Nov. 18, 2014
COACH KELLY: We’ll have to find ways to move the ball against an extremely athletic Louisville defense. Mauldin, Burgess, inside very physical fronts. I think there’s probably four or five guys there as good of guys as we’ve gone against. And it looks like they’ve going to get some guys back, too. It will be a great challenge.
I think really it’s about how we play. I think it’s pretty obvious that we’ve got to make some plays defensively. Slow some people down. And take care of the football. Those are the two things. And then our kicking game has got to get back to where it was.
I still think we’ve got one of the best kickers in the country, he had an off day on Saturday. But I expect him to bounce back, and if we get those three areas cleaned up, we could beat anybody. So I know that’s the way our kids feel. That’s the way I feel. And we get a chance to do that again on Senior Day. Which is important. Important milestone for three of our seniors, in particular, because they’re the three guys that came in with me five years ago, and we certainly want to send them out as winners.
So, with that I’ll answer questions.
Q. Any chance you can get Sheldon back for either USC or for a bowl?
COACH KELLY: Yes, we’ll get Sheldon back. Cage we’ll get back next week, most likely.
Q. Everett, how is he feeling? Sometimes those AC things are tricky?
COACH KELLY: We’ll know today. He got treatment the last couple of days, and we’ll see today in practice. And the reports are that through treatment that he had no ill effects today and felt good, full range of motion. We expect him to be in practice.
Q. You mentioned Kyle Brindza had an off day. Where do you go with that whole operation? Are you back with Hunter Smith?
COACH KELLY: No, I think we just had one situation there. I think all the other ones went smoothly. I think we just had it’s one of those things where we might have gotten in Kyle’s head a little bit.
The tough part about it is when he does all the jobs, you know, it starts to affect everything. I think he learned a great lesson, that he can’t let that affect him. You’ve got to move on. And not let it affect. I think it’s going to be a great thing for him to build on. And I had a great talk with him. I think he’s going to be just fine. We’ll keep the battery up.
Q. Is that difficult on a week like this where if Everett’s shoulder again get cranky, (inaudible.) Is there a chance that they would have to take medical hardships?
COACH KELLY: It’s really too early to tell. They both are taking it day to day as we are on all of these guys. And again, you know our situation here, those fifth years are just added decided by our faculty board.
So for me to make any assertions whether they’re back that’s why we bring them all out. At times it’s kind of just the way we do it here at Notre Dame. If I could make all those decisions right now, it would be a little easier, short of Senior Day, for sure, we’d have three guys, right? I can’t make all those decisions right now.
Q. A lot of them with high hopes, some of them played really good football before you moved on, but you haven’t gotten much out of that class. There are a lot of injuries in that class. Is that just football, do you just how do you process that as a coach, out of that whole group I think you might have gotten one tackle out of them?
COACH KELLY: Are we referring to the fifth year seniors or fourth year seniors?
Q. The fourth year seniors?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I just think it’s a cycle, and doing it for as long as I have, that you never count on one particular class to be the backbone as much as you count on them to be leaders. You count on them to help. But I don’t think it’s ever one class. I think classes kind of can kind of set the tone for success by one player being a play maker or two players, but I don’t know that it ever stretches across the entire class. I think each one of them has individual qualities.
To go back to the fifth year class, Collinsworth, he’s the captain, and then you go to the four year class and you’ve got captains in that class. I think each one of them kind of address a different dimension, more so than one class really taking hold and being evaluated. That’s why it’s so important that the consistency in recruiting. I think that’s why people get so nervous that there’s a change in coaches and if there’s a lost year in recruiting or there’s a loss couple of years that there’s a couple of years there where there’s off years in recruiting that can hurt you. But if you’re recruiting well each and every year, you can take pieces out of each class.
Q. With Max Redfield you made a remark a week and a half ago that you really liked where he was headed, thought his potential was really great. What do you want to see from him the rest of this year that kind of puts it back on that track with his future looks bright?
