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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 1, 2014
COACH KELLY:¬† It's great to be back and back doing what we love to do as coaches and that is develop our players and begin another season here at NotreDame.¬† The football program here at NotreDame has such a great history and tradition, and you know, any time that we get an opportunity to begin another season, we are so energized as a staff with the expectations and the with opportunities and that's what makes being at NotreDame so great.¬† There's such great expectations; they are high, every year.¬† We recognize that.¬† There's such great tradition and we appreciate that, and I think that's what energizes all of our players and coaches and everybody as we embark on another season here at NotreDame.
I'll begin with just an overview of our off‑season.¬† As you know, we began that off‑season with a bit of a change from what had been a traditional June where most teams were focusing on their camps.¬† We also got an opportunity this year, spent a little bit of time with our players and I think that proved to be very beneficial.¬† I think I was at the time hopeful that that would be the case if we were able to continue to train in the manner that we had trained in the past.¬† In other words, that we would not cut short our training in lieu of having workouts in June with our team.
After talking to Paul Longo, our strength coach, and his staff, they had a great July and felt like they were able to accomplish all of the strength and conditioning goals that we had accomplished in the past, and even more so.
So the combination of being able to work with our players in June, coupled with the strength and conditioning that is always part of your off‑season, we believe that this was the best off‑season that we have had since we've been here at NotreDame.¬† So we looked to carry that momentum into our reporting day on Sunday and we hoped to see the benefits as we go into our first week of acclimatization where we have really now laid down our offensive and defensive structure a couple of times and we hope to really see that show itself in the first week of camp.
I really want to kind of begin with that because we are I think we are going to see some great games in our first week.¬† You only get that one practice, so you want that practice to really count and I think the work we did in June, coupled with the strength and conditioning gains that we believe that we saw with our football team is going to benefit us as we go into that first week as we prepare for our opener against Rice.
During that time, also, you're also looking to build leadership within the ranks.¬† That is an ongoing process that will continue to work itself into our team as we go through.¬† I don't look to name any captains right away but we are seeing players emerge in leadership roles, and a lot of those guys have experience and a lot of those guys are our best players, and that's always the best form of leadership within your ranks.
We have guys that have made great gains in the summer, not only in strength and weight training, but in coming back from injury, as well.¬† I know that a lot has been asked about Jarrett Grace.¬† You know, we think that he's in a great position now where he's going to be close now to being ready when the season starts.¬† We think he's in a position now where he's running and it's going to be for us a wait‑and‑see process, but he is so much closer than we are thought he could be as we go into the month of August, and I know that he's been somebody that a lot of people‑‑ you know,¬† we're certainly excited about him.
I know that it's out there, I think it leaked out there about Mike Heuerman.¬† Hike had another hernia setback, so he's had surgery.¬† So Mike will be lost for about another month before he's ready to go, and so he won't be with us early on and we'll have to count on some depth issues there in a freshman, Tyler Luatua, who had a great summer for us.¬† Really excited about how he's settled in here.¬† Again, coming from the West Coast, you're always worried about that transition and we really feel good about what he's been able to do in a very short.
Unfortunately, Tony Springmann has suffered a setback and he is not going to be able to play football for us.¬† He has come back from his knee injury but he's had a lingering back issue and that is not going to allow him to continue to play football.¬† So he will be a medical situation for us, and so Tony will no longer be playing football.¬† He'll still stay involved in the program.¬† You know, Tony has done a great job of mentoring a lot of our younger players in the program.¬† He's shown great leadership, great resolve in coming back from his knee injury, and he'll stay connected with our program and still be part of our season as we go down to the Culver Academies.
I think what I was most pleased with in terms of the work ethic of some of our players in particular, if you take a guy like Nick Martin, who just kind of set the bar in terms of coming back from a really tough injury, a knee injury, and now he is full go. ¬†The way he's worked; Ben Councell; the way both of those guys have set a high bar in coming back from knee injuries and now being fully capable to do everything in our program.¬† Certainly we'll have to monitor their volume but for them to come back in the manner that they have worked has been outstanding.
Certainly Rob Hunt and the way he's handled the rehab of our players and Paul Longo and his staff and the way they integrate together, you know, it's largely due to their ability to collaborate and get those guys back.
But both of those guys, I wanted to single out in particular, Ben Councell and Nick Martin, the way they have comeback from knee injuries in a short period of time to be ready to go.¬† Those were the guys that I kind of wanted to get out in particular.
