Brian Kelly got in front of the media for his weekly Tuesday press conference, as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish get set to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers at home this Saturday.
I’ve been saying for weeks that the biggest weakness on this Notre Dame team has been at the Nickel position. Ever since the loss of Shaun Crawford for the year during fall camp, this has been a major concern, and unfortunately, Notre Dame is using both Nick Coleman and Houston Griffith, but it has been a process.
It was pretty evident last week, that the Virginia Tech Hokies were exploiting this with their short passing game. Notre Dame stayed in their base defense a lot instead of moving to the nickel, which forced Asmar Bilal to play a lot more coverage against the Hokie wide receivers.
”We’ve got to get better there. There’s no question. From a technique standpoint, I mentioned it again, we were in two trail, we got caught behind the receiver in two trail. We’ve got to be in better position. We’ve got two guys there that we feel are best-suited for the position in Houston (Griffith) and Nick (Coleman), and they’re going to continue to get work on it. We’re going to spend even more time on it. Those are the two best players in our program for that position. So we’ve got to continue to coach it. We’ve got to continue to develop it. You’re looking at the two guys that are going to have to continue to grow in that position.”
ON IAN BOOK
“Ian Book will be the starting quarterback on Saturday.”
“It’s incredible scrutiny on the quarterback position at Notre Dame, incredible scrutiny on the quarterback position for Notre Dame. Silly scrutiny on the quarterback position at Notre Dame.”
This of course is in reference to the rumors of Monday involving the playing status of Ian Book. Moving on...
“He’s up and moving. He’s getting range of motion. The draining of that knee now has completed itself in the sense that he now can get into the full rehabilitation of getting that quad strength back. He’ll get the sutures out at the end of the week.
“We’ll get him back into range of motion next week and then see where we go from there.”
Tony Jones Jr.
“Much better. Much better. I think this week he should be in a position where he’s not limited by carries or time of the game.”
Troy Pride Jr.
“It’s a mild ankle sprain, but any time you have an ankle sprain with a corner, you know you’re going to be careful with him, but we think he’ll be fine for Saturday.”
“He’s day-to-day. I mentioned to you that he had a stinger. Those typically clear up in most cases immediately. Some linger. He is getting better. He’s got good strength, which is a great sign. Generally, if there’s weakness associated with that, that could be a longer-term kind of injury. He’s got great strength. Now it’s just a matter of getting that full feeling back in his arm and hand, and he was reporting progress in that regard.”
“I think we’re at a day-to-day situation. He’ll be out there today in a non-contact situation, and he’ll be non-contact until we get full resolution with the stinger.”
“He had an MRI done. It’s a C6, and just one of those deals where -- these are manageable. He’s got all the facts. The parents have all the facts about him. This isn’t something that has any inkling or any medical background of paralysis. That is not in this injury at all. This is simply getting the nerve calmed down.”
IS PITT A TRAP GAME?
Brian Kelly spoke about how the team needed to improve it’s passion this week.
“We weren’t very emotional. We didn’t play with enough passion at times in that game. I think one of the things that we talked about is that that wasn’t our best performance in a lot of ways, and we have to play with more energy. We have to play with more passion, and that is going to be the emphasis this week in terms of how we need to play against Pittsburgh.
“This is really about going back to the practice field, having much more of a focus on how we prepare. We have a great deal of respect for Pittsburgh and how they’ll come out to play us. We know that this is a big game for them. It’s important that we play at a higher level this weekend.”
You can watch the entire press conference below. Kelly also talks about some of the freshmen including Paul Moala and Shayne Simon. Simon made a huge play on his first action as a linebacker against Virginia Tech.