Nov. 10, 2015
University of Notre Dame Football Media Conference
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
COACH KELLY: Good afternoon. We’re in the process, that’s what we talk about as coaches, right now in that process, it’s kind of like being on the treadmill where you just kind of just keep your eyes in front of you and you just keep moving forward and moving forward to the next challenge in front of us, and that challenge is Wake Forest.
We’re coming off two back-to-back games on the road against two real physical football teams, and it’s great to be back at home, but we’re playing a team that’s had some time off and time certainly to study us. They’re very, very well-coached. I know Dave Clawson, and I know the success that he’s had. I’m partial to those guys that have built programs in a similar fashion that I have and have come out of the Mid-American Conference. I have a great deal of respect for him, and know that his football team is well-coached and will be well-prepared for us.
So we’re just going to focus on getting better this week, improving on the things that we need to get better at, and not worrying about the noise out there about where we are and really concentrating on how we can become championship football players and what that means. For us, it’s the attention to detail and practice. It’s the preparation, it’s the work ethic. It’s staying focused on the present.
So we know what’s in front of us with Wake Forest. They’ve got a young football team but one that plays hard for four quarters, a quarterback tandem that can run it and throw it, a tight end that’s catching a lot of footballs for them. They had some big plays against Louisville that were explosive. So, again, there’s a lot going offensively. They’re very, very well coached. They’re trying to be very exact in what they do on the offensive side of the ball, and you could see it’s going to be a very good offense and can be a very good offense. They played a lot of teams very, very close all year.
Defensively, they’ve got some very good players. This is a very good defense, a top 40 defense in the country. I think they rank as high as in the 30s in a number of categories against the rush. Efficiency on third down, Mike Elko does a great job of mixing things up, and he’s got some pretty good players led by Brandon Chubb, very active, a team leader in tackles.
Again, a defense that will challenge us so we’ve got a lot of work to do. They try to confuse the quarterback. They try to give you a lot of different looks and coverages and reads. They have a three-down package. They primarily work out of four down, but when they get in the three down they’re trying to confuse the quarterback, so we’ve got to do a really good job of preparing our quarterback this week and making sure that we do a very good job of getting the ball to our playmakers.
Balance is important to us. Obviously, each and every week we’ve got to be able to run the football, and they’re very stingy against the run.
Special teams is good. They’ve got a very good kicker, a punter in particular. I think he’s third in the country in net punting, so we’ve got to have an answer there as well. So senior, last home game, so they get an opportunity to play here at Notre Dame Stadium for the last time, and I’m sure they’re excited about that opportunity as well.
So with that, we’ll open it up to questions.
Q. Can you update us on C.J. Prosise and Mike McGlinchey?
COACH KELLY: Yes, C.J.’s in the next stage of the protocol for concussions, and we’ll see where he is after practice today, and then we’ll be able to know more about where he is.
Q. What is the next stage mean?
COACH KELLY: Activity.
Q. Does that mean he’s passed one?
COACH KELLY: Yes, now he has activity and he has to pass that. Each day there is a different stage and step that he has to go through, so I don’t know where he’ll be after today.
Q. And when would you need him to be fully operational for you to want to use him this weekend?
COACH KELLY: Well, there’s a test that he has to get through by Wednesday. So Wednesday would be probably the deadline.
Q. And McGlinchey okay to go?
COACH KELLY: Yes.
Q. I’ve got more injury questions.
COACH KELLY: Let’s keep going. We’re on a roll right now.
Q. You had mentioned Sunday about Malik maybe throwing a little bit in a couple of weeks or whatever?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he won’t be back this year, but he’s active to the point where he’s out there already moving around, throwing the football, getting his arm in shape. But in no shape or fashion is he going to be able to compete.
Q. But any of the other group that got hurt in August or September, any of those guys?
COACH KELLY: Jarron Jones is the only one, and Avery was cleared for physical activity yesterday. So Avery will be involved today in some practice activities. And Jarron is now at that stage where it’s building quad and hamstring strength. We think that’s going to take about anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks with him.
Q. So is there a chance you would have him for postseason?
COACH KELLY: Yes, yes. Yep.
Q. With your safety play on Saturday, you said, “I want to enjoy the win. I don’t really want to get into it.” Where do you feel like that is right now with that group? Where do you stand with Max, Tobias, Shu, those guys?
