The #8 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0) are getting ready to host the #7 ranked Stanford Cardinal (4-0) on Saturday night, and Brian Kelly stepped up to the podium to face the media during his Tuesday press conference.
It’s a rare year that sees both programs undefeated and ranked inside the top ten. This is the first time that the Irish will be a part of a top 8 matchup inside Notre Dame Stadium since they played the Ohio State Buckeyes in 1996.
This is a HUGE game, and sometimes games like these can provide some fairly tight play on both sides. A lot of times it’s a single player that steps up to provide a spark — an explosion if you will, and helps tip the balance of the game.
Notre Dame has such a player in Dexter Williams, and he will be available to play this week.
“He’s been working with us. He’s been practicing. He’s been with us. He just hasn’t been up to the level that we wanted him to. He’s done a really good job. I expect that this week could be a week that he plays. We’ve worked him through our team periods over the last few weeks, whether it be our blitz pickup period or our skelly period. He’s ready to play for us this week if he continues to do what we expect him to do.”
“Where do I think he fits in? I think he’s explosive. I think he gets into the second level, and he’s an explosive back. You know, does he have 20 carries in him this week? Probably not, but I think he can be integrated within a backfield that is emerging and getting better each and every week. He’s better in all facets than the Dexter Williams version that we had in the spring.”
Brian Kelly also talks about:
- The importance of getting the Legends Trophy back.
- Ja’mion Franklin’s injury.
- The ongoing quarterback situation with Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush.
- Tommy Kraemer vs Trevor Ruhland.
He also talked about the nickel position and the different scenarios available to the Irish.
“We can play three corners, and we can mix and match the three corners to the personnel that we like in those match-ups when you include Donte Vaughn. If we feel like there’s a particular match-up with the three to a three-receiver set we can mix and match, so call it whatever you want, a three-corner situation. Somebody can match up to a particular player in that situation. So that’s scenario one.”
“Scenario two would be, as you mentioned, the Houston Griffith-Nick Coleman scenario, right, and then we haven’t cast aside the situation where Asmar, who runs really well and is physical, might be able to do some things there, as well, in a more expanded role. So I think there are some options there for us.”
It’s an interesting situation here. I think moving forward the duo of Houston Griffith and Nick Coleman is the direction Notre Dame wants to go, but given the physicality of Stanford, using Donte Vaughn at cornerback and moving Julian Love to the nickel would definitely provide netter physical matchups. The idea of Asmar Bilal out there as the ROVER/NICKEL has its advantages too, but I wonder if Bilal has really improved enough in coverage.
You can watch the entire press conference here: