SOUTH BEND, Ind. — No. 13 Notre Dame will have quarterback Brandon Wimbush ready for Saturday night's home game against No. 11 Southern California.
"There are no questions about his health so I think we can put that to rest in terms of how he is," Kelly said. "I know he wanted to play in the (North Carolina) game."
Kelly instead gave the start to sophomore Ian Book, who passed for 146 yards and ran for 45 more in the victory for Notre Dame (5-1), which kicks off a daunting stretch of games with the rivalry matchup against the Trojans (6-1).
The week off allowed Wimbush to heal and also allowed the coaching staff to look over his work through the first five games: Wimbush completed 52.3 percent of his passes for 782 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions, and he was second to leading rusher Josh Adams with 402 yards (a 5.9 average) and a team-leading eight touchdowns on the ground.
"He's done a lot of really good things to get us to where we are today," added Kelly, who doesn't think Wimbush will get caught up in the moment against USC. The Irish enjoy a 46-37 edge in the 88-game series that began in 1926.
"We've seen that he settles in nicely as the game kind of unfolds," Kelley said. "His production numbers are really, really interesting in terms of big plays with his feet and big chunk throws (and) conversions in third and fourth-down situations."
The Irish coach learned during the past two weeks that Wimbush likes wearing a helmet instead of headphones on the sideline.
"I think there was too much angst and anxiety of wanting to play and trying to get in the game and him feeling like he was out of place," Kelly said. "I don't know that he was totally in the right place in terms of mentally trying to learn things and see things as they unfold."
Kelly said senior inside linebacker Greer Martini, who is third on the team in tackles, suffered a knee injury during a recent workout and is day to day. If Martini can't play, junior Te'von Coney will see more snaps at the "Buck" position. Kelley said running backs Adams, Dexter Williams and Tony Jones (all ankles) are "good to go" but he ruled out junior defensive lineman Elijah Taylor (foot) for the game.
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Notre Dame is currently on fall break but many of the students should be back for a night game that figures to add to the electricity of the rivalry.
"You know, I'm sure our students will be back for it," Kelly said. "I saw something that Father Sorin put out on Twitter, so I'm sure that is going to get all of our students back."
That would be Edward Sorin, a priest who founded Notre Dame 175 years ago. One writer chuckled.
"That's a joke," Kelly told the others. "You guys (the media) are really tight today. You guys nervous about the big game?"