COACH KELLY: He’s got a great trait, it’s his athleticism. But he’s got to take that trait and really start to translate it on the field. And that means football knowledge, understanding the game, really taking what he learns in the classroom and applying it to the field. And he wants to do it. He’s willing to do it. He’s willing to put in the time. We had a conversation with Coach VanGorder yesterday about that specific fact, of what else can I do to translate that. And he wants to do it. He knows that there’s things that he’s got to get better at in terms of recognition and understanding the game and where to be and when to trigger and all those things.
And he’s just he’s trying to get there. But I really think you have to look at him as a freshman this year. He’s played in a bowl game last year, and that’s it. He’s really a freshman and going through a freshman year.
Q. As it relates to Sheldon Day, does that precipitate some changes in alignment?
COACH KELLY: I think it will be a little bit of both. I think we’ll have to shake up a couple of things there and move some guys around. I think we’ll have to see if we can make up for a little bit of both.
Q. Blankenship, maybe?
COACH KELLY: Yeah. Play a little bit more inside. So I think if he gets into the mix, Justin gets into the mix, Blankenship gets into the mix a little bit more, I think that’s probably the most realistic scenario right now.
Q. Following up on the question about Redfield, is that an accumulation of play over a couple of weeks? I know there was a play at the end of the Arizona State game, do you know what that was about? That’s kind of unlike him as physical and aggressive as he is.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think I think he felt like the guy was going out of bounds. It’s just it didn’t look good. It certainly affected him. He’s got a lot of pride, like most players do, certainly. Max is a kid that we’re going to continue to work with and we’ve got to get him there. And we can’t say he’s not our guy. He is our guy. We’ve got to get him to the level where the game becomes easier for him and that’s what we’re working towards.
Q. In terms of Tranquill, you’ve used him all season, he’s been effective in the box. You had him as more of a safety. The other day I know it’s early but long term future with him what do you see, as far as his positioning?
COACH KELLY: Well, we’d like obviously he’s doing a great job for us and playing a position of need right now. But we have a picture with that safety would look like, and it’s a little bit different than what drew looks like, but he’s doing a great job for us at that position right now. We think he’s a little bit closer to the ball. But given our situation right now he’s forced into a role that he’s doing the best he can with right now.
Q. At 225, how high is that upside weight wise in the future?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think it puts him in a position where he needs to be configured for linebacker position. He could be considered for safety positions that we use him closer to the ball. But he’s playing off the hash right now and he’s good enough to be the starting safety at Notre Dame off the hash. And that’s not bad.
COACH KELLY: You know, I felt that pretty much all year. But it you put the ball on the ground as much as we have you start to have to reevaluate the way you go in the game, because you can’t keep saying we’re going to out score you, but have nine turnovers in the last few weeks.
We have to play better all around. We can’t just say offensively we’re going to play fast and score points and whatever happens, happens. That’s not good enough. I think you saw that last week.
So I think we’ve got to play better defense. We’ve got to make some key stops. We’ve got to get lined up. We’ve got to hold on to the football. Now, when we say hold on to the football, what does that mean?
Clearly we’ve got to make sure that we’re giving the ball to the right guy at the right time and doing the things that minimize risk. And so all those things are in the evaluation mode while still knowing at the end of the day we have to score a lot of points.
COACH KELLY: You know, we’ve never been as young as we’ve been on defense. So that’s difficult.
And we’ve never had this much difficulty holding on the football on offense at the same time. But we’re going to get through it. We’re not going to blame anybody. We’re going to look at how we coach it. And get better at it. And we’re going to fight through this rough spot. It’s a rough spot for us.
But it’s a time that we’ll look to evaluate how we’re coaching it. And players need to evaluate what their mental approach is to taking care of the football and that’s how we’ll get through it.
COACH KELLY: I think everybody is responsible for that. Players are responsible to know that he’s in the game in a package that’s pretty consistent and the coaches need to know in that situation, as well. I think that’s pretty clear in that instance that there’s culpability on both sides.
COACH KELLY: We would have hoped so.
Q. Louisville has a player leading the nation in interceptions. What does he do that makes him so good? Do you want the guys focusing on this?
