Nick Saban Inspires Brian Kelly To Have Notre Dame Focus on Special Teams

Jan 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly congratulates quarterback Everett Golson (5) after a touchdown against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second half of the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The BCS National Championship Game did not go as planned for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and head coach Brian Kelly. Alabama dominated the Fighting Irish in every aspect of the game. Whether it was offense, defense or special teams, the Crimson Tide were getting the best of Notre Dame. Now, with an offseason to examine what went wrong, Brian Kelly is taking inspiration from Nick Saban’s squad and focusing on a certain aspect of the game.

Saban has inspired Kelly to focus on the team’s underwhelming special teams unit heading into the spring.

“Here’s what I know. Standing on the sideline for the national championship game, we’re ready to kick off and Alabama has eleven starters on kickoff return,” Kelly said, per College Football Talk. “Kickoff return. Nobody wants to be on kickoff return.

“So the emphasis for us in this spring is to really embrace their roles. I want starters to be part of our special teams units. The spring really is for us to integrate front-line guys in special teams. And that kind of decision has to come from me. So I‘ve made that, and we’re going about it in the spring to really put our best players on special teams.”

So while the national championship was an embarrassing time for the Fighting Irish, it appears that a valuable lesson has been learned and it will improve the team moving forward.

After all, you need to excel in all three phases of the game if you want to make another run at the title.