Brian Kelly met with the media on Tuesday to talk about his team’s preparations for the Wolverines’ last currently scheduled visit to Notre Dame Stadium. Here’s some notes on what the Irish head coach had to say along with the video via Watch ND.
Academic Update and that Jacket
- That jacket Kelly is wearing – awesome or awful? I just can’t tell.
- No update on the five players who are still being withheld from all team activities as part of the academic investigation. The players are still being held out of meetings.
- Injury wise, Torii Hunter has made good progress and took part in some individual drills on Tuesday. He could be available for the Irish next weekend against Purdue. Jarrett Grace on the other hand is still not at 100% and he is still a few weeks away from getting there.
On the play of the offensive line
- On Steve Elmer, Kelly noted that the tackle position requires more one on one situations where as at guard you work more in tandem. Kelly said that Elmer was punching inside when he had a loose end and Harry Hiestand spent time working with him on not worrying about providing that inside help. Kelly later said that he needed some live bullets at the tackle position work through the differences of playing tackle versus guard.
On the punt return success from this weekend
- Kelly credited the new FieldTurf in part for Notre Dame’s success returning punts on Saturday. He said that both were able to make some cuts on the new turf that allowed them to get north/south very quickly. He also credited both Gerg Bryant and Cody Riggs’ fearlessness for Notre Dame’s success.
- Notre Dame will continue to use both this year in order to keep Cody Riggs healthy.
On the defensive communication at safety
- When it comes to the safety play and the communication breakdowns, Kelly said that they have to be more asserted and not “standing back there”. Kelly not so subtly told the media that VanGorder was very vocal during the safety film sessions this week.
- Despite saying over the summer that Max Redfield wouldn’t be doing much quarterbacking of the defense even if Austin Collinsworth went down, Kelly said on Tuesday that Redfield will now need to take on more of those responsibilities.
On Michigan preparations
- Without giving up too much detail, Kelly made it clear that Notre Dame will have more complicated defensive schemes for Devin Gardner this weekend than they did last weekend against Rice even though this will be the second week in a row facing a mobile quarterback.
- Kelly said that going up against Brian VanGorder’s defense throughout spring and fall camps has helped prepare the offense a little for a defensive coordinator like Michigan’s Greg Mattison.
On the Notre Dame – Michigan series
- Kelly wants the players to look at this weekend as a great opportunity given that Notre Dame and Michigan are not scheduled to play again following Saturday’s contest.
- Kelly was very cautious with his words on this being the last Notre Dame – Michigan game saying that the canceling of the series opened up a lot of exciting opportunities for Notre Dame such as playing Georgia and Texas that they couldn’t have done with Michigan on the schedule.
Random offensive points
- Corey Robinson’s thumb was sore after the game this weekend, but Kelly said that he is feeling confident he can catch anything his way.
- Everett Golson was very receptive to the feedback that he was given in film session after his successful return to the field on Saturday.
- Kelly is very confident that his young wide receivers can hold their own with anybody when it comes to press releases. The staff worked with the receivers a lot on their releases – Kelly specifically – during fall camp.
- The Notre Dame wide receivers have rules for what they are supposed to do if Everett Golson breaks the pocket and flushes out of the pocket.
Random defensive points
- Kelly described freshman Grant Blankenship as someone who plays fast and has some suddenness.
- James Onwualu’s toughness and his demeanor – especially on special teams – is what made Kelly and the defensive staff believe he would be better suited on the defensive side of the ball. Kelly said Onwualu was receptive to the change because he just wants to be on the field.
- Sheldon Day’s “cliff” was at 50 plays this weekend. The cliff Kelly referred to is the point at which Day’s play began to drop off. Kelly would like to build on that each week so that Day can handle a larger volume of work.