COACH KELLY: I think it’s similar to what I’ve said most of the year. I think if you take most of my comments and we kind of just boil them all down, I think we would all probably leave here saying he’s looking for more consistency at that position.
We get good play and then we miss a play or two. For example, the jet sweep where our safety really should be standing at the line of scrimmage on that play, we’re not. So the third-down pass to the tight end in the third quarter, our safeties should be all over it explicably, we’re not. Yet we’re making six, seven plays somewhere else where our safeties are in great position.
What we talked about is just trust us. Trust your keys. Trust what we’re telling you to do. If it’s a round peg, let’s put it in the round hole. Let’s not try to do more than that. That’s really where we’ve taken this is that let’s just pay attention to what we’re coaching you to do, and if we do that, we’ll be in pretty good shape.
So just staying on that. We’re doing some good things and we want to do better at that position.
Q. With the Missouri situation, there are so many layers to it, but the one I want to ask you about is do you talk to your players about social change? Do you encourage them to be active about that? Do you, as a coach, talk about those kind of issues here on this campus?
COACH KELLY: We encourage our players to be other-centered in the sense that we want to be active within our community. Our athletes around the bend program encourages our programs to be part of our community and to be out and make a difference. So there are difference in terms of community service and social activism.
I think social activism is something that is more of a choice where we believe that building the young man, being other-centered is a component of that, and we encourage that as part of our program and building the young men in our program. So I think they’re two different things from our perspective.
But we have 105 players from different backgrounds all over the country. Different social economic backgrounds. So we know that we’re going to have different points of view, and we don’t want them all to be the same.
So I think we have a great environment for our guys to be who they want to be on a day-to-day basis.
Q. Coach, I think one of the themes this year has been guys stepping up when given the opportunity. Kizer comes in, really no drop off last week, Adams same thing, no drop off. You’ve got guys like Jerry Tillery as well. Younger guys playing at a high level. What allows your guys to come in and play early and be successful when given those opportunities? I mean, is it coaching? Is it the type of players you’re recruiting? Maybe a little bit of both. But what is that recipe that you’re seeing that’s having great success?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think first and foremost it’s in the recruiting processes that we tell the kids, you know, they’re coming to Notre Dame and to be prepared to compete right away and fostering that when they get here. They’re not immediately put down on the depth chart. They’re given an opportunity to compete, so they know there is an opportunity for them to come in and actually earn an opportunity to be on the field. So I think that that helps.
I don’t think it’s necessarily something that we have done differently this year as much as we have just had some kids that have been given the chance more this year through a number of injuries that hit areas where there was a bigger need. So I think circumstances have a lot more to do with it.
But I would say that we created an environment where when we’re recruiting a young man, we’re really encouraging him to come here and we give them truly an opportunity to compete as a freshman.
Q. Who are a couple of other guys maybe just not getting opportunities but are performing very well? Maybe a guy like Tristen Hoge, some younger players, Te’von Coney type of player where based on the depth they aren’t getting on-field opportunities, but you feel comfortable in terms of their development?
COACH KELLY: Well, I mean, I would start with Equanimeous St. Brown, I think he can play for a lot of major BCS teams right now that are in the top in the country. I think he’s an outstanding football player and one of the great ones in the country moving forward. I think he’s ready to go. I think Nick Coleman is a really good freshman corner that has the skill set that can compete. He’s got two veteran corners in front of him. So I think those are a couple of guys.
Shaun Crawford, if he doesn’t tear his knee ligament, is certainly another freshman that we’d be talking. You mentioned Tristen. He’s made great progress. But linemen are a little bit further from that sometimes because of the physical maturity that they need.
Those are a couple of kids I can give to you right away, because we’ve used a lot, including the two freshman running backs and the freshman quarterback.
Q. Lastly, in regards to Kizer, if you look back, having another chance back in Virginia when you put him in, would you think you’d be standing here at 8-1 now with the type of performance that he’s put together in these nine games now? But looking back Virginia, our starting quarterback goes down, all right, Kizer, you’re in. It’s a big situation. Obviously you had to put him in, but looking back now, did you have as much — I’m sure the confidence is higher now, but would you think you’d be sitting here at 8-1 with the type of performance he’s put in through nine games?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, you know what? I think when we put him in the game, we were just hoping that he knew the play, and now we’re at a point where what is the new play we put in. So, yeah, I think we’re clearly impressed with what he’s been able to accomplish in this period of time.
