Notre Dame vs. Miami: 'Catholics vs. Convicts' no more

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Notre Dame vs. Miami: 'Catholics vs. Convicts' no more

It's been nearly 25 years since Notre Dame's rivalry with Miami peaked, and while no Notre Dame players were old enough (or alive) to remember it, some do know a little about the history between the two teams.

"Honestly, the only thing I know -- in 1988, I think didn't we beat them when they were ranked No. 1? I think that's the only thing I know," senior defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore said. "I don't know too much other than that. I just know it used to get a little heated back in the day."

Lewis-Moore was right about that -- Notre Dame beat then-No. 1 Miami 31-30 in 1988, complete with a pregame fight in the tunnel. The game was voted the best game in Notre Dame football history in 2005 and led to "Catholics vs. Convicts" entering the national lexicon.

But the vitriol between the two teams has cooled, and Irish defensive tackle Louis Nix -- who knows as much about the rivalry as any of his teammates -- doesn't think the old nickname needs to be re-hashed.

"Everybody tells us about the big rivalry and Catholics vs. Convicts but to be honest, I think thats over with. That was years ago, and nobody even thinks about it," Nix said. "In the hearts of Notre Dame fans, it might be a big game. Me, my team, I think we just see it as another game we gotta play hard at."

Of course, Nix admitted talk about the rivalry is unavoidable with a school and fanbase so steeped in tradition and history.

"We hear everybody and every Notre Dame fan, everybody around here talks about it. Youll get enough of the history off that," he said. "I think I know pretty much a lot about it. I dont think its that much hyped up, because both programs have been on like a slump for a while, and Miami has really turned the program around from being called convicts. I think theyre a great program now, and you cant even put them in the same category as back then."

For more on Notre Dame-Miami, Inside the Irish's Keith Arnold has some good insight in his pregame six pack.

The key for Notre Dame? Stay grounded

Notre Dame opened the 2012 season with a 50-10 win over Navy, powered by 293 rushing yards mostly from Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III.

But since, Notre Dame's rushing attack has combined to rush for 268 yards, and that's with the return of Cierre Wood, last year's leading rusher, to the running back rotation. Everett Golson and Tommy Rees have successfully steered Notre Dame's offense to a 4-0 start, but the Irish may need just more than clean quarterback play to top Miami on Saturday.

"Whether we're playing Miami or our next opponent, we, as an offense, have to score more points," coach Brian Kelly said earlier this week. "I'm more concerned about what we do and how we play the game more so. Saying, hey, we're playing Miami. They would probably say against Kansas State their offense didn't play very well. So I stay out of that arena, and I focus more on what we need to do as an offense and defense and special teams."

On Tuesday, Kelly said Golson was "still cooking" in terms of his development. And with Golson still progressing, Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin haven't opened the playbook up much.

They haven't had to, thanks to the efforts of the Irish defense. But if Notre Dame's run game can't get going and Notre Dame falls behind, perhaps that'll lead Golson and his offense into dangerous waters.

"We ran it fast last year -- you saw what happened -- we got a lot of speeding tickets," Kelly said, referring to Notre Dame's turnover woes in 2011. "But clearly we want to be more of an offense that can have big play capabilities. We need to score more points, no question about that. We're not scoring enough points.

"But as you can see, and it's been the theme. We're going to be careful with the football. We're not going to be careless with it. Until we're ready to amp it up, so to speak, we'll be careful with the football."

The good news for Notre Dame is Miami's defense is solidly in the bottom tier of college football -- especially its run defense. Riddick and Wood both are playmakers who run tough, but neither have broke free in the last three weeks.

If that changes on Saturday, Notre Dame could be in good shape.

Brian Kelly aims to be more fiery, get players to play with more fun and passion

Brian Kelly aims to be more fiery, get players to play with more fun and passion

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Reeling with a 1-3 record and uncertain prospects of reaching a bowl game, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wants his team to have more fun and play with more passion, and he sees being more fiery on the sidelines during games as part of the solution. 

When asked if he needed to be looser on the sidelines to help inject some “fun” into his team on gamedays, Kelly said said that's not the case. 

“I actually think I should probably — I think I've been a little too, what's the word I'm looking for, maybe not as demonstrative,” Kelly said. “I think I've got to be more fiery on the sidelines, quite frankly. So I'm going to try to turn it up a little bit on the sidelines, because that's who I am, you know? And I've been hands off a little bit. I just need to be who I am, and not be, you know, as hands off and I've got to be more involved. So if I was too fiery, you guys will have even better stories over the next couple of weeks.”

Kelly’s first couple years on campus were marked by easily-sharable purple-faced rants, and last year he got into a physical sideline confrontation with assistant strength coach David Grimes (Kelly later said he regretted the incident happened). Following a blown coverage against Michigan State that effectively ended Sept. 17’s 36-28 loss, Kelly was seen on TV directing an expletive at a defensive coach (both ex-defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and defensive backs coach Todd Lyght were in the vicinity). 

“I can still be demonstrative, but I just feel like they still have to see that passion from me as well and that's all I was saying,” Kelly said. “I don't have to be a loon particularly on the sideline and throw chairs and do that kinda stuff. But they have to feel that from me as well. I think that's very important in this game of football.”

Kelly sharply criticized his team’s passion — and lack thereof, as he saw it — after Notre Dame’ 38-35 loss to Duke last weekend. When asked Tuesday if he thought the best way to get his players to play with passion was by pointing out their lack of passion, Kelly said it wasn’t, but he and his coaches are working on finding that solution. 

“I have to be able to find out what are the reasons that we're not playing with passion,” Kelly said. “I’ve made some changes, obviously, some significant changes, within my staff, that goes to maybe some of the reasons why we weren't. And there are other things that have to continue to evolve for us to continue to move in the direction that I want.”

Everything is on the table as Notre Dame looks to dig itself out of its brutal September. Plenty more players will get on the field, Kelly promised, in a sort of quality-over-quantity approach to gameday snaps (Kelly pointed to safety Drue Tranquill playing his best game of the season on only 39 snaps, for instance). The seventh-year Irish coach will be more involved in the defense after firing VanGorder and replacing him with Greg Hudson. 

While he’s criticized both groups, Kelly said he’s confident in his players and his coaching staff’s ability to turn around the 2016 season and avoid being ineligible for a bowl game for the first time since 2007. 

“We're 1-3, our players aren't that bad, our coaches are pretty good coaches,” Kelly said. “I’ve been doing it for 27 years. Obviously, we're working through some things. We're working through some things and our guys are working through them. We're working through them, and we think we're going back in the right direction.”

Adam Eaton returns to White Sox lineup vs. Rays

Adam Eaton returns to White Sox lineup vs. Rays

Adam Eaton is back in the White Sox lineup in their contest against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night on CSN+.

Eaton will bat in the leadoff spot and play right field.

"It’s nice to be back in there and I’m excited," Eaton said prior to Tuesday night's game. "They played really well yesterday, so hopefully we can keep up that same intensity. As I’ve said, I’m excited to get back out there."

Manager Robin Ventura held Eaton out of the game on Monday night, saying that he still needed time to recuperate. But the White Sox outfielder is ready to go.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get an Adam Eaton jersey right here]

Eaton left last week’s game against the Cleveland Indians after crashing into the wall while making a catch. He missed the next three games.

Eaton, who got the wind knocked out of him during the catch, took and passed concussion tests.