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Tuesdays with Brian Kelly - Michigan State Week

The Irish are coming off their first win of the season. Now they take on 12th ranked Michigan State. Here’s what Brian Kelly had to say about this week’s upcoming matchup with MSU.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Texas Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It seems so long ago that Notre Dame’s special teams were a negative. Outside of a few punts against Texas, Notre Dame’s special teams have played really well. C.J. Sanders has been a force in both punt and kick returns. The punt and kick coverage teams have been great as well. Tyler Newsome rebounded against Nevada and had a better day punting the ball. Justin Yoon did miss an extra point last week, but most Irish fans are pretty confident every time he trots out there. One thing that kind of went unnoticed last week was that Yoon took over the kickoff duties from Newsome.

There has been a small segment of the Irish fanbase that have voiced their displeasure with the offensive line. It may be time to pump the breaks with that criticism. While there have been inconsistencies, they really haven’t played that bad. You also have to consider the fact they are starting three new starters. There are good players on this unit and they are extremely well coached. This unit is going to click, it’s just a matter of time.

The young Irish receivers are going to face their first real test on Saturday night. Michigan State has always been known for having some real physical corners, and this year is no different with Darian Hicks and Vayante Copeland. The return of Torii Hunter Jr. should take loads off pressure off the younger receivers like Equanimeous St. Brown and C.J. Sanders.

While it was nice to see the Irish get a comfortable win on Saturday, it wasn’t the prettiest game we’ve seen from Kelly’s squad. The Irish looked sloppy at times, especially in the first quarter. Part of that had to do with that they we’re playing Nevada, and played down to their level to an extent. The Irish cannot afford to do that this week against Michigan State. Like Kelly said, they will need to play at high level in all phases and that needs to happen from kickoff until the clock reads zeroes. They cannot afford a slow start.

Before the season most people probably would have rather been MSU coming into this game because they had two weeks to prepare. That was before they had a lackluster performance against Furman in the opener. The Spartans didn’t really look impressive in their win over the Paladins. Coach Mark Dantanio doesn’t really know what he has and what he doesn’t have. The Irish are in the more favorable position now. They have had two games to find out what they need to work on and who they can count on. Michigan State is still finding out what they have with a young team.

On Monday OFD’s own Joshua Vowles wrote about how the atmosphere in the stadium was kind of “meh”. Because of that we really didn’t get to see if the construction on the stadium made a difference with the noise. We should really see if it makes an impact on Saturday night. Night games at Notre Dame are second to none. The crowd will be jazzed up as a ranked opponent, not to mention a rival, comes strolling into Notre Dame Stadium.

As for the wind factor, Kelly is spot on. I was sitting up in the top row of the stadium last week and didn’t really feel much wind. But then I had some friends sitting down low and they said they were freezing because of the wind. The new construction has created a swirling wind, and could have an impact on the kicking game.

Other News and Notes

  • Donte Vaughn is slated as the backup to Nick Coleman on the depth chart. Coleman is now the starter due to the season ending injury to Shaun Crawford.
  • Greer Martini is now the backup to Nyles Morgan at middle linebacker. Kelly said that Martini matches up better in the pass coverages situations.
  • Te’Von Coney is now the starter at the weak side linebacker. Coney played really well against Nevada and matches up well against Michigan State’s power run game.
  • Last season DeShone Kizer was 17-40 for 150 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions in the red zone. So far this season Kizer is 7-10, for 50 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in the red zone.