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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE


April 12, 2014


Brian Kelly


Q.  Quarterback play, between Malik and Everett, what did you see what was the takeaway today and then the spring for both those guys?
COACH KELLY:¬† I thought there was some development there in terms of where they were at times during the spring.¬† There was a little bit better attention to some of the details that they have to have at that position.¬† I thought that there was one series where Malik kind of got off‑‑ got away from some of the things that we needed to do, but by and large, I thought he was fairly consistent.¬† His problem has been consistency of staying with progressions and‑‑ are we letting anybody in at any time?¬† Is that how we're doing this?¬† I guess so.
So that has been really good today, the consistency was much better for him.  Effort, pocket awareness was okay.  We've still got a ways to go there.  You know, I'd like to see more catchable balls.  I thought there was some quick game stuff that, you know, just ball placement needs to be a little bit better, but overall, structurally, his understanding of what we're doing, it's getting better, so I thought there was some progress.

Q.  Have you seen much leadership development this spring or has his head been so focused on what I'm supposed to be doing that I'm not to the point where I can bring other people along with me?
COACH KELLY:  No, I don't think we have anybody yet that is bringing others around with them.  They are all really focused on themselves right now.  You know, think that that's something that will eventually take place, but not right now.

Q.  Just lastly, the running back position, last year, in the pass game, it was kind of a hope that you could work it in; now is there an expectation of those guys proving that this can be part of the offense?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, I thought you saw it today, that all three facets, running the football with some toughness, getting on the perimeter, pass protection, and catching the ball out of the backfield.  I thought they hit all three facets of what we've really worked hard on this spring and I thought that they really checked the boxes on all those three.

Q.  I can ask you this question without it being a trick question:  What do you think about the field turf announcement?
COACH KELLY:  Well, I really was expecting, you know, a lot more questions leading up to it, but I thought it would be the first question.  So I'm a little under whelmed quite frankly.  I thought there would be more to it.
But having said that, I think you look at the conditions of the field today, going out there and it's really about getting a surface where there's some consistency week‑in and week‑out for our players.¬† I think today was an indication; we can't even practice out there.
And we want to be able to get out there with our team.¬† We want some safety issues to be not part of the equation.¬† And look, I think, you know, everybody is in agreement; if we can get the best surface there and grass, we're all‑‑ we'd love to have that.¬† We just haven't been able to get to that.
You know, this is my fifth year here at NotreDame and we haven't been able to get to that.  This is the best option available to us, and I'm happy that Jeff Swarbrick, our athletic director, our administration, has acted and we are going to have that playing field in place for the fall so we don't have to have those concerns going into 2014.

Q.  It looked like you mixed and matched a lot on defense with personnel.  I'm curious if you were able to get anything out of today's game in terms of watching those combinations and then maybe for the whole spring, what you thought the defense was able to accomplish?
COACH KELLY:  We accomplished a lot in the sense that, first of all, Sheldon Day played a cameo role today; Jaylon Smith, Max Redfield, a lot of those guys got in and got out early.
So we feel like we've identified some of our really legitimate playmakers, and then we've identified some individuals that will really play roles for us.  Maybe not 60 plays, but that will have a significant role for us.
So I think what Brian has done is he has found players that maybe have not played a lot of football for us, that can have roles in assisting and helping our defense.  And I think that that's what his experience brings.  Here is somebody with a lot of experience that can take an individual and say, all right, here is where he can help us.
So I think that that's what the spring has allowed us from a personnel standpoint defensively to do.  And secondly, we've added a scheme that certainly has some more pieces to it that we didn't have in the past.

