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Kelly won't use history to motivate Notre Dame

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Kelly won't use history to motivate Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) The similarities between Notre Dame this season and the Fighting Irish squad from a decade ago are uncanny enough that it might make some fans a bit uncomfortable heading into Saturday's game against Pittsburgh.

A decade ago, a Notre Dame team that started the season unranked persuaded many college football fans it was for real when it won at then-No. 11 Florida State to improve to 8-0 and rise to a No. 4 ranking. That team was a 10-point underdog when it beat the Seminoles in the eighth game by breaking a second-half tie by scoring 24 straight points to drop Florida State to 84-5-1 in its previous 90 home games.

This year's team has many fans believing it is real after starting the season unranked and winning at then-No. 8 Oklahoma to improve to 8-0 and rise to a No. 4 ranking. The Irish were 10-point underdogs when they beat the Sooners in the eighth game by breaking a second-half tie by scoring 17 straight points to drop Oklahoma to 79-5 in its last 84 home games.

Following that 2002 win, Notre Dame appeared to have an easy path to a BCS. This time, the Irish again appear to have an easy path to a BCS game with a three-game stretch against Pittsburgh (4-4), Boston College (2-6) and Wake Forest (4-4) before the season finale at Southern California (6-2).

As any Irish fan can tell you, the ninth game of the 2002 season was the beginning of the end for then-first-year coach Tyrone Willingham.

The Irish were favored by 10 points, but turned the ball over seven times while wearing green jerseys for motivation and lost 14-7 to Boston College. They then struggled to beat Navy, were trounced 44-13 at USC and lost 28-6 to North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl.

Coach Brian Kelly isn't much interested in that history, though.

``History will have no effect on how this team plays,'' Kelly said. ``What will affect how they play is how they prepare during the week. That is what I can control and that's what our players can control. Our focus is on what we can control.''

Kelly said he won't use 2002 as a cautionary tale to remind his team to guard against a letdown against a Pitt team that has just as many wins as that Boston College team.

``I don't use history lessons as much as I want them to realize what it takes to win week in and week out,'' he said. ``Look, there will be enough of that out there to kind of get to them. I don't know if that from me is going to change the way we prepare.''

Kelly said after the victory over Oklahoma on Saturday the Irish need to avoid looking at the big picture.

``If we start listening to national championship and the BCS, we'll lose a football game,'' he said. ``They're a pretty smart group. They know that if they stick with what we've done and stick with the process of just preparing for Pittsburgh, they'll be fine. But if they start thinking about all those other things and listening, we'll lose.''

Linebacker Manti Te'o said the Irish players understand.

``I think once we start paying attention to that, that's when we're going to get in trouble,'' he said.

But that didn't stop Te'o from answering a question after the Oklahoma victory about whether he thinks the Irish are the best team.

``I think we're on our way. We have a lot of work to do but we're definitely on our way,'' he said.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens place Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson on reserve/NFI list

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens place Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson on reserve/NFI list

With training camp just six days away, here is the latest news surrounding the Baltimore Ravens.

1. Ian Rapoport reported that the Ravens have placed Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson and two others on the reserve/NFI list. He later added that Brown is still recovering from Lisfranc surgery but is "progressing well" and Ferguson is dealing with a "minor hamstring" injury.

2. The entire Baltimore Ravens class is officially under contract after the signing of wide receiver Miles Boykin. Boykin was a third-round pick out of Notre Dame.

3. Michael Vick joined The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan Friday morning and when asked which young quarterbacks in the NFL most emulate his style, he answered: "Lamar Jackson" along with Kyler Murray and Cam Newton.

Looking Ahead:

July 24: Ravens training camp begins. Rookies are set to report a week earlier on Wednesday, July 17. 

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Rotoworld and Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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10 Training Camp Questions: After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

10 Training Camp Questions: After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

When Reuben Foster collapsed to the Ashburn turf in May, time stopped for a second. Signing Foster brought such outrage towards the Washington team, and after being cleared by the NFL for the 2019 season, it seemed like the worst was behind Foster and the Redskins.

Then, in a blur, he was lost for the season with an ACL tear. 

The 2019 rebuilt Redskins defense lost a key cog before he ever even played a game, and suddenly a mediocre linebacking group from 2018 was largely back in the fold. Foster represented a potential game-breaking talent, a former first-round pick with elite pedigree in college. Add in the fact that the Redskins released Zach Brown before free agency, and the group looked humble. 

So going into training camp, one of the most intriguing position groups on the team now looks similar to 2018.

Mason Foster will start at one inside linebacker spot. Write that in Sharpie. And despite some public dustups with fans via social media, Foster is a team leader and a sure tackler. He's lost weight to help in coverage this year, and twice in the last three years has totaled more than 120 tackles. Of all the worries on the Redskins roster, Mason Foster isn't one of them.

After Reuben Foster went down, the team signed former second-round pick Jon Bostic. He's bounced around in his NFL career, as the Redskins will mark his fifth team in six years, but since he's landed in a 3-4 scheme, he's found his game. In the past two seasons with the Steelers and the Colts, Bostic proved highly capable as a run defender. On pass downs, he probably needs to come off the field. 

That's where things get interesting. 

Reuben Foster was the one player that coaches expected to be able to stay on the field for all three downs. Mason Foster might be able to, and it's too early to really determine what best suits Shaun Dion Hamilton.

In just his second year out of Alabama, and a year removed from a major knee injury, Hamilton could emerge as the starter next to Foster. He could emerge as a capable cover linebacker. But he didn't quite show enough last season to be confident in that assessment. 

Josh Harvey-Clemons will be the nickel linebacker, and watching him in minicamp, he finally looks like an NFL linebacker. Harvey-Clemons played safety in college at Louisville, and his first two seasons in Washington seemed like he didn't have the bulk to play in the front seven. If he's really added muscle, it will show up in Richmond. 

Then there's rookie Cole Holcomb. A speed 'backer that should make the team, Holcomb needs to learn to play instinctually. It won't be easy, but if it comes quick, his speed could make plays. 

Add it all up and the Redskins linebacker looks solid, but not spectacular. Reuben Foster was supposed to be that special piece, but he definitely won't play this season. 

If the defensive front plays as well as many think they're capable of, that could change things for the linebackers. And of course, players get better every year. Maybe Hamilton or Harvey-Clemons is on the verge of a breakout. 

That's why they practice and train all offseason, and that's what the fans will be watching for in Richmond. 

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