Give you an overview of the June‑‑ inaudible ‑‑ going into Culver Academies, going there also allows us a great environment to do a lot of team building with our guys.¬† There are many opportunities there on that campus where, first of all, from a facilities standpoint, we really like the geography that's there.¬† We have two adjacent fields, one a field turf and one a brand new field that's been installed there.
So we like the facilities, the geography, as well as things that we can do with our team there that is going to allow us to continue to grow with our team.
So all those things said, that's I think what makes it so exciting for us as we enter the 2014 season with an incredibly difficult and demanding schedule.¬† Our players were in class all summer.¬† All of our players are in good standing with the university, and now we move forward towards what's going to be an exciting 2014.
So with that, I'll open up to questions.
Q.¬† With Springmann out, what does the nose guard situation look like behind Jones?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, as you know, we got a chance to evaluate our freshmen, and we got a chance to see Daniel Cage and Pete Mokwuah, and really believe with him, with those two guys, and Jarron Jones, that we have got some pretty good depth at that position.¬† You know, Justin Utupo, not saying he's going to play the nose but he's up to 290 pounds now.
We think we have got some depth at that position.¬† We have got some size.¬† We have got, you know, right now, if you count Jones, Mokwuah and Cage, you have got three guys that are over 300 pounds, and I think what‑‑ in my conversations with coach long way and particular with Cage and Mokwuah, their volume is ahead of any of the freshmen that we have had at that position since we have come here.
Their ability to go in and take reps immediately because they are so strong, as well.¬† Both of them physically are able to compete right away.¬† We'll have to see what their football ability brings, but from a work volume standpoint and from a strength standpoint, and obviously their size, we feel pretty good at that position right now?
Q.¬† If you were to have an injury there or if they were not as far along football wise as you thought, does it‑‑ how much‑‑
COACH KELLY:¬† I don't think so. ¬†I think there's a great deal of flexibility that we have still with some other players that have gotten a lot stronger and really have the sides now to fly inside.
I think we have gotten, from this summer work out, a lot of the flexibility that's going to allow us to be in both three down and four down.¬† Jacob Matuska is up over 290 pounds.¬† So we have got big body guys now that give us a lot more flexibility within our front.
Q.¬† What can you tell us about Nile Sykes' departure?
COACH KELLY:¬† All I can tell you particularly is that when we are talking about players in our program, you know, it's got to be the right fit, and it just wasn't the right fit.¬† He's now in a situation where he feels like it's a great fit for him and we wish him the best.¬† He's a good kid.¬† There's nothing that he did in our football program that put him in a bad situation with me personally.¬† I gave him a great recommendation and we wish him the best at, I believe he's at Indiana.
Q.¬† You mentioned a few of the freshmen here and there, and I know they have not had pads on yet but are there some guys that jumped out that you said, they can help us and we have a need there.
COACH KELLY:¬† I mentioned the two big guys inside.
I think, you know, it defensively, there's probably, you know, a handful of players that are going to get a chance.¬† Nick Watkins was very impressive.¬† He's a six‑foot‑‑ almost a 6‑1 long, smooth athlete that's going to get a chance to compete.¬† I think there's a couple of linebackers.¬† Nyles Morgan is a young man that continues to impress.¬† Jhonny Williams, his athletic ability really stood out to us.
Jonathan Bonner, you know, 35‑inch vertical at his size.¬† I mean, some of the physical traits really jump out.¬† Now as you said, I will coach that‑‑ they have to put the pads on and they have to pick up the system.¬† But there's a lot of guys in this freshman class, especially on the defensive side of the ball that have the physical traits necessary to come in and compete with the right numbers.¬† You know, a vertical jump, strength, squat, bench and size, and we'll just have to see how that plays out.
Q.¬† What do you want the quarterback dynamic to be in August as you open camp?¬† Do you want some separation?¬† Do you want there to be pushing? Do you want to name somebody and get those roles adjusted how do you want that to play out?
COACH KELLY:¬† I think in an ideal world, I think every coach would want one quarterback that has clearly demonstrated a consistency, great leadership, and the ability to take you to a championship.
And so if that guy shows himself, I'm ready to name him the quarterback on that day.¬† So I'm not playing a game where, you know, we are trying to create artificial competition within the ranks.¬† I think we still have competition for that particular role to show itself.
