SOUTH BEND — Coach Brian Kelly instituted a simple rule when he arrived at Notre Dame, after a win or loss, players are allowed to think about a game only for 24 hours then it was time to focus on the next opponent.
The “24-hour” rule wasn’t the easiest to follow as they prepared for today’s home game against BYU (4-3) after the No. 5 Irish (6-0) defeated No. 22 Stanford 20-13 in OT last weekend.
“That’s just how it is, he doesn’t change,” linebacker Dan Fox said. “That’s how coach Kelly is, there is no flip-flopping or, ‘We are going to think about this for a while.’ It was 24 hours, move on to BYU. We are going to start watching BYU film.
“That’s just the way it is in college football. It is hard to win games in college football. That’s the way you’ve got to be. You got to start focusing on the game right away.”
Keeping the focus on the Cougars was even more difficult with a showdown at No. 10 Oklahoma (4-1) looming next week. But Notre Dame players understand how important it is to leave the past behind them and not get too far ahead of themselves.
“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.”
BYU’s defense has done plenty to keep a team’s focus, even after the Cougars gave up 450 yards in a 42-24 loss to Oregon State last week.
BYU has the nation’s No. 5 defense (260.9 yards per game); the third-best rushing defense (67.9 yards); the No. 7 scoring defense (13.8 ppg); and the No. 24 pass defense (193 yards).
“No one has really moved the ball on them for the most part,” tight end Tyler Eifert, a Bishop Dwenger graduate, said. “They will be a tough challenge.”
Kelly will wait until today to name a starting quarterback against the Cougars. Everett Golson, who has started five of six games, wasn’t able to practice until Wednesday after suffering a concussion against Stanford, and Kelly said he could start Golson, Tommy Rees or Andrew Hendrix.
But no matter who the starter is for the Irish, the quarterback, like the rest of the team, will keep the singular focus on BYU as Notre Dame tries to improve to 7-0 for the first time in a decade.
“This is demanding, that mental and physical toughness,” Kelly said. “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.”