Q.  Anybody that jumped out pleasantly surprising today that may not have shown that up until today?
COACH KELLY:  Well, I think it wasn't necessarily an individual player as much as what we were looking for was a little bit more consistency from our wide receivers.
C.J. Prosise was not in my opinion having great practices and today he showed.  He flashed today.  You know, I thought we had some consistency across the board other than Chris Brown's drop on a drive route right before the half.  We had some consistency at the wide receiver position.  So I think we answered some questions there.
You know, to go three‑deep at the running back position is a good thing.¬† And to know that you have, you know, two quarterbacks that certainly can compete at that position, as well; I think we answered some questions there about units more so than maybe about one individual.

Q.  I realize this question may be way too premature, but if your quarterback situation is still way even going into the fall, in a season, is there a chance you would see both quarterbacks in the game?
COACH KELLY:  Again, I would like to have one quarterback, because they both can run the offense.  So this is not about having one offense for one quarterback and another offense for the other.
You know, we should be as coaches and myself, personally, I should be able to figure this thing out and we should be able to get our players in a position where we can have a starting quarterback.
So I've been doing it long enough that I would hope that I can figure it out come time to play Rice.

Q.¬† And it appeared that Nike Baratti took a pretty good hit on that shoulder.¬† Do you have any early‑‑
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, he was pulled out of the game.  It was not his repaired shoulder.  That's all I can tell you.

Q.  How did you feel the two young tight ends played today?
COACH KELLY:¬† You know, I really thought that Durham Smythe had a really good spring.¬† He's an in‑line blocker.¬† He's pretty‑‑ I think he's accomplished in the sense that the game comes pretty easy to him and as an in‑line blocker from a technique standpoint, he picks up things very well.¬† Got good hands, body awareness and he's got good size.¬† You know, I really think he's going to be a key contributor for us in the fall.
Mike has gotten better, but he still has got a ways to go consistently as a pass catcher, and he's got to continue to get bigger.  He's certainly made progress but he's still got a ways to go.

Q.  And then looking at the whole 15 practice body of work, where do you feel Jaylon is at now compared to when you guys started spring.
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, he's in a whole different level in terms of knowledge of our defense.¬† Now he knows it from inside‑out and outside‑in.
So he can play a number of positions for us.¬† We can move him around, and he has an understanding of how to play this defense both inside‑out and outside‑in and that he had no knowledge of going into the spring.¬† That's a smart football player, and a guy that now is an asset to our defense in a manner that he never was before.

Q.  Following up on that with jail en, what were the deciding factors that led you to move him inside to will?
COACH KELLY:  Well, in terms of the way that we structure the defense, as you saw, we're going to go bring some pressures from perimeter a little bit more than we had in the past, and so we could afford to do that with other personnel.  We can do it with a nickel.  We can do it with somebody from the secondary, a fifth player from the secondary.  So it allows us some flexibility to move him around.
Need was another huge factor in that; need to move him in a position where he could impact that defense, and we felt that that was more of an impactful position.
You can put him in and really at times put three receivers out there and get him on the perimeter; you could take him out of a lot of action.  He's not going to be out of much action where we've got him at right now.

Q.  Does that give you a comfort zone knowing he's in the middle of the field for you?
COACH KELLY:¬† It puts arguably our best off‑the‑ball player, assuming that Sheldon Day in my opinion is our best‑on‑the‑ball player.¬† It puts that guy next to all the things that you can do defensively, and so that was really in the decision more than anything else, just to get him in a position where we can activate him at any time.

Q.¬† Talked about press coverage and the aggressiveness and everything that Coach VanGorderer has thrown at you this spring, about how good that's been for the offense.¬† I wonder, do you benefit‑‑ when they are not pressing you, has your offense benefitted with the ability to recognize that, get your hot receivers and get a quick passing game going?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, it's been a process, though.  We had not done it in a couple years.  We had locked our tight end in, and done more of a progression read and had not done it in a couple years.
So this was a learning experience for the quarterbacks and none of them are used to it, and so that's why it was a really good teaching time for them to pick some of these things up.¬† They did some really good things.¬† They checked some protections.¬† They protected themselves, ran the ball when they got some Tampa‑two looks and got some soft looks.
There's some good action out there, for a typical spring there.  We were able to, in some small degrees, we were able to accomplish some of those things that they need to carry ongoing into the fall.