COACH KELLY: No, he needs to know where he is. He does a great job reading eyes. They’re very good ball skilled kids in the back end. But they’re reading eyes. He stares down anybody in his zip code he’s going to take the ball away. Very good at anticipating throws, jumping routes. They do a very good job. Just really good at it. And obviously they put themselves in great position offensively because they do such a good job defensively ball hawking in the back end.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, it’s probably been that way for the last four years, I think when we went 12 0 we could probably say there was three or four games, whether it was Pittsburgh or any of the other games that we played during that year. Stanford on the goal line.
I think college football is such that it comes down to a couple of plays and a fine line. And that’s why it’s so critical that when you turn the ball over like we do, and when we turn it over, it’s critical. I mean it’s catastrophic turnovers. We’re turning it over on the five yard line, on the goal line. We’re throwing it off our kid’s helmet, it’s bouncing up in the air and they’re returning it. They are absolutely critical turnovers. We’re not getting the fumble that gets up in the end zone and we fall on it.
It’s a rough spot that we’re going through, there’s no question. But it is a fine line. But you definitely put yourself in those situations, like Stanford, when you turn the ball over, like we did against Stanford. Now the game comes down to that. Or North Carolina, when you turn the ball over, it comes down to that.
So we really think that the self inflicted wounds on offensive have been the story of the season so far, knowing that our defense has been young, and that we were going to have to hold on we’ve made it really much more difficult than it has to have been.
Q. Following up on that, and talking about your team, being so close, how do you feel the team is mentally?
A. They understand that there are some tough times. But relatively speaking I remind them of some tough times, that we were here just a few years ago, when we were 4 and 5. Those are tough times. Those are difficult times. This pales in comparisons. You’re now in a winning environment. And you’ve won a lot of football games. Our seniors win on Saturday, that would be 18 2 in the last 20 games at home. So keep it in perspective.
And a lot of the things that are going on you can correct, they’re correctable. So it’s a perspective, but what I reminded them of is the things they can control and the things that I’m going to help them control. And that is I don’t want to create bad habits. And some of our habits right now in terms of the way we’re playing on defense and not communicating, not playing smart football. And then offensively turning it over. Those are bad habits that we need to break.
Q. Asking about 2010, what happened at the end that sort of galvanized them?
COACH KELLY: Well, we had a lot of other things, as you know, going on. We had a tragic situation that obviously was a part of what was going on. I think it was resolved. I think it was a determination that everybody made a decision that regardless of the circumstances they were going to find a way to win. And that’s kind of what we talked about.
We’re going to find a way to win, regardless of whether we have Sheldon Day or Joe Schmidt, whether we have KeiVarae Russell, or Daniels, it doesn’t matter. We’re going to find a way to beat Louisville.
Q. You had almost a similar situation last year.
COACH KELLY: Well, you know, we ran the ball for 200 yards and ran it 40 times Saturday, and that didn’t seem to help much, because we fumbled it three times. We’re looking for answers. You’ve got some good ones, I’m all ears. You guys want to write something down on a piece of paper, I’ll take it. We’re searching, you know what I mean?
But what we’re looking for is we’re going to run our offense. We want to minimize risk within our offense, knowing full well we need to score points. But we want to make sure that our players understand how crucial it is to take care of the football. They have to have that mindset. They cannot turn the football over under any circumstances.
If I had a crystal ball and I could figure out what it was exactly that we needed to do offensively to score enough points, and that was running 50 times, I would do it. But that’s kind of where we’re at right now.
Q. You mentioned Kyle, do you feel that turnover situation, that it almost becomes a self fulfilling prophecy?
COACH KELLY: No, we’re not going to get into that. I think you get in the game and it definitely affects you. Look, it affected me, I went for two when I should have kicked the extra point, right? It affects everybody. I can’t fall into that. I’m not getting paid to make stupid decisions like that. But you fall into that, right?
And so I can’t let our players fall into that. So that’s what we talked about this week. We cannot let that affect the way we play. We’ve got to go play and we can’t let those things affect us. And the way to not let those things affect you is take care of the football. We take care of the football, get lined up on defense, we’ll be fine this weekend and that’s what we have to do.