I think it can show itself and when it does, we'll be ready to make that declaration.¬† It just has not shown itself yet, but I'm confident that it will, and when it does, we'll be ready to make that call.
Q.¬† The summer workouts went well; does that change the way you approach August camp versus how you've done it for the past two decades or so?
COACH KELLY:¬† We've handled the practice structure in terms of the way we are practicing very similar.¬† But we are ready to move quickly and get into a higher level of competition with 1s and 1s, and 2s and 2s, if we need to.
We are starting as if we had no OTA and we'll see where that takes us.¬† We are prepared to really accelerate the process.¬† But you know, we are going to a similar installation period as if we were‑‑ we did not have the June.¬† And I'm okay with that, because I think what we are going to see is better retention.¬† I think we are going to see better practices.¬† I think we are going to be more crisp.¬† I think we are going to be ahead of where we were in the past.
Q.¬† And in the past, you've talked about self‑scouting yourself and the way you've approached things.¬† Have you done that this summer, or are there any ideas you want to change up?
COACH KELLY:¬† Oh, yeah, certainly we have looked at a lot of things in special teams.¬† We've looked at‑‑ I think we have done more self‑scouting and analysis and special teams on the offensive side of the ball than I have done in a number of years.
So we are pretty cognizant of all of the things necessary for us to be balanced, for us to improve in the areas that we need the improvement in.¬† You know, we know where we are.¬† We know who we were last year, and we know what we want to be better at moving into 2014.
Q.¬† What were you able to see from DaVaris Daniels this summer?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, he's definitely physically a stronger football player.¬† He's put on strength and muscle.¬† I saw a more mature Daniels and the way he handled him.¬† I saw some leadership leading the group.¬† I think with Daniels, it's what I probably have said from day one:¬† We want to say that every day and we are seeing some really, really good signs of that.¬† Now it's a matter of taking that to a championship level; means doing it every single day.
I think we saw some really good signs and we want to be able to see that every day.
Q.¬† Johnny Lujack had surgery this week.¬† Have you gotten a chance to know him much in your time here?
COACH KELLY:¬† I have.¬† I've gotten a chance to spend some time with him.¬† You know, it's amazing that‑‑ you know, I talked about this at the outset in terms of the tradition of NotreDame.¬† When you're around a living legend in my mind, an icon like that, the thing that, the thing struck me about Johnny more than anything else is his humor.¬† No matter what the situation, the humor.¬† And his family passed on a quip that he made just the other day, which I'm not going to pass on with anybody here; while he was in the hospital, he still has that kind of wit and humor.
For somebody that is in my eyes such an icon to have that down‑to‑earth quality, and he's taken this very, you know, difficult health situation, and he's handling it with humor.¬† So it tells me how much about the person no matter what the situation, he's always handled it so well.
You know, our thoughts and prayers are with him.¬† He seems to be doing pretty good right now, and we hope to see him back on campus real soon.
Q.¬† Where Everett's knowledge base, where does it compare now working with him in the summer to when he first came back to school in January?
COACH KELLY:¬† I think it's an ongoing process of really not knowing the playbook, but understanding the move before the move is made, you know.
And so really, understanding me and what I'm thinking before that play is made or that call is made.¬† And so that's what we're trying to really get to.
You know, he knows everything in the playbook.¬† He knows what 62 protection is.¬† He know what is a slugo (ph) is.¬† Now, why are we running it.¬† So it's the why of the playbook; why are we doing this.¬† What's the next call here when you see this coverage.¬† And so that's where we are in this process; why.
And when you get there, you want the quarterback now to be one step ahead of you.¬† Coach, we need to be doing this.¬† We're not there yet but we are moving in that direction.
Q.¬† The Sam linebacker, the strong inside, outside, is Ben a guy that can slide over there?¬† Is he a guy you might view in that role?
COACH KELLY:¬† Yeah, absolutely.¬† I mean, look, personnel is going to drive‑‑ the offensive personnel is going to drive a lot of the defensive personnel, and so we think Ben has a unique quality in that he played in space at that position.¬† He can play outside, and he's 250‑pounds and he's strong and he's got very violent hands.¬† When he gets his hands on you, he can really control the line of scrimmage.
He can play over a tight end, he can play in some space.¬† Him and getting Jarrett Grace healthy, those are two really big pieces for us, because we can get really big and get really physical at the linebacker position with those guys on the field.¬† And then we can match up with some smaller guys, as well, that are more safety types that can play down.
