An unconventional, shortened winter is nearly in the rearview mirror for Notre Dame, which opens spring practice March 20. Head coach Brian Kelly went over the whirlwind two-plus months with the South Bend Tribune's Eric Hansen last week.
While Kelly touches on the obvious big-picture topics from January and February -- his NFL talks and the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax -- he shoulders plenty of responsibility for what went wrong on Jan. 7 in Miami.
“I think I miscalculated on the enormity of the game. I felt like playing at Oklahoma, playing at USC in a game that meant going undefeated, playing at Michigan State, just playing here at home before 80,000, that our kids would feel comfortable or would not be out of their element, if you will, playing in that kind of game.
“It was larger than that.
“It definitely was larger than they had anticipated, and partly that would be left on my shoulders, that I didn’t do a good enough job of making them understand that — that they have to play within themselves, that they couldn’t play too emotional, all the things that they did.
“We had (two) penalties on defense on the first five plays. And, quite frankly, playing in it for the first time, we needed some good things to happen for us early on. And none of those things came together for us. And Alabama’s a really good football team.
“Throw that into the mix, and you’ve got a problem.
“We settled down at halftime and played much more like we had played all year in the second half.”
You can read the whole Q&A here.