Brian Kelly sat down for his weekly Thursday Zoom session with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish media, and provided some updates and context for this weekend’s game against the Purdue Boilermakers.
On the latest OFD Podcast, I talked about the strangeness of Notre Dame’s prep for the last two games because of the way they were scheduled. I believe that the way the Irish had to start the season — which included the short week last week — had a bigger impact than what any of us were discussing. Kelly talked a little about that (as an avid OFD Podcast listener).
“So, the first two weeks of the season were not a typical in-season preparation. We were coming off a long camp with Florida State and we were really in a maintenance mode relative to that week leading into Florida State. We had been in a long camp. I wanted to make sure that we didn’t have camp legs, so you’re not really ramping things up going into that week. You’re trying to manage things. Then we came off the short week going into week two, so you’re really effected for two weeks with the Sunday game and this is really the first week where we’re really in the routine. So we’re able to get after it the way we normally do. Tuesday and Wednesday were what we’re used to in terms of traditional practices on a week leading into a Saturday game. So, it might have felt ramped up to the guys, and I can understand that. but all I was doing was getting us back to where we really should be relative to our preparation and I’ve always believed that you don’t raise your level of competition, you just raise your level of preparation and we raised our level of preparation this week.”
Roster and injury updates
Obviously the Irish have been hampered by injuries and unavailable players during the first two weeks. We got a little clarity for Saturday.
“Michael Carmody is making pretty good progress during the week. That’ll be a gametime decision. Jeff Quinn will assess who’s in a better position. Again, as I mentioned, we’re going against one of the best pass rushers in the country, so in some instances, he might be ready but we’ve got to be able to evaluate him against one of the best in the country. Other guys, I don’t know that we really had anybody else that was in that situation.”
“Jordan Botelho is available and he will play. Logan Diggs is available and he will play.”
“Jordan is a guy that I think can help us at that Vyper position. He brings pass rush ability. I think he brings third down depth for us in terms of rushing the passer. We were a little thin there and I think that that’s going to be really welcomed to our unit.”
JoJo [Johnson] has an ACL. He’ll have surgery, I think today. He is out for the season. Osita [Ekwonu], he had to have surgery. I think he had surgery. Achilles in camp. He too is out for the season.”
Quarterback and offensive line rotations
The Tyler Buchner package is on everyone’s mind.
“All three of them are getting reps. Jack still continues to be the starter, so he’s getting the bulk of the reps, but I think I said this after the game, we’ll continue to grow the package for Tyler, as it relates to what his skill set is. So, that continues to grow. Drew needs to get those reps to keep him sharp. It’s a management of those three and we feel very comfortable with it. We don’t feel like we’re shorting anybody in one particular area.”
So it’s NOT Rocco Spindler that will come in first at guard.
“I think they’re getting so many snaps and Zeke Correll in particular and Cain Madden need a blow. Andrew Kristofic is probably the first guy and then I think Rocco Spindler and John Dirksen in that order. I think you’d see probably Andrew as the first man in and we really like what he’s been doing. He’s been playing some center, he’s been playing some guard, and we really like his development, so expect to see him playing some guard on Saturday.”
Plummer and Bell
Kelly went a little deeper on the challenge of Purdue’s best offensive weapons in quarterback Jack Plummer and wide receiver David Bell.
“He’s [Plummer] extremely accurate. I think that’s probably the most challenging part. He’s extremely accurate. He knows where to go with the football. He’s got two outstanding weapons. Look, at the end of the day, he keeps plays alive and he doesn’t take sacks. He gets rid of the football. I think more than anything, you have a pro style quarterback that doesn’t make big mistakes. He doesn’t turn the ball over. He doesn’t take negative plays and and he’s extremely accurate. So that in itself is probably the biggest strengths that he brings and it is probably why he’s the starter.”
“He [Bell] creates issues, right? If you play him man to man, his runs after the catch are deadly. You have to employ a variety of looks. You’ve got to be in some bracket coverage. You’ve got to be in some trail coverage. You’ve got to be able to play some robber. It’s really about a variety of different looks, so it really stresses what you do relative to your normal coverages. If you just played him in man, you’re going to obviously be in a very difficult position, so mixing it up, playing some bracket, doubling him, making it difficult for him to know what he’s getting, and for the quarterback, especially in third down situations.”