Kelly Q&A

Kelly Q&A

Brian Kelly spoke with the media for nearly 20 minutes following today's practice -- the fifth of August training camp and the first in full pads for his Irish.

Brian Kelly

"Day 5 for us is the first day we put the pads on, so we were able to get some scrimmaging in today. For us scrimmaging is just an extension of getting 11-on-11 work for both units. I thought our defense showed the maturity that it has with a number of players that have played a lot of football. Then offensively we're a work in progress.

"But good practice again. A lot of work, it's a lot of teaching. We're in that period of time where our guys have gotta grind through it. We've got some soft tissue injuries, you've got a bang here, typical five days into camp. But I like our energy, enthusiasm. Guys are taking teaching well. Not much other than what you saw today.

"It will probably be similar tomorrow in Practice 6, and then we'll go into doubles on Friday. We'll have two sessions. Saturday we'll have one then Sunday we'll give them some time off. Then a heavy load of work next week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday will all be double sessions. We're in the first quarter so to speak. We've got a lot of work ahead of us. That's a good thing. A lot of practice opportunities for us to continue to develop our players."

Question: At the quarterback position, is that kind of how the reps have been divided up so far in camp?
Brian Kelly: They've been pretty equal. I think it's probably close to 50-50 with Everett (Golson) and Andrew (Hendrix). And then probably a little bit less, obviously, with Gunner (Kiel).

Question: Do you sort of flip flop Andrew and Everett day-by-day?
Brian Kelly: Yeah. For example, we typically script out 10 plays, so whoever didn't get that play gets it in the next rotation. They're getting equal work.

Question: Just a personnel question, Jordan Prestwood and Cam Roberson? Brian Kelly: Jordan is no longer with us. I'm not able to get into the specifics of that because of privacy laws. Cam Roberson physically was not able to compete at the level that he felt was necessary to play here at Notre Dame so we're going to pursue a medical hardship for him.

Question: Is there any chance Prestwood returns?
Brian Kelly: We really haven't even reached that level of conversation.

Question: The offensive linemen have been talking about the different techniques that coach (Harry) Hiestand has brought.
Brian Kelly: A little bit more zone vs. gap and pull. We were a lot more gap and pull last year. The two traditional schemes would be gap and pull versus inside-outside scooping. We're pretty athletic up front, so we feel like we can climb to second levels and go track down linebackers. From a schematic standpoint there's probably a little bit more emphasis on inside-outside zone.

Question: Can you talk a little bit about the freshman wide receivers that have caught your eye?
Brian Kelly: We've thrown a lot at them. We've got what we feel are three talented young men in (Justin) Ferguson, Davonte Neal and Chris Brown. We're getting them reps. They're in there. I think they all have a chance to contribute as true freshmen. It's kinda early to really say for sure, but we're not afraid to put them out there and they're certainly not afraid to play.

I think when you really look at the young guys that compete, those are the guys that really have confidence in their ability to go out there. All three of them are very confident in themselves. We're gonna keep putting them out there with the first group and keep them in our rotation and let them get some action. We scripted a lot today for those young guys.

Question: Does Prestwood's departure mean Ronnie Stanley is going to play this year?
Brian Kelly: I hope he doesn't have to play. That would mean we'd have an injury. Certainly we're working with him to be in our two-deep. As you know, there's some moving parts on the offensive line where we can move some guys around. I think we'd need a couple of injuries for him to get on the field. But I don't want to take anything away from him because he's been really good, been a pleasant surprise.

Question: Where are you as far as going as fast as you'd like to go? Are you able to do that?
Brian Kelly: What we can do is we can still attack defenses. As long as we're able to attack the defense I'm fine with where we are. We have to do what we can do. I can't really worry about whether we can play as fast as I would like as much as I wanna play as efficient as we can. But I feel comfortable that if we need to play fast we can certainly do that.

Question: You said Everett and Andrew have split reps for the most part but has Everett been first team for the most part or has that rotated as well?
Brian Kelly: It's 1A/1B. They've both made great progress. We've gotten a lot of 11-on-11 work. We had over 215 snaps leading into today of 11-on-11. They've both gotten over 100 reps of real 11-on-11 football and each day is a teaching moment for both of them. Good progress. I think I'd probably feel a lot worse if we came in here and our offense ran the ball up and down the field after five days. We've got some work to do but pretty much where I thought we'd be.

