Notre Dame ready to play Navy in Dublin

Notre Dame defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore was happy to get out

of town, leaving South Bend behind for four days and crossing the

Atlantic for the first time in his life.

The destination?

Dublin for a matchup against Navy on Saturday.

”I’m looking forward to doing something new,” said

Lewis-Moore, one of Notre Dame’s four captains for the trip to

Ireland.

”I’ve never been across the ocean – or the pond like everybody

says. I hear it (Ireland) is gorgeous and hopefully we’ll do a

little sightseeing. I’ve never been overseas. I’ve been to

Canada.”

Notre Dame’s official traveling party of more than 200 people –

including about 100 players – took off Wednesday night from South

Bend. And the players’ primary task was to get some sleep.

After coach Brian Kelly held a 6 a.m. practice Wednesday, the

players went to class, returned to their facilities building for

meetings and weight lifting, had dinner and then headed to the

airport for an evening flight.

”Hopefully I can kind of lean back as far as I can,” the

6-foot-4, 306-pound Lewis-Moore said with a laugh. ”I might have

to ask somebody behind me if they can like give me a little leg

room.”

The exhausting day Wednesday was set up to make the players

tired for the long flight, so they would rest on the plane. When

they arrive, it’ll be day time in Ireland and they can hopefully

adapt to the time change.

Kickoff Saturday will be 9 a.m. Eastern time. It’s the second

time the schools have met in Dublin. Notre Dame rolled to a 54-27

win in 1996, Lou Holtz’s final season as the Irish’s head coach. A

long time ago.

Tight end Tyler Eifert, who said his longest previous travel

experience was a trip to Mexico, said the coaching and training

staff had everything planned out and the players were trying to

approach it like a business trip.

”But I think we need to take in the experience and not just let

it go by without making the most of it,” Eifert said.

”They put in a plan they think will get us rested up and our

clocks flipped. We’ll be fine.”

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said getting ready

for an excursion that will require the transfer of thousands of

pounds of equipment for a long distance has been ”incredibly

challenging” for months.

”The logistics of it are something else. Not every 18-year-old

has a passport. You start with basic things like that. You have to

get everybody a passport,” Swarbrick said.

”Customs issues. We are going to have four trucks taking

equipment out to the airport all throughout the game. When we take

the field at the end of pre-game, whatever we don’t need for the

game, that’s the first load out to the airport. … If we brought

everything we traditionally do during a domestic game to the

airport at one time and had to go through customs with it, we’d be

there a very long time.”

Making sure the team has the right food and gets enough rest has

also been a challenge. Coach Brian Kelly’s initial concern was that

any weariness the trip creates might not be felt until the third or

fourth week of the season.

But Kelly cut back on the number of morning practices he had

initially planned, figuring his team needed to sleep more than

anything.

That didn’t happen Wednesday, however. The entire team had

arrived for practice by 5:20 a.m.

”I made it clear that if anybody was late they were staying in

South Bend,” he said. ”We’ll see how it goes. We’re confident we

made the right decisions in terms of practice.”

Notre Dame will be without four suspended players. Starting

tailback Cierre Wood and reserve defensive end Justin Utupo were

suspended two game for violating team rules. Earlier, Kelly

suspended quarterback Tommy Rees and linebacker Carlo Calabrese for

their roles in a skirmish with police following a party in May.

Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said he’s reminded his team that this

is not like going to a bowl.

”This is a football game and we’re treating it like that.

There’s a tendency to treat this like a bowl. I’m trying my best to

remind people that this is a football game and we’re playing a very

good team. Hopefully, I’ve done a good job of getting that message

across,” he said.

Thousands of Notre Dame fans are expected to attend the game at

Aviva Stadium.

And Navy will have a presence, as well. The Brigade of

Midshipmen will march before the game and the academy says more

than 1,000 of those members paid their own way to Dublin to attend

the game.

Niumatalolo said he’s not worried about the difficulties of

playing so far from home.

”The time difference and we have no idea what the weather is

doing to be in Dublin,” he said. ”There’s nothing we can about

those things.”

Navy guard Josh Cabral, like Lewis-Moore of the Irish, can’t

wait to check out the surroundings.

”It think it’s a pretty cool opportunity,” he said.

One thing for sure, attending the Naval Academy with its

disciplines and requirements should have the Midshipmen ready for

the early start – body time.

”Yeah,” Kelly said. ”They won’t be late for the game. I know

that.”