After a one-week hiatus during which he was enjoying the lush, fertile, California recruiting country, sampling the finest 17- and 18-year-old blue chip vintages that California has to offer, Coach Kelly returned to his weekly routine Tuesday and spoke with the media about the awards banquet and the only three things that matter in college football: personnel, personnel, and personnel.
Coach Kelly again confirmed that Tommy Rees would start for the bowl game:
I think my reaction is what you would expect at that time. You know, you just lost a game and you are still in the evaluation process. As I got a chance to think about it, we have been with Tommy (Rees) all year. It will be a topic that gets debated and I understand that. It's the quarterback at Notre Dame. When making our decision, we felt that Tommy has a great rapport with Mike (Floyd) and Tyler (Eifert), our offensive line feels really good with his communication and getting into protections. There are a lot of things you just can't do after one game. I think you also know that Andrew Hendrix can do some things to help our football team and we need to see him as well. Tommy is going to start, but you can expect to see Andrew playing as well.
Kelly went on to poo-poo the idea that Tommy Rees would have a "quick hook," though he also said that he will be more willing to play Andrew Hendrix now that Hendrix has more significant experience under his belt. There seem to be two types of Irish fans patrolling the internets these days: those that want to see Andrew Hendrix start the Champs Sports Bowl, and those that want to see Andrew Hendrix take 90+% of the snaps in the Champs Sports Bowl. The former will most assuredly be disappointed by Kelly's seemingly-premature quarterback decision, but there is still hope for the latter group.
If Hendrix doesn't know the offense, then he just doesn't know the offense. If he can't get the team into the right plays, then perhaps it is better that he come off the bench. The mistake was not getting Hendrix more playing time and practice reps during the season, it lies not in starting Rees over Hendrix in the bowl game. Kelly intimated that Rees has a better rapport with Michael Floyd and Tyler Eifert, and the offensive line trusts Rees to get them into the right protections. But I also think that when the rest of the team is plays well, they must get pretty frustrated that their quarterback is turning the ball over and just straight-up Rixtirpating the team (Writer's note: I must apologize to the reader for not having time before posting to confirm with the good gentlemen at EDSBS that Rixtirpate is a transitive verb). This does not apply to the Stanford game, when the offensive line apparently tried an unfortunate new blocking technique.
Moving right along, Coach Kelly said that Theo Riddick looks comfortable at running back. Theo is "a football player." No word yet on whether this was intended to be a compliment or simply a declaration of the obvious. I'll assume compliment. While Theo's move to running back is by no means definite, final, finally definite, or definitely final, Kelly thinks that Theo has found a home, with Jonas Gray's graduation and the limited experience behind Cierre Wood. At this point Coach Kelly reminded us all of our own childhoods when he
didn't have time to play with us didn't have time to review film with Theo due to recruiting obligations. "And the cat's in the cradle with the silver spoon...." Sniff, sniff...
Kelly then tried to cheer everyone up by mentioning that he had bought Manti Te'o and Tyler Eifert lunch to keep them from declaring for the NFL draft, only to bring everyone back down by saying that he did not, in truth and in fact, buy them lunch because only an idiot would think that a lunch would keep them from declaring. Then again, if he took them somewhere nice, like Chili's.... Or if he took them somewhere crappy like Applebees, but he did it ironically, maybe they would think he was so cool that they should stay.... In any event, Kelly encouraged them to do their NFL-evaluation paperwork, so that they could make an educated decision on whether to enter the draft.
Jonas Gray has had his surgery and hopes to be involved in ND's Pro Day in a non-wallflower capacity. Kelly described this as a "lofty goal," but a goal nontheless. As President of Jonas Gray's One Foot Down Fan Club, I was overjoyed to hear this news. The Corey Mays Award for the senior that comes out of nowhere to make an impact, as far as I'm concerned, must be renamed the Jonas Gray Award. Jonas's senior season was an inspiration to anyone who has struggled with adversity while trying to fulfill a lifelong dream. On behalf of everyone at One Foot Down, I wish Jonas a speedy recovery. Think Willis McGahee, Jonas. You can do it.
With Theo Riddick sticking at running back, the future at wide receiver is young. Davaris Daniels "is going to be able to do some really good things for us." Kelly will also be relying on other, unnamed young receivers who did not play this year, and guys that this staff is currently recruiting. I wonder whether the former group includes Daniel Smith, or if that ship has sailed. Kelly didn't mention TJ Jones, perhaps because he knows that Jones is on everyone's radar already.
Kelly had no word on Charlie Molnar's potential move to the head coaching gig at UMass: "Charlie hasn't notified me of anything. Once he does, we will certainly make it public." Sounds like Coach Kelly is expecting a result, which suggests that Coach Kelly has in fact been notified of something. Why not just say "no comment"?
Irish fans got a treat when Coach Kelly was asked about potential shakeups in his coaching staff--they got to hear Kelly describe the present as "silly time" in college football, what with the firings, and the hirings, and the coaching position doings-a-transpiring. I wonder when we'll hear Brian Kelly use the word "silly" again.
Personnel Quick Hitters
Kelly expects Ethan Johnson, Stephon Tuitt--who, along with Luis Nix, seems extremely excited to about the bowl game, and honestly, to be a fly on the wall when those two guys are having a conversation would be priceless--and Austin Collinsworth will be ready to play in the bowl game.
Matthias Farley has undergone surgery to have bone spurs removed--break this down for us Irishane--
The following freshmen impressed in Tuesday's practice: Jarrett Grace, Jalen Brown, and Josh Atkinson on defense; Davaris Daniels, Cam McDiesel, GAIII, Everett Golson, and Andrew Hendrix on offense. I'm reading between the lines here, but anyone who wasn't mentioned is not now and never will be any good and should stop playing football. Honestly, though, no love for even a single linemen???
Coach Kelly is extremely excited for this Friday's Football Awards Banquet, and our own Eric Murtaugh will be breaking down the awards first thing tomorrow morning. Be sure to stop by and give us your thoughts on awards.