Question: I saw Cierre (Wood) fielding punts with a couple of the freshman and Theo (Riddick). Did you approach Cierre about that or did he come to you?
Brian Kelly: I can't remember, but I know he wanted to give it a shot. We're gonna put him back there and see what he can do. That's something that we're just gonna look at as many guys as we can at this point then start whittling it down in a couple weeks.

Question: Any idea what happened to Alex Welch?
Brian Kelly: It looked like a knee injury. I didn't get a report. They helped him off the field. I saw that then I moved the drill and I haven't got a chance to talk to (trainer) Rob Hunt.

Question: Is there any position where you went into last week thinking: OK, he's probably going to be the starter, and it's a little more unsettled?
Brian Kelly: I can't think of one in particular where a penciled in starter in our mind is in peril. I think there's competition for playing time from some of those guys but I don't know of anybody, and I'd have to really think about it, that has not lived up to expectations as a starter.

Question: You only caused eight fumbles last year and recovered six. What more can you do with that? Is that almost cyclical at times?
Brian Kelly: 25 years of doing it, I think there's some years where I get asked to go to a clinic and talk about stripping the ball and I'm like, ‘I'll give you a good clinic talk but we do it every day. It just happened that we get more this year.' I think you know we like to keep the points down, but we're definitely working on drills to get the ball out. I think some days you get better breaks than others.

Question: How comfortable would you be playing both Golson and Hendrix against Navy?
Brian Kelly: I've played two quarterbacks before and had great success with that. We'll know if we get to game time that both of them have to play. Obviously, they both have ability to be starters. I can't say that I wouldn't be comfortable. I'd prefer one quarterback. But at least I've got some experience in balancing two if we would ever have to do that.

Question: When you get to the point where you're using scout team quarterbacks is it going to be one of your quarterbacks, or are you looking at somebody else to do that.
Brian Kelly: (Walk-on) Charlie Fiessinger is with us, so we have a fourth. He's certainly capable. He's out of Moeller High School, the same high school as Hendrix. I remember him when I was at Cincinnati. He certainly can help us there. But there are times where we use different players like for option and things of that nature. I'm never not going to bring a guy over to help our defense in certain situations but we've got a fourth if we need one.

Question: But you would stay away from maybe using Kiel there so he can continue to learn the offense?
Brian Kelly: I think you can do both. We did it last year with Andrew in certain situations. I think if you just throw him down there and you don't think of him and he's not in meetings, you have scout team meetings. Those Scout Team players don't go to position meetings. I don't think we'd have a situation where our quarterbacks wouldn't be in our position meetings.

Question: Was Amir Carlisle alright today?
Brian Kelly: He's about 80 percent. He's still fighting through that pain that he has. He has good days and bad days. When he's inflamed we're just careful with him. He's made great progress to the point where we feel like he's gonna be ready. It's just a matter of when is that gonna be? Is that two weeks? Three weeks? Four weeks?

Question: How has Zeke Motta's play been so far?
Brian Kelly: Really good. I think what we're most pleased with is his vocal leadership on the back end. Our safeties have to get us in the right coverages. We've had a number of opportunities for him to be vocal out there and he's definitely done a nice job.

Question: Can you talk about throwing Golson and Hendrix out there in the "Irish Eyes" drill and having them run the ball a little bit.
Brian Kelly: I just like them to get in the action instead of just standing there and handing it because they are gonna get hit a little bit. You saw. The cones are about three feet in width. You probably could run up there and not get hurt. It's pretty controlled in that sense, so we like to just get them in the action a little bit. Nobody is gonna hold onto ankles, everybody knows how to tackle. Generally you never get a tackle because those two guys are hitting each other and that back usually gets through there. I think it's a low risk operation to get them involved.

Question: Could you talk about Troy Niklas and just his potential?
Brian Kelly: Well he's a big, physical kid as you all know. You see him and he walks by, he passes the eye test from that standpoint. He can catch the ball. I just think he's a young guy learning every day. He wants to do well, he's committed, he works hard. He takes great care of himself. He's a guy that we're counting on in terms of helping us this fall.