Q. You’re averaging 220 yards a game rushing, 60 yards better than last year and the best in 19 years, what do you attribute the improvement this year? What is the biggest reason for that improvement?
COACH KELLY: I think there are a number of things. It always starts with a commitment to it and then an offensive line that’s working well together. The pieces are right, the right people in the right position. I think the people in the running game in the spring that have enhanced what we’re doing with our read option game and misdirection. I just think an overhaul of that, and really looking at it from inside out and adding, obviously, for us, a more veteran approach on the offensive line. I think all those three things contribute to a better rushing game.
Q. Offensive line, three of the same players. I know Nick’s moved over a spot. Is it just that they meshed better because they’ve played together more or what is the improvement there?
COACH KELLY: Well, McGlinchey didn’t play much at all for us last year. Q’s a new starter. So you really have two new starters and three with Nick back into the right position. So if you’re looking at last year to this year, you have three new starters in the positions that we believe that they should be in. I think that that’s a big difference from last year to this year and the way they’re working together. And then really it’s a different running game than it was last year relative to what we’re doing.
Q. Probably one of your better recruiting jobs last year was getting Sheldon Day and Ronnie Stanley back. Just talk about how important they’ve been to the success of this team?
COACH KELLY: Well, I don’t know that I could put a quantitative number on it. But they’re responsible for so much of our success in that they are arguably our best players and our best leaders. So when your best players are your best leaders, it changes the dynamics of everything that you do because they’re out there in practice, setting a standard. They’re in the locker room setting a standard, and then they’re on the field in the way they compete setting a standard.
So I don’t want to attribute all of it to them, but we wouldn’t be here where we are right now without those two guys back in 2015.
Q. I understand every player is different. But are you going to have some players come in and talk to you about what they should do? But their success is that something you can point to as the reason why coming back is a good reason?
COACH KELLY: Oh, no question. Those are stories that are real to the guys that are sitting next to them in these seats. They see that. Then they talk to them about why they actually came back and how they’ve enjoyed their final season here. Then we’ve got guys that are in the NFL that are helpful talking to them about what it’s like.
Tyler Eifert was at the game. Stephane was at the game. So they can share all of that information so it doesn’t become just one voice talking to them about, hey, go make some money. They have people that they trust and know and that can really help them make the best decision, and it starts with the players in the locker room with them.
Q. You talk about avoiding the noise. This week might be a tough one with such a heavily favored team with a losing record. Does it make it easier though because it’s the seniors’ last day, and it gives them something to focus on, especially since last year’s Senior Day didn’t go the way you wanted?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, who did we play last year on Senior Day?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I don’t think there is any comparisons. We don’t do much of that. This group understands regardless of who the opponent is, it’s still going to come down to how they prepare this week. If they prepare the right way and take care of what they’ve done over the last nine weeks, then when whether they’re a two-point favorite or ten-point underdog, they stand a great chance at winning. That’s what they know. They know that for sure based upon what they’ve done this year, and we just continue to build on it that way. The rest of that stuff, we haven’t focused on any of that during the year, so they don’t really know any of that.
Q. Romeo Okwara’s development this year, do you feel like he’s playing the best football of his career, and is there anything you could point to about why things are happening for him now?
COACH KELLY: He’s playing the best football, certainly. When he stepped on campus he was 17 years old. So as we continue to talk to NFL scouts, we tell them, look, you’re just getting a kid who is just learning how to play the game. So I would say that just learning how to play the game is what we’re seeing in front of ourselves. The maturation of a kid that’s kept his weight for the first time. This is the first time that he’s been close to 260 in November. He’s been 240 in November. So all of those things. Understanding the game, the maturation of that, physically maturing, keeping his weight on.
Really, I think more than anything else, really understanding the scheme in which he is in his second year now. I think all those three things coming together.
Q. With the nickel with Torii, is Nick Coleman not a candidate for that? Why is he maybe not a fit of what you’re looking for at that position?
