Kelly, Notre Dame Kick Off Fall Camp

Notre Dame officially kicked off fall camp on Saturday with it’s first practice.  A day earlier though Brian Kelly spoke with the media about the upcoming season – his first as the head coach of the Fighting Irish.

Brian Kelly kicked off his first fall camp as the head coach of Notre Dame on Friday. (Photo - Icon SMI)
Brian Kelly kicked off his first fall camp as the head coach of Notre Dame on Friday. (Photo - Icon SMI)

Here are some highlights from Kelly’s presser.

On the goals he discussed with the team:

No, we have not gotten into any specifics relative to what our goals are other than we’re here to win championships. We’ve talked about working on winning every day.

We’re here to win and they know that. But to get to the specifics, when we get into unit meetings, we’ll talk about some specifics relative to, you know, turnovers and takeaways, hidden yardage, special teams. We’ll certainly have goals that allow us to evaluate the jobs that are being done.

On what he learned from taking over the last two programs he was at that he will use at Notre Dame.

Well, first, this one is totally different than any of the other jobs that I’ve had. It’s unique in every facet. But the one consistency here are the players. The players are the same in terms of what they want to achieve under my leadership, and that is they want to be successful. So we’ve got the same thing we had at Cincinnati. We’ve got a bunch of kids that want to win.

Now, we’re going to do the same things that we did. This job is different, but we’re going to do the same things behind the scenes we did everywhere along the way.

On the development of Dayne Crist since the end of spring ball.

I think a lot of it had to do with the fundamentals more than anything else. One thing that we wanted to certainly see him improve on day to day was taking over that offense in a leadership position. Obviously he did that this summer with our seven-on-sevens and our workouts. It was Dayne that was running it. We developed that end.

But from a skill standpoint, it was from the spring the detail work, his footwork, his drops, consistency in throwing the football. So that will be work in progress for Dayne.

I’ve heard great reports from the summer relative to his leadership, which is great that we’ve gotten that developed. Now I think as we get into camp, we’ll be really focused on his skill development at the quarterback position.

On what he wants to see from the wide receivers.

Well, pleased relative to where they need to go is really what my response to how they played overall. They have a big goal in front of them, and that is when you’re in a spread offense, no-huddle, you’ve got to have a great work volume. And we lack that. I know Coach Longo has done a great job of working with our players in the summer to get to that work volume. I’m certain by the time we’re ready to play Purdue I’m going to be a lot more pleased with our wide receivers.

On who excelled in the weight room this off-season.

Well, I’ll give you a couple of examples from testing results. Chris Stewart, for example, here is a young man when he came in could only do about three or four chin-ups. He did 23 chin-ups at 362 pounds. His body fat composition went down almost 4%. You know, those are the kind of stories.

I’ll give you another example of somebody. Ian Williams, a very, very dynamic player for us. He’s a 600-pound squat now. He was 485. Here is a guy that’s going to play on the center and is now a 600-pound squat. He went from 302 to 313 and dropped his body fat composition.

Those are examples of the big guys losing body fat, not losing weight, and gaining strength. That trickles down through the entire roster as we go through here.

I think the last thing I would put out there that was very, very impressive for us was Ethan Johnson, who is a 395 squat who is now 550.

On what freshman he has his eye on.

Yeah, you know, I think there’s a couple. Bennett Jackson has impressed in terms of his workouts, his work volume. Austin Collinsworth has been impressive in his workouts. Certainly both the quarterbacks are going to have to be in the mix in some fashion giving them a real good eye.

I think that other than that, we’re in a developmental kind of mode with the offensive linemen and the defensive linemen. But a couple of skill guys. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either one of those guys, Jackson, Collinsworth, in the mix to get on the bus.

On how much of the offense will be installed throughout camp.

You know, that’s still yet to be determined. We’ll have an installation package, but it will be thin. We’ll lay down kind of the basic things that we need to beat Purdue.

As we move forward through camp, we’ll decide, I like the way we look, let’s focus on more run game, let’s add, you know, a little bit more run game, or I like this kind of matchup that we could get at the tight end position, let’s ad-lib there.

The base will be laid down for us to be successful against Purdue. We’ll add, based upon what I see on a day-to-day basis, their ability, what our strengths eventually will be.

On if he thinks he was the right man for the job.

Well, I think the jury’s still out. I mean, I think I haven’t won a football game here. That’s a huge part of this. Clearly it’s graduate your players. We’re off to a good start there. We won the academic achievement award. I didn’t have much to do with that.

What I’ve had a lot to do with is really getting out and being an ambassador for the university. I think I’ve done well in that respect. But the reason that we’re having a press conference with everybody here today is about winning football games and doing it the right way. The jury’s still out on that one.

