Aug. 3, 2012

Brian Kelly

COACH KELLY: Coming up last amongst the BCS schools relative to media day, you’ve heard probably every sound byte as it relates to the 2012 season. We’re, like everybody else in the country, we’re excited about the 2012 season. It’s football time here at Notre Dame, and that is an exciting time of the year for all of our coaches, our players, everybody associated with the University.

But I think it’s important to note that 2012 is a new year. We graduated players. There is a new dynamic on our football team. There are new players that have emerged as leaders. So we’re certainly from a coaching standpoint really excited about our players and what they can bring not only as players and winning football games, but the leadership and the kind of things that we want done on a day to day basis.

Again, I don’t want to get into all of the coach speak that many of you heard. But we believe that we’re going to put a football team on the field that will take one game at a time, because that’s what you’ll have to do with the kind of schedule that we have put together this year. We see it as a great challenge. We want to play these kinds of schedules. Now our players understand how they have to go attack it.

You can’t climb Mt. Everest in one day, but you can do it with great preparation. You can do it with the focus from one day, one moment, one hour at a time. And we’ll look at our schedule and say one game at a time. If we do that, we think we can get to the top of the mountain.

You’ll see some new faces. Clearly we’ll have a new quarterback that will start against Navy. We certainly feel as though we have capable players that can come in and step in at that position and help our football team win. We’re into year three now, and our players know what to expect offensively, defensively and with special teams. And we believe we’re going to hit the ground running. Again, save you from all of the superlatives.

I know when I go to media day, when I was in the Big East or the Mid-American Conference, the biggest thing that I was concerned about was everybody was going to have an undefeated season, because there is so much enthusiasm.

We have the same here, and excited about it. But I think it’s probably better that we save that talk for action, and that’s what this year’s about. It’s about doing it, not talking about it, and that will probably be the theme as we move forward this year.

So with that, I’ll open it up to questions.

Q. Did you order the new podium there? Are you behind that?
COACH KELLY: I got to be honest with you; I was hoping that we’d down scale from last year, make it even smaller. But I think we needed it for video operations.

Q. A real broad question to start, but what constitutes success for your team this season?
COACH KELLY: I think it’s the same. Any time you play a game that’s worth keeping score, it’s something that you want to win. So I think success for us is winning. Everything that we do, on the field, off the field. Successful businesses and organizations have their own internal goals, and we’ve got some internal goals. But I know we’ll be judged by wins and losses, and we know that. There are a lot of things that go into it that when we talk about success, we have some internal things that we keep within the house, but know full well that success is going to be judged by wins.

Q. What areas of Andrew Hendrix’ game does he need to work on in order to win the starting job, and with the same question with Golson?
COACH KELLY: I think you could add all the quarterbacks, if you really want to get into it. Tommy Rees has errors that he’s got to improve. Gunner Kiel, specifically he needs to keep playing, keep getting reps, keep learning the game. He’s got tools to play the position at the highest level. I think it’s just a matter of him maturing and playing the game. Getting as many reps as possible.

Q. During the spring, the right guard and the right tackle position, you experimented a lot with guys, switching back and forth. Do you continue that experiment during preseason or do you settle in and hit the ground running at one spot as you open camp?
COACH KELLY: Well, to answer the question specifically, we’ll keep moving people around because that next player in as you know is going to have to have the ability to play more than one spot. But I think there is competition at that position. At the guard position you’re looking at Golic, Mike Golic who played a lot of center for us last year. We expect that Braxston is going to be able to come in and hold that position down. So you’ve got him and Nick Morton over at right guard. Lombard at right tackle. But I think you’re going to see Nick Martin maybe take some reps out there with Tate Nichols. So I think there are three or four players on the right side that have to be interchangeable on that side of the ball.

Q. In terms of health of your team, who can’t answer the bell starting tomorrow?
COACH KELLY: Let me go through my medical here. Collinsworth is the only one. Austin Collinsworth is the only player that’s out. We have a couple players that are limited in terms of what they can do. Luke Massa has made great progress, and I think that’s pretty much it. So Collinsworth would be the only one that cannot answer the bell tomorrow.

