DaVaris Daniels learning to manage the grind

DaVaris Daniels learning to manage the grind
November 25, 2013, 5:45 pm
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It had been over two months since DaVaris Daniels last caught five or more passes before a six-catch, 107-yard showing in Notre Dame's 23-13 win over BYU on Saturday. After an explosive start to the season in which Daniels caught 17 passes for 299 yards with four touchdowns, his numbers plummeted.

In Daniels' next seven games, he only had 18 receptions for 235 yards with one touchdown. It was a stark dropoff, though Daniels said Saturday he wasn't frustrated by it.

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"I knew I was limited," Daniels said. "I knew I wasn't who I was at the beginning of the season. It was kind of something that I expected, I guess. I'm happy to be back."

Without getting into specifics, Daniels admitted he had a lower-body injury he only recently got over. Coach Brian Kelly said the key for Daniels was learning to play at less than 100 percent -- so perhaps the fact he expected to make less of an impact was a bigger problem than whatever injury he had.

Kelly drew a comparison to the mental and physical battles Daniels has fought this season to what he saw out of T.J. Jones earlier in the latter's career. Jones, by all accounts one of the toughest players on Notre Dame in his senior season, wasn't always great at playing through injuries.

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"He'd get banged up a little bit and it would affect his psyche and the way he played," Kelly said. "I think (Daniels) is getting through that now and understands that he's not going to be necessarily 100 percent all the time, and he's got to play through those things."

Having a bye week to rest up leading into the BYU game helped, and Daniels felt he had greater trust from his coaches this week. But perhaps this is the next step for Daniels -- learning how to play through less-significant injuries, the ones that can affect on-field play without the right mindset.

"They're thoroughbreds in the sense that they want to run and they want to feel great all the time," Kelly said, "and quite frankly sometimes they've got to get by at 80 or 85."