Kelly on Irish road mentality: "It's not a trip to the water park"

When the Notre Dame football team heads on the road this weekend to play Michigan State, prior Kelly wants a certain maturity from his guys on full display.

"It’s not a trip to the water park," Kelly explained Tuesday. "I don’t want a bunch of giggly guys saying hey we're at the hotel."

Kelly knows playing at Michigan State is a tough task. The Irish lost to the Spartans in overtime two years ago in Kelly's first season on a fake field goal. But Kelly isn't exactly focusing on those memories.

"I did not watch that particular set of circumstances," Kelly said.

Notre Dame (2-0) is now ranked 20th in the country after a 20-17 win in the home opener last Saturday.

"We're happy to be 2-0 with a win over Purdue but collectively as a team, we didn't play our best game," Kelly explained.

The Irish will have to play their best game to take down the 2-0 Spartans, now ranked 10th in the country.

"We are going to have to play better up front against Big Ten competition, in particular against Michigan State," Kelly said. "It's still going to come down to who can win up front. The team that can minimize mistakes, turnovers is going to have the best chance to win. If Michigan State can exert their will on the lines, we know how this game will go. We have to exert our will."

It will be the first true road test for 1st year starter Everett Golson. Notre Dame opened in Dublin against Navy but that was a pro Irish crowd. Golson is still making strides.

"Physically he's doing really good things," Kelly explained. "Physically he's living up to where we thought he would be. It's the mental part, the fundamentals and all the things that lead up to that."

"We want him to clean up the other areas--the communication, getting in the right play--which he is very capable of doing. It's just taking that next step and that next step is today. It really is. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then I'm done--because you can't do much coaching on Saturdays."

Kelly reinforced that the plan is for Golson to be "the guy" the whole game and to not see Tommy Rees have to come in the final drive like last Saturday to help the Irish pull out the win.

"We don't go into the week with any thoughts other than he's going to start it and finish it for us," Kelly said of Golson. "We don't want a starter, middle relief, closer."

The Irish will battle a 1st year quarterback as well in Michigan State's Andrew Maxwell.

"Very strong arm, good vision, tall guy that can see down the field," Kelly said of Maxwell. "It's game experience that he's gaining every week. There's a big difference from week 1 to week 2, I'll tell you that."

Maxwell gets a big boost from his running back, Le'Veon Bell.

"The challenge is that he plays, he plays every down, and he keeps coming after you," Kelly said of Bell. "He's relentless, physical. He's just a throwback."

A win over the Spartans will go a long way into showing Notre Dame's progression as a program under Kelly. Many still believe the Irish are not capable of returning to its glory days. Kelly doesn't believe that.

"Certainly I'm here for one reason, to graduate our kids and win a national championship," Kelly said. "I believe we have all the things in place to win a national championship."

Kelly says team will be very careful and cautious with wideout DaVaris Daniels who has a sprained ankle. Daniels was in a boot on Sunday but will come out of it on Tuesday afternoon.

Linebacker Danny Spond has also been cleared to practice after issues with migraines.

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