If you're the sort that finds Brian Kelly too slick for his own good, turn back now, don't watch the video below. If you're hoping to gain some tremendous, earth-shattering news report on the state of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, you might need to find another way to spend 40 minutes today (perhaps BK could suggest a program for Tuesday night).
Kelly followed his usual pattern of complimenting his opponent often, sticking to his consistent talking points, and revealing very little in his Tuesday press session.
Kelly was quick to pay a lot of respect to the Midshipmen. He described them as well-coached, very disciplined, and difficult to defend. He called this a challenging game, and made a particularly strong point:
Q. You mentioned a couple times how Navy is a good team and they're not a JV team. Do you think there is naturally a misconception out there that this team isn't as good or this is a team that you guys should just walk in and win?
Brian Kelly: I can tell you among the coaches throughout the country, if we were just polling coaches, they would tell you nobody wants to play Navy. But sometimes when you talk about the average fan, they hear about an a academy, and they don't think in terms of how difficult of an opponent it is.
Vintage Kelly, including the bit of sarcasm he threw at the gathered press corps after the answer. He's sending a clear message to his team, the media, and selection committees that this game isn't a simple step-over week for any program, much less his own. Any of us who have faced down ND haters know how frequently this game is used to discredit our strength of schedule. What's nice this year is that we can immediately direct people back to Michigan as our cupcake game if they want to make that argument.
Kelly was also asked about the perception of a Navy hangover. This is an interesting concept and one Kelly himself said he hadn't noted in past years. Definitely something to watch for coming out of this week and going in to next.
The OFD films crew is going to give you everything you could want and more in terms of knowledge of the triple option offense employed by the Naval Academy. Just like last year, our man pburns will be educating us on the intricacies of his favorite offensive scheme. Kelly noted that Navy is so good at what they do because the discipline and repetition allow them to make little nuanced changes to their splits and formations as in-game adjustments, and those tweaks are difficult to defend.
One of the classic Navy-week conversations entail cut blocks, but the Irish head coach put that to rest early in his session. "Stop being crybabies and go play the game," seemed to accurately sum up his feelings on the matter. Irish practices will be a "No cry zone" and the head coach "Don't want to hear about it." (BK ain't got time for that meme, anyone?)
Offensively and defensively, Kelly noted Navy's ability to compress the game and make for fewer possessions. Kelly revealed that he looks at these games having on average 8-9 offensive possessions and talked about wanting to be quick vs. being in a hurry against the Navy defense. He also talked about the incredible importance of taking care of the football. It is clear the Irish are hearing a lot about "playing cleanly" as they resume practice this week.
Kelly's opening 10 seconds of the press conference were all about returning to routine and rhythm. When you believe your team falls to the level of their preparation, you need to rely on routine and accountability to maintain that quality of preparation. The Irish were back to work in the weight room on Sunday, and hit the practice field on Monday. Their coach had them focused on routine and knocking the rust off after a layoff.
Speaking of "the process," Kelly was asked if he had to make any considerations towards playing 5 very difficult games in November this year. As usual, the Irish head coach pointed all the way back to his preparation plan with Paul Longo. They "Start the process in January... all leads to kids peaking in November..."
Kelly reinforced his "not too high, not too low" philosophy when asked if his team was aided by the bye week after a difficult trip to Tallahassee. He responded that it was far more important to him to get the bye week lined up with the mid-semester break and he was able to get his team a true week off. He was also tempted to wade in to another discussion of the officiating fiasco at the end of the FSU game, but when asked if his team "got what they deserved," Kelly pushed the question aside:
Q. One question about two weeks ago: You talked about the players knowing that they had to make another couple plays. When you've also used the term, "you get what you deserve" with your team. You get what you deserved in that game?
Brian Kelly: I guess it depends on who you ask.
Q. I'm asking you.
Brian Kelly: If you ask certain people, they would say we did. We've gone over it ad nauseam, so we're kind of past that really. We're past that, and I kind of leave it at that.
It is the perfect non-answer answer that reminds people he wasn't happy, but also implies the proper focus on the future, not the past.
Kelly also busted out his trademark sarcasm when asked if he'd be glued to ESPN tonight to catch the first CFB Playoff Rankings (which we've secretly been monitoring). After a brief head-fake, Kelly confirmed he's not going to be watching. He'll be working on Navy.
Individual Player Notes
- Austin Collinsworth is doing his best to give it a go with a shoulder harness on. It isn't clear if or how he'll be able to contribute going forward.
- Tyler Luatua and Ben Councell are both cleared to practice and participating fully.
- Corey Robinson got the "tough gentleman" compliment from his coach and Kelly praised Catch Radius's ability to get off the line and attack the ball vs. this time last year.
- Will Fuller has had a lot thrust upon him quickly and needs to learn more to be the alpha dog receiver that he can be. Kelly noted the high standard set by Michael Floyd, and believes Fuller can benefit from that sort of example.
- Jarron Jones is exhibiting maturity both on and off the field. Kelly praised Jones for his work and remarked that he often sees correlation between maturity on the field and off of it.
- Kelly did talk to Davaris Daniels, but not about next year. Their conversation focused on things Daniels needs to do in the here and now with respect to eligibility.
- No one has had formal or informal conversations with Kelly about vacating wins.
- Eilar Hardy is back in practice, and Kelly is hopeful he can play. "Things have to occur above what I control" for that to happen and they're working through the process now.
- BVG hasn't seen the triple option in 10 years, but it was discussed with him as far back as the hiring process.
- Kelly noted the pleasant way the entire offensive staff has come together under Mike Denbrock's leadership.