Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly met with the media on Saturday following Notre Dame’s narrow win over Toledo and didn’t hold back in his introduction. Kelly admitted that while the Irish won, they have a lot of work to do to be the team they expect to be.
“From our perspective, right, happy about the win, but there is just — I can’t even begin with the work that we have to do,” Kelly stated. “Obviously it starts with just the basic premise of football. Three turnovers, one of them was a touchdown. You don’t usually survive those games and win when you do that, that’s No. 1.”
Kelly touched on a defense that gave up a late score that nearly cost them the victory as well. “
And No. 2, we gave up big plays on defense. We let them out of — we got them backed up on a couple occasions and we just — I know we haven’t turned the corner from that perspective.”
On Tyler Buchner’s first appearance
Well, as you know from watching the game, we were trying to find ourselves offensively in the run game. We’re transitioning as we speak. We lost another offensive linemen in Carmody, so we’re trying to find a run game.
We’re backed up there. I felt like going to Tyler there, he would give us the versatility in the run game that we needed at that time.
Turned out it worked out pretty good. He gave us the shot in the arm that we needed.
On Jack Coan‘s reaction to Buchner being inserted into the game
Yeah, Jack is a just a great character kid. He just wants to win. He stayed ready, you know, and knew that. We told him, This is something that we’re going to do to help the football team win today.
He was, again, prepared and ready to get back in there and help us in that last drive. He was outstanding.
On Coan’s performance on Notre Dame’s final drive
Well, just he — couple things. One, patience in the pocket. We were able to protect him. That wasn’t the case most of the day. We had some issues in protection for various reasons. Not offensive line per se as much as we had some coverage sacks. We didn’t pick up a corner blitz one time.
We were trying to chip with the back and they were second wave blitzing the back once we did that, so there was a variety of different things. I thought he was poised in the pocket and decisive with his throws in that last drive, and that’s the mark of a veteran quarterback.
On Notre Dame giving up more big plays this year
No, we know why it’s happening. You know, we are transitioning defenses. Again, I will tell you that we have new players on the field, younger players, inexperienced players that are going through some growing pains.
We still got to get the ball on the ground. We have a chance to do things and we’re making them worse by not doing some of the fundamental things in terms of turning plays that are 10, 12, 15 yards, you might have those occasionally. We’re leading them turn into 60, 70 yard runs.
So, you know, it’s counterplay; didn’t long arm it, didn’t fit to the right way. Ran the play all week. So we just got to be fundamentally better and we have got to keep repping it and commit to it.
On whether or not there is more to address than Kelly thought there would be early in the season
Yes and no. Yes in the sense that I think from a defense standpoint there is a little bit more to it than maybe I thought in terms of figuring some things out.
And then offensively I thought we would get to a run game that we felt comfortable with sooner.
But on the other hand, I think the personnel is driving a lot of this in terms of making it difficult to settle on something, because we have some guys that really can make some plays, and we are a little hesitant at times to say, All right, this is who we’re going to be.
I think we got to stop tinkering and say, All right, this is it; let’s go. We’re in a transition, and as I told the guys had the locker room, starting Monday we have to make it simpler for everybody.
On Notre Dame’s modified “Philly Special” on the two point play at the end of the game
Well they brought pressure off the front side edge and they played man, so it was going to be a pass back to the quarterback from Avery Davis. They picked him up, did a great job, so Avery stopped, and we have the tight end on the backside that the back end, tight end leaked out the backside. He made a great play, stopped, redirected, and we have never seen that in the play.
We’ve always either — he’s kept it and run out the front, because you cover the quarterback, or he has thrown it to the quarterback. So just a great play by Avery.
On what packages Tyler Buchner can play moving forward
You know, packages, packages, packages. We thought we had this package and then we started just calling the plays that were installed for everybody.
So, you know, it’s kind of what I talked about with our staff, is that the offense has to be certainly some run game for Tyler, but he’s got to be able to go in there, and if he’s in there on that last drive, we’ve got to be able to throw the football down the field and do those things.
So this is kind of to Pete’s question. We got to kind of figure out where we want to go here. We’ve got some really good players, but this week will be, All right, here is who we are and let’s get to work.
On the idea of moving Jarrett Patterson to tackle with all the injuries
We don’t need Jarrett Patterson at tackle. He’s really not set to be a tackle. What we need is to keep working with those guys and get them better. Maybe we got to move the pocket a little bit, maybe we got to do some things to help them a little bit, but it’s going to be Carmody, Baker, Alt, going to be Lugg, those are our guys, and maybe we got to get a tight end in there.
We’ve got options to figure this thing out. It’s not rocket science. Those kids are good, young players, but they’re young. We can win with those guys. We just got to figure it out. We’ll get it figured out.
On thinking about putting Tyler Buchner in for the final drive
No. I think having them both keeps the defense off of what you’re trying to do. I think we can blend both of them into what we’re doing.
On why he ultimately went with Jack Coan
No, we just liked Jack’s experience. He’s been there before. Not that Tyler couldn’t have done it, but if you’re looking four in the moment trying to win the game, it just made more sense to go with a guy that’s been experienced.