Kelly wraps up Purdue


Before we dive into a certain team from Ann Arbor that happens to be traveling to South Bend next weekend, let’s kick the tires on the 23-12 victory over Purdue one more time.

Head coach Brian Kelly got on the phone this morning with the media and answered a few questions on yesterday’s game. Here are a few highlights:

* BK discussed the missed tackles by Manti Te’o, which were surprisingly plentiful in the first half.

“He’s all over the place. He swung and missed a lot out of the strike zone, which was
uncharacteristic for him,” Kelly said. “He was in great position so many times. I just
think in the first game, maybe a little bit too excited. He’s got to
slow down a step. He was in great position, got our checks down very
well. He just missed uncharacteristically some tackles that I’m very
confident he’s going to make in the future.”

Listening to Kelly, you can tell he wasn’t too worried about Te’o, who seemed to find his rhythm in the second half and made quite a few nice plays as well. I get the feeling that he’s about as worried about Te’o’s tackling as he is about Michael Floyd’s fumbling.

* Good news on the injury front, as Kelly seemed rather optimistic about everyone that missed time on Saturday, including safety Jamoris Slaughter, who sprained his ankle yesterday.

“Slaughter had an ankle sprain and it looked good today. We’ll probably
keep him out until Tuesday or Wednesday and see how it goes from there,” Kelly said.
“We’re much more encouraged. You always fear high ankle sprain when it
first occurred. It doesn’t appear to be that way.”

Zeke Motta filled in admirably for Slaughter, but with only four safeties on the depth chart, the Irish can’t afford to lose a guy like slaughter, who was playing solid football in the first half before getting hurt.

* Having not seen a lot of Brian Kelly on the field during games, I was actually surprised to see how fiery he is. Kelly certainly comes across as a guy that seems to take a business-like approach to his job when he deals with the media, but it was great to see just how excited he was after winning a football game. He’ll never be mistaken for a guy like Pete Carroll, but there certainly was a festive atmosphere among the coaches and the players after the game, and Kelly addressed that point this afternoon.

“It’s hard to win. I don’t care who you’re playing, the other team is going to prepare as well,” Kelly said. “Our guys need to separate two things. The satisfaction of winning has to take precedent over all the things we have to get better at.”

That’s a wonderful statement, and I think something that got lost in the chaos of last season. Even in Irish victories, there was always a feeling that there was work that needed to be done.

If you’re looking for a clue into the celebration after the game, has your fix.

I’m pretty impressed those guys knew all the words to the opening verses. I’ve got a feeling that the guy in charge has some catching up to do.

Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.




Days before facing Notre Dame, USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take leave of absence


When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.

While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.

“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.

Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.

Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”

This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.