SOUTH BEND, Ind. – If you go to the refrigerator for a snack or drink this season, you could miss a Notre Dame touchdown. That's how quick coach Brian Kelly's offense plans to be. It'll be hurry-up with no huddle.
Kelly doesn't want anybody or anything slowing down the Irish or his spread formation — one that worked so well in his previous stop at Cincinnati — and that includes NBC, the network that's had a contract with Notre Dame since 1991.
Kelly said he and athletic director Jack Swarbrick have had conversations with NBC officials about how coverage plans will work with the Irish's up-tempo style.
"We've talked to NBC about the way we like to play the game versus maybe how it was played in the past," Kelly said Tuesday. "There is certainly a need for us to address it and I think we're working with NBC to make certain that they get what they need from an advertising standpoint. But, also as the network that carries Notre Dame, that we're able to do things we need to do as well."
Kelly said he's convinced a middle ground can be reached, though he wouldn't go into specifics about the conversations. Notre Dame's contract with NBC is reportedly worth $15 million annually for football.
"All we've tried to do is address the model that we think would work well with us," Kelly said. "And there's got to be a meeting somewhere halfway. And I'm very confident that we are going to be able to do the things that we want to do in terms of pushing the tempo and doing the things without having to go to a commercial break."
NBC plans to have five shorter breaks per quarter this season rather than four longer ones.
"Over the years, we have reassessed the structure of our commercial breaks numerous times to improve the experience for our viewers and the fans in the stadium," NBC vice president of communications Chris McCloskey said. "The commercial load this year will be identical to last year. The slight change to the commercial structure is the result of a number of factors done to improve the broadcast, not one single reason."
On another topic, Kelly says linebacker Anthony McDonald, who hyperextended a knee in practice last week, is doubtful to play in the season opener Sept. 4 against Purdue. McDonald was a projected starter at inside linebacker.
Asked about his own fitness in a high-profile and stressful job, Kelly said he has dropped weight by working out with a personal trainer, stretching and changing his diet. He didn't reveal how many pounds he'd lost, but said he'd dropped two pants sizes.
"I didn't want to work 20 years to get to Notre Dame and have a heart attack and die," Kelly said. "So I lost some weight working out virtually every day. ... I'm really trying to be disciplined in that end of things. It's worked out so far. We'll see how it goes when we get into the thick of the season."
Notes: Kelly said Armando Allen, the team's leading rusher the last two seasons, and sophomore Cierre Wood are currently 1-2 at running back. ... One of Kelly's most crucial decisions will be at place-kicker between senior David Ruffer and sophomore Nick Tausch. Ruffer's strong leg has been impressive but Tausch made a school-record 14 straight field goals at one point last season. ... Other tight competitions are at outside linebacker between Kerry Neal and Brian Smith and at center between Dan Wenger and Braxston Cave.