No. 22 Notre Dame, Kelly prepare for familiar face, RedHawks
By JOHN FINERAN
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) There's now a tunnel for visiting teams to enter and exit thoroughly modern Notre Dame Stadium.
Good thing. Otherwise Miami (Ohio) coach Chuck Martin might just follow Brian Kelly, his former boss at Grand Valley State and Notre Dame, back into the Irish locker room by mistake.
"I'm almost 50 and I've never not rooted for Notre Dame in my life," said Martin, whose RedHawks (2-2) visit No. 22 Notre Dame (3-1) this weekend. "But Saturday at 5 o'clock I'll be rooting against Notre Dame. That will be a bit awkward for me."
Kelly handed Martin the keys at Grand Valley State after the 2003 season to begin the two-stop (Central Michigan and Cincinnati) journey that eventually brought him to South Bend in 2010. There he was reunited with Martin, who went 74-7 with two NCAA Division II titles at Grand Valley. Martin spent four years on both sides of the ball with the Irish before leaving to rebuild the RedHawks, whose "Cradle of Coaches" tradition includes the late Ara Parseghian, who coached at both schools.
"Chuck and I are not going to be playing the game," Kelly said. "I know how he is going to prepare his football team. He knows how I'll prepare my football team."
The RedHawks, who started Martin's third season 0-6 before winning their final six to become bowl eligible in 2016, might very well be 4-0 if not for heartbreaking defeats at Marshall (31-26) and against Cincinnati (21-17). Notre Dame's lone setback was a 20-19 home loss in Week Two to now No. 7 Georgia.
Junior quarterback Gus Ragland, who started Miami's final six regular-season games and threw for over 1,500 yards, 17 touchdowns with just one interception, has thrown for 881 yards and eight TDs already with just two interceptions.
"He's a smart kid, can run the ball, is athletic and I think he makes a lot of good decisions," Notre Dame linebacker Greer Martini said of Ragland.
Martini could easily have said the same about his quarterback, Brandon Wimbush, who already has rushed for 366 yards and seven TDs and thrown for 663 yards and 3 scores.
Some other things to know as the RedHawks visit the Irish:
Miami senior strong safety Tony Reid will miss the first half of the game after being ejected in the third quarter at Central Michigan for targeting with his helmet. Earlier this week, Kelly acknowledged that both the ACC and Big Ten felt that Michigan State got away with a helmet target of Wimbush.
BULLY FOR HIM
Offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, who shouldered blame for that loss to Georgia, believes in self-motivation.
"There's things you look for just to get yourself a little juice," said McGlinchey, who has "The Man in the Arena" passage from a speech given by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1910 by his locker. "That kind of put it all into perspective for me."
TIME IS ON THEIR SIDE
The RedHawks are 25th nationally in time of possession, holding onto the ball for an average of 32:43 per game. Notre Dame, meanwhile, has maintained possession for only 27:15 (103rd).
DANCES WITH IRISH
Kelly danced with his team after their 38-18 victory at Michigan State secured the Megaphone Trophy for Notre Dame. Is "Dancing With The Stars" in Kelly's future?
"No, but my wife has informed me that I cannot decline any dances with her in the future," he joked.
Both teams are honoring Parseghian, who died on Aug. 2 at the age of 94, with the word "Ara" on helmet stickers. Parseghian's widow, Kate, will present the colors prior to the national anthem.
Parseghian took over at Notre Dame in 1964, won national titles in 1966 and 1973 and then abruptly retired after the 1974 season with a record of 95-17-4. His .836 winning percentage puts him third on Notre Dame's coaching list. He twice sent congratulatory, handwritten notes to Martin.
"(The letters) mean a lot to me," said Martin, the product of an Irish Catholic family in suburban Chicago. "In '73, I'm 5 years old and the first thing in the world I know about is Ara Parseghian and Notre Dame beating Alabama (in the Sugar Bowl) to win a national championship."
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Updated September 29, 2017