Playing for Notre Dame like ‘being on Broadway,’ Irish ready for big stage
ATHENS —Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly suggested only minor differences in his program and Georgia’s since the teams played a thriller in South Bend just over two years ago.
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (3-0) play host to the No. 7-ranked Fighting Irish (2-0) at 8 p.m. on Saturday with College GameDay on hand leading into a national CBS television audience.
Kelly said Sunday one thing that hasn’t changed is Notre Dame’s national appeal. He compared playing for the Fighting Irish to “being on Broadway” during his Sunday teleconference.
“It’s a Broadway show, you’re on stage every game you play, it’s on national TV,” Kelly said.
“They (Notre Dame players) know that all their games are broadcast either on NBC, or CBS, or ESPN or ABC, so they know they’re in that spotlight and they choose to come to Notre Dame because they want that, they relish that opportunity.”
Kelly, 23-3 since dropping a 20-19 classic to Georgia on Sep. 9, 2017, said the style of his team is similar to when the teams last met.
“I think the quarterback position is a little different, obviously with Brandon Wimbush we had much more of a running quarterback, though he certainly played well the night,” Kelly said. “I think you’re looking at an offense that has a little bit more diversity, in terms of what it can do with the tight end position and wide receivers.”
Kelly said the Notre Dame offensive line is similar to the 2017 version, both with “really good” players.
Kelly looks at Georgia — 25-5 since the teams’ last meeting — and sees bigger players on the offensive and defensive lines than in the 2017 matchup.
“The defensive line is a bigger defensive line than they’ve had, then the one we played a couple of years ago,” Kelly said. “So certainly the offensive line and the defensive line are a little bit different than what we saw a couple of years ago.”
Kelly said he sees the 2019 Bulldogs’ offensive personality as similar to the one that featured NFL backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel in 2017.
“Structurally very similar … ,” Kelly said. “Great running game, big, physical offensive line, so there’s a lot of similarities structurally.
“Big-play players at the running back position … an outstanding football team in all areas.”
Georgia opened as a 12 1/2-point favorite to beat the Irish.
But Kelly made it clear following his team’s 66-14 win over New Mexico that he feels the Irish found the playmakers they need.
“We know we’ve got some guys that can make plays,” said Kelly, who saw five different players score their first career touchdowns in the win over the Lobos.
“It allows us now to put the pieces together as to how we want this offense to continue to move forward, knowing we have guys that have the confidence to make plays.”
And, Kelly indicated, knowing the Irish have the players capable of handling the national spotlight.
“They don’t see it as pressure,” Kelly said “they see it as a privilege, and they enjoy it.”
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