Brian Kelly 2018 Notre Dame Season Opening Presser Greatest Hits

Brian Kelly kicked off the 2018 season with his opening press conference. Here are the highlights. (Note: we’ll add the full video if/when WatchND posts it).

Roster Notes

  • Julian Okwara put on the weight he lost over the spring, back up to 241 pounds from 230. He should be ready to compete at defensive end. Daelin Hayes is up to 265 pounds, as is Khalid Kareem.
  • Avery Davis was listed as only a quarterback and not some slash role that we saw in the spring. Whether or not he sees time elsewhere is to be determined. *Kelly later said Davis will work mainly out of the backfield, so there you go.
  • Joe Wilkins is listed as a receiver/defensive back. It was reported he was going to move to wide receiver his freshman season.
  • Not a roster tidbit, but Notre Dame opened at #11 in the coaches poll. Michigan at #14. USC at #15.

Sam Mustipher Leads The Way, Wimbush Gets An A+

Same Mustipher was the first player Brian Kelly mentioned when talking about leadership for this seasons football team. If you want a strong leader on the offensive line, it coming from the center is very advantageous. He is literally in the center of everything, and can handle all of the calls from his spot. A very good sign for an offensive line losing top flight talent.

Kelly loved what he saw from Wimbush over the summer in terms of leadership and preparation. The story of Wimbush will be told in other ways next season, but this is good to hear from the starter who struggled to end 2017. Kelly noted the team is unstoppable when Wimbush is on his game, which is probably true. Quite a lot hinges on his senior signal caller.

If Up To Kelly The Team Will Wear Blue Against Michigan

A lot has been made of a “green out” against the Wolverines, something Kelly said the students wanted. There has been internet speculation in recent days, since Brian Kelly confirmed the green out on twitter, that this would mean the team may wear the controversial green jerseys against Michigan. Kelly was firm in his preference for blue in the opener, but given the tradition of the practice for green jersey games, you can never be sure till kickoff.

The Team Will Adjust To The New Redshirt Rule

Kelly will scrimmage the young players more aggressively due to them being allowed to compete in four games without losing a year of eligibility. Quarterback Phil Jurkovec was obviously mentioned. Kelly stated they will give him more of an opportunity to compete, but there is no rush in his development. He definitely wanted to temper expectations for his young signal caller.

Kelly Mystical Regarding Dexter Williams

Williams received a ton of praise from Kelly in terms of is preparation, calling it his best offseason of work. He added 8-10 pounds of muscle, and Kelly said Williams will help Notre Dame win this year. When asked if he will be available against Michigan, Kelly quipped, “He’s on our roster.”

As I said earlier this week, watch who Williams is taking reps with, and that’s your answer.

Khalid Kareem And Chase Claypool Ready To Impress

Two players I highlighted today in an upcoming breakout players piece, Kelly stated these two were ready to take their games to the next level.

Kelly asserted Kareem believes he can go in and dominate a football game, while Claypool has been more consistent in his approach, on and off the field. There was the proverbial “switch being flipped” regarding Claypool, which always seems to come up with him. Kelly also mentioned him as having better traits, pretty much the highest praise Kelly will give.

Houston Griffith Is Going To Play A Lot

At least that was my takeaway from Kelly’s comments regarding the early enrollee defensive back. First, he’s listed at nearly six feet and 205 pounds, so he is physically ready to be out there. Kelly noted he can also play corner and lauded his “functional intelligence” (instincts) and said his age wouldn’t preclude him from playing. This is coach speak for “he is going to play a lot for us.” I’ve consistently heard rave reviews from the Notre Dame beat regarding Griffith and his offseason, so this is no surprise.

Rover Is Wide Open

Kelly confirmed what many suspected, the Rover position is wide open between Asmar Bilal, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramaoh, and Shayne Simon. This will be a battle to watch throughout camp, with Bilal having to fight off some serious talent behind him. Frankly, I expect all three to play.

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  1. NO GIMMICKS just hard-nosed football will win vs. MICHIGAN!! GREEN , BLUE , GOLD OR WHITE wont matter only the PLAYER in that uniform can make the difference!! GO IRISH!!!!