Q.¬† Seeing 15 practices with Greg Brant,¬† I wouldn't think you were surprised by the 51‑yard run today?
COACH KELLY:¬† Yeah, I just don't know what those moves are against air are right now.¬† We have to work with him on those stutter‑step‑‑ I don't know what those are.¬† But he's a physical kid, and he's fun to coach.¬† He's full of energy, he's got a smile on his face, and he loves to play the game.
As you saw, he did not drop a punt today and it was like talking to a six‑year‑old today after the game, because all he carried about was the deal I had with him was that he would get a shield if he didn't drop a punt today.
But I did remind him that he backed up when he was on the eight‑yard line to field the punt.¬† So I still hold the trump card on that; that I may rescind that offer of a shield because he backed up on the 8th.¬† But that's the kind of kid he is; he's excitable and he's fun to coach.

Q.¬† Spring game, normally the pecking order is, don't turn the ball over, don't have stupid penalties, come out injury‑free.¬† Seemed like you accomplished all three of those areas today.
COACH KELLY:¬† Not bad.¬† It wasn't a bad spring in terms of, you know, we didn't have a lot of‑ we had a couple of procedure penalties, but it wasn't mired down in a bunch of sloppy penalties.¬† So that is those two, the discipline of the unit.¬† So I was happy with that.
You know, we weren't throwing the ball all over the yard.¬† We had some discipline there, and by and large, we got out of it.¬† We had a good spring, knock‑on‑wood, that our kids were able to compete for 15 practices without any major injuries, so, yes, by and large, good things from that perspective.

Q.¬† Last couple of years, you've won a lot of games 17‑13, 14‑10, you mentioned I think in January that to reach a higher level, you've got to really improve the offensive output there.¬† Given the 15 practices this spring, do you still believe that the offense will have to carry the defense more than it has?
COACH KELLY:¬† We scored 63 points today.¬† What game were you watching‑ 126.
Yeah, I mean, we have to be better in the red zone.  We certainly have to be an offense that we don't have some of those prolific defensive players on the field that we've had over the last few years.
So we have to be more proficient offensively.  We have to put points on the board that we have not been able to consistently do against the best teams in the country.  So that's certainly been the focus and it will have to be this fall again playing the kind of schedule we do.  We can't go down to Florida State and hope to win10 to 7.  We're going to have to put some points on board.

Q.  Probably defensively, Sheldon, Jaylon and KeiVarae would be the main leaders looked at.  Who would be in the next level and who among the role guys do you think have really improved the most and have put themselves in that position?
COACH KELLY:  Joe Schmidt is the leader on our defense.  You know, there's no one probably that has the kind of leadership and understanding of our defense than Joe has right now.   Right now he can't come off the field.  His knowledge base in terms of getting people lined up and having them execute what we do defensively, he's absolutely integral to what we're doing.
You know, we'll obviously have to do a lot defensively.  Joe is not 255 pounds, and if the game is a downhill ISO game, we're going to have to be cognizant of what his shortcomings are.  But right now, as a communicator, as a leader on our defense, he's emerged in the spring.
So it would be him, Max Redfield has had a really good back end of the spring.  And I say the back end; probably the last seven practices, has really stepped his game up and his knowledge of what we're doing has  been really good.
I think we found a role for Romeo,  one that I think we feel a lot more comfortable where he is.  He's got to do a good job of taking care of his body and keeping up the weight up and doing those things.  But I think those three guys in particular.

