Brian Kelly Doesn’t Want to Lose to Michigan

Brian Kelly talked to the media for almost 45 minutes on Tuesday during Notre Dame’s 2014 Media Day.  While he was asked a lot of question and had a lot to say, nothing the Irish head coach said will get Notre Dame fans as excited as, “I don’t want to lose to Michigan,” when asked about the importance of the second game of the season.  Before anyone mentions one game at a time, go ahead and save it.  This is precisely how I want the head coach at Notre Dame to be thinking right now.

That wasn’t all that Kelly had to say on Tuesday though.  Here is the full video of the presser from WatchND along with some notes and observations from Kelly’s longest media session of the year thus far.  And, in case you missed it, Notre Dame unveiled both its new home and away Under Armour jerseys as well as the 2014 Shamrock Series jerseys and helmets on Tuesday.

  • No update yet on the four players involved in the on-going academic investigation.
  • It was also great hearing Kelly say that the expectations for the team don’t change even with the on-going investigation and the potential loss of three starters. 
  • Despite having one of the smallest senior classes he’s had in years, Kelly said that doesn’t mean that Notre Dame doesn’t have good leadership.
  • Apparently Brian Kelly saw our post on Notre Dame having the toughest schedule in the country, or perhaps he was told Phil Steele ranked Notre Dame’s schedule the toughest in the country as he referenced Notre Dame facing the toughest schedule in the country multiple times in his intro.  Did I and Kelly both mentioned that Notre Dame hasn’t the toughest schedule in the country enough yet?
  • Notre Dame has stayed away from major injuries in fall camp and while the Irish may be without a few players for Rice – outside of those currently being held out of practice and competition – Kelly seems happy with where the Irish are health wise.
  • Kelly called Kyle Brindza one of the finest kickers in the country.  He also singled out Sheldon Day and Jaylon Smith on defense.  As a unit, he singled out the offensive line for being one of the strongest units on the team.
  • Speaking of Brindza, right now will handle all three kicking duties – place kicking, punting, and kick-offs.  Staying on special teams, Greg Bryant and Cody Riggs are the punt returners right now and Amir Carlisle is the kick returner.
  • Jhonny Williams is still a diamond in the rough, but Kelly feels they can use him situationally on third downs to get to the quarterback.
  • Kelly called Cam McDaniel the “best overall running” on the team – blocking , catching, assignments, running with patience.  At the same time Kelly mentioned that McDaniel isn’t the kind of running back that will break an 80 yard run or produce a lot of ooh’s and aah’s.
  • The staff will be having a meeting regarding captains and is planning on naming them on Monday.
  • Kyle McCarthy has already had four chemo treatments and will now have a few days off.  If you haven’t heard, the former Notre Dame standout and current graduate assistant is battling a very treatable form of cancer.  Kelly mentioned that McCarthy was still at practice today and expects to be with the team through his treatment.  The NCAA has told Notre Dame they can hire another graduate assistant if they need to in the event that they need to pull him off the field.
  • When asked about Notre Dame’s red-zone problems in the past, Kelly curiously mentioned Arizona State ranking 74th last year compared to Notre Dame’s 70th rating.  He admitted though that Notre Dame needs to be more aggressive and end more drives with touchdowns.
  • Against physical teams, Ben Councell is going to play a lot of football at the SAM position.  Kelly mentioned Stanford and Navy as teams that Councell will play a lot against.  Councell is through all of the physical limitations following last season’s injury.
  • Cody Riggs is “clearly our top guy” with Keivarae Russell off of the practice field.  Kelly called him “more than advertised”.  Notre Dame wanted to play Riggs at multiple positions such as nickel but with Russell out Kelly said that will be tough.
  • On the field turf, Kelly said that no one is worried about their footing or slipping with the new playing surface.  In the past the team did not practice in the stadium because they were worried about tearing up the field.  Being able to practice in Notre Dame Stadium is letting the team get more comfortable playing in the stadium.
  • Kelly thinks they have settled Amir Carlisle into a position where he thinks the senior will really thrive.  Now that he is settled in at the slot, Kelly said we will see him flourish and noted that the former USC transfer has had a great fall camp.
  • Along the offensive line Kelly thinks they are close to having the rotation that they want.  Right now, as of today, the first unit is Steve Elmer (RT), Christian Lombard (RG), Nick Martin (C), Matt Hegarty (LG), and Ronnie Stanley (LT).  Conor Hanratty is the first guard in and Mike McGlinchey is the first tackle in.
  • Jarrett Grace and Torii Hunter Jr are both still a few weeks away from being ready.  Durham Smythe (hamstring) and Doug Randolph (bone bruise) are both expected to be back at practice by next week.   If Notre Dame played this weekend, Will Fuller would be playing even though he has been a bit banged up.
  • Isaac Rochell was described as one of the strongest players on the team.  He is the starting strong side defensive end right now in the absence of Ishaq Williams.  True freshman Grant Blankenship is currently backing him up.
  • Corey Robinson is still learning everyday but is still having to think a lot about his routes as opposed to them being in muscle memory at this time.  Kelly said that the sophomore is a quick study though and picks something new up everyday.
  • Kelly talked about Elijah Shumate for one of the first times in fall camp and mentioned that he will be spelling Austin Collinsworth.  He said that Shumate is coming on lately, but still struggles with consistency.
  • True freshman Greer Martini continues to be one of the surprises of camp.  Kelly again mentioned that Martini is in the two deep and will take some reps at the WILL when they need to give Jaylon Smith a breather.
  • When asked about the defensive line struggling against the offensive line in practice, Kelly said that they like what they have at the defensive line but they are inexperienced at this point.
  • Kelly cited Everett Golson’s maturity as one of the reasons he is a leader of the team.  Two years ago Kelly said Golson would be late to meetings but now he is the first one there.  He is also one of the first to speak up when things aren’t going well.
  • Jonathan Bonner is no longer in the two deep.  He’s been bumped from the backup 3-technique by Justin Utupo.
Lingering Questions for Notre Dame on Eve of Citrus Bowl

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  1. duranko 3 years ago

    The statement that Cody riggs is “better than advertised” is telling.

    But it also says more than we care to hear about the SEC……

    So Bonner is now below the 2d string (behind a fifth year veteran, by the way), but the frosh foursome at DE is still in there battling. The anomaly is that if you play all four then they would all graduate at the same time.

    This season will be intriguing. We kind of know what to expect on offense, but we will not really understand our defense’s capabilities until the October gauntlet.

    I think that many posters are underrating North Carolina and overrating Arizona State. The Sun Devils are soft, and they might finish fourth behind state rival Arizona in the Pac XII South. I’d be surprised if they finish in the top 25.

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