Coach Kelly likely threw the blogosphere into chaos this week by suggesting--nay asserting--that BC is... gasp... a rivalry game. Let fits of impotent internet rage ensue from sea to sea. Kelly somehow overcame his gaffe and pressed on to give the keys to Notre Dame's success this week:
If we do a good job in the preparation and then execute we gotta execute as well we should be in good shape.
You don't say, Coach. I'm giving Coach Kelly the business a little bit on this one, because he actually did say something here. He didn't talk about how great BC is because they're not. What he said is what he meant: if we just be ourselves and do it well, we will win.
Irish fans may or may not be happy to know that Coach Kelly addressed why he left the first team offense in for so long against Maryland; it was not for style points:
I don't look at it as style points as much as progressing our football team, getting them better. We've had our inconsistencies in terms of turnovers, so we're still trying to get better. It was nice that our defense got most of the time in the game. We get a lot of those younger players. If it was flipped, we would have had more time on offense. It just worked out on defense this time.
What? "[O]ur defense got most of the time in the game... If it was flipped, we would have had more time on offense." This is some good coachspeak, because it sounds like something but in actuality means absolutely nothing. I think Coach Kelly answered the question when he said "so we're trying to get better" on offense. "Okay, so we needed the reps on offense... but he's... still talking???" This is my internal monologue. I guess the next two sentences mean that our first team defense is good and doesn't need the reps, but I am confused and I need to lie down.
In other news, the offense must know where Luke Keuchly is at all times because he is apparently a good player.
We have to know where [Keuchly] is. We have to identify him because he's a savvy player. And it's like when you have that great defensive lineman, sometimes you don't block him and you option him. Well, in some instances with a great player like that you try to put him in as many conflicts as possible out there.
Manti Te'o he is not.
Coach Kelly gushed over Senior Free Safety Harrison Smith's leadership abilities and play. Smith is a leader on and off the field, the type of guy that model your program after. Kelly intimated that Smith has helped to keep the team behind the coaching staff:
When you're in the mix of changes going on in your program, he has to be a great communicator to the other players as well. He sometimes has to carry the water, so to speak, in terms of the messages. And he's always be welcome here because of what he's meant to us, I mean our entire program here, too.
This quotation really needs no analysis. It is not often that you see this kind of honesty from a Coach in a press conference.
Someone brought Coach Kelly back down to X's and O's with a question about why we have been so dang good in the 3rd Quarter. "The numbers don't lie," said Kelly, and he proceeded to attribute ND's 77-13 season 3rd Quarter advantage to everything from conditioning, to good execution, to--egads, man, I do not like the "l" word--luck, preparation, and conditioning. Kelly's most telling confession, however, was that the Irish must adjust at halftime because "there's a lot of new opponents on our schedule."
Mr. Swarbrick take note. I hate to say this, but we could use at least one directional game to tune up and get the backups some playing time before we begin our season in earnest. We are not doing ourselves any favors by playing a schedule full of 5-7 out-of-10 opponents. We have very few marquee opponents and no glorified scrimmage games. All the big boys are doing it. How long before we figure out that what we've been doing isn't working? This is not an invitation to quote me the "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" quotation. Have you ever met a schizophrenic? I have, and there is a lot more wrong with them than doing the same thing over and over. Try an abnormal PET scan and chemical imbalances. That is the definition of insanity. Wow that was a digression.
Kelly spoke candidly about having to overcome the perception that he is a pass-first coach. He further admitted that he has had trouble on the recruiting trail as a result of this perception. It's not as if everyone didn't already know, but still this is a pretty candid response. Kelly believes that he has acquitted himself:
I think sometimes you have to overcome perception. But I've had multiple 1000 yard rushers when we had the depth at that position and we had an experienced offensive line. So yeah, once in a while you have to be able to say look at my entire body of work, not what we had to do to win football games over the last few years. So yeah, sometimes, but I don't think we need to worry about that anymore.
Special teams have improved. The coaching staff did not change their approach:
I told you this, we're not going to do anything different. We're just going to keep coaching them really hard and demand excellence from them and we're making progress.
The screen game has been a point of emphasis in the offense over the last few weeks. Kelly wants to stretch defenses horizontally in addition to vertically.
On Player Development
Coach Kelly spoke about Lo Wood:
Q. More about Lo Wood's development, what did you see in him that told you, okay, he's ready to play?
COACH KELLY: He was the next guy. He was the next guy that we had.
Kelly had an ear-to-ear grin on his face when he answered this question. I thought, "I've seen that look before." It was Pitt v. Cincinatti, 2009. Kelly's defense just was not doing much to slow Pitt down, but Kelly had closed the gap a bit before halftime. Kelly was asked about his defense, and--sporting the same grin that we saw when he talked about Lo Wood today--he responded simply "we are who we are."
Kelly appreciated Jonas Gray's candor and self-critical attitude after the Maryland game.
I think it speaks to the mindset that we want our players to have, and that is each and every week your focus is on execution, preparation and execution. He was asked at the time when it came to execution, he didn't execute some of the things he needed to.
Gray put up 136 yards on 21 attempts for 2 touchdowns and a gaudy 6.5 yards per carry. And he still did not execute in the way that is expected. Did anyone hear that? It sounded like the bar just got raised.
Michael Floyd's turnaround is why Kelly Coaches:
This is why I coach. This is why I coach. I've said this a million times. I get hired and fired on wins, but what motivates me to coach and put all the time and effort that I've put into this, especially away from my family, to see a young man change the course of his life, and see that on a day to day basis. It's probably as rewarding as any singular victory. And that's what Michael Floyd has done. And that feels good as a coach that you can see a young man who is in a good place. Wasn't in such a good place, but now he is, and that's important.
Of course a multi-million dollar salary is a nice perk as well. I kid. Good for Coach Kelly and Michael. In other news, Floyd had to get an IV on the Wednesday before the Maryland game because he was sick. He did not miss practice.
Tommy Rees is working on the deep ball. Kelly said Sunday that this has been a point of emphasis the last few weeks, and that it is the next step in Rees's development. Tommy needs to do something--Kelly didn't say what--with his arm slot. Kelly was emphatic today, however, that he will not "change everything" on a quarterback's natural mechanics, but he will tweak some things.
Coach Kelly apparently did not get wind our own Eric Murtaugh's assertion that Tyler Eifert is better than Kyle Rudolph, because he refused to resolve the debate. While we here at One Foot Down are both shocked AND chagrined that Kelly did not catch Murtaugh's Maryland breakdown, we're confident that it's because he was busy securing commitments from Gunner Kiel, Keith Marshall, and other blue chip recruits. Surely he would have resolved the dispute if he knew our wishes. Instead he merely praised Eifert's toughness in overcoming injuries, his competitve fire to be the best, and his diligence in the weight room.
Cam Roberson is "moving a little," but he will not practice this year. It sounds like it will be a long road for him. God bless.