We already covered the big news of the day, with Notre Dame shifting gears and going with Tommy Rees as the starter against Michigan Saturday night.
If there’s one quote that encapsulates the decision, here it is:
“You got to be productive,” Kelly said. “If you’re not, you should be looking over your shoulder. If you’re a productive quarterback doing the things we ask you to do, you should just go out there and play the game the way you know how to play it.
“So when you have two really good quarterbacks, you know that if you’re going to err on one side or the other you want to your quarterback to be productive. I keep coming back to that word. Maybe I’m overusing it. But both of those guys are capable of leading our football team, and those are the expectations that are placed on them.”
Here’s more from Brian Kelly earlier this afternoon, who was ready to put South Florida behind him.
A few thoughts on some comments that may or may not have been in the video clip:
It seems like Kelly might have backed off his position that Theo Riddick would absolutely be out there returning punts on Saturday night in Ann Arbor. But more importantly, Kelly’s comments focus on Theo’s need for a short memory, on a Saturday where a first half drop ended up snowballing into his worst day in college football.
“Theo is a young man that I think we will continuing to go to Theo. The thing that he has to work on, obviously his body language,” Kelly said. “You know, he can’t get down on himself. We’re going to keep coming to him. He’s going to our guy. He’s got to fight through a very difficult set of circumstances that were presented him.”
Here’s Kelly’s explanation of what happened on Tommy Rees‘ first interception of the night, when Tommy crowned TJ Jones on a crossing route.
“It’s on both of ’em really. When it comes down to it, the quarterback can’t throw the ball to a receiver that’s not giving him his eyes,” Kelly said. “At the end of the day, the responsibility of the football remains with the quarterback.
“Now, all of the things that go into that, you would think that, Okay, get your eyes, you’ve got some green grass, they just weren’t at same page. Again, one of those things that you scratch your head, because we’ve run the route so many times and it’s never happened before; it happened on Saturday. So we’ve got to go back and look at how we’re coaching, how we’re teaching it, how we’re communicating it. All those things have to be evaluated.”
One thing Kelly didn’t mention: If Rees was able to buy just another half second in the pocket, Michael Floyd was ready to break open heading the other way, with nobody between him and the end zone.
Kelly was candid about how he handled Jonas Gray, a senior that’s needed if the Irish are going to continue to run the football effectively.
“I’ll tell you exactly what I said. How do you want to be remembered? As that guy that fumbled on the one-yard line?” Kelly recounted. “Or as that guy in your senior year that bounced back from some adversity and had an incredible season? You know what, I think he’s going to have a very good season.”
While Cierre Wood was as good as advertised in his debut, the staff’s worst fears were probably realized with Gray. It’ll be up to Kelly to make sure he continues to build up Gray, who could be used in a Robert Hughes type role as the year goes on, provided he holds onto the football.
It was hard for Kelly to be too enthusiastic about a game that he’s trying to forget, but you could tell he was very impressed by Louis Nix‘s debut.
When asked if Nix played up to expectations, Kelly was to the point.
“His play exceeded that,” Kelly said. “He played very well.”
Finally, here’s more from Kelly on the decision to switch to Tommy Rees.