Q. Can you talk about an opposite Bennett Jackson, how comfortable you are with the candidates there and then your cornerback depth?
COACH KELLY: Well, certainly, Bennett, Josh Atkinson, and Cam McDaniel, we saw a lot of them in the spring game, so those three young men have a good grasp of our system. Understand what we want them to do, so we feel really good there. Lo Wood, as you know played a lot for us. Last year had an interception in a game. We feel really comfortable with him. So you have four corners that have a lot of experience in our offense. Now they haven’t played a ton, but that’s what college football is about. People graduate and it’s the next guy’s chance. We feel really comfortable with those four. Jalen Brown has to continue to improve and emerge for us, and we’ve moved Russell over to the defensive side of the ball to be our sixth scholarship corner. So we’ve got players over there on scholarship that we expect to contribute and make it a very competitive situation.

Q. Over at Navy with Carlo out, do you move anybody from Mike to Dan Fox’s position to shore up the depth a little bit there, or do you go with Joe Schmidt as the back up?
COACH KELLY: We’ll rotate in Kendall Moore. We’ll rotate in Joe Schmidt and Jarrett Grace. So there will be five inside linebackers that will prepare for Navy.

Q. You mentioned at the end of spring you felt the summer was going to create some separation from the quarterbacks. Obviously, you can’t watch them. You only get reports and so forth. But what did you learn about your foursome of quarterbacks over the summer and what they did?
COACH KELLY: Well, I didn’t learn as much about the quarterbacks in terms of, as you mentioned, what they did from a football standpoint. But I was around here a lot and saw a focus group of players at that position, a group that was doing a lot of film study on their own. Just a group of guys that know that’s a position that requires a great deal of attention to detail. We feel going into practice tomorrow that all of those guys have put in the time, the necessary time, to be the quarterback here at Notre Dame.

Q. Relative to the safeties, you mentioned Collinsworth wasn’t ready to go. Is there an update on his prognosis? Is it going to be October, later, or is it still up in the air? Has anybody emerged kind of from that pack of McCarthy, Badger, Elijah Shumate and so forth that could fill his role until he comes back?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we won’t know until we get a chance to practice those guys, but you’re right. McCarthy, Badger and all of the freshmen, Baratti, Shumate, Turner, C.J. Prosise, that’s one area that Coach Elliott will get a lot of opportunity to evaluate some of those young players. As far as a timetable for Austin, those shoulders are generally six months, and if you do the math that’s late October or November.

Q. How do you plan to handle Tommy Rees’ snaps and reps during training camp knowing you have to prepare for a full season, but also a season opener that he won’t be involved in?
COACH KELLY: We’ve got a plan for that. Not every rep that you take is a rep towards Navy. So there will be opportunities for Tommy to stay sharp.

Q. You lost a good runner in Jonas Gray, but it looks like you’ve gained three capable guys along with Carlisle’s transfer, and George seemed to emerge in the spring. Is August about a pecking order there and how many you can get in?
COACH KELLY: Oh, certainly. I think we feel very good about the depth at that position. All of them have unique qualities at the position, and, again, another group of players that as coaches we have to find ways to get them on the field and get them involved in the offense. Yeah, we like the guys we’ve got there. Now let’s see how this plays out when football starts tomorrow.

Q. How much does it help that they be versatile because of the slot running back position you kind of created for the offense?
COACH KELLY: Well, if you’re not versatile, you better be really, really good at being one dimensional. So I think it helps certainly. But I wouldn’t say that from a recruiting standpoint if you don’t have that versatility, we’re not going to recruit you. There is more than one way to get this done. But as it sits in our program right now, versatility applies to the guy that’s we have. So mandatory, no. But it helps in the way we want to run our offense.

Q. I think you mentioned early in your tenure you wanted to have six receivers, maybe, for a game day rotation would be ideal. You haven’t been able to get there. You have four or five it seems like the first two years. Does losing a guy like Floyd open that up to a chance so a sixth guy can’t emerge? Even a fifth guy can emerge?
COACH KELLY: I think so. I think with graduation, and I’ve seen this over 22 years, presents new opportunities for other players to step up. I think you’ll see that. I think you’ll see some players that maybe were in the shadows a little bit emerge and play big for us. So we’ve got a lot to make up for with the loss of Michael. But we think we have very capable players that can step up and provide us in the number of catches that Michael had.

