- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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It was just one loss, Brian Kelly said. Let's not hit the panic button so quickly, the fourth-year Notre Dame coach cautioned. And a defense that surrendered 41 points, he added, will not feature any massive overhaul as it readies for a trip to Purdue this weekend.
"You know, I think by and large, what you see is what you got, and we need to continue to get better," Kelly said Tuesday. "I thought we got better inside. I thought that the combination of [Jarrett] Grace and [Carlo] Calabrese and [Dan] Fox, their play was considerably better from Week 1 to Week 2. We'll continue to improve there. We've got to get consistently better at the corner and safety positions. I thought [Matthias] Farley was better. We've got to continue to get better there.
"So it's, again, what you see out there -- you're going to see some other guys get some playing time during the year obviously because you're going to get guys banged up and nicked up. We just need to continue to progress and continue to get better, and be more consistent as a defense."
The idea of not getting back up against a 1-1 Boilermakers team that struggled to defeat FCS Indiana State is virtually non-existent to Kelly.
"Let down? They just lost. They lost a football game," Kelly said. "Look, we've got to worry about all the things I just talked about: the attention to detail, the way we work, all the things that we have to do. We've got our own work to take care of. We've got to be smarter, more disciplined. We've got to practice better. We've got to take care of a lot of things on our own.
"You know, again, Purdue's going to be ready for Notre Dame. We have no doubt about that and we respect our opponent. But, look, we've got to put blinders on and we've got to focus on ourselves. We're not a finished product. We've got some work to do."
There is also the minor matter of facing another Big Ten rival. A week after the legitimacy of the Michigan rivalry dominated headlines, Kelly acknowledged that Purdue is an in-state rival, though that is the last thing on anyone in South Bend's mind as the Irish look to get back on the winning track.
"You know, I think any time that you're playing a team in-state, there's certainly a recognition of that as a rivalry game," Kelly said. "You know, our guys -- look, they know Purdue. They know how difficult the games have been, particularly here, at home. You know, so from that standpoint, you know, especially coming off a loss, it's a little bit different because you're more focused on yourself after a loss. You're not thinking about your opponent quite as much, because you want to get what you do right.
"So I don't want to minimize the fact that we're playing Purdue, because I think that we clearly understand who they are as a Big Ten opponent, somebody within our state, and the natural rivalry because we've played so much. But, you know, we're coming off of a stinging loss and our guys are really focused on themselves."
Notes: Freshman quarterback Malik Zaire (mononucleosis) has been cleared for cardiovascular work but not contact.
1mMatt Fortuna and Gerry Hamilton