On what he needs to see from the defense to know they’re ready.

It will be a process. This won’t end on the 3rd of September and say, We’re ready. This is an evolving process.

I think what we need to see more than anything else from our defense is the ability to stop the run on a consistent basis. Physically inside playing the 3-4 defense. Your inside backers have got to be able to press guards, they’ve got to do a great job there. I think what I’m looking for is that physicalness, that short tackling. I think when we start to see those components, I think we’re going to be very pleased because I know we can bring pressure from the edge with our athletes. We’ve got to be able to hold up inside out. We’ve got to be able to do a great job of tackling.

I’ll be able to see that and sense that as we work our way through camp.

On the interesting position battles.

Yeah, I think there are. McDonald, Posluszny, Paskorz. That’s going to be an interesting one. I think the one that really you have to look at is the offensive line. I really believe there’s 10 guys in there that can compete for a starting position. We’ll have some guys that will have a little bit of an edge going in.

But if there’s going to be a fluctuation on the charts, it’s going to be on that offensive line because it’s such a competitive environment. Then the safety position. McCarthy, Motta, Slaughter, Harrison Smith. There’s four guys there, there’s only two spots for them. I think that would be the other area.

On if any OL could be moved to the DL.

No. Very slim. Very slim chance. That’s why there’s that vulnerability. We have to develop some of the players that are over there. Sean Cwynar has got to come up big for us, Hafis Williams has got to come up big for us, Brandon Newman has to come up big for us. Those are the guys we have to develop. It becomes a vulnerability. Hopefully it turns into a pleasant surprise for us more than anything else.

On the running backs.

Again, I think the runningback is a guy that needs to run the football first. So we talk ad nauseam, You’re in the spread offense, you run the ball. You can’t win unless you run the ball. If you just throw it, you’re not going to win all your games.

We’re here to win all our games. I don’t know if anybody knew that. We’re here to win them all. And to win your games, you have to run the ball.

Each one of them starts with a unique ability to run the daylight. Some are faster than others, some are stronger than others. Each one of them can do things in our offense and complement what we do. We will try to insert those players when we’re obviously running schemes that we think that fit them best.

But we’ve got, you know, really four different styles at the runningback position. But they’ve got to run the ball first.

On the return game.

No. I’m actually excited about our return game. We’re going to be dynamic there. We’ve got some dynamic players. I feel really good about that. Not that I don’t feel good about our kicking and punting game, but right now we’re working on three kickers. Obviously from a punting standpoint, we feel pretty good about Ben Turk having that position. But I think Tausch and Ruffer, you know, we may see one on field goals, one on kickoffs. So we’re dealing with three quick kickers right now. That is work in progress for us but I think they’re all talented and can do the job.

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  1. Reading this ancient history shows that Brian Kelly never did, nor ever will, have a clue. As long as he is head coach and Jack Swarbrick is athletic director, the football program is doomed.

  2. If they get past the first 5 games undefeated – watch out! Very favrorable schedule – new coaching energy bump and finally an “I aint playing or coaching scared attitude”. Screw the naysayers – winning takes care of everything.

    Crist was the #1 QB pick when recruited by the Irish. Had Weis given him some frappin decent plays to run when he did get an opportunity, he wouldn’t be considered so inexperienced. Letting him hand off 35 times isnt letting him get experience. I think the biggest learning curve for Crist and others is adapting to a coach who places his confidence in you and expects results and is not afraid to yank your butt and put someone else in to get the job done. Remember last year when Jimmy got the turf toe – Chuckers says well we will have a separate offense for Dayne. Now compare that to an almost identical situation w/ Kelly’s QB Pike when he fractured his arm. Kellys response after Pike got hurt, he says hey we dont change a damn thing! We put the next kid in and expect the same execution and results. That says it all to me.

    Having a proven coach at the college level and younger coaches on his staff that know his system and who relate extremely well with the players is a huge – huge plus here. Seeing the energy of Bob Diaco on the field – even Kelly running up and down the sidelines and across the field – man you can just sense the energy and expectations! Without a doubt it is gonna be a very exciting year boys! GO IRISH!

    1. Hey Mickey – Check out the video feeds on the practice Saturday. Kelly lost a lot of weigh and even in the spring he aint no where near where puddin pants was. Come on now…!

  3. Never heard in my life what chin ups have to do with Offensive linemen.
    Heard of 40 times, shuttle runs, benching 225, jumping/ agility ETC. There’s a kid in my HS Phy Ed that did 50+ chin ups but would never put him on the OL. ha

    1. Bet the “kid in your phys ed class” doesn’t weigh 362. A 362 pound man that can pull that weight up 23 times repeatedly is a bad SOB. As to how it applies to O Line…strength is strength. Arm strength like that will come in very handy during pass blocking. Not to mention the endurance it shows to be able to pull up that bulk 23 times in sucession.