So those two guys are really important to us, and Ben Councell, we can't underestimate how important he is to the overall picture of our defense.
Q.¬† KeiVarae Russell, do you think he's ready to take on this role, being more aggressive as a cornerback and taking those kind of chances?
COACH KELLY:¬† Yeah, and I think you've minimized your chances when you have a guy like a Russell, right.¬† I think he has taken on this role as one of a challenge where he wants to be that Revis.¬† He wants to be that, you know, Peterson.¬† He wants to be seen as that kind of player, and he knows he's got some work to do.¬† I'm not comparing him to that.¬† I'm saying at the highest level in college, right.
So he wants to be that kind of player.¬† He wants to be the very best at his position, so he's driven to be that player.¬† He's not there yet, so that's his focus.
So we are pretty excited about having a player that has that kind of passion and desire to want to be a great player, and he's moving in that direction.
Q.¬† In terms of knowing the playbook and the why, how far is Malik from that?
COACH KELLY:¬† He is pretty good at the why.¬† He understands the concepts.¬† I think once in awhile, he'll revert back to just some freshman mistakes and we just have to clean up some of the hiccups I guess that he'll have.¬† Because he's got a great understanding of what we're doing and he can do some really good things for us.
I think for him, sometimes we just have to keep him focused on a day‑to‑day basis and stay within the system.¬† I really like his progression. ¬†He's been great this summer, and just don't revert back to some of the mistakes that he's made in the past.¬† If he does that, stays away from that, he's going to be ready to compete at a high level, as well.
Q.¬† I think this is the third time in four years where you've had a quarterback competition in camp, but I guess this is the most like quarterbacks that have been battling; does that change the evaluation?
COACH KELLY:¬† I'll give you how it changes.¬† I'm scripting offense for the first time, really, since I've been here.¬† So scripting plays, for example, where this is the first time that we don't have to have two scripts for two quarterbacks.¬† They are running the same plays and that is a huge advantage in terms of building that consistency throughout the ranks for everybody, from the offensive line, for the receivers, to the quarterback.
So it's a huge advantage that we can run the same offense with both guys.¬† So it trickles down to everybody within the offensive structure that we can run the same offense and execute the same way with both quarterbacks.
Q.¬† I think in the past you've made the call where a player has prompted you to make a call about ten days out from the opener.¬† Is that sort of the time line that you feel like is comfortable for you?
COACH KELLY:¬† The ten days out probably was more of a deadline, so we built some continuity with the first group and everybody knew who the starter was.¬† That's probably the time where you want to get it done by then.
I'll make the call when it's clear, and I think that's where it's probably the most prudent time if you know it, if you know who the guy is going to be.¬† You probably don't want to wait‑‑ if you know who it is, you probably want to make it right around then.¬† If you don't know, you don't know, and you just keep going until you find out.
If I know sooner, we'll go sooner.
Q.¬† Cody Riggs, when you were hands‑on with him over the summer what did you see from him and what do you think he can give you in the fall?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, first of all, he fits in very well here.¬† He's a NotreDame man, handles himself with great maturity.¬† Handles his business very well.¬† He's in a very competitive academic program here at NotreDame; on time; respected by his teammates, and he's going to bring a lot of veteran experience; he's played a lot of football in the SEC.¬† He's a great add to our football team.
He was probably a little bit out of shape when he got here.¬† We have rounded him into very good shape and he's appreciated that.¬† It's been a little bit different for him.¬† It's a bit of a change, you know, from what he's been used to, working in more of a team atmosphere here; not that they were not a team where he was from, but we do a lot more with the team weight training.¬† So that's been very good because it's really gotten him a chance to know the team in its entirety, so he fits in very well.
Q.¬† Do you think he could be a safety for you or is he strictly a corner?
COACH KELLY:¬† He's got the ability to play corner.¬† He can play in the nickel position.¬† I don't know that we have really sat down and said, hey, here is safety.¬† He did play safety at Florida, so obviously he's got some experience at that position.
But I think we are starting at the corner position, nickel position.¬† That's where we'd like to start.
Q.¬† Your general thoughts on your offensive line and maybeChristian Lombard, where he fits in, and also a freshman in Nelson, 325 on the roster, early thoughts on him?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, obviously on the offensive line, getting Christian Lombard back healthy has been really good.¬† His last two weeks here from the accounts that I've gotten from Coach Longo were outstanding.¬† He's healthy, he's moving well, he's strong.¬† That's a huge piece for us.