  2. The students have made the right call on the “green out” against Michigan – but I doubt you will see 90% of the stadium in one color, like so many opponent stadiums. ND fans historically have worn every color the Bookstore carries…which is just about every color. But there will be a solid block of green in the student section, and more green than usual throughout the stadium. Let’s just make sure it’s a good green…not a drab olive green, or a neon green, or a lime green. How about Kelly green, guys?
    As for the team, they also are students, aren’t they? Let them wear the same green as the student body if they want to…not as a surprise, or for an unneeded “psychological” jolt…I’m sure both ND and Michigan will be “psyched” up enough for this one even if we played it in beige vs. pink, right?

    Rockne started the green thing, Leahy and Brennan used green, as Bob Rodes mentions below. Devine, another Irish boy, carried it to its ultimate utility, using it as a teaching moment on the potato famine and oppression against the Irish in 19th century America, and the Wearin’ of the Green in occupied Ireland. Faust killed it by tastelessly switching to green at halftime of a game we were leading by 30 points. And it has not been used with much success since then. But look guys, the truth is, Green is part of our heritage, part of our history…it is our RIGHT to wear it if we want to…if we feel like wearing it. And anybody who has a problem with that can kiss my (1/4) Irish you know what.

    Speaking of Rockne, his first season was 1918, as most of you certainly know…100 years ago this very year. It was not a great season…only 3-1-2…with 5 road games. The loss was against Michigan State. That other school in Michigan wouldn’t play us back then. 1919 was better…9-0! What does all this mean…absolutely nothing, of course. Just like wearing blue rather than green (or vice versa) will mean nothing to the outcome of our 2018 opener 4 weeks from now. This game will be won on the field, not in the dressing room guys. So let’s play this one for the exact same reason Rockne’s players played…just for the fun of it…just for a hoot! GO IRISH, WHUMP THE WOLVES!

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. Well stated BGC. Let’s focus on the field. Green or blue I don’t really care. Let’s whump Michigan!

      Of course it goes without saying – Gooooooooo Irish!!!

    2. Bruce, in addition to security and complexity, the simplicity of fun on a Saturday afternoon seems to have been fun.

      Perhaps because I started out with the 2-7 of ’63, with Huarte on the bench, and routs by Pitt (Martha and Mazurek) and Navy (that guy from Purcell Marian named Roger Staubach.) my football DNA does NOT include an entitlement attitude.

      I was sitting in a dorm room in Cavanaugh waiting for (sorry Gladys Knight) that midnight train to New York when the old radio (Arvin? RCA? Philco?) crackled and announced that Ara was the new coach.

      That semester break I played so much hoop at the Convo that I got lanceable blisters on both feet and was in the infirmary next to a journeyman linebacker named Ron Kostelnik. We heard the roar from Sorin’s steps for Ara’s famous pep rally.

      And then the magic began, with the championships in ’66, ’73, ’77 and ’78.

      But for me it has NEVER been about championships. Sure they are like the cherries on the ice cream for Cherries Jubilee.
      I’m not sending it back to the kitchen.

      But these are Notre Dame players. They are my guys.

      It is not life and death (yeah, sometime, especially after Viet Nam) it felt WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYY more important than that.

      But there is a growth industry for poor, vapid souls (Like David and Rob Pacheco here today, and BJ of yesterday) for umbrage disappointment, frustration and diaper rash, along with Midol and Pamprin where appropriate

      Your quote was priceless and right on:

      “Let’s play this one for the exact same reason Rockne’s players played………… just for the fun of it………just for a hoot.”

      Amen Allleluia.

      I can’t muster the hatred for Michigan that many do. My best friend (to whose wife I introduced him) matriculated at Michigan for Law School. (I was the best man in their wedding, but he is not with us) He worked at a bar just outside the gates of Michigan Stadium and got hooked up for Michigan tickets. I started going to games in Ann Arbor in ’73 (and always was there when Dr. Strangehayes was in town) and that was 5 years before we started playing them.

      So I don’t despise them at all.

      They colors really are based on an agricultural product: (maize is corn, and they, as well as Nebraska are the Children of the Corn.)

      Here are some facts about Wolverines:

      the wolverine is a stocky and muscular animal. With short legs, broad and rounded head, small eyes and short rounded ears.

      Bo Schembechler? (an OL for Ara at the Cradle of Coaches)

      And yeah, I saw Bo wince twice (thrice actually) the first when Harry O’s kick rode a rogue wind current to sneak over the crossbar in ’80 and on that glorious day in ’89 in the rain at Michigan Stadium when Raghib Ismail, just like Joe Pesci’s mother in “Goodfellas” etched an epic on the Astroturf “one way and then the other”

      But this Irish team, they are “my guys” and So is Kelly.
      He is not perfect. And the point is? Are you, Bruce? Am I.

