Following a consecutive week in which the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dispatched a top-15 team - this time taking down the 14th ranked NC State Wolfpack - Brian Kelly met with the media to discuss Saturday’s win and next week’s game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Josh Adams keeps on Trucking
Many Notre Dame fans are beginning to wonder if Josh Adams will be the record-breaking eighth Heisman winner in the history of the Irish’s football program. He has had a fantastic individual season, and just racked up over 200 yards on a defense that had allowed no individual more than 80 yards this season. He’s on pace for 1,900 yards this season, and has as many 59+ yard runs as the Fighting Irish did from 2002-2014. He is undoubtedly having a Heisman caliber season.
And none of that matters. The individual accolades, the talk of awakened echoes, the #5 AP poll ranking, and the playoff ranking conjecture. None of it matters. To a team this focused, this determined, this hungry, it’s all just noise.
“ As they've won games each and every week, they've gotten more recognition.”
Kelly might be selling it short. Ever since week 2, this Irish team has systematically dismantled any team that dare step in its path. The reaction is something more than recognition, as many are now proclaiming “Notre Dame is back”.
To this team, the Irish have been here the whole time.
But their work isn’t done, there are still four games left on the schedule.
“We've made them aware of the fact that there will be more noise as you continue to win,” Brian Kelly assured the media.
He continued, reiterating a point that he’s driven home all season long, “That's immaterial to what our process is. Our process is to refocus on what's important now. What's important now is our preparation.”
If there’s any word that is a summation of the how the Irish have looked in the last 6 games, it’s prepared. Chip Long and Mike Elko have had this team prepared to dominate each and every game. It has only been a matter of execution, and boy have they executed.
The echoes may very well have awakened. The Irish may very well be for real. Notre Dame may very well be back. Josh Adams may very well win the Heisman.
But to this team, none of that matters. What matters is going out each week, dominating your opponent, and doing the same to the next, and the next, and the next. When all is said and done - if the Irish have done what they set out to do every week - we could see this team in their first ever College Football Playoff.
But until then, Josh Adams and this team will have to keep on trucking.
Other Notes from the Presser:
- First and foremost, Alizé Mack is in concussion protocol. Barring an unusually quick recovery, fans shouldn’t expect him to see the field against Wake Forest.
- Regarding other injuries: Brandon Wimbush, Tony Jones Jr., Jonathan Bonner, and Nyles Morgan should all be full-go for the game against the Demon Deacons.
- On the aforementioned noise facing this team, Kelly went further: “They're really good. They're trusting their training. The training started back in January. This is really nothing new for us. They've handled it well so far.”
- Kelly praised his team’s resolve following the blocked punt against NC State, “Our kids didn't flinch after the punt block. Most teams would...I think the way we scored really kind of erased any murmurs or any kind of sense that North Carolina State was going to take any kind of control of the football game... Scoring as quickly as we did obviously sent the statement to North Carolina State that that wasn't going to affect us.”
- Touching on Wake Forest, Kelly mentioned that their quarterback John Wolford had something to the tune of 600 yards agaisnt Louisville. Sheesh.
- More on Wake Forest: “We've got a great challenge. They're going to play inspired football obviously with Coach Elko here. We know what we're going to get from Wake Forest. They're going to play inspired football.”
- Kelly stated that Mike Elston “was not negotiable” when speaking on the coaching changes Mike Elko had the opportunity to make coming into Notre Dame. Kelly furthered this notion with “Obviously [Mike Elston has] been involved with the program in every facet of the defense. He's a very bright coach. He relates well. He's done just a fabulous job of retooling our defensive line.”
- Kelly was questioned about a slowed tempo as of late, and responded with, “The games and the way they have gone have dictated it. But when we've needed to play with tempo, I've been pleased with that this year.”
- Kelly did not write a note for the NC State game like he did against USC. He did, however, say he felt great about the preparation and mindset that the Irish had coming into Saturday’s game.
- The blocked punt that resulted in NC State’s first score occurred due to a miscommunication on John Shannon’s end. Drue Tranquill took responsibility, but Kelly ensured it was not his mistake.
- When asked about Durham Smythe, Kelly lauded the senior for how much he means to this team: “He is so important to the chemistry. He's such a consistent piece and so assignment correct in everything that he does.”
- A question was posed about Donte Vaughn and his place in the conerback rotation, and Kelly replied with, “Yeah, he'd be the next man in. He's still developing in the areas that we need him to.”