And now with Lombard being healthy, a starter returns.¬† Nick Martin being healthy, a starter returns.¬† Elmer, a starter returns.¬† Stanley, a starter returns.¬† So you're really talking about four starters returning on the offensive line.¬† That's a good place to be.¬† Now we have to figure out who that fifth player is.
And you know how I feel about‑‑ and I've made it pretty clear, Matt Hegarty has been outstanding.¬† Hanratty is a tough kid that we really value a lot in the way that he competes and Mike McGlinchey is physically as gifted as any player that we have.
So we really think we have got three outstanding candidates to compete in that position, and guys coming along, too.¬† And you mentioned Quenton Nelson who physically is a very gifted player.
So we really think that that group, as a whole, sets a standard in our program:¬† The way they compete together, the way they work out.¬† Last year, there were no peers to that group as a whole.¬† Now, there are some peers.¬† Our defensive line is a 180 in terms of where they are this year compared to last year, as how they work as a group.¬† They have been outstanding and that's led by Sheldon Day.¬† Sheldon Day has been a great leader for us with that group.
So that group as a whole, we feel really good about the offensive line.
Q.¬† A minute ago you mentioned that you know‑‑ what is the focus on getting better at?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, I think you come into every year and you learn about your football team and you know we're going to have a new quarterback.¬† We're going to play a lot of new players on the defensive side of the ball, clearly, and we have to make up for the loss of production in the wide receiving core.
So immediately, you know, the first things are to try to gain that continuity on the offensive side of the ball and finding that production.¬† Defensively, it's been what we've talked about is, settling into a system with a new defensive coordinator and getting those players in a position where they can make up for the loss of a lot of good players that have graduated.
And everybody is dealing with the same thing.¬† Everybody has lost really good players.¬† Alabama loses them every year.¬† LSU loses them every year; Florida State loses them.
I think we are all in the same position and that is we come into the season and we have a lot of young players that we think are very talented.¬† Now we put them in a position and we look for production from these players immediately.
Q.¬† Four straight winning seasons; it's been awhile since NotreDame had that.¬† As you said, expectations here are higher.¬† What's it going to take to take the next step and be an elite team‑‑
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, we went undefeated in that run.¬† So you throw an undefeated season in there‑‑ you don't want to have an undefeated season and then have just winning seasons.¬† You want to be part of the national conversation.¬† At NotreDame, that's where we want to be.
Now, so the structure is different.¬† It's how do you get into the playoffs.¬† So for us every year it will be how do we put ourselves in a position to get into the national playoffs and that will be the mark for every team.¬† There's a lot more teams now.¬† That's the mark for us.¬† How many are there?¬† 128.¬† So there's 128 teams.¬† We want to be one of those teams that are considered.¬† That's how we'll mark our program every year, to compete for a playoff position.¬† There's only four of them and there's 128 position.¬† We have got to have a serious shot at getting one of those four.
Q.¬† The personnel you've lost on the defensive front seven not only last year but the year before, does scheme take on a greater importance?¬† In other words, you can't just physically line up and pound people.¬† Diaco was more of a fundamentally sound coach; is scheme more important under VanGorder?
COACH KELLY:¬† I think we are certainly going to find ourselves in a position where we are going to have to move more players on to the field.¬† You're going to see us playing multiple players, utilizing their strengths.¬† And one of the things that Brian brings to the table is a great deal of experience in utilizing the strength of those singular players, those individual players.
So if that's considered scheming, then that's what it is.¬† I think what Brian does really well is he looks at a particular player and says, I'm going to put him in a position where he can use his specific ability and we'll‑‑ and this is where I've always been and this is where Brian and I have always been on the same page.¬† It's always been for me offensively, it's always been about the player, not the play, and it's the same thing for Brian.¬† It's always about the player, not the front.
So he's always going to be about getting the players in a position where they can help play great defense, and so I think you'll see a lot of that as we move into the season.
Q.¬† You coached with him a while back and now you've had a chance to spend a few months with him.¬† How much have you learned about him?¬† Obviously he understands the game a lot better than he did way back when, but what else have you learned about him?
COACH KELLY:¬† His attention to detail; his passion; his ability to really communicate well with the staff and allows the coaches to coach.¬† He's not a micromanager.¬† He has all the traits of successful coaches.¬† Ones I've always been around are passionate about what they do, communicate effectively, pay attention to detail and let their coaches coach.¬† Let the staff go out and coach.
