No. 3 Notre Dame is looking for its first 10-0 start since 2012 when it hosts Florida State on Saturday evening in South Bend, Ind.
But Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly and his players have even bigger goals in mind. They want to run the table at 12-0 for the regular season, which would secure a spot in the College Football Playoff and a possible shot at a championship.
The next test is against Florida State (4-5), which is in danger of losing its bowl eligibility for the first time in 36 years.
Attention to detail = winning formula
For Kelly, the path to greatness lies in the details.
“I think the most important thing is for our guys to have an understanding of what those traits are necessary to be a championship player,” Kelly said during his weekly news conference. “Our mission is to graduate all of our players and play for a national championship. What are the traits necessary to get to that end? What do you have to have?
“One (issue) that I talk about all the time is an attention to detail. That’s going to carry over on Saturdays. How does your locker look? Are you 10 minutes early for meetings? Do we have to remind you about study hours, going to class? That attention to detail is something that carries over. That’s part of our process.”
Reeling ‘Noles mixing things up
Meanwhile, Florida State is looking to establish a highlight in an otherwise trying season. The Seminoles have surrendered 106 points in their last two games against Clemson and North Carolina State, and coach Willie Taggart recently handed play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Walt Bell.
Taggart has not decided whether James Blackman or Deondre Francois will start at quarterback. Blackman started last week against the Wolfpack and threw for a career-high 421 yards and four touchdowns, but Florida State lost 47-28.
Notre Dame is eager to seek the same type of success against Florida State’s defense. Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book has passed for 15 touchdowns and four interceptions this season, turning plenty of heads in the process.
“He’s really accurate throwing the football,” Taggart said to reporters this week. “He throws seeds. I think he is very similar to the kid at Clemson (Trevor Lawrence) when it comes to accuracy. The kid at Clemson gets it out really fast and has a really strong arm.
“I think (Book) understands the offense, he’s a winner, he’s a gamer. You can tell when he plays, he’s having fun, and guys feed off of him. He puts the ball where his receivers can catch it and they run after the catch. So we’ve got to find ways to get pressure on him and not let him be comfortable throwing the football because he’s a pretty talented guy doing that.”
–Field Level Media