Brian Kelly held a press conference today, a couple of days after he either “assassinated the character” of his former quarterback, DeShone Kizer (according to former player Bert Berry), or spoke honestly about one of his players, while also giving him a ringing endorsement.
Kelly answered questions for about 20 minutes following his teams 10th practice of the spring, which occurred indoors with shoulder pads and shorts. He didn’t make a ton of news during this question and answer session, but he doesn’t do a ton of these, and we’ve got to bring the content to the people, so here is an overview of what was discussed.
A Continued Focus On Fundamentals
I’m a behaviorist by trade, and the way Kelly opened his press conference talking about the importance of doing the same thing day after day, and developing a consistency with the way they work, was right up my ally. He noted he wanted his players to know what the expect day after day and not wanting to surprise them with an introduction to new packages or formation groupings, etc.
In a spring when so much focus has been put on getting back to the fundamentals of the game, even things as rudimentary as foot placement, and taking the proper steps for the linebackers, this is exactly the correct approach to take. We all love predictability in our lives, it creates comfort and allows our minds to focus on the tasks ahead of us. There is a reason coaches script plays ahead of games and they practice them over and over with the team, even in a pre-game walk through.
Predictability brings ease, unpredictability brings confusion, and it’s hard to listen to these comments and not draw a contrast between what they are doing now and what they were doing before. And given what we saw the last few seasons, especially on defense, it seems Kelly has at least identified one of the problems in their preparation, and has taken strides to fix them.
Kelly Doubles Down On The Defensive Line
Brian Kelly made some news at the beginning of spring ball when he said he expected the defensive line, who a lot of people (myself included) believe could be a significant weakness on, would surprise people in 2017. It’s the kind of coach speak you’d expect eight months before games are played, and Kelly doesn’t have the greatest track record being a truth teller on these matters (see praise for Jerry Tillery and Alex Bars).
Well, he reiterated those comments today and went so far as to say defensive tackle Daniel Cage is having his best spring. Which, if true, would be fantastic news for the defense. But, those comments are also a little curious. The book on Cage so far has been he is woefully out of shape, which isn’t totally unexpected given his bout with a concussion that kept him out of the last four games of 2016. I suppose it’s possible to be out of shape and also have your best spring, he’s a defensive tackle, not a running back. But, for right now, we should be taking anything defensive line with a grain of salt.
Turns Out Kelly Does Like Kizer
Obviously, the Kizer comments were touched on, Kelly said there could have been a number of headlines regarding his interview, like how he said Kizer had great character or how he thought Kizer was the best quarterback in draft. That’s not what happened, nothing Kelly can do about that, he likes Kizer, he thinks he’ll have a great NFL career.
With that, lets agree not to talk about this nonsense ever again. Notre Dame has enough real scandals to be dealing with fake ones.
Miles Boykin Has Entered The Bank Of Trust
Boykin has been a hot trend the last week or so following some nice reviews from those at practice and a brief practice clip where he took a slant 70 yards for a touchdown, beating Nick Watkins and Devin Studstill. Apparently, he’s been showing enough in practice where Kelly is comfortable enough to put him into the “bank of trust.” This basically means Kelly feels they can put him in the game and he’ll make the plays that need to be made. And that is something you can take to the b….never mind I can’t do it.
Kelly also touched on receiver Javon McKinley who is coming along nicely following his leg injury that ended his season early. He’ll be put into the spring game with a red jersey so he can compete to get open, but won’t be brought to the ground.
Chase Claypool was not mentioned, which I take as a personal affront.
Tony Jones Jr. Is Officially In The Mix
Kelly was asked what it would take for Jones Jr. to crack the running back rotation in the fall. He responded with, “Nothing. He is in it.” No word on whether Jones has entered the bank of trust, but I think it’s safe to assume he’s got a spot in there.
This was the most praise Kelly gave to a single player during this PC. He said Jones was capable of being called a number one back, he impressed the staff even last season, and he’s done all the things he needs to do to earn time on the playing field in the fall, which he told us to expect.
You’re probably asking yourself how Notre Dame will accommodate three running backs, don’t worry I already thought of that.
Spencer Perry Transfer Confirmed
Not a lot to say here. Perry didn’t see a path to playing time, he did everything he was asked to do, sounds like he’s in good standing with Notre Dame academically, the university will release him to any school he would like to attend.