I think he's done a great job.¬† And he's built relationships with the players in a very short period of time where they believe him, and I think that's important especially when you are talking about, he'll bring in a lot defensive terminology that is new for some of the guys.
Q.¬† With regard to Culver, why not last year?¬† I know they didn't have their artificial surface in yet but why not Culver last year?
COACH KELLY:¬† We needed two fields.¬† So one field was not‑‑ they only had one field.¬† So the addition of the second field was really the difference.
So when that investment was made on a second field, and it was the positioning of the field, I didn't want to have to go too far.¬† I wanted the geography to be just right where we could have the defense on one field and the offense‑‑ and I could switch on a horn and be able to get together.
So geography was absolutely crucial to this move.
Q.¬† And you mentioned Jonathan Bonner, and he's listed 269 and he's also listed at linebacker.¬† Where do you anticipate him?
COACH KELLY:¬† I don't know.¬† It's going to be fun to watch him, though, because his numbers, his physical prowess really stood out in our testing and he's had a really good summer.¬† Big kid, athletic, strong.¬† We are going to find out in the first week where that kind of shakes out.
Q.¬† Where would you anticipate him starting out?
COACH KELLY:¬† He's 270 pounds so I think he can find of figure out that he's going to put a hand down, my guess, but we'll see what happens.
Q.¬† You mentioned a couple of times as the quarterback situation goes, you're looking for separation and so you can make the call to whom it might be.¬† As far as the running backs are concerned with Folston, Bryant and McDaniels, do you look for the same thing to play itself out, or do you say, we have a three‑headed monster and it's not as important for separation there?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, I would say that that position is different than the quarterback position.¬† You know, you're looking for natural leadership because of what that quarterback position does, right.
So I'm not as concerned about that one coming in and announcing who the starting running back is.¬† If it happens, that would be fine.¬† So I think with that, there's enough room for all three of those guys to play substantial roles in our offense, and I would expect that all three of them do.
Q.¬† Not to overanalyze the quarterback position, but could you talk about what each guy does‑‑
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, you would be the only one not to‑‑
Q.¬† I know, right.¬† I have to fit the bill.¬† When you talk about what you're looking for, and one of the things you said was you want a guy who can lead you to a championship, and you have a quarterback that took you to a title game and another who has never taken a snap.¬† What can Malik do in this camp that would impress to you put him on the field?
COACH KELLY:¬† I would argue that Everett road the bus to the championship.¬† I think Malik has the ability to play winning football for us.¬† And I want him to play championship football for us and so there's a level that he has to get to and it's kind of what I alluded to before is that, you know, he's‑‑ and there's a couple things there.
First of all, I've got to continue to give him the confidence that he can be the star, and he's got to see that.¬† Secondly, you know, he can't make freshman mistakes, and continue to develop.¬† If he does that I think he can go from a winning quarterback to a championship quarterback.
Everett has to continue on that same ascent, and that's why it's a pretty situation to be in, quite frankly.¬† I'm not in here complaining about our quarterback position.¬† I'm actually pretty excited that I have two guys that are moving in a very good direction and I feel really good about actually both Kaiser and VanGorder, both of those kids had very good OTAs and so I feel pretty good about where we are at this point.
Q.¬† Your thoughts broadly on the schedule this year.
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, certainly I would liked to have certainly found a little bit of a breather in that middle area.¬† The schedule is certainly difficult every year at NotreDame.¬† We have a couple of byes in there which is going to be very helpful to our football team.
We have to get off to a great start.¬† Rice is a football team that is not going to back down.¬† They had great success last year.¬† They went on the road against A&M and had them on the ropes.¬† So we have to get off to a great start, and of course, Michigan, Purdue, very difficult start to our schedule.
That's the difference, one clear difference here at NotreDame:¬† You're jumping in right away and we have to get off to a great start.
Q.¬† Since you've been here, Zack Martin, he's been there every single week.¬† Talking about your offensive line, is there one side that can replace him on the field or off the field‑‑ or is it more than one group as you alluded to a right‑to‑left bit?
COACH KELLY:¬† I think the strength of the offensive line is in the pack.¬† It's the group.¬† But the one guy is the guy with the same last name.¬† So hasn't gone very far.¬† Nick Martin is the leader of that group, all right, it's pretty clear.¬† Now, we've got great leadership from Christian, but that's Nick Martin that's really driving that group.¬† A lot of that has been passed on from Zack.¬† That's why I consider him one of the great captains of my career, because he passed on so much of that and they are just following from a lot of what he passed on.
