BK Speaks - Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
The Fighting Irish returned to campus this weekend and resumed preparations to play Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.
Coach Kelly met with the media after practice on Saturday and discussed several topics. We will approach this in the way that we always do. See you in the comments section.
For those that are interested you can watch the full presser on the Notre Dame Athletics YouTube channel HERE.
-BK again mentions that the focus of all preparations is to peak on the 7th.
"Well, we are in our preparation for Alabama. For us, it's been a long layoff, but one that we think we have properly put the pieces together leading into today and tomorrow which are really intense practices, physical practices where we are out there contacting and doing the things we need to do to be prepared for Alabama on January 7th. We'll do that tomorrow and then go into our situational practice, then prepare when we get to Miami. All of our work up to this point has had a focus of peaking on the 7th."
-BK went on to elaborate some on what he focused on for the first three weeks.
"So, we have kept timing and conditioning as a focal point as well as incorporating every player on the roster the first three weeks. So you had a lot of guys like Gunner Kiel, Will Mahone, Conor Hanratty, Jarron Jones, a lot of those guys getting a lot of work. A lot of young guys getting work the first few weeks, as well as timing for our veterans - seven on seven, one on one, some inside work, as well as conditioning. We sent them home for the break and we brought them back. We weight-trained and conditioned one day. Yesterday we tried to make sure that the timing element was still there, which it was. Today, full gear, banged them around pretty hard. Those guys that follow us on a regular beat, it was kind of like an intense Tuesday for us today. Tomorrow will be like a Wednesday. It's all about Alabama."
Coach Kelly also went on to mention that the team has done plenty of 11 on 11 and 1's vs. 1's to make sure that they are preparing for the speed of the game against Alabama.
-DaVaris Daniels has been cleared for full contact.
"He's good to go."
-On using tempo on offense against Alabama.
"I think there's a time and place for all of that. Are we going to be exclusively in an up-tempo? No. I like to pick our spots."
I am really curious to see when and where BK decides to employ this. I love the up-tempo pace but I realize that it isn't appropriate for every situation. Will the Irish come out of the gates this way?
-Coach Kelly was asked if Texas A&M was a blueprint on how to play Alabama. He totally avoided answering the actual question but he did address using the entire field and the importance of big chunk plays in his answer.
"I think we have to utilize the 53 1/3 x 120. We have to be attacking all areas and getting the kind of match-ups that we need offensively." "We have to get big chunk plays, I'm going to tell you that right now. They know that and we know that. What are they, 2.5 per play?"
-On what makes Alabama "different". BK tossed out a fair amount of praise for the Crimson Tide across the board and summed it up this way.
"They are just a good football team from one through 11 on the offensive and defensive side of the ball."
In short, Alabama is very talented across the board and has no specific weakness to attack. Not that he would tell us if he actually thought that they did.
-Expect to see some players on special teams that weren't involved during the season.
"We think it's all hands on deck for our special teams, first of all. It's a one game deal. We can certainly add to the personnel on our special teams and we will probably do that."
-This is a business trip.
"I have always felt like, in bowl games, you let your guys on the first night or two to let them get out there and have a little bit of fun and kind of reward them for the bowl game. I don't know, I think I may have had a 2:00 a.m. curfew or something like that. We are 11:00 p.m. This is not a bowl game. You are playing for the National Championship."
I like this approach. A lot. Knowing that Saban is all business I expect that Alabama will take a similar approach.
-On the continued progress of Everett Golson.
"I think he is now at that level of needing to bring it every day because he gets it now and knows what is expected and now it's about bringing it every single day. Not just physical because he has the physical, but bringing that mental edge to every single practice."
-The offensive line is a little bit thin due to injuries. This isn't anything we didn't already know and the situation remains the same.
"We have been careful about what we have done with contact with that group because we are very limited right now."
BK went on to mention that Freshman Mark Harrell has been taking reps at center. He also acknowledged that Nick Martin is essentially the 2nd team tackle and Conor Hanratty is the 2nd team guard.
-On Lou Holtz starting Coach Kelly's career.
"The reason why I got the job at Grand Valley State was that Tom Beck became the offensive coordinator here. Now I did not know Lou Holtz at all at the time but when I saw Lou in Orlando he reminded me that he started my career. Of course that's Lou."
It is a small coaching world.
-On kicker Kyle Brindza.
"He has been clutch for us. He has been pretty clutch for us when we have needed that big kick when the game is on the line. He has delivered every time. What I like about him is he doesn't get rattled. He may miss one here or there but there's generally not a pattern. He'll break that pattern of missing one and come back and make one. It's good to have someone who doesn't get down on himself and can fight through a miss here or there and he's only going to get better."
-On the "year 3" thing.
"The 3 year is not magic as much as much as if you have good people and you have a good plan then it generally takes a little bit of time to get that plan together. It seems like that 3 year window is when it starts to come together."
-On Matthias Farley
After mentioning that Farley is not only a wide receiver that moved to safety he went on to discuss how tough Farley has played.
"The kid broke his hand and had surgery and played the same week. Now, the first half he didn't play very well because he was still thinking about his hand. He was challenged at halftime and came back and played great football the second half. He is just a special kid and when you challenge him, he is going to come through for you."
Farley might actually be one of the better stories of the season. When Jamoris Slaughter went down against Michigan State we all cringed. I think it is safe to say that Farley has really stepped up and played a big role in the success of the secondary this season.
-On the progress of Austin Collinsworth.
"I don't know if this has been talked about but he had a second surgery. He had back surgery as well. A successful back surgery." "He feels great. He's chomping at the bit."
BK went on to say that Collinsworth will be ready for the spring which is great news. His return to both the secondary and special teams next season will be welcome.
-More on the 1's vs. 1's in practice.
"Well if you take an hour and a half practice we are probably taking 10 minutes of that time to go 1's vs. 1's. We would go a little bit more but we are thin on the offensive line and I can't afford to lose a guy there."
This is obviously the one area where being thin on the offensive line due to injury could potentially hamper preparations a bit. It is always a Catch-22 though. It would be good for Kapron Lewis-Moore, Louis Nix III, and Stephon Tuitt to get a little more time banging heads with the starting offensive line but it is what it is. Will it really make a difference? It is difficult to say but I am sure the staff would like to get a little bit more of that in there for both the offensive and defensive lines.
-On non-starters that stood out during the first 3 weeks of preparation.
"I liked a lot of the things that I saw. You know a guy that got a lot of work was Jarrett Grace you know because Manti was on the Manti award show circuit there. You know he showed up nicely."
BK actually went on to mention a couple of guys by name to include Jarron Jones and Gunner Kiel. He did say that they weren't "looking" for that sort of thing like they would be in spring football but that a lot of guys have done a nice job in the last three weeks. We will discuss this plenty during the spring.
-BK was asked again whether or not he thought the team could play for a title prior to the season starting. This is such a loaded question and he gave his standard answer.
"I didn't think that we couldn't."
-On the progression of Mike Golic Jr.
"Physical strength has improved the most. He's got a stronger lower body, that was something that needed to be addressed." "The other thing was he got an opportunity. He got an opportunity last year when Cave got hurt. That gave him the chance to be the starter in spring and he held on. He was then an experienced football player." "When he handled the strength issue and got an opportunity then all of his strengths came to the top. And you know what his strengths are, the kid is sharp. He's very, very smart. He does not miss an assignment so the mental end is great, he comes to work every day prepared and ready to go."
That is some high praise for the 5th year senior. I'm happy for Mike Junior.
See you in the comments.