Brian Kelly Says Notre Dame Will Be a 'Totally Different' Team This Season

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2017

FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2015, file photo, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly gestures to his players as they warm up before an NCAA college football game against Temple, in Philadelphia. Kelly apologized to his players in the locker room after the loss at North Carolina State that he couldn’t find a way to win. “I’ve got to look hard at how I’m doing it to figure out a way to get a win for you guys, because you deserve it,” he said. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
Mel Evans/Associated Press

Coming off a disappointing 4-8 campaign, Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly vowed Tuesday that things will be different in 2017.

In an interview with Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, Kelly said the Fighting Irish will be a "totally different team on the field this year."

Specifically, Kelly believes his team is more focused.

"There's a renewed focus on process over production for Notre Dame football. And the point to my team is that we're building those total preparation traits in you every day now—physical, technical, tactical and mental. Everyone knows that we went 4-8 last season, but I have a great deal of optimism that things will be drastically different this year. There's been a focus on total preparation, and we're not there yet."

Kelly continued:

"We were a team that easily could have won seven, eight or nine games last year, as all of our losses except one ended up a one-score game. But that wouldn't have mattered, as things needed to change. And I feel like that team, in terms of functioning in all of those areas relative to total preparation, is a shell of this team right now. That doesn't guarantee anything, but I know where we are today compared to where we were last year, and we're a totally different football team."

Kelly said many players have undergone significant physical transformations. He also said there may be some schematic changes with three new coordinators on board.

Aside from losing quarterback DeShone Kizer to the NFL draft, however, Notre Dame will return most of its key players from last season.

Above all, Kelly put the onus on himself and made adjustments he believes will have a positive impact:

"The final changes here have come with me. I knew things needed to change from last year, and that started with me. I've really enjoyed creating a positive coaching environment, creating an atmosphere where our players are motivated positively to be the best they can be. The saying around here this offseason has been, 'Demanding, not demeaning.'

"I've put an emphasis on creating clear expectation on both the players and the coaching staff and making sure the message of process over production resonates on a daily basis. I was all about production last year, and I saw where that got me. I've really enjoyed changing the process and approach this offseason, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that leads to production on the field this week."

The Fighting Irish are 59-31 under Kelly, with two seasons of 10 or more wins, three bowl victories and a trip to the BCS National Championship Game.

Notre Dame hosts Temple on Saturday to open its regular-season slate.

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