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Posted on Tue. Aug. 05, 2014 - 12:30 am EDT

Irish’s start leaves Kelly smiling

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CULVER — The first half of Notre Dame’s first practice of training camp was conducted under the sun and in humid conditions.

Later, the sky started looking gloomy and there was a breeze off Lake Maxinkuckee.

Irish coach Brian Kelly hopes the upcoming season is steadier than the clouds over Oliver Field on Monday.

He declared Day One of camp a success because he saw that needed consistency.

“The way we practiced was miles better than our first practice in the spring,” Kelly said.

“I certainly saw a lot of retention. I wasn’t out here yelling and screaming.”

Since Kelly has declined to guarantee that Everett Golson will be the opening-day starter, the quarterback competition is one of the top stories at Culver Military Academy, where the Irish will train through Friday before returning to their campus for the rest of camp.

Sophomore Malik Zaire looked raw in the first practice and wasn’t getting first-team reps. Meanwhile, senior Everett Golson claims to be, mentally and physically, in the best shape of his career.

“It’s all about progression with me,” Golson said. “Missing a full year, it’s like I’m back home.”

Golson concentrated on footwork in the offseason. He said he’s not disappointed to be in a battle with Zaire.

“Not at all,” Golson said. “The competition raised the stakes. You can’t be comfortable. You have got to push. I’m ready.”

According to the Irish, more than 60 reporters showed up to cover the first day at the scenic campus of the academy, founded in 1894.

“From what I can see, it actually looks like a mini University of Notre Dame in some ways,” running back Cam McDaniel said.

Kelly planned an entertainment schedule that included time on the sandbar and an archery session. Building team harmony is the first week’s No. 1 objective, according to the Irish.

“As with some of the great teams I’ve had, you have to come together,” Kelly said.

First, Notre Dame got around to playing football.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley was unable to finish practice after becoming dehydrated, and receiver DaVaris Daniels’ back tightened up, but the Irish said they would be OK.

Linebacker Jarrett Grace, coming back from a broken leg, was limited.

On offense, one thing was clear after Day One: Kelly is trying to quicken the pace in order to run more plays.

“Our tempo was up more than it’s been since my freshman year,” said McDaniel, a senior. “We really got after it.”

Kelly, working more on offense with coordinator Mike Denbrock recovering from surgery, said training camp is his favorite time of year.

“I thought with the tempo and our ability to run a lot of things over two hours – fairly hot – we got a lot of work in,” Kelly said. “It was good. This is what gets the blood pumping in your body.”

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