Q.¬† Offensively, I know that the chemistry with the offensive line was a little bit out of kilter with so many injuries and everything.¬†¬†¬† Is McGlinchey kind of settling into the right tackle role or is that still‑
COACH KELLY:  I think I commented on this the last time I talked, and I think that that is a situation where we are not going to sort that out until camp.
You know, we are going to give‑ we are going to give the left guard position an opportunity to be competed by Baratti (ph), Hegarty are going to get a chance to compete in that left guard position, because Nick Martin is going to come back and be our center, and he's been out, right.
So Hegarty has to take that position at center, but we don't believe he's our starter; we believe Nick Martin is.  But he's had a really good spring.  We want to give him a chance to compete at left guard.  So if that's the case, are we better with hi m Elmer at right tackle or Elmer at left guard and McGlinchey at right tackle?  So that's going to kind of sort itself out in preseason camp.

Q.  Going back to the quarterbacks, you mentioned you obviously want to have a starter in place by Rice, do you see this being a competition that could go deep into camp?  Is it something you want to have a starter by the start of camp or for a few weeks?  Where do you stand in that regard?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, with the new NCAA rules, the June month really becomes an opportunity for us to do some SAQs, some speed agility quickness, football‑related skill work with our players.¬† We get two hours of film work with our players a week, as well, as part of our eight hours.
So we're going to use those‑ we'll have eight opportunities to reinstall our offense in June, and we'll take that opportunity.¬† So I guess you could use it as an OTAs if you will, in June.
So we are going to go back and do that again, and then we'll use a third opportunity to reinstall in preseason camp.¬† So I think with three installs, if you will, I think we're going to get a pretty good sense of the development in where we are, so I think we are going to be able to sort this thing out and by what we saw today I think we have got two really good quarterbacks that are learning,¬† and Malik showed he has some skills and Everett continues to, as well‑ inaudible.

Q.  As it pertains to the wide receivers, what sort of criteria will you use over the summer to find out who is going to separate themselves?
COACH KELLY:  Well, I don't think that that's going to happen in June, per se.  These guys need so much development work, Amir Carlisle needs to continue to develop.  Chris Brown has got to continue to work on a number of things.  Will Fuller.  A lot of that is development work that in June will continue to take place.
Then we're very hopeful that if things go the right way, Daniels comes back to us.  We got a very competitive situation with Robinson, Daniels, Fuller, Brown, Carlisle.  We've got a nice situation there.  I think it's a just competitive situation.  We've got to get the best players on the field, because the tight end is going to be on the field as well.  I like to keep a tight end on the field.
So we're talking about three positions and arguably you've got, half a dozen guys there that can compete.  So what's going to be the deciding factor for me is, I'm not settled on any one of those guys right now.  I think it will be a very competitive situation.  I think they are going to push each other and we're going to be the beneficiary.  Notre Dame's offense is beginning to be the beneficiary.

Q.  How do you feel about the state of the pass rusher?
COACH KELLY:¬† I guess it's how you characterize pass rush.¬† I mean, we're not‑ we don't have Stephon Tuitt.¬† We don't have Kap Lewis.¬† We're not‑ we don't have some of those guys.¬† But we have got‑ Sheldon Day is a handful.¬† I think we're going to be able to get some pressure from some of the other guys that we have.
We're going to find other ways to bring pressure. Everybody across the country does.¬† Nobody is sitting there ‑I don't know, I watched teams in Bowl games that on third down, they had a hard time getting off the field, too.¬† You have got to find ways to get after the quarterback, and it's not necessarily just those big guys that put their hand on the ground.
Our defensive staff is an experienced staff that knows how to manufacturer ways to get after the quarterback, and there's some times that we don't want to get after the quarterback.  We want you to make the mistakes.  And so I think there is a combination of both getting after the quarterback, having some ways to get back and times.

Q.  Was today more important than it might be for other guys because of the ability to turn on when the lights come on, like you mentioned earlier?
COACH KELLY:  Well, I think it's important, certainly.  I don't want to minimize the importance for it.  But I think it's just as important for Everett.  He knew that he needed to continue to grow and develop.  He knew that he needed to have good pocket awareness today and make good decisions.  I think both of them needed to show improvement.  They were improved today.  They weren't where I need them, but they were both improved today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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