Brian Kelly: Q&A

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly explains his decision of Golson, updates the depth chart on the offensive line, names a new punt returner, praises a freshman outside 'backer, and discusses the use of various offensive packages in this, the final press session before Navy week.

Brian Kelly Transcript

"You can to the right media session. I wasn't too talkative the last couple of days. We were in that area where we were out of camp but still a little too far out to see Navy. We had a couple of practices where I didn't think we had the attention to detail that I like.

"Today was much better. You could see the focus on Navy now has begun to seep in for our players. I got the feel today that we're getting ready for Navy. Pleased with the work out there today, we'll have another practice tomorrow which will still focus on Navy preparation.

"Saturday we'll go into the Stadium and have our dress rehearsal game without the game itself. We'll cover all the situations that could occur in our opener. We have some young guys that are going to be first time participants so we want to duplicate everything. We're going to have our morning meetings, we're going to have team meal, we're going to walk over to the Stadium. We're going to do everything and that will be Saturday.

"Sunday we'll lift and then we're into game week with the bonus day on Monday."

Q: Have you named a starter yet?
"We have, it's Everett Golson. He'll be our starter. I wanted to make sure you got the question in."

Q: What made you come to that decision?
"A lot of practice, a lot of film, lots of evaluation, he won the job. Andrew did a great job, made great improvement. I'm really pleased with the progress of both those young men. It was a tough decision but Everett clearly won the starting job and he'll be the starter against Navy."

Q: Will Golson play the whole game?
"Everett's the starter. If things go the way we're planning, he'll play the whole game."

Q: If things don't go the way you want them…Have you seen enough of Everett in August and the improvement that you're going to roll with him (no matter what)?
"I think we've prepared the offense to suit a first-time starter. He has four seasons of competition remaining. Anytime you're starting someone with four seasons of competition you know he's going to learn more as he plays. But we also have to put him in good positions. So I think you'll see that on game day."

Q: How did he react to the news?
"I don't want to talk about how our guys react. It's just like anything else, they're both competitive guys. If you don't want to be a starter here at Notre Dame, you should be doing something else. That's as much as I can give you on that."

Q: What's the practice breakdown for reps going forward?
"My general breakdown is 70-30 for reps; it could change, there might be some plays that I want to see more with Andrew than I would with Everett. Generally its a 70-30 breakdown. But I get out there (in practice) and I get a feel for a play and I might repeat it four or five times. To have a hardened-fast rule, I wouldn't want to hold myself to that but that's generally where it ends up being."

Q: Is this a year where you see the offense evolving greatly, not necessarily totally different from Game One, but with varied packages. Depth but unproven.
"Oh sure. DaVaris Daniels and Chris Brown on the perimeter, two guys that are going to play a lot for us, that are first time starters. The George Atkinson didn't play very much (in 2011), Troy Niklas, Everett Golson…there's four or five guys right there that are going to be impactful in games. There's going to be a lot of learning there. One thing we don't have a lot of time on is that curve. We have to come out doing our thing right away."

Q: Is there a change-up package ready for Andrew?
"No, he'd run our offense (if called upon). That's the beauty of being able to go into camp and really try to develop both of those quarterbacks. They're both capable of running anything that we call."

Q: Last year you said at this time Dayne Crist is our starter for the season. Is that the plan now with Everett?
"Oh yeah. I don't think you go into any year thinking, 'I want to make a change at halftime.' You want to be able to stick with a guy and build continuity. Especially with a guy that has four seasons of competition (remaining). You have to build on that."

Q: Was part of the reason for announcing stability within the team?
"I think it brings up everybody else. We just talked about some young kids that are going to be playing for the first time. Put a veteran quarterback in (instead), it kind of calms everyone down and takes away apprehension.

"A veteran quarterback obviously does that. We don't' have a veteran quarterback yet, but we're very, very confident in his ability to lead us. I think some of the things I really like from Everett: his poise was really outstanding, great vision down the field. Those things were really positive even if you don't have a lot of experience."