Q.¬† Can you just talk about what you want out of your guys Monday at 11:00 A.M.?
COACH KELLY:¬† Yeah, I want retention.¬† Retention from the spring, retention from our OTAs and I want to be able to see that show itself in the very first day that we step out on the field.
You know, I think the one thing that we demand from our players is that when we are in those two hours of practice, that we start fast; that there's an attention to detail; that there's great effort and enthusiasm and that we finish strong.¬† We call that four quarters of winning.
That retention needs to be there.¬† If we come out and we have forgotten all of the things that we have been working on since January, I would be very disappointed.¬† I don't expect that to happen, because we are going into year five and we've been very consistent with the message.¬† I expect to have a great day the first day.
Q.¬† And then you touched on the Culver; can you talk about why that was the right fit for you guys?
COACH KELLY:¬† And again, I mentioned geography.¬† I like the fact that it's just a little bit under an hour.¬† I like that proximity.¬† The medical facility on campus, laundry facilities; just the ability to not have to take things off‑site.¬† We are able to use our entire X&O system there.¬† We were a bit challenged with our video there.¬† We had to do duplicating of our video which required for us to wait after practices for video.¬† We'll have capabilities to have our mainframe.
There's just a lot of things that make it an easier camp environment to do the things that we can do here.¬† Shiloh Was a great opportunity for us and this presents and even better opportunity.
And secondly, you only get one practice.¬† There's 22 hours left in the day.¬† We feel that that site provides us a lot of opportunity to do some team building with our players.
Q.¬† The last couple of years, defense has obviously been a strength to this team.¬† Do you feel the offense is now your strength and what you'll rely on in 2014?
COACH KELLY:¬† I really hope that all three phases are able to come together this year and complement.¬† I mean, I want to be able to say that this football team, it can complement the defense and it can complement the offense and the special teams can complement.
I don't want it to be, we got there because of our defense or we got there because of our offense.¬† You know, going into the season, I think if all three phases can come together as one, we've got a chance to be a really good football team.
Q.¬† During the spring you said that you were cautiously optimistic about Williams‑‑ have you seen strides?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, he's a senior.¬† He's done everything we've asked him to do, 270 pounds.¬† He's strong.¬† It's time.¬† It's time for him to go play.
He's now got that opportunity to finish his career in a great way.¬† So time will tell.¬† His attitude's been great.¬† Now he'll get an opportunity to go out there and prove it this year.
Q.¬† You talked about it a little in the spring, but the last two years, you've lost so many games 13‑10, 17‑13, 13‑6 and popular perception this year has been you had to win a lot of shootouts‑‑ at Tallahassee.¬† Do you see it as more of an onus on the offense being greater than it has?
COACH KELLY:¬† I think we need to score more points, I agree.¬† And I think I've been on the record as saying that the offense has to score more points.
We have looked at teams that competed for a National Championship last year had to score a lot of points to get there, and we are going to have to do that here at NotreDame.¬† There are going to be some games‑‑ and you know, we had our games last year where we put some points on the board against an Arizona State that got us a win, maybe got us a win where we had to score some more points.
But I think going into this season, we are going to have to be more productive than we have been.
Q.¬† The popular clich√© is defense wins championships and it obviously took you a long way in 2012, but you look at the scores last year in the BCS games, 44‑31, 52‑42; do you feel that maybe football has evolved to a point where the offense has a greater advantage?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, I mean, we can talk all day on this.¬† There's a number of different things and if you asked some coaches, they believe that the rules need to be adjusted to handle that end of it.¬† I'm not even going to get into that.
You know, the offenses, and really, the want and desire to play on offense and what that can do for you.¬† You know, you've got kids that want to be on the offensive side of the ball, some of the great athletes in the country, and so you have a proliferation of talent on the offensive side of the ball.¬† You have quarterbacks that are mobile and keep plays alive.¬† You don't have traditional pocket quarterbacks that just drop back and you know where they are going to be.¬† These guys are making plays that are hard to defend.¬† You may defend them for three seconds and then they are making plays.
