Brian Kelly held court for his weekly press conference as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish now prepare to go on the road to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers. Notre Dame is being raked over the coals for an abysmal passing game effort against Louisville, and with a better defense in front of them, the questions for Kelly leaned into how he and the Irish might change or fix things.
Because of the shockingly low score, short game, and short passing output — people may be overlooking the worst stat from the game, and that was Notre Dame’s touchdown scoring redzone percentage. Notre Dame was 1-5 scoring touchdowns in the redzone — although one of those was when the Irish took a knee to end the game.
The four other times in the redzone went like this:
- 12 plays for 61 yards to the 14 — Field Goal
- 15 plays for 76 yards to the 12 — Field Goal
- 14 plays for 90 yards to the 6 — DOWNS (fake FG fail)
- 8 plays for 66 yards — 13 yard TD run from Ian Book
Yeah... that has to get better. Notre Dame’s offense isn’t explosive, so they’re going to be in the redzone quite a bit (because of the lack of big play TD’s). Becoming more efficient inside that 20 yard line is going to be crucial for this team moving forward. Some of it may come down to play-calling via Tommy Rees and Brian Kelly.
When asked about the play-calling, BK had this to say:
“Play-calling does change down there because defenses change down there. Teams tend to get into either man coverage or bracket coverage. There’s a change in where you are on the field. For us, it’s been a lack of execution, detailed execution, and so we have to spend more time. We have to allocate more time in practice for it. And playmakers need to make plays down there as well. That’s quarterbacks, receivers, offensive linemen. Coaches have to be able to highlight individual players down there. We have to put packages together that … look, I’m not here to make analogies in all circumstances but you’ve got to put your sharpshooters in position to score down there, too. All of that is part of it. You’re putting your offense against what defenses like to do in that area as well. There’s a bit of a chess match, there’s a bit of a matchups are important down there. As you get closer, there’s a will down there. We think we can run the ball in on anybody down there. We’ve been in high red and mid-range red situations where a lot of our issues have been for the most part.”
Let me paraphrase and go full Mike Valenti... MAKE PLAYS!
Maybe this Saturday against Pitt, we will see Kevin Austin step up and make those plays — or Chris Tyree, or Braden Lenzy, or Michael Mayer, or Tommy Tremble, or someone... or maybe it comes down to Ian Book.
Notre Dame will have their hands full against Pitt, but at least it will be a test to see what this team can do.
You can watch the full Brian Kelly presser below.