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Kelly adds Sanford, Denson, Lyght, others to Irish staff

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said he hired Boise State offensive coordinator Mike Sanford to shake things up a bit.

”I think we came to the agreement that we’re going to get somebody in here that it’s going to keep us on our toes, is going to bring that room up to a level that is going to create such synergy and energy on a day-to-day basis that it’s going to make everybody better,” Kelly said Monday during a news conference.

Sanford, whose father is head coach at Indiana State and was Notre Dame quarterbacks coach 1996-98, helped Boise State to a 12-2 record last season. The Broncos ranked ninth in scoring (39.7) and 14th in total offense (494.3 yards). Notre Dame was 38th in scoring offense (32.8) and 32nd in total offense (444.9) in going 8-5 last season.

Kelly said the Irish will still be running the same basic offense as last year, but Sanford will introduce new ideas.

”We’re always looking for ways to run our offense more efficiently,” he said. ”It still should be centered around the players first and the plays second,” he said.

Mike Denbrock, who had been promoted to offensive coordinator a year ago, is now associate head coach. Kelly said he’s not sure who will be calling plays. Sanford said he’s not worried about it.

”I want to help enhance this offense and along with coach Denbrock find the best way to do things,” he said. ”I want to win a championship.”

Kelly also hired some well-known former players as assistants. Notre Dame all-time leading rusher Autry Denson will coach running backs, former Irish defensive back Todd Lyght will coach defensive backs and former Irish quarterback Ron Powlus, who was Notre Dame’s quarterbacks coach under Charlie Weis, is director of player development.

Kelly also announced that former Notre Dame linebacker Maurice Crum, who spent the past three years at Kansas under Weis, will be a graduate assistant.

Kelly said he believes hiring well-known Notre Dame players will help the program, pointing specifically to Lyght.

”He’s won a national championship here. He’s gotten his degree. He’s paid back his scholarship here. He’s given back. He’s won a Super Bowl ring. I mean, you’re recruiting at Notre Dame. That’s pretty powerful stuff. Yeah, that gets your attention,” he said.

NOTES: Kelly said the Blue-Gold game will be played April 18 at the LaBar Practice Complex because of construction work being done at Notre Dame Stadium. There will be no general admission tickets. The university plans to put up temporary stands that will hold 2,500-3,000 people.

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