Sept. 20, 2015
Q. Couple questions about Drue Tranquill. Surgery next week to ten days?
COACH KELLY: I asked that question this morning, and probably closer to two weeks. I think Rob Hunt, our trainer, would like to rehab him a little bit first before we have surgery.
Q. I don’t think Max Redfield played yesterday; was that because of his injury or because of the option?
COACH KELLY: Both. You know, we had made a decision that Elijah would be playing, chiefly be middle of the field for us. And then obviously when we went to two-safety look, it was Drue and Matthias’s position. So Max was backing up Elijah Shumate.
So Elijah played very well, and he was in a backup position because of the option, and then his hand, we obviously didn’t play very well the week before with it, so that’s what put him in a backup position.
Q. Do you expect him to be starting this week or too early to say?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think we’ll probably have a conversation with him, see how he feels. And then go to work on Tuesday and see how he is out on the field.
Q. And you talked a lot this season about the depth on the team. With all these injuries, is there any concern yet that depth could be a problem?
COACH KELLY: Well, certainly we can’t afford to lose any more players at key positions: Quarterback, running back, you start to get into true freshmen, and that will be obviously a significant change in what we look like.
Drue Tranquill was a very important player in our back end of the defense because of his versatility. So there is a break point. You know, we are still at a point where we have guys that can come in and step in, but there’s no question that we have to be able to stem the tide here with these injuries.
Q. I believe you said that the injuries have been non-contact — is Shaun Crawford the other one?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, no contact on Shaun. Shaun was in a one-on-one drill, non-contact, backpedalling, turned and planted and tore his ACL.
Q. Doing a story on Mike McGlinchey, and I was hoping to get some input on how he’s looked to you and how he’s progressed.
COACH KELLY: I think he’s making great progress. He’s long and athletic. I think each week he learns a little bit more about just the slight intricacies of playing the tackle position. But love his demeanor, his work ethic, toughness. He’s got all those traits, and extremely, extremely athletic at the position.
But I think every day he’s learning a little bit more about that position and the little things that goes along with playing offensive tackle.
Q. If you could talk about his demeanor, I had the pleasure of covering Michael in high school, there’s a fury to this kid that you see him, he’s a mellow, great kid on the field. On the field, he’s a terror; if you could talk a little about that.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he’s what we consider a tough gentleman; a gentleman off the field and a real tough guy on the field, and he carries that with him every single day. Very easygoing off the field. Very likable. Active in our campus and community here. But on the field here, he’s one tough son of a gun, and that’s kind of how we like them.
Q. What more would you like to see out of Mike, and where could you see improvement in terms of possibly seeing him as a better pass blocker, possibly a better run blocker; where do you see some improvement?
COACH KELLY: I think just overall knowledge of the position. As I mentioned earlier, he’s got a pretty good general understanding. But just putting himself in a better position. Sometimes he gets a little too engaged in one thing and doesn’t give himself a great chance to help out in other areas. Sometimes he’s an all-or-nothing guy, and it’s because he’s still learning the position.
I think that that’s probably the biggest curve for him is that he needs to just continue to learn the position itself.
Q. I know sometimes after you play triple-option teams, there’s a little bit of a hangover in terms of the next week, getting back to playing a conventional offense. I wondered, what are the mental and physical challenges that your team faces pulling out of playing a triple-option team?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think first and foremost, getting back into the routine that you kind of lose, your practice routine. I think I mentioned last week, you don’t go against each other. So just getting back to that routine that’s very, very important that they are used to. So we have to get back to it right away on Tuesday.
And then just, again, the mind-set of how to play. Now, we were pretty aggressive defensively, which I think will help us coming back this week against UMass. I think that’s very, very important.
But routine is probably the most important thing that you’ve got to get back to.
Q. You mentioned aggressiveness and some of your defensive players said yesterday that they just didn’t even worry about the cut blocks that they attacked and so forth. Do you feel like because of that, maybe Saturday’s defensive performance is a little bit more transferrable, a little bit more sustainable than maybe it would have been in past instances?
COACH KELLY: I think so. We really try to look for, for me personally and moving forward as we see that the option is going to be something that we see each and every year, I wanted something that definitely could be duplicated and replicated from year-to-year.
The way we play it, you know, is something that I want to continue to do, and we don’t have to have such a huge adjustment each year with our defensive football team. I think we may have found the right kind of balance with the way we’re teaching our kids.
Q. Couple questions on the safety. Does Matthias take Drue Tranquill’s role in your packages? Is that what happens there? And also, Avery Sebastian, does the timetable — what does that look like on the chances of getting him back?
