Brian Kelly not sure what to expect from Temple Saturday

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"We're all excited for game week here at Notre Dame. Getting back on the field for the first time since a loss is always a good recipe."

Those were the opening words from Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly at his weekly Tuesday press conference to preview this season opener against Temple Saturday.

"We need to play a clean opener against a team that is coming to Notre Dame Stadium with nothing to lose," Kelly explained.

The Irish are coming off a 12-1 season that saw them play for the national championship but lose in convincing fashion to Alabama in the title game. The bitter taste still lingers but there's also plenty of confidence that this team can once again achieve big things.

Temple is an opponent a team with Notre Dame's credentials could easily look passed. The Owls are picked to finish 9th in the American Athletic Conference. Kelly admits he worries about the possibility of his veterans looking ahead to Michigan.

"Every day," Kelly said. "I'm not that far removed from South Florida."

South Florida was the season opener in in 2011, one the Irish lost.

Kelly's biggest worry about Temple is that he doesn't know what to expect from the Owls. With a new head coach, new quarterback and a defensive coordinator brought in from Eastern Michigan--Kelly says he's been evaluating more Eastern Michigan film from a year ago than Temple.

And that's not the same personnel--Kelly points out.

"They showed they can compete with anyone in the Big East last year," Kelly said of Temple. "And as you know we needed overtime to beat Pitt last year."

The Irish will have a new look in 2013. Manti Te'o and Tyler Eifert are in the NFL and quarterback Everett Golson is suspended for the 2013 fall semester from the university due to academic issues.

"Tommy Rees is going to help us score more points than we did last year," Kelly said of ND's answer at QB with Golson out suspended.

Rees ended both 2010 and 2011 as Notre Dame's starter but was Golson's backup last year. Regardless of score, it looks like Rees should see almost all the time on Saturday against Temple. Kelly said the Irish want to get off to a fast start with Rees and they are more focused on "Tommy playing from start to finish" than getting another quarterback on the field.

With Rees at quarterback, Notre Dame has added a new item to the offensive menu--installing the pistol offense. The pistol has the quarterback behind center with the running back behind the QB. ND is traditionally in shotgun formation under Kelly.

"I think it fits some of the personnel that we have," Kelly said. "George {Atkinson} is a guy that I want to get downhill. He has great speed and acceleration. We felt the pistol could help him very well."

Kelly says the Irish remain primarily a shotgun offense. Atkinson is among four different players who should see time at running back on Saturday.

The offensive line remains a fluid situation in terms of starters. Ronnie Stanley will start at right tackle for the Irish Saturday but Kelly says expect to see a lot of Steve Elmer in the game as well. New center Nick Martin is among two players that have impressed Kelly the most in terms of overall improvement since the start of camp. Martin's older brother Zack is the Irish captain and is one of three returning starters on the line along with Christian Lombard and Chris Watt.

The other player that impressed Kelly the most so far in camp is backup nose guard Kona Schwenke. Schwenke plays behind All-American candidate Louis Nix--a sign of the Irish depth on the defensive side of the ball.

With Danny Spond forced into retirement due to migraine issues, true freshman Jaylon Smith will start at outside linebacker.

"He doesn't make the same mistake twice," Kelly said of Smith. "That's a hallmark for a guy who will play a lot of football for us."

Austin Collinsworth will start alongside Matthias Farley at safety but Elijah Shumate will see equal time with Collinsworth.

"They are 1A and 1B," Kelly said of Collinsworth and Shumate.

Kelly has made more tweaks to Notre Dame's gameday routine for home games. Last year he changed the path to which the Irish "walked" to Notre Dame Stadium. This year, he is moving mass from the morning of gameday to the Friday before.

"We will always have mass--t's part of our fabric and tradition," Kelly said. "What I was looking for is better ways to manage leading up to the game itself. We have worked together to give our student athletes the best schedule leading up to kickoff."

Kelly says being able to control the 24 hours leading up to kickoff for his players has been the biggest change he's been able to make at Notre Dame since arriving on the scene four years ago.

Notre Dame and Temple will kickoff the 2013 season Saturday at 3:30 at Notre Dame Stadium. You can watch the game live on WNDU.

NewsCenter 16 will get you started with our one hour pregame show "Countdown to Kickoff" LIVE from inside the House that Rockne Built beginning at 2pm Saturday.


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