Brian Kelly met the media this morning to chat about Michigan and the state of the Irish team after beating Purdue 23-12 on Saturday. Here’s some video for you, courtesy of the digital team at NBCSports.com:
A few observations:
I was one of the many people who thought that seeing a mobile quarterback like Robert Marve before facing a guy like Denard Robinson could be beneficial to the Irish. Doesn’t sound like Kelly agrees.
“It’s a different team. They’re setting up the run obviously for him.
You’re running quarterback iso. We didn’t have any of that with Marve,” Kelly said.
“Obviously, the zone reads are a lot different, we gave up the big play
for the zone read to one touchdown. So little bit different relative.
He’s going to be the focal point of the running game.”
Kelly did follow-up on this later by discussing the zone read plays that Purdue ran with quarterback Rob Henry, and thought those would be beneficial, but it’s pretty clear that Marve and Robinson are two different animals.
The obvious follow-up to that question was who plays Denard Robinson during practice this week? Kelly was noncommittal.
“We’ve got a number of guys that we’ve looked at,” Kelly said. “You know, I
don’t know that you ever can prepare for Denard Robinson at the same
speed that he plays. But we’ve got a couple of people that we think can
help us out with that.”
I’ve seen the name floating around the interwebs a bit today and the idea came to my head as well after watching him over the weekend: Bennett Jackson.
Last year’s strategy against the Wolverines was blitz-heavy, and obviously pretty unsuccessful. When asked about committing pressure via the blitz, Kelly was pretty candid about that strategy defensively.
“In a lot of ways, you can call it whatever you want, but there is a lot
of option football here,” Kelly said. “I think we all know from the basic tenets of sound and fundamental football, it’s not probably something you want to blitz. you want to have assignments.
“So you have
to be assignment correct when you play a team that has certainly some of
the instruments of options within its package. They’re certainly not
just a Navy option, triple option team, but they do have some of that. So to we are your question, you wouldn’t think blitzing would be the first call of duty when you play a team like this.”
If you’re a Notre Dame fan, you should be relieved that Kelly brought this up now, because it’ll also lessen the burden on the defense when they do play Navy, a team that gave away a football game on Saturday to Maryland in the same way that the Irish did last year when they played the Midshipmen.
It’s a frustrating reminder of how incredibly wrong the defensive strategy against Tate Forcier and the Wolverines went last season.
While it’s clear that standard measuring sticks like time-of-possession and yards-per-play aren’t the way Kelly and the coaching staff measure their players performances, Kelly gave us a window into how the staff evaluates.
“We use a 12% grade. We want to be 88% correct on assignments and
execution and things of that nature,” Kelly said. “So if we can hit 12 percent or less on critical
mistakes, critical mistakes are identified as not that you didn’t step
with the right foot or you were only ten yards on the run instead of 12.
But putting the ball on the ground, foolish penalties or things that
can get you beat. We were at 11%, so that’s been a big target.
“The other was the turnover takeaway. We won the turnover takeaway, but
we did put the ball on the ground. I generally focus on those two things
from an offensive standpoint. If we hit those two, we’re generally in a
position to do some good things. There’s a lot of things we didn’t do well, but those two, they’re as important to me as anything
The 11 percent grade that Kelly gave the Irish seems about correct after rewatching the game. There were some serious breakdowns — the safety, the fumble, the jailbreak Marve touchdown run — but otherwise the Irish played well enough to win comfortably.
That said, I think Kelly and everybody else in the Notre Dame locker room knows they need to clean up their performance to get a win this Saturday.