COACH KELLY: Well, we think we’re about a couple of weeks from Avery, getting him back. He’s right around four weeks. We think he’s closer to six before we get him back.
Matthias has the ability to play a couple of different positions. Brian and I have not had that personnel conversation yet relative to what will be the next move that we make there; whether we bring somebody up into that role, or whether it’s Nicco Fertitta, or do we have Baratti move. We’ve got to make that decision here in the next 24 hours. I’m not really sure yet.
Q. You told Lou Holtz on Friday that you wanted to get Brandon Wimbush into the game to get the glaze out of his eyes, I think is how you put it. Just wasn’t a good time to get him in there, and is that kind of your game plan this week; you’d like to get him a few reps?
COACH KELLY: I would. I think the way the game kind of unfolded there, it got a little frantic at the end there, and then of course we never got the ball back. We had the one long run, and then that was it. I mean, it was take a knee, and so I wasn’t going to run him out there to take a knee.
I think for me, and I know talking to Brandon, we want to get him in as soon as we can, because as I said, eventually he’s going to have to get in the game; so the sooner, the better.
Q. You had a few more legal procedure penalties at home. Was that still a noise situation or maybe just getting used to the different cadence with DeShone Kizer running things?
COACH KELLY: It still is a touch louder at home with the new construction. But it is mostly getting used to DeShone. He kind of elongated his cadence sometimes with some pressures and movement in front of him, and the guys just weren’t used to it quite frankly. Got to clean that up and I know we can get that corrected for next week.
Q. Twenty-four hours since DeShone started. What do you think about his performance yesterday?
COACH KELLY: He did some pretty good things. You know, I like the way he manages the offense from a protection standpoint, gets us into the right protections. Run game, reads were pretty good. Could be a little bit more accurate throwing the football. And just made the one mistake in the red zone on the interception, which was obviously a big one.
But all of them are things that he can learn from and grow from, and so I thought from a first-time start, beating a nationally-ranked team, I thought it was a good way for him to get his first start.
Q. And talking about the running game, what did you like about the running game yesterday, three rushing touchdowns by C.J., that’s pretty good.
COACH KELLY: And it was tough sledding in there. They loaded the box, made it difficult to run. We stayed with it and we ran it more than we threw it. That was something that we needed to do. And then obviously we hit the big run with C.J. that opened up things for us.
So I thought we stayed committed to it, and you know, hung in there with the running game, which I thought was key for us to have success.
Q. I know this is early and I know you’re going to start with preparation for UMass. What did you see this morning as you get ready for next Saturday’s game, your preparation?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we are already starting on UMass right now.
Q. What did you see on film that might give you an issue next week?
COACH KELLY: They had Temple beat. Temple is a team that’s already beaten Cincinnati and Penn State. So that’s a quality football team. Mark Rhule is a heck of a good coach and he’s got this team playing well.
Veteran defense. They have got ten seniors on their defense and the quarterback can throw it all over the place. Really good quarterback. So we are going to have to play well, because this is a team that can beat you, there’s no question.
Q. You have a great record when it comes to playing backup quarterbacks or shifting quarterbacks. What are the biggest challenges you face whenever you size up next-man-up when it comes to replacing a quarterback?
COACH KELLY: I think the most important thing is their confidence and making sure that you’re doing the things that they feel comfortable doing. Really giving them the plays that they have a comfort level with.
So it’s not about what you like to run; it’s about what you feel comfortable with. For me, it’s always putting together a game plan that fits to the quarterbacks liking and at whatever level they are at in terms of the playbook, they know half of it, all of it, picking the things that they really have a comfort with.
Q. Do you think because you have a background being a small college guy, do you think maybe you’re a little more adept at it than most guys just because your background is as it is?
COACH KELLY: Well, you know, I’ve had to manage this before, a number of occasions. I don’t know, I just — it’s just been one of those things that especially when you’re in division two, you’re always having to manage on a shorter budget, if you will.
We had 35 scholarships to work with, so we were always having to be a little bit more creative and always look for reasons to succeed. I think it helps you in these kinds of situations.
Q. How much does it help, or how often do you draw on these past successes, whether they were at Cincinnati, or even before that, to know not just the confidence that you know you can do it, but that these guys and your staff and also the players know, hey, this guy has been through it and he’s found a way to make it all work.
COACH KELLY: Well, I think it’s all part of the journey. I pull on past experiences, 25 years of being a head coach is a long time, and I try to pull on all of those experiences to help our team, help them with their confidence and belief, and it’s those experiences that I’ve had over 25 years that I draw on.
Q. Wanted to ask you about sort of that swag team. There are eight scholarships on it and most had big-time offers to go other places and play. You can sell, we want you to prepare the option, but they’ve got to buy it. Why do you think that they bought it and how tough the defense was yesterday.
