There’s never really been a lack of fashion when it comes to Brian Kelly in his first pre-season opener press conference and on Wednesday afternoon, that tendency held serve as Kelly approached the podium before Notre Dame takes the field for the first time in the 2019 season against Louisville down in the Bluegrass State in primetime action.
The usual Tuesday pre-game press conference for Kelly was pushed to Wednesday afternoon due to the game being played on Labor Day this year. The last time the Irish opened up a season not on Saturday was in their horrendous 2016 campaign on a Sunday night down in Austin, Texas in that 50-47 mind-boggling thriller against the Longhorns in the now-famous “TEXAS IS BACK!” game.
In his opening comments before questions, Kelly took to crediting new Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield, who will begin his tenure with the Cardinals on Monday after six successful seasons at Appalachian State, along with rugged 6-foot-4, 230-pound quarterback Jawon Pass and left tackle Mekhi Becton, who Kelly said multiple times will play in the National Football League on Wednesday.
At least Kelly didn't call the Cards "Louis-ville" during his pre-UL presser opening comments today.— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) August 28, 2019
(It's probably just me, but that logo pin is ginormous.) pic.twitter.com/vQKy5rMl50
(Kelly did call the Cardinals “Louie-ville” instead of the state’s preferred pronunciation that nobody ever seems to get right unless you went to school there or are from there, but the show went on anyway.)
From the Irish side of things, Kelly also mentioned in his opening comments that the team was given the full day off on Tuesday, as school was back in session for students.
The first question for Kelly revolved around the cornerback depth for the Irish following the loss of Julian Love from a season ago, to which Kelly mentioned the names Shaun Crawford (the confirmed nickelback), TaRiq Bracy and Donte Vaughn, who Kelly said, “I think you’ll see all three of those guys playing.”
Kelly also address a question about Crawford having three season-ending injuries in past years and maybe calling it quits on a career, but BK said a “formal conversation” between the two or another staff member never happened.
“I have always felt he was going to overcome this again because that’s kind of spirit he has,” Kelly said. “He’s exactly where I thought he would be. (He’s) going to be playing a major role in the success of this football team.”
(Kelly also provided an update on cornerback Houston Griffith, who is still recovering from an early fall camp injury.)
Near the top of the more interesting subjects Kelly discussed with the media on Wednesday included the preparation of special teams heading into Monday’s opener.
“We’ve prepared them more than I’ve ever prepared special teams for an opener,” Kelly said when asked about the lack of freshmen on the roster and special teams, specifically with two new kickers on the roster in freshman place-kicker Harrison Leonard and freshman punter Jay Bramblett.
“There’s freshmen that are on special teams. Jack Kiser, you’re going to see a lot early on on special teams. We think he can be a difference maker,” Kelly said. “The guys that we do have probably play at a position where we have some strength.”
On the expectations for his team coming into the year:
Kelly: "By and large our system, our process will take care of itself. Each year has to take on its own mindset. Mindset really has to happen with the individuals. We can craft it but they have to go ahead and do it." #NotreDame— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) August 28, 2019
On the Kevin Austin situation:
Question: Is Kevin Austin is going to play for you this year.— Pete Sampson (@PeteSampson_) August 28, 2019
Brian Kelly: "Kevin Austin is on our team ... His situation is such that he’s still on this football team and he’s still practicing with us. Other than that, I’ve made my statement on that."
On a player that’s really grown in the preseason preparation:
"He's had the best camp since he's been here," Kelly said on Daelin Hayes.— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) August 28, 2019
That's probably a scary thing to hear for quarterbacks on the Irish's schedule.
On the wide receiving situation after losing Cole Kmet and Michael Young to either lengthy or season-ending injuries:
Running backs Kyren Williams and Jafar Armstrong will play some slot receiver to help mitigate losses at the receiver and tight end positions. #GoIrish— BlueandGold.com (@BGInews) August 28, 2019
"We were able to add some sandbags to his pockets," Kelly said on WR Lawrence Keys III, who was previously listed at 5'11", 160 ... so that quote adds up.— Michael Whitlow (@couldbelikemike) August 28, 2019
"He does something a lot of guys don't do. He catches the ball at full speed."
Kelly concluded his presser discussing the depth at linebacker for the Irish. The current listed three starters on the chart for the Irish were Asmar Bilal (BUCK), Drew White (MIKE) and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (ROVER).
Jordan Genmark Heath and Shayne Simon aren’t on the official depth chart. Brian Kelly intentionally mentions both when asked about linebacker. Said arrow pointing up on both.— Pete Sampson (@PeteSampson_) August 28, 2019
Following the presser, BlueAndGold.com provided this update of the LB depth chart also:
Actually, we were just sent an updated version of the depth chart with Shayne Simon's listed as the second Mike linebacker.— BlueandGold.com (@BGInews) August 28, 2019
You can watch the full press conference from Kelly here: