Notre Dame Football Spring ’17 Notes: Boykin & Jones Rising

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.

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  1. This article is incomplete without the full text of Kelly’s remarks.

    Facts are facts.

    Kelly said what he said. Readers should be given those full comments.

    And the full entire COMPLETE text of what Kelly said on Sirius regarding Kizer is a sine qua non for this article.

    Journalism matters.

    1. Not sure why the full text of Kelly’s comments are needed here. Anyone who has read Greg’s posts or follows him on Twitter knows that he’s made it pretty clear that the entire story was blown way out of proportion and I agree. No need to continue adding to the news cycle with it.

  2. Everyone just calm-down. (Aaron Rogers? Maybe…) BK knows football. “Championship football”? Not recently. But with the right luck – which, despite what anyone says, is necessary to win a Natty – I think we can compete. We’e not hit any home runs on the recruiting trail in a while. But that’s OK. Potential doesn’t win championships – performance does. We, ah, well… OK. We sucked last year. So you do what BK does. You fire the incompetent losers you have running the systems within your program. AND you find an alpha-stud on the team, a NATURAL LEADER, (like Manti Téo) and you hold him accountable for leadership. This has to happen. OUR IRISH NEED A LEADER. Peace. And GoIRISH!

    1. “Our Irish need a leader”.

      No argument there, but we also need people out there who hit back, who defend their teammates and don’t let anyone push us around, which in my opinion was a weakness last season.

      We need attitude, and that doesn’t come from the coaches, that comes from the players.

  3. Looking forward to ’17 season. Looking forward to an O-Line in sync , looking forward to a D-line with pass rush , looking forward to LB’s and DB’s kicking ass with hard hits , forced turn overs. Looking forward to 3 running backs rotating , a two man backfield with QB snap from center–especially in red zone. Looking for a tight end as an offensive weapon–also in red zone. Looking for better coverage on special teams besides the one kid from Vegas. Looking for this Daelin Hayes –hardly played in ’16 to shine on D this season. Looking for Tranquil , Martini , Morgan to make their mark heading into twilight years at ND. Looking for a 11 win season—that’s the bar now — not 10 wins. If one thinks , Wow , 10 wins after 4-8 season is progress—go take a hike.

  4. yes, Kelly at times does go overboard with his praise. I just feel optimistic because I really like the track record of these nnew staff hires.

  5. I’ve noticed that coach Kelly doesn’t mention claypool often, if at all. i’m concerned that he doesn’t have the confidence in claypool that i do. hey brian…confidence begets confidence, and claypool will be a star, if you give him a shot!

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