Q. Regarding the safety, Jarrod Barnes, It seems almost ridiculous that one player can intercept that many passes.
COACH KELLY: He is. He’s really he’s got great ball skills. But also his scheme allows his some freedom now. So he’s always in a position to be that extra player roving. It’s not like he’s man to man on the perimeter and just picking the ball every single time it’s thrown at him. He’s usually a drop down player in a position where he can read the eyes and react. He’s usually doubling somebody. He’s usually a free player. So he has some freedom to go get the football. So the scheme allows him some freedom and they do a great job of allowing him that freedom to go get the football.
Q. Collinsworth was your first commitment after you got this job. Can you go back with what you remember about what you saw on tape? Why you wanted him?
COACH KELLY: Well, certainly a couple of things stood out. One, he’s a winner. He came from a winning program. And I wanted to bring in as many guys that were early on that had experience winning. And had come from a winning environment. He came from a winning program, was a leader, captain, carried himself in a manner that I thought would be a great influence. And it’s turned out full circle to be that way, from being a captain his senior year.
I thought he was a versatile player, could play both on offensive or defense, not knowing really where we were with our roster at the time, we were kind of looking for some utility guys, some guys that were winners and had great character. That was kind of the profile in recruiting.
Certainly if I was in Cincinnati, I don’t think it would have been the right guy, because I would not have been so familiar with him being just over the bridge in Fort Collins.
Q. Parker, how good is he compared to other ones you’ve gone against?
COACH KELLY: Well, he’s got a unique quality of range that Strong from Arizona State has range but not speed. He’s got range, but he’s got the speed of elite receivers. So they’re very rare to find. He’s got top end speed with that range. And those are so difficult to find. And I think that that’s what and great ball skills. He doesn’t drop anything. Range, speed and great ball skills make him a very difficult receiver.
Q. When you watch him on tape, the way teams are defend willing him do you come away thinking well, I would have done that, too, that was just a great play?
COACH KELLY: I think the first thing that I come away with is what most teams are trying to do is get somebody in zone underneath them and somebody over the top. And trying to get the quarterback out of the progression, get off him, you know. Because if it’s man to man, he’s staying on him all the way through his progression. So we’ll see what happens. But in zone you’re trying to get the quarterback off the progression. It’s really difficult to prevent.
Q. There was a fumble on the second half. Is (Inaudible.)
COACH KELLY: No, he’s been better with the mechanics. Obviously wasn’t good enough if the ball was on the ground. They’ve been working really hard on his mechanics. He has a tendency to shuffle and move his feet up in the line of scrimmage, which causes some tight mesh points. And we felt like he was getting better at it. And on Saturday he did a pretty good job and kept his steps away from the mesh. We felt he was ready for a little bit more and we were right in one instance and wrong in the other.
Q. Is that more complicated than people give him credit for?
COACH KELLY: Well, it is because when you’re obviously pulling it, you have any kind of disruption there, we’re not just running option. We’re running so many other things. If that’s all you do, then maybe not quite as much of a concern, but when you do so many other things, it needs to be clean.
Q. A couple of defensive personnel questions. (Inaudible.)
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he’ll get some playing time for us.
Q. Isaac Rochell, he’s continued to play well, is he a little bit ahead of schedule?
COACH KELLY: No, I think he’s where we thought he would be. He’s a physical player. He’s a guy that’s probably a tweener in a sense, that he could play inside and outside. His body type is not ever going to be that dynamic edged pass rusher. He’s a great 2 gap player. He can pull the edge. He’s athletic enough, rangy enough, that he can do a lot of really good things, very solid football player for us in many respects.
Q. Another sophomore, Cole Luke, he has continued to progress and continues to make big play.
COACH KELLY: Would I say if there’s one player we would single out on defense that has progressed as maybe some others have leveled off or haven’t progressed the way we have wanted him to it’s Cole Luke. He has really out performed in our eyes in a number of ways.