Question: How about Daniel Smith?
Brian Kelly: For Daniel it's just being out there. He's a big, rangy kid. Again, another guy that really wants to do well and is committed to getting better. He's another guy; we need Danny to play for us.

Question: With a talent like Michael Floyd last year as a receiver, how does that impact positive and negative the rest of the receivers' development they're gonna have this year?
Brian Kelly: I think from a positive standpoint they all see that they get an opportunity now for more touches. Their ability to feel like they're really part of the game plan. As you know, we tried really hard to get the ball to Mike in different areas. From that standpoint, they're excited because they know they're gonna have more opportunities. On the other side, they've got to raise their level of game because Michael has set a high standard for the wide receiver position.

Before Michael you've got Golden Tate and I can go on and on. There's a high standard for the receiver play. Now it's them. Now those guys have to reach those kind of levels. The good part is it allows a number of guys to be energized about getting the ball in their hands. On the negative part -- you lose Michael Floyd.

Question: Can you talk about the cornerback spot opposite Bennett Jackson and is there anything on a nickel at this point?
Brian Kelly: We certainly feel like Bennett is accomplished at the position where we feel like he's close to nailing down a position. I think it's still very competitive. Josh Atkinson is in there, clearly. Cam McDaniel has done a really, really good job. But if you ask me after the first five days the guy that's really impressed the staff the most it's been Lo Wood. He's 192 pounds up from 178. Breaking on the ball, tackling, communicating. I'm not anointing him that guy, but of the three that I've just mentioned I've really noticed Lo and Cam.

Josh is so gifted as an athlete but we've got to continue working technique, continue to get better at taking care of the little things for him. Jalen Brown has stepped up his game. We had a play the other day where George Atkinson broke from the outside, he was the off corner and he made it all the way across the field. He's got some ability and it seems like he's starting to mature a little bit. We've moved Elijah Shumate to corner, so he's gotten a lot of work. We're prepping him to get some work there. He could be in some sub packages as well as some of the other corners I mentioned.

Question: Do you envision Shumate as a Jamoris Slaughter type of player in some roles?
Brian Kelly: I think he's got a lot of athletic ability and he's physically very, very mature. He's physically able to compete right now. We wanna make it easier for him. No matter how smart he is, and he's got some rally good football instincts, it's easier to get you on the field at that position than trying to break through with Slaughter and Zeke and McCarthy's got a lot of knowledge back there. He's really cemented the third safety position back there. Now you're playing for four. We like Nicky (Baratti), we like C.J. Prosise and we like John Turner.

Question: What does Louis Nix have to do to move back into the starting lineup or is it just a matter of Kona Schwenke holding him off?
Brian Kelly: First of all, Louis and Kona have to share playing time. I don't know of a nose guard in college football that's that big and can play all 70-something snaps. They're really so close. We're pleased with Louis, his consistency has been excellent. We're really just pleased with what he's doing. They're both gonna play a ton of football for us.

Question: How do you feel about where you're at with the drop linebacker position?
Brian Kelly: It's been a pretty two-man battle, really, between (Danny) Spond and (Ben) Councell. They've both done a very good job for us and, as I've said, we'll sub out at that position as well. A pretty fierce battle at Cat right now. (Prince) Shembo and Ishaq (Williams) and Romeo (Okwara) has been a pleasant surprise for us, No. 45.

Question: Any update on Spond? Brian Kelly: First report was a concussion, so we'll follow up with that.

Question: Can you talk a little bit more about Councell? He looked pretty disruptive out there.
Brian Kelly: I think that's a pretty good term to use. He's really athletic. He can play out over the No. 2 and re-route him but he can also sit down on the tight end. That versatility is important and he's long. He plays pretty big out there. He's a guy that arrives at the ball with the kind of tenacity that you want. Just every day is a new experience for him, learning, but he's what it should look like out there.

Question: Tommy Rees' activity out there, how typical is that?
Brian Kelly: Pretty typical. His work is done in the classroom. His work is done really working with the quarterbacks. He's got a lot of experience, played a lot of games, so when we call a particular route he can give insight. It's been very valuable.

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