      So have fun in August.
      Four weeks from tonight you’ll be at the rally, then the game.

      Ah, the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd……………..

      Go IRISH

  3. Green Jerseys?
    Red Herring?

    What I love is that we have the perfect opener. The lads will be focused on Michigan and the menacing Harbaugh.

    After all, these kids were growing up when Harbaugh was prowling the sidelines of the Super Bowl for the DeBartolo

    While we may lose the game it will not be because of a lack of focus.

    1. Hey Duranko,
      If you want to, we could meet at the Pep Rally (when we find out where it will be) for a brew or two and a cigar. If you are interested, I’ll post a time and place when ND finally gets the details out. I hope you are not tied up with work or something that night! I’ll be the dressed one in green.

      BGC ’77 ’82

      1. Sorry, I meant “I’ll be the one dressed in green”…my grammatical dyslexia above makes it sound like I’m expecting streakers. No such luck.

        BGC ’77 ’82

      2. Man, Bruce, I’d love to but I will not be in the Bend that weekend.

        Let me tell you about my first pep rally: Old Field House.

        The Interim man himself, Hugh Devore (the three coaches at ND were Jake Kline, Johnny Jordan, and Jake Kline-those guys didn’t win many championships but could drink any coaching staff in America under the table)

        We were playing Wisconsin, just off the dramatic RonVANDERKELEN throwing TD passes in twilight loss to SC, so it was a big deal.

        Hugh got up on that balcony and grabbed the crowd’s attention

        “Men, there are three things we need to do to beat Wisconsin tomorrow……

        A silence ensued as we thought we were about to get the Fatima like secrets of clever strategy from Hugh his own self……

        After an appropriate and maddening silence Devore announced the three pillars of victory:


        The crowd went crazy
        as Hughie ruled the stage

        Later that Fall, in came USC. It was ’63, a more innocent, gentle, pre-ESPN pretwitter time. The previous New Year’s Day I had watched that USC Wisconsin epic and dragged all the male relatives to the TV on that glorious New Year’s Day
        (When Cotton, Orange and Sugar preceded the Rose bowl)

        In that innocent era, the visitors would work out in the Stadium on Friday afternoon. No media, few fans, minimal security, So I strolled over, perhaps after Emil T. There they were in gold pants, white jerseys, cardinal trim, the Mighty Trojans, Pete Beathard, Mike Garrett and the cocky John McKay.

        Gosh, it seems like yesterday……..

      3. Duranko, My first pep rally was an ARA rally in the Fieldhouse. What seemed like about 100 crazy students were trying to make some sort of human pyramid up to the rafters. I watched it grow. Decades later I was reminiscing about it with my brother Roger, who is an attorney in Austin, TX. (The family was down in Texas visiting for an A@M game). I said to him “you know, Roger, those were the days, we should get back to that stuff, don’t you think?” He laughed and said “Bruce, do you have any idea what the liability would be for that stuff today?” I thought about it…he was right…some things from the old days just can’t be attempted anymore…it’s probably a good thing! Here’s to “old times” Duranko…..especially minimal security – when I, and my brothers, could just walk into dorm after dorm selling our Cub Scout Christmas candy! In room after room we’d come upon guys playing poker, and they’d always say the same thing…”Next pot winner buys the candy” – it was like heaven on earth!

        BGC ’77 ’82

  4. Dexter is screwed 🙁

    I hope we are 4-0 when he comes back because he is a big difference maker on this offense and I hope we aren’t wondering what might have happened in these first four games if we were to lose any of them. I think without him we don’t have a home run threat at RB but let’s hope Jafar Armstrong proves me wrong. Jones has proven to me he is a hard nosed runner but definitely no home run threat.

  5. I certainly hope that they don’t wear green for Michigan. It was a master stroke back in 1977, when it hadn’t been done since the Rockne years (as a surprise, that is; Leahy and Brennan used green most of the time). Since then, it has come off more as a feeble gimmick, and appears to have the opposite psychological effect that it had back then. Starting with Lou Holtz’s loss to Colorado in 1995, the Irish have gone 1-5 in green jerseys, the lone win being against a very weak Army team.

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