Brian Kelly has just stepped away from the podium, officially kicking off the 2010 season and fall camp for the Irish. It feels like just yesterday I was live-blogging the demise of the 2009 Irish, but at the same time these past seven-plus months have felt like an eternity as we waited to see what kind of football team Brian Kelly would produce for the Fighting Irish.
Here are a couple rapid fire bullets that I pulled from Kelly’s opening remarks. (The quotes may not be perfect, as I’ll never have a career as a stenographer.)
* It’s pretty clear that this coaching staff is chomping at the bit. Kelly even said as much. In his 20 years as a head coach, pretty much every year he’s said “he could’ve used a couple more days… That’s not the case here.”
Back in June, offensive coordinator Charley Molnar told me that every morning when he wakes up and every night when he goes to bed, he’s thinking about Purdue. Sounds like he’s not the only coach.
* BK volunteered that the 2010 football team has some strengths, some vulnerabilities, and some question marks.
Strengths: The depth of the football team. On the offensive line, “I believe that we have ten guys that can play championship football.” At running back, “Great depth at the running back position, all have unique styles.” On defense, “we have playmakers on the perimeter that can do some great things for us.”
Vulnerabilities: The experience at quarterback. The depth on the defensive line. The consistency and performance of the secondary. On the defensive line: “Sean Cwynar has to come up big for us. Hafis Williams has to come up big for us. Brandon Newman has to come up big for us.”
* The initial depth chart was distributed, but Kelly added that the depth gave good reason to not get too focused on who was listed where. “You’re going to see a lot of players,” Kelly said, “So I wouldn’t get too married to the two-deep right now. That’s a starting point only.”
When asked about the best positional battles that’ll take place in fall camp, Kelly pointed to the inside linebacker position next to Manti Te’o. “McDonald, Posluszny, Paskorz, that’s going to be an interesting one.”
While going back to the 10 players for five spots on the offensive line, he also mentioned the competition at safety. “McCarthy, Motta, Slaughter, and Harrison Smith. That’d be another area.”
* If anybody is worried that some of the disciplinary hiccups that took place over the summer would roll into the football season, fear not: “We’ve already handled it internally,” Kelly said. “We’ve already addressed it.”
* One of the more telling things Kelly mentioned was just the focus that he and the coaches were showing towards reminding the players just how important it was to be a part of the tradition of Notre Dame football.
“I think I’ve already gt the message across to them,” Kelly said. “We’re here for Our Lady. We’re here for Notre Dame. There’s only one way to play this game, with great passion and spirit, to play for your teammates and your university… The rest of it takes care of itself.”