Brian Kelly met with the media on Tuesday to discuss this weekend’s match-up with rival Michigan. Here are some notes about what Kelly had to say.
On if playing against an athletic quarterback in Robert Marve helps prepare Notre Dame for Michigan and Denard Robinson
It’s a different team. They’re setting up the run obviously for him. You’re running quarterback iso. We didn’t have any of that with Marve. Obviously, the zone reads are a lot different, we gave up the big play for the zone read to one touchdown. So little bit different relative. He’s going to be the focal point of the running game.
On who Notre Dame plans on using as the scout team quarterback this week to prepare for Robinson.
You know, we’ve got a number of guys that we’ve looked at. You know, I don’t know that you ever can prepare for Denard Robinson at the same speed that he plays. But we’ve got a couple of people that we think can help us out with that.
On Purdue switching quarterbacks and running some zone read option plays and how it relates to this weekend.
Oh, when they ran the read option. Oh, very similar. Yeah, there are some similarities to that scheme. Obviously we didn’t handle that very well. So we’ll clearly spend a little more time on that. But there are some similarities to the read that Purdue went to when they brought the other quarterback in.
On if there was anything they did last week that was better than they expected.
I don’t think there was an epiphany as much as there was we’ve got to get Theo Riddick the ball more, or we’ve got to get Tyler Eifert on the field a little more. I think there is more of that than there is I didn’t know he could do this. I think it was more about utilizing the players that we have and making sure that they’re involved in the game plan.
On injuries for this week.
Shembo, Fleming, fine. No issues there. Had some cramping. Slaughter, we were concerned after the game of the quote-unquote high ankle sprain. Found out that wasn’t the case. He’s been in rehab the past 48 hours, we’ll take him out of the walking boot and get him moving today. Some precursors to really an evaluation would be very minimal swelling and emotion. Positive signs I’m not ready to say he’s going to be 100% for Saturday, but some of the signs point toward someone who is making good progress. That is it for injuries.
On the defense, Kerry Neal in particular, playing fast.
Kerry Neal plays fast, that’s why he’s on the field. We want him to think fast, react fast. So we want guys that can do that on a consistent basis. So whether it’s Kerry Neal or any of the other ten players that are on the field, if you’re somebody that can’t react and can’t play fast, then you struggle playing on the field for us.
On what the team needs to work on this week.
We’re going to have to execute better. Clearly execution is something that we’re concerned about. We have to execute on a better level, and we have to be assignment correct. And I think those are the two areas that we’ll spend a lot of time on this week is just the execution of blocking and tackling, and catching, and running the right routes, and getting into the right protections. All of those things. Then assignments. Making sure we have assignments down. So those would be the pluses and minuses for me.
On the snap to Bobby Burger on one of Ben Turk’s punts.
It was just clearly a bad snap. I’d like to be able to tell you right now if that was a fake that we were working on, but it’s not. We reacted to it well. Those are the things that you go back and you go let’s spend a little more time on this and make sure that we’ve got it all covered.
On whether or not blitzing a team like Michigan (as Notre Dame did in 2009) is the right way to defend them.
In a lot of ways, you can call it whatever you want, but there is a lot of option football here, but I think we all know from the basic tenets of fundamental football, you want to have assignments. So you have to be assignment correct when you play a team that has certainly some of the instruments of options within its package. They’re certainly not just a option, triple option team. So to we are your question, you wouldn’t think blitzing would be the first call of duty when you play a team like this.
On making sure the team doesn’t get too excited over one win.
So I think I always do that. I always remind every team that I’ve coached about enjoying the win. Really, I’ve always been like this. We think about it for 24 hours. We have a 24-hour rule. I want you for the next 24 hours to enjoy it, but when we get back to work, that’s behind us. We move on. So, again, I think it’s not unique to Notre Dame. It’s wherever I’ve been, I want our players to enjoy it.
On the development of Darrin Walls.
Yeah, he’s been as purposeful as any player that we’ve got in the program since I got here. He’s been so focused on everything he’s done. There’s no wasted motion with him. He comes to work every day, comes to meetings prepared. He’s been a student-athlete and professional in everything that he’s done. We want to reward him for that, it’s a big measuring stick for our players and how they go to work every day.
On the play of TJ Jones.
Pretty good for a true freshman. He was assignment correct. He blocked on the on the perimeter. He had a game that you didn’t think a true freshman would have. I was worried about him being and he dropped on the perimeter. So all in all a very good day for the true freshman on the spread offense.
On adjusting to all of the pre-game responsibilities associated with being the Notre Dame head coach.
I wasn’t surprised, but it’s a lot. It certainly is a lot. I think that I’m going to get accustomed to it. I’ll get used to it. I have to plan my day a little bit differently. There is a lot. Believe me, it’s worth doing, all of it, because they’re all special events leading up to the game. I just have to get acclimated to it and really try to protect our football team as best I can so they’re not overwhelmed at times as well.
On measuring offensive success outside of points scored.
We use a 12% grade. We want to be 88% correct on assignments and execution and things of that nature. So if we can hit and get critical mistakes, critical mistakes are identified. Not that you didn’t step with the right foot or you were only ten yards on the run instead of 12. But putting the ball on the ground, foolish penalties or things that can get you beat. We were at 11%, so that’s been a big target.
On in season training.
We built a hill out back. Have you seen our hill? We have a hill out back and we really believe in that hill as a training element for those guys. It creates, you know, competitiveness in running on the hill. We think that we don’t put the kids in a position to pull muscles when they haven’t conditioned and played a lot of football. Just really believe in it, and it’s been very, very successful for us when we’ve had to count on that next guy to stand in. So that hill is an important training element for us.
On the development of David Ruffer.
He always had a strong leg. That was never in question at all. I think it was more about operation time. He was a bit slow. He really worked hard at it, Eric. He put in the time, he was the one that got better. Mike Elston did a tremendous job every day. Mike one of our graduate assistant his him on the clock every day.
On green jerseys.
You know, we’re considering the green jerseys for our Army game. Because of the subway alums and what the green represents relative to our constituency, if you will, on the east coast. But as far as the green jersey here at Notre Dame for home games, I think I’m probably more with the traditionalness relative to the color of our jersey.