  4. Looking back on some stats from the last few years, it’s clear that when ND runs the ball with success they almost always win. Running the ball has always been part of our identity.
    When I saw Armando Allen and Robert Hughes, back when they were freshmen, I envisioned a running tandem of speed and power. Especially during their Junior and senior years. I remember a few years back when USC had Reggie Bush and Lendale White. That combination of speed and power was devistating to opposing defenses. I’m not saying that Allen is Reggie Bush, but I understand that both worked very hard in the off season to get stronger. Hopefully they will provide a strong running tandem that has been a missing key component to our offense. And lets not forget that both of those guys catch the ball out of the backfield very well. That’s got to be a plus for any spread offense.

  5. Weis also said similar things about being able to tun the ball, but somewhere in the game he stopped running it. Actions speak louder than words.

  6. hope and faith do spring eternal. as a rabid Irish fanatic since my dad sent me to south bend on a bus trip when i was a fourth grader, i am eager for another season. i can’t but wish that bk’s similarity, stretched as it is to St. frank leahy, catholic guy with a boston connection, will turn the trick. frank was at the helm for my first Irish national championship at the tender age of 7 months old. i cherish it. anyway, now is the time for the remembrances. it is also the time to believe that the luck of the Irish is about to reappear in a big way. i love this blog!!!! thankyou for putting up with all my syrup, but, outside of my children, ND is the big love in my life.

  7. By far the best comment from BK that I have heard

    “We’re here to win all our games. I don’t know if anybody knew that. We’re here to win them all. And to win your games, you have to run the ball.”

    This tells me a couple of things. First Coach Kelly gets it!!!! He knows and understands the expectations of ND football. I have a greedy streak in me and I want to win every single game from now until I die, however, that will not happen but at least we should be competitive in every single game. We have to win the games we are expected to win, which is most. We have to find a way to win the other games against top level teams.

    Second, Coach Kelly understands that the key to winning all the games is running the ball. The ability to run the ball opens up the offense to other options. One dimensional offensive teams are easier to defend. The spread will put the ball in the air, a bunch. An efficient running game just opens up the passing lanes for more yardage through the air.

    I’m very excited about this season!

    Go Irish!!!!!

  8. I believe Dayne Crist will do a remarkable job in the offense. He has the brain to operate the offense and the firepower around him. The concern is how healthy is that knee. We will find out soon.

  9. I was watching College Football Live and they predicted that ND would be 7-5. Ty went 10-3 and CW went 9-3 in their first years. How is a coach that has this record 171–57–2 (.748), has the most talent he’s ever had, access to the most resources he’s ever had, and has the staff with a ton of experience coaching college kids that shares the same vision going to do worse then Ty and CW?

    The only thing I can think of is that ND has been dysfunctional for so long that it’s hard to believe that they actually have a coach that knows exactly what he’s doing. He is not in his first rodeo and he has built not one, but three different programs. He was asked what he was going to do and he responded the same thing he has always done. Why do people think this is the first place it is not going to work?

    I think the biggest questions about Kelly were can he recruit nationally and will the players buy in to his approach. The first has already been answered with the #6 rated class so far with kids from Texas and Florida. The second question was answered this weekend when Kelly spoke of the physical condition of the players after the summer with Longo and the fact that they “know how to practice the way we want”. This says the kids get it and they will do what they need to do to be successful. In his press conference, he mentioned how bad these kids want to win more than once. When you have a staff that knows what it takes to win and a group of kids that will do what it takes, great things are going to happen.

    When I look back to last year, this team could have won every game. With a more functional coaching staff, a proven system, the physical stamina to last 4 quarters, and the passion for the game that Kelly seems to be bringing back to these kids, I can’t see ND losing more that 2-3 games. I know everything could change with an injury to Crist, but if he stays healthy, I see at least 10 wins this year. The scary thing is that Mark May said the same thing earlier this year.

    Brian Kelly gets it and he will get ND back to where it belongs, competeing in BCS bowls and NC Games.

    1. This ND team is not the ND team CW had his first year, nor is it the team Ty had in his first.

      Kelly could coach this team to 7-5, and this 7-5 team could still be better on the field than either of his predecessors inaugural teams.

      7-5 is a very, very reasonable expectation for this season. Not exactly easily replacing one of the best Qbs and one of the best RBs in the nation, with an inexperienced Qb and a completely revamped staff.

  10. Leadership is all about results, winning football games is without question the expectation and bar for measurable results. Good luck this season Brian Kelly and Go Irish!

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