Q. You mentioned just a few minutes ago that Andrew just needs reps, and I would imagine that Everett and Gunner fall into that same category, they just need to play. With that in mind, how much patience do you have to have with them? What kind of growing pains can you allow for?
COACH KELLY: I don’t have any patience for that. You know me. I want it done the right way. We have to have a quarterback that we can trust that’s going to take great care of the football and get us in the right place. As we move forward here, it’s developing that trust with our quarterbacks and not accepting anything less than that level of trust of taking care of the football. That was the emphasis in the spring, and that will continue to be the emphasis. But the starting quarterback against Navy is a guy that we believe carries those traits with him, and that we can trust that he’s going to make good decisions.

Q. In your experience, is that something that can happen strictly in practice or will you need to see that on a Saturday before you feel really comfortable about that?
COACH KELLY: You hope that you build the habits of doing it the right way throughout practice. I’ve rarely seen a quarterback have sloppy practices and all of a sudden turn it on in the game. I’ve seen quarterbacks that have been disciplined and have made the correct reads that the game comes easier to them. Our evaluations will be on a lot of the practice work. Then when you get into games, how you handle the bright lights and fast action, some handle it better than others.

Q. With Tommy out for the Navy game, what is your plan as far as divvying up the reps in practice with the quarterbacks?
COACH KELLY: Again, I think early on we’ve got to be able to see three quarterbacks. As we move closer to finding if there is a separation, then we’ll start to separate the reps. But we don’t go into practice once saying, okay, he’s getting 80%, he’s getting 20, or he’s getting 70/30. We’re not at that point. It’s going to take some time for us to figure that out in terms of who is going to get those reps, and it’s probably going to take us a little time. But ultimately we want to be able to give the quarterback, you know, for Navy a lot of reps leading into the game. Where we start is we’ve got to be able to evaluate them based upon what they did this summer then start to close in on what that pecking order is. So I don’t know the exact date, but we’ll know it when we see it.

Q. You announced the starter last year on the first day of practices because you said you wanted to start preparing for opener with that in mind. Do you have anything in mind right now as far as first day of classes or the week before the Navy as far as when you want to get it or is that open ended too?
COACH KELLY: Honestly, I would tell you it’s going to take some practices for us to even get the reps to separate. So for me to have a date in mind. I mean, ideally we’d like to in a week’s time say all right, here’s your quarterback. That’s what everybody would want to do because then you get the continuity with your offense. We just have to take this one practice at a time before we get into those specifics.

Q. Could you see playing two quarterbacks in opener?
COACH KELLY: I think everything’s on the table. I don’t know if we’ve taken anything off the table relative to the quarterback position. Ideally, I’m like everybody else in this room. I’d like to have one quarterback and have him be the guy, but we won’t know until we get out there and put the pads on, get live action and see how these guys react to those scenarios and situations.

Q. You practiced in the morning and spring the last couple of years. I noticed a couple of practices you have morning sessions especially the week of the Navy game. Is that an acclamation?

Q. Or is that something you see going into the season?
COACH KELLY: No, that’s a climatization for the earlier start, obviously, the 9:00 a.m. start. We want to get in some early practices. As you know, those schedules are subject to change. We’ll get a sense and feel for our football team. We’ve got 29 practice opportunities listed there. Who knows, there may be a day where we give them an afternoon off or not have a 9:00 a.m. just I’ll get a sense and feel as we move through the process.

Q. Do you still have the same plan as in previous years, Monday is the day off?
COACH KELLY: Yes, sir.

Q. Yesterday you said you have a decent idea who you think the quarterback’s going to be. What have you seen over the last four months to give you that idea?
COACH KELLY: Nothing that I’ve seen with my own eyes. As I mentioned, evaluating everything since the quarterbacks have stepped on campus. I think it’s akin more so than to what happened in the last four months. I got a report from our strength and conditioning coach based upon non football related activities, and that’s hard to stretch into how they’re going to look on the field. As I mentioned, I’ve been around the building a lot and gotten a chance to interact with a number of the players. So I think we take all of that and put it together, and that’s what’s given me some ideas to how this thing may shake out. But the ultimate decider will be what they do out on the practice field.

Q. I don’t think it’s much of a secret that Everett over the last couple of years has been figuring out what it takes to be a quarterback off the field as well. Whether it be film room, being strong academically. How would you grade him out in those two areas?
COACH KELLY: Pleased with his progress.

Q. In terms of interacting with guys from your freshman class, guys you’ve heard from coach Longo about, this is a guy that may not be mentally ready to go, but may be able to help us.
COACH KELLY: I think the normal cast of characters in a sense, the skill guys are a lot further along because they don’t require some of the strength that maybe some of the linemen need in those situations. I think what Coach Longo impressed upon me was that when the freshman class came here, there was a burning desire for that group to want to contribute right away, all of them. Every single one of them with the mindset and his characterization of this class was they’re ready to play. Now some physically, some mentally, it’s going to happen quicker. But it’s a group, the mindset was to come in and play right away.

