Kelly Q&A: Offense

Kelly Q&A: Offense

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly touched on a number of topics at today's post-practice press conference.

On the Chuck Martin's transition to offensive coordinator

"I think it is (an easy transition) because I taught him the offense. He only knows one offense. There's no knowledge base of working for four different coaches or four different philosophies. He's got one. Mine.

"So you can understand that those conversations are great. He's already saying the things that I would have said. That's obviously where I wanted to be on the offensive side of the ball. We've eliminated any confusion on the offensive side of the ball."

Regarding two starting positions (RG/RT) on the offensive line

"It is (fluid). You're looking at (Mike) Golic, obviously Christian Lombard, Tate (Nichols). We think that three or four guys can mix into that rotation.

(Including Conor Hanratty): "I would be willing to say you have four for two positions. It's a very competitive and good situation to have."

On Lombard's emergence: "Quite frankly opportunity. He didn't' have an opportunity because we were secure on that side with (Trevor) Robinson and Taylor Dever (last year) as returning starters. I think more than anything else, he has the opportunity. We were very confident in his ability last year but we had two senior starters. What he's done (this year) is seize the opportunity. He has good versatility as well to play guard and tackle."

How the fullback position's demise was influenced by tight ends

"I think two things. I think the tight end now has become such a versatile player, that he really takes (the role) of that fullback that had become a one-dimensional player. So that tight end can line up in the backfield, as well as that tailback has, he has to be a multi-dimensional player.

"Because as the formations started to widen the field, they needed to fit into more than one particular position. I think you're seeing that with both the tight end and running back."

On Robby Toma working with running backs

"Again, it's matching personnel. It's not necessarily going to be that Robby runs the inside zone (run) really well. It's matching personnel so we can move guys into different positions on the field.

"Multiple formations that allow us to move the defense. And it might be just that we move the defense to open up Tyler Eifert, or someone else. It's not something that we would evaluate (Toma) in the mix to be a running back. But because we've tagged the position as a slot (RB) position, sometimes when he's in the game and the play call comes in, he'll be in that (hybrid) position."

The Quarterback Competition

"As I said, we've gone back to zero (on the playbook) if you will. We've gone back and taught the fundamentals. No one started ahead of the others. We're seeing progression from each one.

"Let's make no mistake: the quarterback position (winner) when all is said and one; will be the guy that takes care of the football. We turned the football over way too many times so he has to be a guy we can trust will not turn the football over. I thought we've done a better job (so far) understanding that zero (yards) is not a bad play.

He's seen it all at the position: "This is 22 springs for me so there've been years with a consistent QB and years where I'm teaching freshman. I enjoy the challenge. For me, the hour of (QB) meetings and the two hours on the field are the best three hours of my day. I enjoy teaching those quarterbacks and we'll get them to where they need to be."

Has a QB emerged ahead of the pack?

"(Example) Today, we were going against Drop 8. Three-man rush/Drop 8 (defenders). There are not a lot of things (downfield) out there. We're making sure that we kept the play alive, that we didn't turn it over, and that when we saw the opportunity, we ran with the ball. And today we did a good job with all of the quarterbacks, not turning the ball over in those long (distance) situations and running the ball.

"That was a jump for each one of them. Each day we're staging different tests for the quarterbacks. That's why this is going to be a long process. We're not going to have this thing accomplished (at the end of spring, presumably). We have not even got to the ‘checks' in our offense yet. There are no checks in yet. Its call it and play.

"As you know last year we ran so many checks we checked ourselves out of (good plays). Just to give you a perspective of how far we are from even being able to say a quarterback is ready, we're not even there in terms of our system."

The status of backup tight ends such as Ben Koyack

"I would say that he's a young man that is continuing to understand what we expect from him as a blocker. He has not gotten his game at the level, as an in-line blocker, to where he's going to be a consistent player.

"Alex Welch is the same thing. Both (Welch and Koyack) are accomplished pass-catchers. That's not going to be (their role). It's going to be Tyler Eifert. So the battle at tight end is going to be who's going to control the line of scrimmage. So it's going to be (Troy) Niklas, Koyack, Welch, and (Jake) Golic all wanting to be that guy and we've clearly defined their role.

"We don't need another guy out there (as a receiver). If you can catch it, that's fine. You better in-line block and you better control the edge of this defense. That's the guy that's going to be the Next Man In."

Regarding 5th-year Senior John Goodman

"He's been, from a wide receiver position, our go-to-guy. He has stepped up his game considerably. He has a ways to go. I expect him to do really good things for us. He's fast, he's one of the fastest guys on the team. He has length. He can play taller than the average defensive back. I think more than anything else is just consistency with John. But he's going to have a very fine year for us."

Kelly on Unproven Junior Wide Receiver Daniel Smith

"I think it's pretty much an open competition over there. John has moved ahead at the W position but as you know we move them all over the place. We just want someone that's going to give us a consistent performance day-in and day-out. That's still unfolding. The consistency for us will be as we work through (August) camp. It's just every day coming to work to give a consistent approach. He doesn't have to be able to do anything spectacular; we just have to count on him. And they're in the process of trying to get to that."

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