Welcome to our second installment of Decoding Coach, a weekly segment in which Mouth Of The South parses Coach Kelly's press conferences in the search for truth. With the loss to USC, it's been an... ahem... eventful week for press conferences, so let's "dive right in."
Post Game Presser
According to Coach Kelly, the Irish were "out of sync" on offense. We did not execute. The timing was off on our routes.
Translation: What more needs to be said?
We got "out of rhythm" early on offense because we were down 17-0.
Translation: We should not have gotten away from what we do offensively just because we were down 17-0.
USC played Cover 3 a lot, then cover 6.
Translation: Again the Coach plays it straight up. This would seem to gibe with what we heard on Power Hour about USC's strategy-dare us to throw it on the early downs, and don't let us throw it on the later downs.
The coaching staff made more of a concerted effort to get Michael Floyd the ball in the second half.
Translation: The coaching staff should have made a concerted effort to get Floyd the ball in the first half. If SC's coverages simply made this unfeasible, the coaching staff should have gone to Tyler Eifert, and, to a lesser extent, Riddick, and Jones. Or they could have rushed it with Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray more than 5 times in the first half. But this team went three and out on its first two possessions and only played 14 offensive downs in the first quarter, so we have a very small sample size by which to evaluate this staff's offensive game plan. Which brings us to...
This defense wasn't tackling in the first half.
Translation: This defense wasn't doing much of anything in the first half. Ethan Johnson was sorely missed, USC had success on the ground early, and they were content to play small ball for most of the balance of the game.
When Zeke Motta went down, Lo Wood was the next man in.
Translation: This defense does not do a good job of getting our best man defending their best man. We damn well better have two really good corners in this defense, because if we don't, teams will just roll their best receiver to our weakest corner and abuse us all day.
Coach thought we were past the self-inflicted wounds. The Irish players that most needed to play with poise didn't. Kelly knows what he's doing in a bye week.
Translation: This team is not past self-inflicted wounds. The Irish players that most needed to play with poise didn't. Kelly doesn't know what he's doing on a bye week that falls on fall break-as he admitted in his Tuesday presser, he's never been in that situation during a bye week. He admittedly struggled to keep the players focused. It's better to put this loss on the players than to allow people to think that the coaching staff doesn't know what they're doing. I actually agree with this. Whatever mistakes this coaching staff made schematically, the team was in a position to win the game until Crist's goal line fumble-six, and even until Rees's interception. Rees threw it three guys wearing Cardinal and Gold at the 7:47 mark. If he had instead gotten the team into the endzone, it would have been a 7-point game with as much as 5-6 minutes left on the clock.
Coach Kelly was asked if the players were too tight because of all of the week's extracurriculars. Kelly responded that the questioner was "getting at something that I think is real." Our players needed to play with poise and they didn't.
Translation: This one's not hard to parse. There were just too many distractions this week.
Someone finally asked why Kelly didn't use his timeouts at the end of the game against SC. Kelly responded that it never felt like the right situation, as "we had a number of second and shorts."
Translation: Kelly doesn't care about perception. He's not going to prolong the game when his team can't stop the run when they know the run is coming. I don't blame him, and I respect that he doesn't care how it looks. Coach Kelly obviously knows more than this part-time blogger, but we've been pretty good at short-yardage defense. I think I would have called a timeout early, given the defense a breather, and told them to dig deep and get us the ball back. Then again, time favors the offense and this is armchair quarterbacking with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.
Kelly doesn't care about Galippo's comments. "You get what you deserve." This was really Lane Kiffin's problem.
Translation: The Coach is not going to sit around and whine that USC was mean to us after they just-again-walked into our front yard and kicked over the trash can. He's just going to make sure that they don't do it again.
Kelly finally got a Navy-related question about twenty minutes into his 30-minute press conference. He responded by awarding the questioner-it sounded like Dan Silver-first-question rights for the remainder of the year. He was not kidding, as he told someone named Brian (presumably Director of Football Media Relations Brian Hardin) to mark it down.
Translation: Kelly is ready to put SC behind him.
On defending the option-Kelly DOES NOT CARE about yardage given up. We can't give up big plays and we must hold Navy to field goals.
Translation: All of you internet tough guys who bitterly complained that we didn't beat Air Force badly enough need to take a chill pill. Kelly is here to win football games, not yardage contests.
Dayne Crist is still Notre Dame's number two signal-caller. He must bounce back mentally and be ready if he is called upon.
Translation: This seems a slightly stronger endorsement than what Crist got on Sunday, when Kelly said that Crist was number two "as of today."
What are your thoughts on Coach Kelly's comments?