Q. Do you get much of a sense about what you have there with Ferguson, Kiel and Brown?

Q. How do you feel about those guys?
COACH KELLY: They’ve got great film from high school, and I usually follow your star ratings and put all my stock in your ability to evaluate them, and you think they’re really good. I’m going to run back to the office and slot them in.

Q. Big picture, last year you really liked the make up of your roster. How do you feel about that dynamic right now in terms of the ingredients you have, and whether you have enough ingredients to achieve at the level you want to and need to?
COACH KELLY: I think a lot of it is we just there is so much more of a comfort level that I have with the players and they have with me after three years. They know me a lot better. I know them so much better there is just a sense and feeling within the room that we’re all on the same page. I think that happens over time. You know, you wish you could get it done immediately, but I think going into year three, there is definitely a connection that we all have. Maybe it’s because I’m doing a better job, too, as the head coach.

Q. I know you haven’t seen a lot on the field from Amir Carlisle, but the reports you’ve gotten over the summer, what can we expect as far as his ability to contribute coming off that injury?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think if you take what he did at USC as a true freshman, and now his summer workouts an explosive player. Somebody that can get big chunk plays at the position. A kid that wants to be the best. He’s just got a great make up and desire to want to be the guy. You love that. When you have a number of good players at the position, and he’s not discouraged one bit that he’s going to come in and be the guy. You like that confidence in his ability.

Q. How did you guys as a staff handle the whole Penn State situation and the availability of the players?
COACH KELLY: We treated as though those players were committed to Penn State on their roster, and we kind of used a recruiting scenario, if you will. They were committed, and the only way that we’d be involved with them is if they decommited and publicly said they’re looking to transfer. If that occurred and they wanted to transfer, we would have taken it to the next step. We never got to that point, so it never became a situation for us that we had to take that next step.

Q. George Atkinson III has been really good at kickoff returns. Any chance of him moving to punt returns?
COACH KELLY: Why, do we need help there? You didn’t see our stats from last year, I guess. You need to pay more attention. I think when you look at the punt return situation from last year, Michael Floyd showed that he could probably be a great punt returner. So I think if there was a problem with punt return last year, it was that the head coach didn’t put Michael Floyd back there quicker. If you look at all the times with great punt return teams last year, they had number one draft picks or guys that are going to be number one draft picks, because it is so hard to return a punt. Northwestern led the Big Ten last year and returned all but eight punts last year. We returned 15. It’s just a tough play now in college football with the spread punt and the ability to get down field before the ball is kicked. The rules changed. We had Rocket and Tim Brown, but those rules didn’t apply when they played. So not to take anything away from their ability, but we certainly do not want to be where we were last year, so all of those kids will be evaluated at that position.

Q. What does having Braxston Cave back in the lineup do for the offense?
COACH KELLY: It strengthens us. Mike Golic did a very good job for us, but now if we can get both of those guys on the field, that makes us a better football team because we’ve got more experience. Playing the center position is arguably one of the most difficult positions because you’re looking at defenses, you’re snapping the ball, and then you have to execute your own work. To have two guys that have gotten really good experience against some really good teams. Obviously, Mike against Florida State, has played against some of the best defenses in USC. So I think when you add him to the mix, having Braxston back allows us to be a better offensive line.

Q. Do you still expect Kona and Nix to share snaps or are you looking for a full time guy there?
COACH KELLY: I don’t know that one player could play the whole game for us there. So we’re going to get as many guys in the game that can play at the highest level. So I would not expect Louis Nix to take all those reps and I wouldn’t expect Kona to grab them all. I expect across the board you know the guys that come off the field were Harrison Smith and our corners, but everybody else, somebody came in there and took some reps for them. So I expect the same.

Q. You’ve hinted that you know who the starter could be or who the favorite is, do you mind sharing?
COACH KELLY: I don’t want to make this more than it is. I have not decided. The question was asked, do you have an idea? I’ve got an idea, but an idea is all I have. It’s not like it’s this guy and we are set for it, or I would be less than honest in answering the question relative to reps. I’ve got an idea, but we have to see how this plays out. We have to rep these guys, we have to give them a lot of work, a lot of situations. We’ll be doing a lot more 11 on 11 where we have to put our players, in particular the quarterback, in as many situations that put 11 players out on the field at one time. Half line, seven on seven, inside drill, all great drills, don’t get the quarterback to the level that we need to. So a lot more 11 on 11 reps for this football team to help us answer that question.

