Irish look to end turnover problems vs Louisville
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Louisville probably isn't the best opponent for Notre Dame to face trying to end its turnover troubles.
The Cardinals (7-3) lead the nation with 22 interceptions, and safety Gerod Holliman is one shy of the NCAA records with 13 picks.
That's a major concern for the Fighting Irish (7-3), who simply can't hang on to the ball and have lost three of their last four games.
They've turned the ball over nine times in back-to-back losses to Arizona State and Northwestern. Quarterback Everett Golson has been especially troublesome with 19 turnovers in the past seven games, 12 on interceptions.
Coach Brian Kelly said the Irish have been sloppy, with three of their four fumbles the past two games not caused by hits.
''So cleaning up the things that we can do to control it,'' Kelly said. ''Louisville has got great ball skills. If you don't run your routes with precision and throw on time and do those things, they're going to take the ball away from you. We know that.''
Golson needs to know where Holliman is on every passing play, Kelly said.
''He does a great job reading eyes. They're very good ball-skill kids in the back end,'' Kelly said. ''But they're reading eyes. If Everett stares down anybody in his zip code, he's going to go take the ball away.''
Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is impressed by the Irish offense despite the turnovers.
''They have turned it over, but they keep scoring points, so you know that you're going to have to move the football and get it in the end zone,'' Petrino said.
The concern for Louisville is switching to freshman Reggie Bonnafon at quarterback after Will Gardner sustained a season-ending knee injury. Bonnafon started three games earlier this season after Gardner was injured. He played solidly against Wake Forest and Syracuse, but struggled against Clemson.
Petrino said he was pleased with the poise Bonnafon showed in replacing Gardner against Boston College.
''It didn't seem like a big deal to him. All of a sudden he's thrown in there and started fast and finished strong,'' Petrino said.
Other things to know about the Louisville-Notre Dame game:
SLOWING PARKER: DeVante Parker has three straight 100-yard games since returning from a broken bone in his foot. Kelly said Parker is difficult to defend because he has a good catching range, elite speed and doesn't drop passes. ''Hopefully the ball doesn't go to him because he's difficult to defend,'' Kelly said.
GOLSON'S SHOULDER: Kelly said Golson's throwing shoulder, which he sprained against Northwestern, shouldn't be a factor Saturday. ''He's a little sore. But I don't think it's a situation where he goes into the game or it affects the way he throws or plays the game,'' Kelly said.
FAMILIAR STRANGERS: It will be the first time Notre Dame and Louisville will meet on the football field, but the two schools are familiar foes in other sports from their Big East days. Five of the six men's basketball games between 2010 and 2013 ended in overtime, capped by a five-overtime game the Irish won 104-101, the last loss for the Cardinals en route to the national championship.
REMOVING REDSHIRT: The Irish are taking the redshirt off 6-foot-3, 265-pound freshman defensive lineman Jay Hays of Brooklyn, New York, to help make up for the loss of captain Sheldon Day and Daniel Cage with knee injuries. Kelly says Hays will play at least 30 plays and as many as 40 in each of the final three games. ''We brought him up on Tuesday and he made an impact. So we're a better football team by playing him,'' Kelly said.
FLORIDA BOUND: Kelly had some fun with the media after practice Thursday when he was asked about speculation he could replace Will Muschamp at Florida. ''I'm going to Florida - in about two weeks to get some sun. I'm getting out of here with this weather. You can write that down, `I'm going to Florida.''' Pressed further, he said: ''Can I be up for the Notre Dame job? Because we're 7-3 right now. I'm hoping to hold onto this job.''