Brian Kelly Talks About Notre Dame’s Disappointing Ball State Performance

Brian Kelly spoke to the media immediately following Notre Dame’s disappointing performance against Ball State on Saturday.  Kelly’s Fighting Irish played an uninspired and lifeless 60 minutes of football on Saturday to barely survive against one of the worst teams in the MAC from a year ago.

Kelly took the blame for the disappointing performance in his opening remarks stating that he and his staff need to do a better job coaching and preparing his team.  Well, yeah, that’s a given when you beat a team you were a 5 touchdown favorite over by just 8 points a week after beating the #14 team in the country.

On how the players responded to the Michigan win over the week.

I think the first couple of days that they were bouncing back from Michigan. I thought Thursday was a good day for them. But I obviously didn’t do a good enough job of getting them up to play at the level that they need to play.

Each year is new. You get new experiences with different guys. You know which buttons that you have to push as you get a chance to know your kids a little bit better in these circumstances.

Kelly said that they did not intentionally hold back Brandon Wimbush from running the football this week.  Wimbush, a gifted runner, did not have a single carry in the entire first half.

I don’t think it was intentional at all. I think it was just part of, you know, play calling and part of what we’re doing. I think sometimes we look too much into the whole, Did you run him? Did you not run him?

On Brandon Wimbush. 

As a thrower of the football, he was pretty good. Decision making needs to get better. We got to coach him through those, too, as well. He’s experiencing some things that he didn’t experience last year because we didn’t throw the ball down the field into some coverages. In some instances these were some things that he didn’t experience last year.

I think we’ll make progress off of today with Brandon. I think there was one he hung up there that we’d like to have back. On the RPO that got deflected for a pick, I thought it was really good timing. The ball came out the way it’s supposed to. Threw a couple of seams that were really deliberate, things he hadn’t done before.

I’m sure some will read those quotes and say “what the heck is he talking about,” but he’s not that far off here.  Wimbush did actually make some pretty good throws on Saturday and he did put up a career high 297 yards.  He also made a lot of bad decisions and then started to panic in the second half the second he sensed any sort of pressure – real or not.

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Kelly said that he did not think about pulling Brandon Wimbush even though Ian Book was seen warming up on the sidelines following Wimbush’s third interception. 

I think what we want Brandon Wimbush to do is continue to lead our offense. Brandon Wimbush wasn’t the reason we were ineffective offensively. I could name all the things that I just mentioned. I don’t think we coached very well this week. I don’t believe I prepared them the way we should have now that I see the way they played. We didn’t protect them at the highest level. There’s a lot of things.

Now, I get it, right? It’s going to go back to the quarterback, and he gets the scrutiny. But I don’t think it got to the point where, Hey, let’s pull Brandon Wimbush out of that game.

On Brandon Wimbush taking a lot of the responsibility for Notre Dame’s poor showing on himself following the game. 

I don’t think he’s ever shied from it. He’s always been first in line to take accountability and responsibility. He’s just that kind of kid.

I think what really needs to be said is that the ineffectiveness of our offense doesn’t always revolve around Brandon Wimbush, nor does the success. I think we’re all going to jump to the quarterback. It’s everybody else.

He jumps on the sword. But we won the football game. He’s got a lot to learn. He’s got to grow, but he will.

On his top two running backs Jafar Armstrong and Tony Jones Jr

I think Jafar is developing each and every week. I think you saw his versatility again as a pass-rusher, as a guy that carries the football. He’s learning a lot every week. There’s new experiences for him each and every game that he plays in. I think this is just accumulating kind of reps for him, game reps, learning as he goes. Obviously he’s got some really good skills.

Tony Jones, we just need him in there, consistency, play at that high level. I told him that. I think he can be an outstanding back. We just got to get that on a more consistent basis.

Armstrong had a decent stat line, but after running for 42 yards on his first touch of the game, he gained just 24 yards on his final 12 carries.  Jones meanwhile was a little more consistent though more than half of his yards came on one carry as well.  As a whole, both backs left a lot of meat on the bone again this week.

On the feeling in the locker room following the win. 

Listen, the first thing I tell them when we come in is, number one, you can never apologize for winning. Winning is hard. So understand that, that first and foremost you won a football game.

But you’ve got to critique it, right? Did we live up to the standards we set in the way that we played? No. I did a poor job preparing you. You have to bring the energy necessary to play this game. It’s not chess. It’s football. It requires an energy that may have been lacking, so let’s look at why that wasn’t there.

On the lack of game film Notre Dame on Ball State’s new 3-4 defense. 

We had very, very little. That’s not an excuse. We should have been better at handling the movement up front. It’s a 3-4 defense, but it’s hard for me to really get into it in-depth until I watch it. There were just too many times where we had unblocked hats at the point of attack, and that’s jut not us. That’s not who we have been relative to our schemes.

There will be some chatter of how Notre Dame doesn’t see the 3-4 defense much but honestly, any excuses of the kind are akin to Bob Diaco’s ridiculous comments following the 2010 disaster against Navy when he claimed they had done things they never have seen before.  This was Ball State.  Notre Dame should have played better if they had no game film at all.