Q. Do you want the week one starter to be your starter for the entire year?
COACH KELLY: If he plays well against Navy. If we get the guy and he starts against Navy and he doesn’t play very well, I don’t want him to start next week, nor do you. But I would like, like everybody else, to prepare somebody and have a great game against Navy and then make it a difficult decision what you do in week two.

Q. Can you just talk about giving an equal punishment to Tommy and Carlisle? By the letter of the law Tommy received a greater punishment from the courts. But you’ve dealt what kind of seems like an equal punishment for the two. Can you talk about that decision?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, all cases of discipline are about the individual. I don’t have a book of if you do this, you get this, if you do that, you get that. I look at the individual and try to keep it case to case. I know dealing with my own kids each one needs to be handled a little bit differently. I look at the facts, I look at information, and I make decisions based upon the individual. At the end of the day, I want great citizens. I want all our guys to be great citizens. So whatever those sanctions are, it’s with that end in mind to have really good citizens that represent our football program.

Q. I guess the offensive priority is pretty obvious. The defensive side of the ball though, how would you rank the top few priorities that you have going into the fall?
COACH KELLY: I think it’s unity. I think a solid 11. Clearly we’re going to have two new corners, so getting them part of the unit so there is one heartbeat on that side of the ball is very, very important. Certainly continue to build on last year. There were probably five or six plays. If you take out and we make a play here, there is a different outcome to the game. So our focus is eliminating those five or six plays as a unit. So I think everything that you’ll see out of our defense is how we get 11 guys. Not that we’ve got to spend time on the cornerback position. Then getting the right mix on the field because we’ve got some pretty good depth and getting those players on the field.

Q. You’ve been doing this a long time. These freshmen that are coming in here this week, what do you think will be the biggest eye opening experience for first week on a college campus?
COACH KELLY: I just think the balance is probably going to be the most difficult. The one advantage we have, the freshmen, the rigor of their schedule is unmatched. They go to class in the summer all day and then they workout. I would be challenged to think of anybody else that has the kind of schedule that these freshmen have. So they’ve already been through it. They go to class all day and then come for workouts, which makes the fall a little bit easier for them, quite frankly. Whereas a lot of other schools fall is a bit overwhelming, but I still think it comes back to the long term. They got here in June, and they’ll never experience the length of a season that they’re going to go through, and the rigors of that season. So just monitoring them every day. I don’t think there is a day where you go, okay, they’re going to hit the wall here. I think you’ve got to be monitoring all those young guys, because they’ve been here since June, and it’s such a long season. We’ve got to keep an eye on them week to week.

Q. Rumor has it field turf. Could you talk about that a little bit?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I want to go back on that one a little bit and add one word. I said field turf is coming. I want to say I hope field turf is coming. As you all know and I’ve said this a million times, that is above my pay grade. I’m not the one who is rolling out the turf. I know you guys know that. So certainly Jack Swarbrick that is his domain. I do not want to do Jack’s job. I’ve got enough to do with my own. But I think I’ve made it clear to all of you that I hope that’s where we go, but that is clearly not my decision.

Q. From a skillset standpoint, Michael Floyd was a very unique receiver. Given the skillset coming back, how does that change?
COACH KELLY: I don’t think it changes at all. What Michael did, for me, it’s still about the player, not the play. I don’t get caught up in the play. It’s the players that we have around. So it won’t change our passing game because our passing game can adapt to any player that’s out there, and we can feature anybody on the field. So those are never concerns for me because I know that those guys are going to graduate and move on. So to set up an offense that features one particular player, and that is your offense, I think you won’t transition very well; and we think we can handle any transition.

Q. So given the fact that he was a big, physical receiver, you don’t seem to have an abundance of big, physical receivers. How do you use these guys?
COACH KELLY: Catch it three yards, make two people miss, and run past all of them. You know what I mean? There are so many different ways. We’ve got to catch a couple of 5 yard passes and turn them into 45, or we’ve got to run by a couple of guys, or we’ve got to do some things that get the ball in their hands quickly and we can get yards after. Not that Michael couldn’t do that for us, he did a great job, a big, physical kid. But we think we’ve got some guys that can make big plays in different ways.