The quarterback is also running today, and that has changed the complexion of the game.¬† So those multi‑dimension quarterbacks, the proliferation of talent on offense and kids wanting to play on the offensive side of the ball; the game itself is played so fast; defense not being able to huddle and get their communication system‑‑ I could go on and on and on.¬† That is all obviously part of the rise in scoring, and we've got to be part of that.
Q.¬† Do you believe that you have to have things in place where you have to force the action more with the tempo of where the game is?
COACH KELLY:¬† Yeah, I think we are better suited to do it than any time since I've been here, there's no question about it.¬† Both quarterbacks are quarterbacks that fit the signed of style that I like to run and so we are better suited to do that at any other time.¬† There's no excuses.¬† These are the kind of quarterbacks that are able to run the kind of offense that allows you to go fast, and you don't have to change plays on the line of scrimmage; don't have to block that guy because I don't think you can tackle that quarterback.
So that changes the way you play.¬† And so, yeah, I think we can play faster.
Q.¬† And one other constant in your four years besides Martin winding up at left tackle, there's always been stellar tight end play.¬† You've always had that second outstanding in‑line blocker; who fills that capacity?
COACH KELLY:¬† Durham Smythe; Tyler Luatua; both those guys.¬† I have a great deal of confidence in Durham Smythe.
I'll just give you an example.¬† We have tire wars.¬† Tire wars, it's a tug‑of‑war with a tire.¬† The cones are about five yards apart, and the first guy that pulls that tire five yards to the cone wins.
Who are you going to match up with Jaylon Smith?¬† There's nobody to match up with Jaylon Smith.¬† He's 230‑something pounds; you can't put a running back against him.¬† You can't put a wide receiver against him.¬† You can't put an O‑lineman because he's 300 pounds.¬† Ben Koyack, who just had shoulder surgery.
So we put Durham Smythe up against Jaylon Smith, and we wanted to see what he had.¬† Now, he lost to Jaylon, but he battled him for 25 seconds.¬† It was a long battle and we saw a lot in Durham Smythe in that battle, that tire war, and he's a tough kid.¬† He's competitive.¬† He will stick his nose in there.¬† He's got great instincts at the position.¬† He's a heck of a good player.¬† We're lucky to have him.
Ben Koyack had a great finish to his summer and Tyler Luatua is about to 268 pounds, and he's strong, and we think he's going to help us, as well.
So we think with those three kids right there‑‑ Nick Swishers (ph), got to get stronger.¬† He's got a great pass radius.¬† He can catch balls everywhere but he's just not that in‑line blocker yet.¬† But those three guys are going to do a nice job for us.
Q.¬† Is Koyack able to practice?
COACH KELLY:¬† Yeah, he's full.¬† Looks great.¬† Did a great job leading that group.¬† But I really think you're going to enjoy watching Durham Smythe play.
Q.¬† You talk about a lack of returning production at the receiving core, but you had some returning depth.¬† Do you have a pecking order of kind of who you're hoping or looking for to step up early on at that position?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, I think you start with‑‑ the guy that has been consistently the best leader since January was Chris Brown.¬† You know, he had a great Bowl game.¬† He probably had his best game of his career against Rutgers in the Bowl game.¬† I look for Chris Brown to give us really good production.¬† I look for DaVaris Daniels to give us great production.
I think Corey Robinson is going to be a really big time player for us.¬† I think he's had a great summer.¬† He's stronger, he's faster.¬† He's going to give us a lot of production.¬† I think Will Fuller, we are going to utilize him so much more this year.¬† I think he's got an elite speed and the ability to touch the football.¬† I think Torii Hunter, we red‑shirted him last year, he looked impressive.
So I think we have got‑‑ where we may not have an established guy other than maybe Brown and Daniels are on that cusp of establishing themselves; we have got a lot of depth.¬† We have a lot of guys that are going to get an opportunity to go in there and compete and really allow us the opportunity to get the ball out to a number of guys.
Q.¬† When you have that many guys, how do you as a staff through the summer and heading into camp keep all of those players in sync with your two quarterbacks depending on who is going to be that guy?
COACH KELLY:¬† Consistency in what we do offensively is the most important thing.¬† I think when you're talking about route running and you're talking about your timing with your quarterback, if there's a consistency in the staff room with the quarterback coach and the wide receiver coach and how we run things and you're not just letting guys do their own thing, you can build that consistency with all the receivers.
There will be some little idiosyncrasies that each one of them has maybe on a fade or in a short field, but other than that, from the 20 to the 20, you can build that consistency with the whole group.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports