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Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly stresses improving after loss to Michigan

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly wearing headset watches game actifrom sideline first quarter an NCAA college football game Ann

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, wearing a headset, watches game action from the sideline, in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Dinners don’t taste as good, according to Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, after a loss.

And so the Irish are hungry to return to action following Saturday’s 41-30 loss at Michigan. The team wants to move on from the program’s first regular-season defeat since falling at Stanford on Nov. 26, 2011 and concentrate on Purdue.

“Any time you lose, you want to get back out on the field,” Kelly said Tuesday. “Our guys will get an opportunity to get back to work, and obviously there’s a number of things we’ve got to get better at.”

Part of that is shoring up the defense. The Irish are No. 78 nationally in total defense, allowing 411 yards per game.

“I thought we got better inside,” Kelly said. “I thought that the combination of [inside linebackers Jarrett] Grace and [Carlo] Calabrese and [Dan] Fox, their play was considerably better from Week 1 to Week 2. We’ll continue to improve there. We’ve got to get consistently better at the corner and safety positions. I thought [safety Matthias] Farley was better. We’ve got to continue to get better there.

“You’re going to see some other guys get some playing time during the year obviously because you’re going to get guys banged up and nicked up. We just need to continue to progress and continue to get better, and be more consistent as a defense.”

Offensively, Kelly stressed improving the “little things.”

“When you’re in the red zone, you never want to turn the football over. But you know, you want to run the right routes. I could give you a number of scenarios where it wasn’t just [quarterback] Tommy Rees,” Kelly said. “There’s a number of scenarios in that game where we didn’t execute properly to win that football game. And we had our chances. It’s 34‑27, and it’s first-and-10 from the 25‑yard line, we throw a corner route, and we step out of bounds. There’s little details within why we’re out of bounds and that wasn’t Tommy Rees.

“There’s a number of little things that go into execution, and it’s attention to detail. It’s the little things that decide ballgames.”

Kelly said meetings are a lot harder and practices are a little bit more spirited after a loss.

“But it still comes down to the attention to detail,” he said. “We’ve got to be smarter and more disciplined as a football team and that’s what I’ll be looking for this week.”

Notre Dame preps for a Purdue team that ranks 116th in total offense (255 yards per game).

Kelly is certain the players won’t be taking the 1-1 Boilermakers lightly.

“Letdown? [Notre Dame] just lost. They lost a football game,” Kelly said. “Look, we’ve got to worry about all the things I just talked about: The attention to detail, the way we work, all the things that we have to do. We’ve got our own work to take care of. We’ve got to be smarter, more disciplined. We’ve got to practice better. We’ve got to take care of a lot of things on our own.

“Purdue’s going to be ready for Notre Dame. We have no doubt about that and we respect our opponent. But, we’ve got to put blinders on and we’ve got to focus on ourselves. We’re not a finished product. We’ve got some work to do.”

NOTE: Kelly said freshman quarterback Malik Zaire has been cleared for cardiovascular work but has not been cleared for contact. Zaire is recovering from mononucleosis.


Twitter: @lamondpope

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