COACH KELLY: Well, I mean, he’d be the back-up right now, you know? So he’d be a back-up in that position. It’s a position that for us we certainly can put him in there. We think it’s a lot for him, quite frankly. We’d rather have him focus on his technique and development outside at the cornerback position in case he needs to go in the game, and we don’t want to put too much on his plate.
Q. What do you need to see from Dexter this week?
COACH KELLY: Just continue to develop on the more intricate parts of the game that maybe you don’t see. We love the way he runs the ball. There is no question about his physical ability. He’s got to learn more about some of the intricate parts of the game and just keep learning and practice. Practice at the same level each and every day. I think if he does that, he’ll have a good week and play more.
Q. Maybe a better way to phrase it is this a very significant week for him with C.J. limited maybe more significant?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, no question. We’re counting on him having a great week. We need him to have a great week.
Q. Just a big picture, philosophical question with the playoff rankings and all of that. Do you have much of a problem with one loss teams ranked ahead of undefeated teams from Power Five conferences? Do you care? Do you feel like that’s something you’re going to ultimately have to politic for later down the road?
COACH KELLY: I really don’t. If I’m sitting there looking at the teams, I think being in it now for 25-plus years, you’re looking at strength of schedule, the eye test, who they played, how they’ve played, and I think we all want to get it right, get the four best teams and have them play. I don’t think that you can stumble more than once. I think that’s where the cutoff point is.
You can’t be inconsistent and be really good, because that can’t be part of the equation. But I have no problem with one loss in that group.
Q. We’ve talked a lot about C.J. and the amazing progress he’s made with so little experience at the running back position. But you at that time kind of put the brakes on it as far as saying there is so much more to learn. You put Josh Adams in and you see him on the inside zone and just his natural downhill skills, is there more of a natural ability in Josh as a running back in those kind of schemes?
COACH KELLY: I think there is a comfort level there. I don’t know if there’s a natural — I think C.J. has a natural ability. I think he has muscle memory that maybe Josh has in a sense that he does it all the time especially as it relates to contact and how he runs through contact. C.J.’s working through that more. C.J. wants to make you miss, where Josh just expects there are two guys on my legs and I’m running through this.
So I think it’s just a natural development of a running back where Josh just expects to run through a tackler or two, and C.J.’s still feeling his way through that.
Q. You had a big run off the sprint draw misdirection-type play, and that play hasn’t been maybe used as much in recent years. I know with Cierre Wood it was very effective, especially and everything.
COACH KELLY: Yes.
Q. What leads you to get back into that play? Is it that you have more of a running threat at quarterback or what makes you more comfortable with running it or implementing it?
COACH KELLY: Generally when we have the ability to move the quarterback and sprint out and when we have a fast-flowing defense and all those things were in play on Saturday, where we have a fast-flowing defense, generally trying to come over the top and secondary contain and moving the quarterback, we’ve been trying to move the pocket a little bit more and they start to marry themselves up a little better.
Again, defensively, structurally, much more of a four-down team, you don’t want to get into some of those plays if they have a buck back or on the back side as an extra defender, so all those things kind of marry together.
Q. Just expanding a little bit on Pete’s question about Torii playing, I think it still caught many by surprise that you bring somebody from offense over to that nickel, even if it’s just only a few plays or so. How is the development of other players in the secondary right now, the back-ups such as Nick Watkins, Devin Butler, et cetera. And you mentioned Ashton White as somebody else?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we think that there’s an ongoing process of development with those guys. We just didn’t want to cross-train them at a position that takes reps away from them in the second team or it takes them away from where we really may need them at corner. So as Brian and I were talking about it, our options were limited because we didn’t want to continue to pull Matthias away from his job at safety to stay at the nickel position. We wanted somebody that could play more man coverage.
So Matthias does a great job there playing some of the other things. He can play a little bit of man there, but we wanted somebody that could play a little bit more man, and so consequently it was you’ve got to move one of your other corners in there or is there somebody else on your roster that could do it? And I felt like Torii could do it because he was doing a great job as a jammer for us on our punt team.
So, again, just spend a little time with him and individual. He didn’t miss much offense at all, and felt like this was easy. We backed off some of his ST reps and just took those ST reps and added them to defense.
Q. With Avery Sebastian, I know a couple weeks ago we speculated about maybe he’d be more valuable to have a sixth year next season when you’re going to be losing a number of safeties. Is that still maybe in the plans or is there an urgency to get him ready for the final push here?
