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Notre Dame Football: Brian Kelly wants to increase the Irish intensity against Pitt

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Coach Kelly returned to talk mental health, the Pittsburgh offense and the COVID-19 numbers game.

NCAA Football: Virginia at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly was back for an update Thursday ahead of the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers.

The Name Drops

Coach Kelly responded to Jahmir Smith’s recent decision to step back from football to focus on mental health and said:

“Mental health has been an issue in my 30 years of coaching. It’s just today become, I don’t know if it’s ever easy to talk about, but it doesn’t have a connotation of weakness. Jahmir is the opposite of weak. He’s a strong young man and I love Jahmir for his courage as much as anything else. It connotated weakness, and that’s so far from the truth, especially as it relates to Jahmir. That has always been a concern when you’re playing a competitive game and one where there are so many pressures to live up to expectations, whether they be your own or others, at a national institution.”

On the evolution of right tackle Robert Hainsey, the coach said:

“He was well-coached in high school and he came in with a high level of technical ability. He was never out of place in a sense that he didn’t need a ton of work to be ready from a technical standpoint.”

Taking on the Panthers and Moving Forward

The coach explained while the team’s dedication to preparing has always been there, the team’s focus in the past week has been upping the intensity following the Irish showing against Louisville. He went on to underscore the team’s constant focus on the details. Kelly said:

“We didn’t have that attention to detail in certain areas, particularly in the red zone, to be effective and the intensity to put our opponent away. That’s about learning how to compete at the highest level. Our guys are learning about that. Even though they’re veteran players, each year is a new year. They’re understanding that as we go into playing on the road for the first time.”

Kelly also expressed a level of comfort with Pitt head coach Mark Whipple’s offensive style. The Irish coach explained Notre Dame coaching staff and players were able to gauge Whipple’s game by learning from the Notre Dame-UMass matchup in 2015; the game was a 62-27 Irish victory.

On the whole extra year of eligibility business, Kelly explained:

“2022 affects the numbers... if some decide to come back, the university has the option to fund those scholarships. But you have to make it right in 2022. Those numbers have to be balanced out. We’re looking ahead to manage those numbers.”

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