Coming off a gut-wrenching loss to Northwestern, Coach Brian Kelly spoke with the media on Tuesday and had to answer some tough questions about what went wrong for the Irish last week and what needs to change if they want to be successful against a tough Louisville Cardinals team.
Kelly discussed several aspects of the Louisville offense and defense that Notre Dame will have to contend with on Saturday. Coach Kelly specifically mentioned Louisville receiver DeVante Parker and his unique combination of speed and range as something that will need to be considered when defending UL's offense...
Q. Parker, how good is he compared to other ones you've gone against?
COACH KELLY: Well, he's got a unique quality of range that Strong from Arizona State has range but not speed. He's got range, but he's got the speed of elite receivers. So they're very rare to find. He's got top end speed with that range. And those are so difficult to find. And I think that that's what and great ball skills. He doesn't drop anything. Range, speed and great ball skills make him a very difficult receiver.
Kelly mentioned that Notre Dame will try to use a mixture of man and zone defenses to effect the rhythm between Parker and quarterback Reggie Bonnafon. When asked about the potential changes to the Louisville offense due to the change between regular starting quarterback Will Gardner and Bonnafon, Kelly said that he expected Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino to continue to utilize multiple tight end sets rather than shifting to more of a spread, which would be the natural fit for the mobile Bonnafon.
Coach Kelly also discussed Louisville safety Gerod Holliman who is currently leading the country in interceptions...
Q. Louisville has a player leading the nation in interceptions. What does he do that makes him so good? Do you want the guys focusing on this?
COACH KELLY: No, he needs to know where he is. He does a great job reading eyes. They're very good ball skilled kids in the back end. But they're reading eyes. He stares down anybody in his zip code he's going to take the ball away. Very good at anticipating throws, jumping routes. They do a very good job. Just really good at it. And obviously they put themselves in great position offensively because they do such a good job defensively ball hawking in the back end.
Considering the issues Everett Golson and the rest of the Notre Dame offense has had with turnovers, facing the nation's interception leader is not necessarily a good thing. However, when facing such and aggressive player and defense, there will be opportunities to take advantage of that aggressiveness for big plays. It is just up to the Irish players and coaches to take advantage of those opportunities.
ON THE TEAM'S REACTION TO THE NORTHWESTERN LOSS...
Coach Kelly fielded a variety of questions gauging how his team was responding after a tough loss to Northwestern. When asked about the team's mental state after the loss, Kelly pointed out how far the program has come in his five seasons and the accomplishments of the players on this team while also pointing out some things that need to be corrected...
Q. Following up on that, and talking about your team, being so close, how do you feel the team is mentally?
COACH KELLY: They understand that there are some tough times. But relatively speaking I remind them of some tough times, that we were here just a few years ago, when we were 4 and 5. Those are tough times. Those are difficult times. This pales in comparisons. You're now in a winning environment. And you've won a lot of football games. Our seniors win on Saturday, that would be 18 2 in the last 20 games at home. So keep it in perspective. And a lot of the things that are going on you can correct, they're correctable. So it's a perspective, but what I reminded them of is the things they can control and the things that I'm going to help them control. And that is I don't want to create bad habits. And some of our habits right now in terms of the way we're playing on defense and not communicating, not playing smart football. And then offensively turning it over. Those are bad habits that we need to break.
It is important that the team is able to put that loss behind them and turn their focus to Louisville. If they can't do that, the streak of poor play can continue to pile up and sink the team. Coach Kelly also showed some leadership in this department and stated that the fault for the loss was shared by the coaches.
Overall it seems like the team is doing a good job of putting the Northwestern loss behind them and getting ready to take on a Louisville team that deserves their full attention. If the Irish can correct the issues on offense and defense and beat the Cardinals, they can begin to get the season heading in the right direction and finish strong with some momentum for next season.
- Sheldon Day and Daniel Cage are out for Saturday's game with a MCL sprain and knee sprain respectively. Cage should be back for USC and Day should return at some point this season.
- Everett Golson's shoulder is feeling good and he should be ready for practice this week.
- Malik Zaire will remain the holder on field goals for the Louisville game.