Brian Kelly met with reporters this afternoon to discuss the 38-7 victory over the Duke Blue Devils. Kelly provided a number of injury updates on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, discussed the play of Ian Book, and previewed the upcoming match-up against the Navy Midshipmen.
-Julian Okwara is out for the season with a fractured fibula.
-Jack Lamb is out for the season with a torn hip muscle.
-Both Braden Lenzy and Joe Wilkins are both questionable for the this week’s contest. Kelly made it sound as if Lenzy has been dealing with some sort of fatigue issue, while Wilkins has been battling a hamstring injury. Both players are expected to practice on Tuesday but to what extent is unknown.
-Kelly continues to believe there is more in the tank for Ian Book. However, he was pleased with Book’s decisiveness, pocket presence, and accuracy against Duke. Kelly acknowledged the slow start to the quarterback’s season but seems to believe the best is yet to come from his signal caller.
-Book’s success in running the football was not a surprise to the offensive staff. Per Kelly, Duke’s defensive scheme with their man to man coverage and capable front four provided Book with running lanes, and he took advantage. Kelly was obviously happy with Book’s ground performance but noted that fans should not expect to see a heavy dose of Book on the ground each week.
-The production of C’ Bo Flemister and Jahmir Smith was a topic as well. Kelly stated that Lance Taylor, Notre Dame’s running back coach, is in charge of subbing guys in and out depending on the flow of the game and who he believes gives the offensive the best matchups in certain down and distances. Clearly, Taylor felt both Flemister and Smith were the hot hand last night.
-Josh Lugg and Trevor Ruhland were both effective last night in Kelly’s eyes. Lugg was “solid” outside of one third down run. Kelly thought Ruhland “battled” throughout the night, noting that, “Sometimes it doesn’t look as pretty as you want it to, but he’s effective”.
-The staff needs to determine Isaiah Foskey’s role will be moving forward. Foskey has already played in three games, and it seems the staff wants to preserve a redshirt on him. However, with Okwara’s injury, Foskey may be needed down the stretch.
-Notre Dame’s success against running quarterbacks was brought to Brian Kelly’s attention today. The biggest reason for the continued success is controlling the passing game on first down. By getting the offense behind the chains, Notre Dame has been able to get offense’s in predictable situations and allow their defensive line to assert itself.
-Much to the relief of fans, it sounds like the Irish game plan for Navy year round. Kelly stated that his entire staff is always on the lookout to recruit a player who can mimic the Midshipmen quarterback in practices. Kelly discussed how Notre Dame does a little bit of work in spring practice and in preseason camp to keep guys refreshed on how to defend the triple option as three days of practice does not provide the opportunity for players to get accustomed to the unique style.
Notre Dame took care of business last night. Outside of some sloppy play in the second quarter, the team appeared dialed in and ready to play. The Irish must sustain this down the stretch as they continue their drive for a New Year’s Six Bowl.