Brian Kelly met with reporters this afternoon to discuss a variety of topics as the Irish turn their attention toward USC.
-Jafar Armstrong has a strong possibility of playing on Saturday. Brian Kelly said that Jafar’s biggest test will be on Tuesday. How he responds to the workload at practice will determine his playing status for USC. Kelly did say that based on what Armstrong did last week in practice, the belief is that he will be available to play.
-Lawrence Keys should return to action this week as well. Keys was able to run at 90% of his body weight on an anti-gravity treadmill today while working with the athletic trainers. He will return to practice at full speed on Tuesday.
-Shaun Crawford will begin conditioning work on Tuesday but is still a few weeks away from playing.
-The Notre Dame Fighting Irish did not sustain any major injuries during yesterday’s contest that will limit anybody in practice this week.
-Brian Kelly had positive things to say about the offensive line and running backs. He noted that Jarrett Patterson is much more in sync with both Aaron Banks and Tommy Kramer. Kelly believes the blocking of Cole Kmet and Tommy Tremble have really helped to kick start the running attack.
-The plan for Kyren Williams is to redshirt. He has reached his threshold of games that he can play, and the staff would like to preserve his year of eligibility.
-Brian Kelly had an interesting take on the average number of plays the offense has run this year. Currently, the offense is averaging around 63 plays per contest. Kelly does not believe the total number of plays is indicative of the pace the Irish are playing at. He did note that due to the explosiveness of this year’s team the total number of plays per contest will be down. The Irish are currently 10th in the country with a 7.21 yard per play average.
-Brian Kelly continues to rave about the play of Asmar Bilal. Kelly talked about Bilal’s success this year and attributed it to his dedication to the details of the position in the offseason, as well as continuing to play with confidence. Kelly said the number one thing that continues to appear on film is how disciplined Bilal has been week in and week out.
-Donte Vaughn is heading for a redshirt season. Vaughn has played in 3 games already this season, and the staff wants to be strategic about the 4th game that he will play in. Kelly said, “We won’t play him unless we absolutely need to play him.”
-Sticking with the cornerbacks, Brian Kelly is not concerned about the workload that Troy Pride Jr. and TaRiq Bracy dealt with on Sunday. Bracy moved into the starting lineup this week following Shaun Crawford’s injury. Kelly said that each will get the rest they need during the bye week and be ready for the stretch run.
-Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah will continue to play in the nickel package. Kelly reiterated that Owusu-Koramoah is extremely comfortable in man coverage. The staff wanted him to get some work playing in zone coverage on Saturday but the flow of the game did not allow it. Kelly stated that Owusu-Koramoah will not travel across the field by himself and that in certain situations there will be safety help over the top for him.
-Brian Kelly declared the USC game to be the best of the best when it comes to rivalry games for the Irish. He said it is the one game his players circle each and every year.
-Brian Kelly believes that the Trojan defense is the best he has faced during his tenure at Notre Dame. He also said their offense is a major concern due to the ability to be explosive and push the ball down the field.
-The final question of the day was about Kelly’s recollection of the Notre Dame/USC game growing up in an Irish Catholic household. Kelly said his first memories of the game involved the pageantry of the game on TV and seeing John Robinson and Ara Parseghian on the sidelines.
I truly can not stand anything about USC. If you are truly an Irish fan, you will throw out any cardinal and gold attire you have for this week. I’m not sure there is a more annoying fight song in all of college football than Fight On! Here’s to hoping for another Irish victory this week!