COACH KELLY: Well, we’re going to get him going. If we need to play him, because we need to win games, we’re going to play him. But I’m not going to run him down on the kickoff team, you know. We would preserve his year unless he needs to go in there and start for us and help us win these last three games.
Q. And just a final question. The final play of the game against Pitt, was that kind of a dry run, a test run, given what happened against Michigan, Michigan State on how to maybe run out the clock with only a few seconds left?
COACH KELLY: Well, we did it back-to-back weeks.
Q. The tempo, exactly. The same thing.
COACH KELLY: We just didn’t execute it quite as well as we would have liked, so we made some tweaks to it. We think that’s a 7-second play that we can run, you know, that affords us not to have to punt the football.
Q. You mentioned after the game your preparation in red zone last week and some of the things that you did to try to get a better feel for it and maybe a big- picture look. Did you do more things like meeting-wise collectively with the entire unit?
COACH KELLY: Yes.
Q. Is that what you were saying?
COACH KELLY: Yes.
Q. And have you done that before and how much will you do that in the future?
COACH KELLY: No, we hadn’t done it before. What we have done is every Thursday we did our two-minute drill. When we run our two-minute drill we come back together on Friday, and we watch our two-minute drill together as an entire offense. I go through the different scenarios of two minutes, the spiking of the football, getting up handing the ball to the officials. Just the nuances of two minutes.
We’ve been really good in two minute. I thought it has been effective as a unit. Everybody understood it, has bought into it and we’ve been very effective in it. I said let’s do that where we’re struggling a little bit. Let’s try to do that as a unit as it relates to our red zone. So we just took that same kind of philosophy and applied it to the red zone on Friday. Instead of doing two minute, we did that with our red zone and showed all of our red zone plays. Went through each one of them, talked about the nuances of the plays and talked about how important each piece was within it, and it looks like that worked. We’ll do it again. If next week we’re 0 for 4, we’re not going to do it again.
It seemed like more guys were alert and knew that play and the ramifications of each particular play.
Q. Maybe I’m stretching here. But did you find the guys had more questions when you opened up the knowledge to everything that you’re doing?
COACH KELLY: I’ll give you an example. Torii Hunter’s catch, tight window. We said, Torii, here’s where the ball’s going to be. It’s going to be a tight window coming right off Sam’s helmet inside the safety. You’re going to have to make a great catch, and it actually turned out that way.
So I don’t know if that helped, but it seems as though he made a pretty darn good catch in that situation. So just knowing that maybe, hey, I’m going to have to make a great catch here. It’s not going to be one of these easy ones. We thought that was important after a deflected ball that we saw in the red zone with Will against Temple. If I did a better job saying, Will, this is going to be a tight window, and you have to be friendly on the route coming back to the quarterback, maybe the DB doesn’t get his hand in front of it, so we just wanted to communicate it better.
Q. You had mentioned when Kizer entered the lineup for you, that you felt you could win with him, but you wanted to win a national title with him?
COACH KELLY: Yep.
Q. Is he there yet? How far has he come in bridging that gap?
COACH KELLY: I’ll tell you what, if we continue to support him, nobody can do it on their own, obviously. But you can envision him being your quarterback in the National Championship Game, provided all the other pieces. We have to have a very good running game. Our offensive line has to do their job, and everybody else on defense. We have to contribute, obviously, in all the other areas, but there is no reason why he can’t be on the field in the National Championship Game as your quarterback and say this group’s got a fighting chance.
Q. Six of your 12 regular season opponents have or will have extra time to prepare for you. I’m sure that isn’t a coincidence. Were you aware that that was going to happen? Did the ACC — I mean, there is a natural assumption like that’s the backlash for you not being a full member of the ACC. Well, okay, your opponent will have extra time preparing for you.
COACH KELLY: Right. So, I think from our standpoint we just control our deal and do what we need to do. We look at our bye week, and I don’t know that you get that much of a benefit from a preparation standpoint as much as it’s just a mental break at this time of the season.
All these teams are dealing with a mental break. Yeah, there is a little bit of a physical break, but let me tell you, we were more sore coming back from break because they take that week off, and then you practice the heck out of them. We get a report on soreness, and mood, and fatigue, and they put it on my desk and it’s like all red which is bad. I’m like, what? We just had the week off.
So there are pluses and minuses to it. I don’t know if it nets one way or the other, but it seems to have worked the other way.
Q. Do you have reason to anticipate that in the future it will be a similar situation as far as opponent’s preparation time?
COACH KELLY: I have no idea. I mean, Chad Klunder handles all that stuff. I would give him a call. His number — no (laughing). Yeah, let’s bring him down.
Q. I’m sure he’d be happy to take my call?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he should.
Q. Talking to players, they say Sheldon’s impact this year has been to kind of bring the defensive line together, and that’s maybe where he’s made the biggest impact. Is there a tangible way that you can see a defensive line playing together under one guy as kind of a tangible impact on Saturdays of that?
COACH KELLY: Oh, absolutely. I think it’s always about the morale of the group, and morale starts with a shared philosophy of how they’re going to work at practice every day. What’s acceptable to the way you’re going to practice? When your best player is the guy that’s leading that charge, it sets the tone, and the morale then is built off of that.
When some of your better players are not practicing to that level, it creates issues. Coach Gilmore doesn’t allow it, and Sheldon doesn’t allow it, and hence it has created a great situation that carries itself into the games.
Q. I think that feeds into my next question. When your best leaders are also your best players, your best practicers, going into a November situation like you are now, what can that do for your team?
COACH KELLY: It gives you great resolve that they’re difficult to beat because they’ve invested so much. You know? They’ve invested on the practice field. They’ve invested in the weight room. They were in here this morning at 7:00 a.m., 65 of them lifting weights. Why are you here at 7:00 a.m. in November? You’ve invested. And they want to get the benefits of that investment and that’s winning football games.
So I think that’s probably more than anything else why you feel good when you have that kind of leadership from your seniors and your leaders that they avoid the noise. They want to win badly.
When your players want to win as bad as your coaches, that’s a good thing. But when your coaches want it more than they do, that’s never been a good thing for me.
Q. Senior Day as you mentioned.
COACH KELLY: I would evaluate them in a sense that they’ve been a part of some great successes and have built this program back to national prominence, and that is a great feat that they should feel great about, and I know they do. That’s why they came here. They’re also representing Notre Dame on a day-to-day basis, and I know they’ll be able to take all of them with them when they leave here.
Q. It’s feasible it could also be the final home game for both Jaylon and Will. Have you had any conversations with them regarding next year?
COACH KELLY: No, we talk about that stuff at the end of the season.
Q. And finally, you talked about Dave Clawson and his MAC roots. I want to go a little deeper than that. How do you explain two guys from liberal arts schools in Massachusetts becoming Power Five head coaches?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think it just says a lot about the educational institutions. We were not that smart. There were a lot more smarter guys coming out of those schools than we were, but we got football coaching jobs. All those other guys are making better decisions in their lives.
Q. Better decisions, but not better money.
COACH KELLY: I didn’t say that (laughing). I almost did.
Q. I was wondering, have you coached brothers who have the leadership ability and the playing ability that Nick and Zack Martin do?
COACH KELLY: Boy, I have coached so many brothers. I mean, I would say that they rank up there with the best that I’ve ever coached, no question. And they’re different now. I mean, I know everybody tends to group brothers together. I’ve had twins that are totally different. These guys are different, both of them, and they lead differently. Zack was loud. I mean, you knew when Zack had something to say, he said it. Nick is not quite as loud, but he gets his point across. And he does it very effectively. But they’re great leaders.
Q. How much of a help was Zack when Nick was kind of an underclassmen and getting into the lineup and everything. How much of a leadership ability do you think Nick took from Zack?
COACH KELLY: They’re the best of friends those two. One of Zack’s primary reasons for coming back was to be with his brother and to to play along side him. So their relationship is so strong as brothers I think that’s probably as impressive as their leadership is the relationship that the two have.
Q. And this senior class, when they were freshmen, they got the national title game and obviously didn’t finish it off. Is that something you might talk to them about at all and say now you have a chance to kind of reach that goal and finish it?
COACH KELLY: No, no. You can.