Q. An ideal example of a guy that wasn’t going to get that much playing time?
COACH KELLY: If there’s a silver lining, right, through so much turmoil relative to personnel in the loss of Russell, playing Cole Luke and getting him this year really bodes well for us.
Q. I’m just wandering how many times over the course of a single game or maybe a season in your self analysis do you say to yourself that was stupid, obviously there’s always going to be some regents, but how many times do you say something like that?
COACH KELLY: I do it every day. I do something stupid every day.
Q. They’ve obviously gone back and forth this year, did their offense change much dramatically with a more athletic kid as opposed to a more big arm guy?
COACH KELLY: I’ve only seen bits and pieces. We haven’t seen a full change. I don’t believe that there’s going to be a full change from what they do. It’s kind of interesting if you look at them the way they started the season, you go all the way back to Murray State, they were spread. Then they came back with more tight end depth. And then you could imagine with Bonnagon, who is more of a spread guy, that they would go back. You really haven’t seen that. I think they’ll stay true to who they are. Coach Petrino, he likes to be in those tight end sets, and likes the Omaha routes, play action, and run the football, and really does a good job of balancing things up. We expect to see similar kind of offense from them.
Q. He was asking about Collinsworth, but Justin Utupo, what did you expect with him?
COACH KELLY: We expected him to be, first of all, a good leader for us. And he has been. He’s Justin is well respected by his teammates. He’s well liked. He has a lot of credibility in our locker room. And so we knew what we were getting as a locker room guy. And if that’s all we got from him, that would have been enough for him to come back as a fifth year player. But we’re hoping to get a role for him, as well. And Brian thought that after the spring that he could perform in a role for us. And that’s what it ended up being. He found a role for us on the defensive line and has performed probably and played more snaps than we thought coming into the season.
Q. It seems Tyler Stockton, for example, you often bring back a locker room guy, is that what you think about?
COACH KELLY: Sure. Absolutely. Yeah, I think if your locker room is right and you’ve got the right kind of guys in that locker room it’s always going to sustain you. It’s going to sustain you in tough times and it’s going to help you when things are going really well to keep them rounded. I’ve always felt that that’s an important piece of those fifth year players, as well.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think obviously the first guy if Joe wasn’t playing as much, you think Joe Schmidt right out of the gates, obviously he’s had an incredible role for us this year. But he’s a guy that is certainly one. Matthias Farley is another. Just a guy that’s very well respected by everybody in the locker room.
Q. Just wanted to ask, what has Cam’s response been in the fumble Saturday?
Kind of owned up to it on Saturday. What have you observed from him in the last couple of days?
COACH KELLY: Well, you know, I told him fortunately, that I’d do the same thing over again, I’d give him the football. I wouldn’t change a change about that situation.
We had been down there in that situation and you saw us turn the ball over twice. I took Corey Holmes out of the game specifically to put Cam in the game, because he’s been so valuable in those situations. So I told him if I had to do it all over again I’d do it again. He was affected by it, certainly, but he’s a competitor and he can’t wait to get back out there.
Q. He’s only fumbled twice in his career. He’s a guy that you have to tell him that this is an isolated incident and not to take it that hard, almost?
COACH KELLY: No, no, he’s going to take it I think players need to take it the way they feel it. And I hope they take it hard. Sometimes I wish they would take it harder. And that’s what we’re trying to talk about with our guys. You’ve got to understand how important it is. It’s not just about you, it’s about the 80 thousand people, it’s about your teammates, it’s about everybody. He took it hard, but he’ll bounce back from it.
Q. Going back to, how much of getting him back on track is getting him in the right frame of mind and how much do you worry that one or two little mistakes can snowball into having a bigger mental problem?
COACH KELLY: I think he’s good. I think we had a long conversation and I don’t think he had been down this road before where he had again, he’s handling all the duties. And upsetting the routine really got to him. It’s the first time it’s happened to him. I think he learned a great lesson from it. And I really think he’s got the strength and the character and the will not to let this bother him again.
So I’m very confident after my conversation that this is something behind him.