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…And So It Begins

Aug 3, 2012, 7:13 PM EDT

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The wait is over. College football is back.

Well, sort of.

The season does not officially begin for a few weeks, but this afternoon marked the beginning of training camp for the Fighting Irish, as head coach Brian Kelly kicked off the weekend with a press conference at noon in the Isban Auditorium at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex.

From a new podium and rumors of FieldTurf to the quarterback competition and the practice schedule, Coach Kelly touched on a variety of topics.

You can watch the 41-minute press conference here…

…Or visit for a full transcript of the presser. If you only have a couple minutes, here are a few quick takeaways from this afternoon.

Starting QB: With four student-athletes set to vie for the starting job, we knew the quarterback competition was going to be a hot topic during training camp. On Tuesday however, Coach Kelly announced that Tommy Rees (and LB Carlo Calabrese) would be suspended for the season opener.

While the race is down to three, perhaps the competition just became more interesting – simply because Rees’ suspension guarantees there will be a new quarterback taking the first snap in Dublin.

Coach Kelly gave no indication as to who might be the leader among Everett Golson, Andrew Hendrix and Gunner Kiel. “I’ve got an idea, but an idea is all I have,” he said.

He stressed the importance of spending a significant amount of practice putting the quarterbacks into 11-on-11 situations and said, “everything’s on the table” when asked about the possibility of using a two-back system.

Freshmen Impact: If today’s press conference was any indication, don’t be surprised if several of the 16 Irish freshmen play early and often this season.

After spending the summer on campus working out and getting started on their college education, the class of 2016 sounds poised to make an impact.

“I think what Coach Longo impressed upon me was that when the freshman class came here, there was a burning desire for that group to want to contribute right away, all of them. Every single one of them with the mindset and his characterization of this class was they’re ready to play,” Kelly said.

Specifically, a shoulder injury to safety Austin Collinsworth means that players like Nicky Baratti, Elijah Shumate, John Turner, C.J. Prosise could be called upon to contribute in the secondary.

Preparing for Navy: Unlike recent years, the Irish will open the season against the Midshipmen and their triple-option offense.

Last season, Kelly’s team limited Navy to just 229 yards of offense in a 56-14 win, but the previous year, surrendered 438 yards, including 367 on the ground and lost 35-17.

While this year’s additional preparation time is helpful, it doesn’t make stopping Navy’s unique attack any easier.

“You could have three weeks, five weeks. If you don’t play assignment football, if you’re not disciplined, Navy will beat you,” Kelly said.

Aside from defending the option, Kelly and his staff have also elected to practice in the morning during the week leading up to the opener, with the goal of getting the team acclimated for a 9:00 am ET (2:00 pm Western European Time) start in Ireland.

The Irish hit the LaBar Practice Fields tomorrow at 10 am, their first official practice in preparation for the 2012 season, which begins in 28 days (but who’s counting, right?).

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