Q. In the first half against Pittsburgh there is a lot of yardage that doesn’t appear on the stat sheets. Punted really well, coverage kicked really well. Seemed like it was a pretty good week for special teams?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, it did. I think we talked about Tyler not having a very good week punting the football against Temple. He had some mechanical issues in terms of his drop. He was bringing the ball back in. Since we started spot filming our kickers it’s been invaluable. I don’t know why I didn’t do it 20 years ago. But we picked up a flaw in his drop and we were able to concentrate on his drop and straightened that out.
He was big. I think there was one moment in the game where he flipped field position, and I thought it was a big moment in the game. Outside the wind was gusty, kicked one out of bounds. But he was on. C.J. continues to be aggressive now fielding punts and being very active and trying to find lanes to run the ball in kickoffs and punts, and Justin’s been really, really solid.
So we’re pleased with where we are special teams-wise. We’re going to get challenged this week. We’ll have to continue to stay on top of things.
Q. When you look at a player like Torii being able to help you on defense, there really aren’t too many exceptional athletes in high school that couldn’t play both sides. When you’re recruiting, do you make special notes of those kind of situations? If we need to, that might go from being a strong tight end to a tackle, that kind of thing?
COACH KELLY: Within our general approach to recruiting, we have categories. We have big skill players and we have skilled players and we have power players. So within that general category, we’ll look at that skilled player and say, look, he’s a guy that can play on either side of the ball. Then we’ll figure it out when they get here.
So those are normal conversations with players that we recruit. They may be right now playing a particular position in high school, but if we say skill, we’re recruiting them as a skill player and they can play on either side of the ball. If we say big skill, they could be a tight end, they could be a linebacker, they could play a number of different positions there as well. So we stay a little bit more general in the recruiting process so we can address those needs.
Q. As many high school teams as you get to see, power teams around the country, we have a game in town this week and really you put so many elite teams, Culver Academy in there?
COACH KELLY: Culver’s playing for a sectional championship as well, yes. They’ve done a great job this year. Pretty proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish. So we’ll see how they pans out. But obviously, Penn has done a great job year-in and year-out, coach has done an incredible job of consistent performance. I think they’ve got one loss this year to Orchard Lake St. Mary, which is a great team in Michigan on a very, very rainy day.
So I keep up on all those high schools and local teams. It’s good high school football around here. I think we’ve got Marion playing, St. Joe’s is playing. Mishawaka is playing. So we have a number of teams in the area that are playing. It’s pretty impressive.
Q. Sticking with recruiting, when you look at your 2017 class, obviously you can’t speak to specifics, but at this stage you guys are really, I think further along than where you’ve been in the past. Do you think that’s a product of an accelerated recruiting processor something you guys are changing in philosophies?
COACH KELLY: Accelerated recruiting process. And I think we’ve restructured our recruiting office about 15 months ago, and in that restructuring we had some personnel changes. I think those changes now over the last eight months, I think, have really taken hold and have allowed us to really gain the traction.
So we had some turnover and some changes, but philosophically we needed to gain the traction that we wanted to with some consistency. Right now we’re in a very good place in our recruiting office. I love the personnel that’s in place. I love the people that we have there, and they’re doing a terrific job. Aaryn and Jazz in that office are terrific, and Mike Elston, that group, all three of them are doing a terrific job. I think just having some continuity in that, I think they’re doing a great job.
Luke in our graphic arts is doing a terrific job. We’ve just got a great team to answer your question, that is now in place long enough that has allowed us to really start to make the inroads that we needed to make.
Q. I think back in the spring you said you talked about maybe doing some satellite camps, and if you look at that 2017 class, again, you can’t speak on specifics, but gentlemen graphically when it’s kids all over the country and they happen to be at your big recruiting event, is that the kind of success rate you’re looking to get from those summer camp circuits?
COACH KELLY: Yes, and no. I think we’re all pretty clear that the satellite camps are a hot button topic right now. It’s legislation that’s pending that will be a big topic of conversation. So we’re not — we’re not relying strictly on satellite camps as much as we’re out on the road, we’re across the country recruiting with an eye towards if we can get to a satellite camp that’s sanctioned, we’ll be there.
But we think that what we have to do is we’ve got to be on the road, and we’ve got to be all over the country in bye weeks and we’ve got to be at high school games and we’ve got to do those kinds of things more so than the satellite camps, because we don’t know where that’s going to end up here over the next legislative cycle.