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Schedule exposes Irish weaknesses

Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly

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Updated: November 9, 2011 3:44PM

At least Brian Kelly doesn’t have to waste time diagnosing what’s wrong with his team. Anybody who has watched Notre Dame in back-to-back losses to South Florida and Michigan to open the season knows that turnovers and penalties are what are ailing the Irish.

Kelly’s team has committed 10 turnovers — including five in the red zone — and 17 penalties in two games.

The Notre Dame coach said a tough early season schedule has only made the mistakes more difficult to overcome. “We’ve made so many mistakes against two pretty tough teams coming out,” Kelly said. “Again, as you see the schedule, Ohio State is playing Toledo. I mean, teams are playing easy games early on in the schedule. We don’t get that luxury. We have to go play in front of 115,000 [at Michigan Stadium]. Those mistakes are more glaring against opponents that are physically pretty good, as well.

“I believe that we’re going to be a good football team. We won’t be until we clean up the little things that keep popping up on Saturdays.”

Identifying the problem is one thing. Fixing it is another, especially when Kelly didn’t see it coming. The veteran coach said during training camp that this was the most focused team he had ever coached, which are words he no doubt regrets after his Irish surrendered 28 fourth-quarter points in a inexplicable last-second loss to Michigan on Saturday night.

“I understand the frustration,” Kelly said. “But we’re building it the right way. We’ll get them there. We’re not there yet. I know this journey all too well. I’ve been on it before. It’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. It’s all those things.

“We’ll break through. There’s too many good things happening out there for us not to break through.”

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