COACH KELLY: Well, it started with recruiting Robert Regan. Robert was a preferred walk on and he ran the triple option at Hinsdale in Illinois, so it started with him.
Then I took them myself in camp to build the credibility of the unit, and I think that that kind of set the tone of the importance of the unit. I took them for those ten minutes of individual time, and then they met with Coach Elliott off the field.
So we really put the backing of it with myself and Coach Elliott, and then having a preferred walk-on in Robert, who has run it successfully, I think that all built the credibility of the swag team.
Q. When did it sort of hit you that, hey, recruiting a preferred walk on who could just run the option is the way to go; maybe this is the next step for us in this development?
COACH KELLY: It was after last year and feeling like I wanted to have something year-round that we could keep operational. You know, working really through the winter, through spring ball, in the summer, and I wanted a unit that could continue, because option is going to be part of our future playing against option teams.
So I wanted something that could be — something that could be here and on campus and working all the time.
Q. Chris Brown, is that the best he’s given you in his four years here?
COACH KELLY: I thought he played well, there’s no question. Probably had one catch back that I thought he could have made for us. But played well. Obviously made some big catches for us, big third down conversions.
He’s a gamer. He’s a kid that gives everything he has. He’s not as smooth as a Will Fuller. He’s probably not as talented as a Torii Hunter. Doesn’t have the size of a Corey Robinson, but boy, he’s got a huge heart. He gives you everything he has, and that’s what you love about him.
Q. I asked you last week, Tarean Folston, his surgery, has that been set yet, and is Notre Dame’s medical team going to perform that?
COACH KELLY: I don’t have the answer to that yet. That’s still being discussed. So it’s kind of out of my hands right now.
Q. Just with C.J. Prosise’s day that he had yesterday and even the three that he’s put in this season, is it surprising to you that this kid came to Notre Dame to play defensive back the way he’s playing running back right now?
COACH KELLY: You know, I knew we had a really good athlete there. Did I know he was going to be the starting running back? No, I didn’t. But I knew he was going to help our football team somewhere. It’s great to see him having the success that he’s having.
I’m glad our defensive coaches didn’t think he could backpedal really well, which kind of looks silly right now, doesn’t it. So much for our evaluation-ing process. Yeah, he’s an outstanding athlete, and he’ll do anything for the team. That’s why it’s great to see the success that he’s having.
Q. It has to start weighing on you as a coach to have six guys go down with injuries. How do you deal with this, but also still focus on football and letting your guys know, just keep working hard?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, what do you say about a kid that gets up and chest bumps and doesn’t turn his ankle, but he tears his ACL. I mean, I don’t know what to say anymore. Folston is running and he tears his ACL with no contact. I mean, it’s just one of the craziest things.
You can’t explain it, so it doesn’t do us any good to really spend much time thinking about it, other than we feel terrible for Drue, for Malik and for all of the players that we’ve lost. But not much we can do about it, other than dig down deep and play the best we can for these guys, because they have given up everything to play this game. So that’s all we try to focus on.
Q. I remember you said at preseason that when Matthias was named captain, you said, hey, look, you’re still going to be in some play-making situations. First play he comes in for Drue, he forces a fumble. What about Matthias about allows him to come off the bench into a situation like that and immediately make an impact?
COACH KELLY: He’s a mature, seasoned veteran. It would be probably the best way that I would characterize it. He’s played a lot of football. He’s played championship football. And he has a knack for making that big play.
And again, like I said, he’s played a lot of football and so I think when you have to put him on the field, there’s a sense that at least we’ve got a veteran football player out there and he has a penchant for making those plays.
Q. C.J. is going to get a lot of attention on the highlight reels for the 91-yard touchdown. How impressive is his ability to move the pile? I think it was his first run of the game, got hit, and four yards later, still moving. How impressive is that ability that he has?
COACH KELLY: Well, it’s outstanding. And I would also highlight a run that he made probably four or five plays later where he ran through two tacklers. He’s tough to bring down. His lower body strength is really so much more than people think. He runs through tacklers and he’s difficult to bring down.
Sometimes we’d like to finish his runs off with his pads a little bit lower. I thought he was better at it on Saturday, but he’s very difficult to bring down. He’s a big kid.
Q. With Tarean, are you having discussions with him about the surgery, or is it kind of his camp handling it right now?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we’ve had discussions with Tarean. He’s back here on campus. A lot of this stuff relative to his medical, I try not to get too much involved if they are doing it off-campus. And he did not have his surgery done with our medical group. So I just didn’t want to get into the specifics of it.