Brian Kelly Updates Injuries, Notre Dame’s Spring Progress

Brian Kelly - April 6 Practice Update
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly – shown here during practice for the 2013 BCS Title game – updated the media on several topics over the weekend. (Photo: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Brian Kelly met with the media over the weekend and updated several position battles and injured players.  Here are some notes from what Kelly had to say.

  • On Amir Carlisle – The junior to be was out running around and catching balls out of the jugs machine over the weekend. He is doing everything except contact drills and scrimmaging right now and should be back right at the 4 week recovery time for a broken collarbone.
  • On Carlisle’s injury history – Kelly said that is fair to question whether or not Carlisle is injury prone, but but he is very encouraged with how he has responded mentally to this latest injury.
  • On Will Mahone – Kelly mentioned that the sophomore running back is still adjusting to all of the new things that he has been asked to do after coming to Notre Dame as more of a pure downhill runner.  It doesn’t sound like we will see too much of him in the near future based on Kelly’s comments outside of some power back situations.
  • On Cam McDaniel’s role in the Irish offense – Kelly said he would never rule out playing multiple backs on the field if they feel having multiple backs gives them the best 11 on the field.
  • On Malik Zaire’s development – Mentally Kelly said that the early enrollee is at the top of the list in terms of quarterbacks he’s coached in terms of understanding the nuances of the position such as picking up coverages.  Physically Kelly said they need to work on his footwork, release, etc, but mentally he is advanced for his age.
  • On the tight ends – Kelly said that it is not far fetched to see one of the tight ends split out and another attached similar to how they flexed Eifert out last year and kept Niklas attached.  Niklas is developed enough to do all of the things Eifert did, but he is improving and can be used as a receiver.
  • On Jarron Jones adjustment from high school to college – Kelly credited Jones’ mom as playing an essential role in him adjusting to life at Notre Dame in terms of routine, academics, discipline, etc.  Kelly said they had some stumbles at the beginning but one call home turned things around and by February the staff felt Jones was fully assimilated to being a Notre Dame student.  Kelly mentioned they never saw Jones as a dynamic pass rusher, but that they saw a kid with a great motor who they won’t move out of the 4-technique.  He will be counted on for a handful of plays according to Kelly.
  • On the offensive development – The staff has seen real growth out of the returning starters/contributors on offense.  Kelly specifically mentioned Everett Golson, Zach Martin, TJ Jones, and Troy Niklas.  Golson’s development specifically has allowed the offense to work with a little more tempo.
  • On the defensive development – Kelly mentioned Jarrett Grace and Ben Councell as two new players on defense who have stepped up this spring.  Councell has a lot of physical ability and put on some weight
  • On the offensive line – Connor Hanrattay has seen more reps this spring and has been able to get a lot of work done this spring.  The staff will activate Ronnie Stanley on the line soon as well and may scrimmage him during the Blue Gold game.
  • On Davaris Daniels – Daniels has a bruised knee right now and has been held out of practice, but should be back to full practice activity this week.
  • On Ishaq Williams – Williams cross training at DE will continue to play out over the spring and likely the fall.  Kelly said that he gives the defense some flexibility with playing DE in the nickel and that it will allow him to add more plays throughout the season.
  • On Romeo Okwara – He is playing at the CAT position and will stay there because he has the ability to drop into coverage.  He is someone who Kelly would consider cross training similarly to Williams because he will be big enough to put his hand on the ground.
  • On Stephon Tuitt – Kelly mentioned that Tuitt is a little north of the 322 lbs that he is listed at on the spring roster, but he will get down below that before the season.  His off-season surgery limited what he could do in the weight room which has him a little heavier than the playing weight of 315 lbs the staff would like him at.
  • On defensive leadership – Bennett Jackson was mentioned by Kelly as one of the vocal leaders on the defense along with Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox.  In terms of leading by example in practice, Kelly mentioned Prince Shembo and Jarrett Grace.
  • On replacing Manti Te’o – Fox and Calabrese can both play inside at the same time.  Notre Dame also has Jarrett Grace and Kendal Moore.  Joey Schmidt has gotten the attention of the coaching staff as well although ideally they would like him a little bigger and a little stronger.

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