost three weeks to prepare, Kelly said the key is to have the team peaking at game time.
“We have a good plan. Preparation is key, right? I think we have a very good plan put together bringing us right up to when we send them home,” Kelly said. “We have a very good plan that will get them peaking at the right time.”
Clemson won’t arrive in Dallas until Dec. 24th – Christmas Eve – but the Irish will arrive on the 23rd.
“I made a change in our schedule where we’ll no finish up on the 20th and send them home,” Kelly said. “Still same amount of time off, but I felt like reporting on the 23rd I wanted to get settled in. We have the earlier slot for practice, so we’ll be done by 2 o’clock. It will get them a chance to enjoy Christmas Eve, FaceTime their families and enjoy that a little more. Instead of taking Christmas Eve away from them essentially because of travel, this allows them to enjoy that.”
On why Dabo Swinney has had success
“He’s only played us once … Yeah, the consistency he’s shown has been amazing. The last four years being in the playoffs, winning the ACC. He’s built a really strong culture of success and winning. I would point to a couple of things. One, they’ve kept their players in the programs. You don’t see a lot of guys leaving early.
“They stay, so that environment and culture is one where guys don’t get us and leave early and play in their games. That says a lot to what he has built as the head coach. Those guys really enjoy being there. For example, Christian Wilkins has played as a freshman to his senior year. That says a lot.”
What does Clemson do well every year?
“First of all, continuity. Great continuity with their defensive coordinator. Brent Venables has been there for a long time. To keep a defensive coordinator for a long time is not an easy thing to do. Their co-coordinators on offense have kept their system in place. Having that system that is very similar to what they’ve done the past five or six years. Then they have really invested in their program with facilities. They’ve done a great job recruiting.”
One writer mentioned that he was told Clemson was overrated, but Kelly cut him off
“I would not be on that train. I would not be on the overrated train.”