Kelly’s Clipboard – Notes from 8/9

Brian Kelly is looking for more consistency from his defensive backfield after the first few days of camp. (Photo - IconSMI)

Head coach Brian Kelly spoke with the media after Monday’s practice.  Here are some highlights from what he had to say.

  • Duval Kamara was back at practice on Monday after a holdup with some paperwork.  Kelly didn’t get into any details about it other than saying that Kamara was back.
  • Tight end Kyle Rudolph didn’t take part in drills Monday because of a slight hamstring injury.  Kelly said that the staff was being cautious with the star tight end and that he wouldn’t be back to fully participating until he was “110%”.
  • Gray Gray and Jamoris Slaughter both need to be more consistent according to Kelly.  With the lack of experience behind Gray, Darrin Walls, and Robert Blanton, expect Kelly to be pretty tough on the group because he’ll need a lot out of them this fall.   A lot is expected of Slaughter as well.
  • It may come as a surprise to most, but Kelly singled out Harrison Smith as being the most consistent player in the secondary so far.  Just remember who said all off-season that Smith was not a lost cause and was still one of the best athletes on the roster.
  • Zeke Motta had a great day of practice after a slow start the first two days.
  • Manti Te’o, Brian Smith, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Ian Smith, and Darius Fleming were all mentioned as leaders on defense by Kelly.  He went into detail about how the MIKE position is a leader by default because of the responsibilities the position holds.
  • The staff has set high expectations on both the #2 and 3 quarterbacks because they are  a play or two away from seeing the field.  Kelly’s track record has shown that this isn’t just talk either.  Kelly and his staff have been able to sustain more injuries at the quarterback position than most staffs could over the last two seasons.
  • Prince Shembo was singled out as someone that could see playing time at the inside linebacker spot opposite Manti Te’o.  Kelly said that Shembo could play both inside and outside and that it might be hard to keep him off the field this year.
  • Kona Schwenke has put himself in a position where he could play if needed.  The staff didn’t think that would be possible when he made his recruiting visit, but the Hawaii native put on a lot of weight in the off-season and could be pressed into action at some point this season.
  • The battle for the starting center spot between Braxston Cave and Dan Wenger will be “hotly contested” and might not be settled by the end of camp.  Kelly mentioned that we could see both of them play.
  • Kelly is pleased with where they are at in the kicking department.  He singled out David Ruffer’s kickoff skills specifically.
  • When asked about the tackles, Kelly said that they have four tackles capable of playing winning football, but he’s not sure if all four are capable of playing championship football at this point.

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  1. Zibby looked pretty sharp out there. Jimmy was poised. I like hearing the NFL analysts talk about him versus the college guys. Jaws was always one of my favorite quarterbacks and he had nothing but glowing praise for Clausen. Let’s hope JC lives up to it.

  2. Anyone watch the NFL Panthers vs The Raven’s last night?
    Good to see Tom Zibakowski getting some serious playing time. He had a sack and forced a fumble from his saftey spot. Also had a nice punt return.
    Jimmy clausen had a pretty fine showing as well. He completed 8 of 16 passes for 80 yards. He did have an INT on a play where his reciever slipped and fell. Otherwise he looked calm, poised, and well prepared.
    Did a good job of reading defences, and made good choices with the ball.
    Great to see a couple of ND guys play well in the NFL.

  3. I think it’s safe to say that whatever we’ve seen over the past few seasons isn’t about to be repeated. Kelly’s actually coaching them and holding them accountable for mistakes. The improvements in strength and conditioning are huge, as is the training table. So right there we have attitude, culture, and development changes.

    Who knows if Harrison Smith was ever actually coached or taught how to play at the college level?

    The kid I want to see succeed is Ethan Johnson. He came in with big expectations but hasn’t set himself apart yet.

    Another thing I keep in the back of my mind is that this defense has to face the spread every day in practice. One of the things the USC defense used to say all the time is that they improved just by going against that offense every day in practice. Kelly’s philosophy of practicing fast to play fast isn’t limited to the offense. I think we’ll see a defensive unit that plays smarter, faster, and be more reactive than in recent years when it was obvious even to those of us who are football morons that the players were thinking instead of reacting.

  4. from what i can gather, of watching and reading about the conditioning and workouts, as well as from there physical appearence..this team does not look like the same team weis coached.. some may say these are weis’s guys and we wont see real change till the guys that kelly brings in is running onto the field.. but from what i can see, he kept many from defecting after weis got fired, and you look at how these same players looked in games as well as practice with weis at the helm, and compare them to who they are now, and i see a vast difference. these are kelly’s players! he took them and molded them.. i see an intensity and fire that i did not see in them last year, or any other year.. with weis, i hoped that the irish would win.. with kelly, i have a strong feeling they will win.. i like the idea of a no huddle offense.. as well as a 3-4 deffense.. two killer schemes that work.. cant wait till the season starts.!!

  5. I read somewhere where Harrison Smith was one of the leading tacklers of last years team. Of course a lot of that had to do with teams marking him as a weak link, and going after him.
    In cases like that two things generally happen.
    Either the player can’t handle the mental pressure and goes down in flames.
    Or the experience toughends him up and makes him a better player.
    I believe H.Smith is in better condition, older, and wiser. I think with a better D-Line in front of him, that he will settle down and play well.

  6. “It may come as a surprise to most, but Kelly singled out Harrison Smith as being the most consistent player in the secondary so far. Just remember who said all off-season that Smith was not a lost cause and was still one of the best athletes on the roster.”

    oh i will remember, lol! for whatever reason, h smith’s practice “consistency” and athleticism just never seems to carry over to the playing field on saturdays. i want to see him succeed but you know the how the saying goes, fool me once……..

    1. I actually gotta go with Frank regarding H Smith. He had a horrible season in 09 and 08 wasn’t much better, but he also was being moved around constantly and I believe that confused him a lot. I think he is very athletic if he has the proper coaching and the coaches would stick him somewhere and leave him there. And let’s face it, nobody on defense looked good last season and I believe poor coaching was the primary reason. We had too much talent to suck as bad as we did.

      1. i hear ya. i was just saying that we hear this every year. he is great in practices but sucks in games. i agree it might have had something to do with switching positions, but remember he started at safety last year and there was no plan or mention of him moving back to linebacker and he didn’t impress. i think, and i may be wrong, the reason he was switched back to linebacker was because he was stinking it up at safety.

        don’t get me wrong, i want him to succeed, but i want him to “prove it” because we hear this every year.

  7. The secondary took a hit today. E.J. Banks reportly left the team and is looking to transfer. I really hope he stays. ND can use all the bodies available in the secondary

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