Kelly: Notre Dame injuries have not affected ‘the bottom line’
Notre Dame’s issues with health have been well-documented this season. The Fighting Irish have already lost six players to season-ending injuries, but they are 4-0 and ranked No. 6 in The Associated Press poll as they prepare to take on No. 12 Clemson on the road.
Coach Brian Kelly explained how his team has soldiered on despite such early season adversity.
"I think, if the players were not totally committed to the mission, then it makes it harder for me to get where we want to get, and that is we need to move on, and we need to support the next man in, and we need to trust and believe in that person that they can get the job done," said Kelly, who has already had to replace his starting quarterback, running back, tight end and nose tackle while also losing a pair of players expected to play large roles in the secondary.
He credited the leadership of his team, which includes many veteran starters, with helping him drive home the point that injuries can’t also become mental hurdles for the squad.
"Now, the message has been consistent and clear from my end that no excuses, let’s keep moving forward," Kelly said. "I trust the next man in that he can do the job, and our players have moved forward accordingly."
Although players have lost teammates who were close to them, they have not lost track of their ultimate goal: the College Football Playoff.
"They were close to every one of them," Kelly said, "so all of those players had an impact in some fashion, but it didn’t impact the bottom line, and the bottom line was that they were going to come back the next day, and they were going to welcome that next person in to the role that they needed to excel in it."