Q. At kicker is one of those two guys ahead of the other, or do you see that being open going into fall?
COACH KELLY: The free kick? The placekicker?

Q. Placekicker.
COACH KELLY: I think going through the spring Nick Tausch showed himself to be a pretty consistent kicker for us, PAT, field goal. I think we’re still working with him and Brindza, Kyle has shown a strength, as you know with the ball moving up to the 35 yard line now. We feel that both are capable. Kyle’s a little stronger and may be able to kick that thing out of the end zone every time. So we’ll continue to work on that. Moving forward, I think Nick had a very good spring for us. We feel confident in his ability. Kyle is right there at the waiting. We have two really good kickers at that position.

Q. Louis Nix was in a little bit of a rut in the spring. How have you seen him mature and get ready for the team?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think we probably spent a little bit too much time talking about Louis Nix’ rut. He’s probably like every other kid at Notre Dame. You’ve got to grind sometimes. We’ve got a number of guys that had to grind through very competitive academic situations and playing football. But we love Louis. We love what he’s doing. He’s working hard in the classroom, and I expect him to have a great season for us.

Q. Just to clarify, there was some talk over the spring about Troy Niklas and head injury or what have you. Can you just tell us if he’s cleared?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, Troy is cleared 100% to play.

Q. Coach, on the suspensions, at any point did you consider anything more severe or even none at all or just the one game suspensions?
COACH KELLY: No, I always try to consider I don’t, as I mentioned, I’d be disingenuous to say that I treat everybody differently relative to the circumstances for me to have made up my mind. So I try to consider everything, making the best decision for that individual. So I think if you go in there with a predisposed, hey, I’m just doing this, you might as well just paint with a broad brush. I try to look at each one individually and try to make the best decision as it relates to the individual with knowing what I want in the end, and that is I want good, young men. How I can get that as it relates to accountability. No one wants to talk about the tight ends, Tyler Eifert or Manti Te’o? We’re at Notre Dame. Did anybody get a media guide? I think they’re on the cover. Gosh, I was hoping to talk about those guys a little bit.

Q. We’ll talk about the first opponent a little bit. You have Navy first. You’ve seen them a couple times, obviously, but now you have extra time to prepare for them. You don’t have to switch gears defensively mid -for that unique offense. That must be beneficial.
COACH KELLY: Yes. We’d rather have it this way than have them in the middle of the season. Still doesn’t make the task any easier in the sense of how you have to execute on game day. You could have three weeks, five weeks. If you don’t play assignment football, if you’re not disciplined, Navy will beat you. But clearly we’d rather have them where we have a little attention to Navy leading up to them other than the three or four days that most of the time is what you’re left to prepare with.

Q. Can you talk about your tight end, Tyler Eifert and Manti Te’o? COACH KELLY: Just so you know, when the exclusives come out and the one on ones with Obama, you had a one on one with Jack Swarbrick too, or that was a two on one. Okay.
Here’s what I love about Tyler Eifert. You know you’re moving your program along when your best players are your best workers, and our best players had an incredible summer. Here’s a young man that’s up to 260 pounds, can hit a 7 iron 195 yards. I say that only because he was out at our Kelly Cares function, and I’ve never seen a guy hit a golf ball that far. I hope he catches everything, too. He’s just been incredible to work with over the past couple of years, to see his development and his maturity. He’s a leader on our football team. When I first got here, he was in the back row. He was two or three rows back. Now he’s up front. So you can understand from my perspective that’s exciting when your best player, one of your best players has that kind of desire to be the best.

Q. Manti Te’o had already built up a good legacy here. What can you do to cement what he’s built at Notre Dame?
COACH KELLY: That’s a good question. He’s done so much. He’s such a great representative of our program. He has unfinished business as it relates to this football team. He’s really stepped up as a leader. More so I know we talk about leadership and talk about it in general terms but our big thing this year has been the A team, and the A team is about peer accountability. Manti is holding his peers to the same level he holds himself, and he’s being vocal about it. When he came here he said it’s hard for me to be vocal. Well, he’s that guy now, he’s that senior, he’s that leader. So I would say that’s probably stood out more than anything else. He’s holding others to the highest standards that he sets for himself. Again, as we talked about Tyler and why I’m excited about our football team is your best players are your best workers he’s our best leader.

— ND —