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  1. Kelly had never been able to develop his 4 star QB’s. Wimbush looks confused and dances in the pocket. OL is overrated. Very confused about this team. Once agsin; wsut until next year

  2. Short, high probability passes not long, low probability passes will beat a cascading defensive line and eventually open the running game. Send the backs, TEs and wide-outs over the line flooding that side if the line. Let those positions catch and run the ball. A successful short pass game will enable the team to control the ball and game time by opening the running game.

    1. REALLY short passes….like shoving the ball firmly into a solidly built player’s stomach as he runs past the QB and through the LOS…..that just seems to me to hold promise.

  3. Kelly is more likely to come up with a set of “turnover rosary beads” as a cheap gimmick to insert his face into the over-performing Defensive team picture, much moreso than to do any of the hard work to fix anything and everything else.

    Pretending to have anything to do with the defense got him a fat new contract in 2012, and the same thing might save his RRS in 2018.

  4. If the coaching knows that Wimbush needs work on throwing; that’s what practice is for. Games are played to WIN by playing to your strengths period.

  5. Lets not forget everybody talking NATL. CHAMP. was crazy, you lost the left side of your O-LINE and starting RB! Not to mention you still have the same QB who struggled mightily in the passing game!! Wimbush through 2 games has shown no improvement, none! Now Wimbush isn’t running the ball anymore, and Chip LONG better figure out a way to move the ball with an o-line that so far cant pass or run block!! KELLY may be forced to part with QUINN and POLIAN after this year special teams last 2 years haven’t been very special!! BOOK WILL PLAY ALOT SOONER THAN LATER WE ALL KNOW THAT!!

  6. It’s time to move on from Brandon Wimbush..he reminds me of Kordel Stewart when he was at Colorado later of the Pittsburgh Steelers and probably on his way to the HOF when he was slash playing in the slot, he continued to think he was a QB, in the end the of the story is, he wasn’t and his career over and out of the NFL. Brian Kelly needs to realize you can’t make a race horse out of a below average passer who makes bad choices down field with his throws, time for Book or the stud recruit from Pa to play.

  7. “He’s got a lot to learn. He’s got to grow, but he will.” – Kelly on BW. Isn’t this what a coach says about a first year QB?

  8. Big trust issue with Brian Kelly, he with the silver tongue masquerading as a ND football coach! Why should the players trust him? He’s the head coach & he can’t prepare team against Ball State? No on the field adjustments possible? Didn’t try replacing people on O line during game … why? Didn’t try change of QB why after Wimbush made several bad decisions … why? The emperor has no clothes. Ball State game shows Kelly has no answers after kickoff, just like his famous TV interview during half time of the Alabama championship game when Kelly said the best thing would be for Alabama not to come out! Why didn’t Kelly prepare the team better? Why didn’t Kelly adjust to the game against Ball State? Kelly’s decision making is highly questionable. Surely all the rest ND is playing this year will take notice of the largely ineffective ND offensive performance agsinst Ball State, showing many ways to defend against ND. Just change a D to adjust once against what ND is doing well, because Kelly & crew don’t know how to adapt to reality! As ignorant the ND admin is about football the Ball State game mess should raise questions about Kelly as coach.

      1. I like your enthusiasm, David, but anyone who gives ND a chance against Alabama is delusional. There are five teams who can beat Alabama, but, unfortunately, they all play on Sunday.

  9. The Offensive Line is sluggish. There is no finishing off of blocks because they are being pushed back into QB. They have to be the attackers and then continue down field blocking-JM

    1. Ya O line looked poor from tackle to tackle, for many reasons, seems center Mustipher was baffled by Ball State D line positioning or forgot how to call blocking schemat for ND O line, Ball State line beat up ND line, Wimbush unable to loosen up Ball State D with consistent & accurate passing, they dared him to throw all day accepting a 50/50 chance of Wimbush passing success. Think about it. Ball State, or any team, can devote enough people to shut down the ND run , & then see if Wimbush is lucky or not as his passing is only 50/50! Book should have replaced Wimbush at QB to shake things up, but .Kelly didn’t do it, regardless of hot & cold day by Wimbush & many bad decisions like not throwing the ball away! Kelly is the problem!

  10. “Never be disappointed in winning”. Not sure how a coach tells his players that. Even when my team won I would tell them that was an ugly win. Ian Book needs to be in the game, wildcatting etc. Winbush won’t get Notre Dame to the championship game, pretty sure of that.

  11. Why do we still need to be coaching a guy who has been in the program for four years or so on when to throw the ball away?
    We can’t win consistently if we are throwing 1 interception for every 100 yards of passing offense. That stat IS SO OUT OF WHACK THAT I WON’T EVEN BOTHER TO SAY WHAT THAT YARDEGE PER INTERCEPTION REALLY OUGHT TO BE!

    The “O” line needs to do in week three what Michigan’s “O” line did in week two.

    “D” is only giving up 13 ppg. That is NC quality. The DBs sowed excellent hand and foot work…the best I’ve seen in years.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  12. I’m pleased Kelley took some blame for the disappointing performance. I’m still a Wimbush guy and not ready to bail on him as yet, but he continues to make bad decisions. As a former QB with limited skills I can attest to how critical coaching can be for the development of a QB. Kelley and his staff have done a less than satisfactory job in developing Wimbush. The question is, is it too late for him to perform consistently at a high level?

  13. Was at the game. First time Ive ever watched ND win and left feeling frustrated.Not even sure what to say about Kelly and Wimbush at this point.

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