Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 12, 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 39 of 55

40 SEPT. 12, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI FAST WEEK Had this been days of yore like most of 1986‑90 when Notre Dame opened the season with Michigan and Michigan State in back‑to‑back contests, you would have been hard pressed to see the Fighting Irish change its opener from Saturday to a Sunday night — while still playing a game the next Saturday. It would have even applied 10 years ago when Notre Dame opened at Georgia Tech and then followed with No. 19 Penn State. Or in current head coach Brian Kelly's first season in 2010 when the first two contests were Purdue and Michigan, both at home Had the game following this year's opener versus Texas been against an‑ other Power Five conference team such as Sept. 17 foe Michigan State, the appeal of opening on Sunday night against Texas, instead of Satur‑ day, would likely not have resulted in a schedule change. That's because the Sunday night game versus the Longhorns means the Fighting Irish players won't be arriving home until about 4 a.m. on Monday. Classes are still in session on Labor Day, so rest will be at a min‑ imum when the team has to go right back into the heavier work days on Tuesday and Wednesday while hav‑ ing a bit shorter week to install the game plan. Because Nevada and Army West Point (Nov. 12) are deemed on pa‑ per to probably be the two "easi‑ est" games on the 2016 Notre Dame schedule, having a shorter week to prepare for the Wolf Pack is some‑ thing that the Irish believe they can overcome based on possessing a much higher base of talent and depth. Nevertheless, that combination of coming off a marquee game on the road against one of college football's traditional powers and the potential for a letdown and a shorter week of preparation prompts some curiosity about whether Notre Dame could sputter out of the gates in the initial home game of the season. Meanwhile, Nevada also won't start this season on a Saturday —its opener at home against Cal Poly will be on a Friday (Sept. 2). That gives it one more day of recovery time while playing against a Football Cham‑ pionship Subdivision team whose football stadium seats only 11,075. That's not quite the same as playing at Texas. This is the first time Notre Dame's football team will have a shortened game preparation week since 1975 in head coach Dan Devine's first two games as the Fighting Irish coach. That year Notre Dame was sup‑ posed to open the season at Boston College Sept. 13. But with it being Notre Dame and the intrigue of a new coach, the school agreed to move the game against the Eagles to ABC‑TV's Monday Night Football time slot Sept. 15 — despite having to play at rival Purdue five days later. Devine's Irish scored a couple of second‑half touchdowns to win a hard fought opener (17‑3) against the Eagles, but traffic problems didn't allow the team to leave until mid‑ morning on Tuesday, leading to the cancellation of practice that after‑ noon and then a lighter workout on Wednesday while quickly trying to install the game plan. That Saturday at Purdue, Notre Dame mucked its way to a 3‑0 lead in the fourth quarter before the Boil‑ ermakers drove down to the Irish 1‑yard line. Then, when Purdue might have out‑thought itself by at‑ tempting a cross‑field halfback op‑ GAME PREVIEW: NEVADA Top STorylineS The Irish will have only six days to prepare for Nevada and senior wide receiver Hasaan Henderson. PHOTO BY JOHN BYRNE/COURTESY NEVADA FOOTBALL

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