Brian Kelly held his weekly Tuesday press conference earlier today and updated the media on Notre Dame’s numerous injured players and talked about where the Irish are at this point of the year as they prepare for this weekend’s visit to Pittsburgh.
Full video and notes below.
- Kelly said that Jaylon Smith has been building on his knowledge base very quickly instead of needing a year to digest everything as some freshmen tend to need. Smith, however, has an accelerated learning curve for a freshman and learns from any mistake he makes. Kelly also said that Smith’s ability to make the impact he has is due to his ability to learn and his raw physical ability.
- Isaac Rochell, Jarron Jones, and Justin Uputo will be asked to do more for Notre Dame this weekend with all of the injuries in the trenches the Irish have experienced. Anthony Rabasa will be asked to play more at the CAT position as well.
- Kelly is hopeful that the Irish will get Louis Nix back in the mix this weekend as well as getting Sheldon Day more involved after the sophomore returned to the field last week. Nix has been committed to staying in shape while he has missed time on the filed by putting in time in the weight room.
- Ben Councell’s injury from last week was an ACL which will require surgery in the near future that will end his season. His recovery timeframe will probably require him to be limited during spring football as well.
- Austin Collinsworth had a MRI but it came back clean and while he didn’t practice on Tuesday, he is questionable for the Pitt game.
- Connor Hanratty played well last weekend but Kelly said that he would not be in the mix at all in terms of taking reps away from Steve Elmer. Hanratty’s snaps will be dictated by Chris Watt’s availability.
- Speaking of Watt’s status for this weekend, Kelly said that he felt that Watt would be able to fully go this week. Last week Watt didn’t “cut it loose” until pre-game warmups and when he did that he didn’t feel 100% and didn’t want to let the team down. With a full week of practice though, Kelly is confident that he should be able to go this weekend.
- Kelly made a not so subtle reference to Pitt “not liking” Notre Dame after Pitt tight end JP Holtz expressed that he didn’t care too much for the Irish yesterday.
- Kelly said that Notre Dame is excited to be done with facing the option for a year after playing Air Force and Navy back to back weeks.
- Bruce Heggie is going to get some reps with the defense this week as more of an emergency plan given all of the injuries up front. The staff has made a decision to not put Chase Hounshell on the field this year as he recovers from his latest injury that required his third surgery already eliminating him as an emergency option at DL.
- The staff loves Tyler Stockton’s locker room presence and that played a major role in him coming back for a 5th year. He hasn’t had a lot of reps this year, but when he has gotten into the game, he has done what the coaches have asked him.
- Louis Nix’s knee will require surgery at some time – similar to the surgery that forced the staff to shut down Greg Bryant.
- Kelly cited Notre Dame being worried about too many trick plays on kick-offs instead of just getting after the returnman this past weekend and that the staff will make the necessary adjustments.
- Romeo Okwara is growing every day as a player after getting a late start with football. Kelly said that he is improving from a mental standpoint every time he steps on the field and once he gets more reps and picks up more nuances of the game he will be fine.