Q: Along the way of your coaching stops you've had big team success with new quarterbacks. What's been the key in those situations?
"I think if I go back and look at Central Michigan with Dan LeFevour, he was a guy that could extend a play. If you go back to Zach Collaros (Cincinnati) he was a guy that could extend a play…you're finding out that coaching isn't that good, but the player is much better than the coaching. To have that quarterback that can extend -- I was kidding, a little bit about that…I see where I stand with you -- each one of them had that ability to extend plays. Everett has some of those same traits."

Q: Separation at cornerback?
"Keivarae Russell is our starter. There's always a kid or two in a class, this is my 25th year in college, there's always a couple of kids that, they have 'It.' He's a great kid, he's so confident in his ability, he's extremely athletic, he's picked it up so quickly. He still has a long way to go, don't get me wrong, but he picked it up quickly. It was a comfortable transition for him. He's a really smart kid. All of those things pointed in his favor to be able to pick up the position quickly."

Q: Is he set at the boundary side?
"That's a good question. I think we're going to have to have some flexibility there. Depending on who we're playing, what the circumstances are. If (USC's) Robert Woods is into the boundary, Bennett Jackson might be at the boundary. I think game plans would determine it but I think you'll see Bennett at the field; it'll be a game plan situation, because Bennett can do both."

Q: Who are the next men in along the offensive line?
"I would say Nick is probably the first tackle in; Connor Hanratty is the first guard in; and Mike Golic is the next center in. The next guy is Ronnie Stanley if we have to go to another tackle. (If Tate Nichols comes back) he has to go compete against Ronnie and Nick to get in that rotation."

Q: How much will (nose guard) Tony Springmann be on the field?
"I think he's going to be on the field. He can play two positions: he can play the nose and he can play the four-technique for us. He's done a nice job. He'll be rolling out there, he'll be playing some football for us, we're pleased with Tony."

Q: Did Lo Wood have surgery?
"Brian Ratigan, our team physician, performed that surgery yesterday. He felt like it was pretty standard. (Lo) is recovering and hopefully we'll see him up and around tomorrow."

Q: How about punt returns?
"Davonte Neal will start as our punt returner. George Atkinson will be our kick-off return man."

Q: How about depth at drop linebacker?
"Romeo is really the No. 2 there. young, athletic, he's going to be a star. He's going to be a great player. He's just a young kid (now) but we really love his length and athleticism. He's our No. 2 now and as you know we use that as our nickel position on third down."

Q: Does Golson give you a chance to run the offense you want?
"We're running the offense that fits the players we have. I would say in answering your question, the kind of style we see is the one he' s most comfortable running. A lot more personnel groupings, maybe not as fast of a tempo, but we're utilizing multiple personnel groupings as that form of attacking the defense.

"You can attack the defense through tempo, you can attack the defense through multiple personnel groupings, I think we're leaning toward more of the multiple groupings with Everett."

Q: Does Golson represent what you're about as a head coach?
"I've always been about scoring poitns on offense. Playing aggressively, spreading the field, and this offense that we're running is the same one I've run at different ventures in my career at different times. It just fits really well, the grouping of personnel we have on hand. As you know, we have some really good tight ends and we have to get them on the field."

"Everett can definitely play in the type of offense that I want to play aggressively, spreading the field, pushing the ball vertically, as well as controlling the line of scrimmage. Without question, we would not have named him the starter unless we felt this was the next step toward moving our program."

Q: You mentioned last week Golson had thrown just one interception in 126 passes…
"He has three now. I thought he got a little, I don't know, I thought he lost a little bit of his focus. The game is really, really hard. Young kids have got to stay focused, and if he stays focused, he's not going to be that guy that turns the football over."

Q: Why name him today?
"Just get away from the distractions about that going into game week. We kind of wrap this up on Saturday and this was the only time I'd be talking to you folks. It just worked right on the calendar and we were ready to make the decision, too."

Q: Has Chris Brown continued that move up into the rotation?
"He's not a complete player yet, but boy he can run. We like his speed on the field. It'll be the fastest team that we've had with him on the field with different pieces. He's going to be part of what we do; Daniels, obviously is a guy with great speed. We feel like we're a fast football team with those guys on the field."

Q: Latest on Danny Spond?
"Making progress every day. I don't have an update on that, he was out doing run-flex today, he's been feeling really good. Wev'e been taking it slowly but we haven't taken any steps back. I don't have a timetable (on his return), I'll check and we can probably talk about it next week."

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