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Tuesdays with BK: Bring on the Spartans

Sep 11, 2012, 7:03 PM EDT

Brian Kelly

Before Brian Kelly turned his focus to No. 10 Michigan State, the head coach succinctly wrapped up the Irish’s fairly unimpressive 20-17 victory over Purdue.

“Collectively as a team, we did not play our best football,” Kelly said. “There’s a higher standard for the way we should play offensively, defensively. But again, I will tell you that any time you beat a Big Ten opponent, you’re pleased with the outcome. I told our team this: Winning is not easy, and we found a way to win the football game. But we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

You can watch the entirety of the press conference below, but here are a few things that stuck out to me.

***

Each opponent brings along its own specific challenge. With Michigan State, it’s pretty clear that after two seasons, Kelly knows what to expect.

“I think the team that can control the football, minimize the turnovers, is going to be the team that has the best chance to win,” Kelly said. “So if Michigan State can exert their will on both fronts, the offensive line and defensive line, I think we probably know how that game is going to go. We felt like we have to be able to exert our same kind of presence on both sides of the ball and then do all of the other things that require you to win.

“I think that we know playing at Michigan State and playing them last year, it’s going to come down to a couple of plays and it probably will this year, as well. I think our focus has strictly been on each and every play to make a difference in the game, as evidenced in 2010.”

Both teams are trotting out fairly raw quarterbacks. After two weeks, it appears Everett Golson has the upperhand on Andrew Maxwell, who threw three interceptions against Boise State before righting the ship in the Spartan’s easy victory over Central Michigan. Kelly gave his assessment of Golson’s play after two weeks.

“I think he’s a work‑in‑progress. He’s somebody that’s had two starts,” Kelly said. “He was on scout team at this time last year. He continues to get better. We expect him to start and finish the game. We don’t go into the week with any thoughts other than he’s going to start it and he’s going to finish for us.”

To that point, Kelly spoke more pointedly about removing Golson from the field when the Irish were in their two-minute offense late in the game. After a second half of largely ineffective offense and a playclock that seemed to be getting away from the young quarterback, Kelly talked about the process of playing quarterback, not just the physical act — which Golson has done quite well.

“Some of it is housekeeping if you will,” Kelly said. “Getting the play, getting it communicated, all of those things, which he is learning. And he’s seeing it for the first time. He’s look at it and he’s going, ‘wow, it took me seven seconds to actually get up there, maybe I need to speed up — I call it housekeeping. Getting the play, verbalizing it, getting everybody set, making sure everybody is set.

“I’d rather be doing that than worry about whether my quarterback has the ability to play the position.”

***

After having many people worry about a young and unseasoned Irish secondary, the Irish went and held the Purdue passing game below 200 yards, a nice afternoon against two veteran signal callers. When asked what he expected to see out of his defense after a shaky opening performance against Navy, Kelly sounded confident that he knew what he had in cornerbacks Bennett Jackson and KeiVarae Russell.

“I wasn’t panicked,” Kelly said after reviewing the team’s performance against Navy. “We were in some option defenses that stressed us and put some guys in positions that normally they wouldn’t be in. We felt very comfortable going into the Purdue week that we were going to play the kind of pass defense necessary. Bennett came up with a couple interceptions. KeiVarae played solid football. We got good play from Elijah Shumate, who broke up a third down conversion opportunity. Matthias Farley had to play a ton of football when Jamoris went down. All in all, we were pleased with their development, but we were confident that as we continue to progress, and they are going to get better and they are not there yet, but we feel like they are the right guys for us and they are going to get the job done.”
Kelly also praised the work safety Zeke Motta did, running the back end of a defense filled with incredibly raw players after Slaughter went out.

“Zeke Motta was outstanding,” Kelly said. “Not only does he have to get himself in the right place, but you have to get three other guys lined up, as well.”

***

Kelly talked about getting a better performance out of his offensive line. While Mike Golic Jr. seems to be taking the brunt of the criticism for his play against All-American Kawann Short, the entire line needed to do a better job against a physical front, and Kelly admitted that the staff needed to put the players in a better position to succeed.

“We were not in a great position to run the football most of the time. I think in retrospect we could have done a better job as a staff and finding ways to just lock some runs in there and get after it,” Kelly said. “But clearly we are going to have to play better up front against Michigan State. Our guys are capable. We still feel like we have a very, very good group. We did get beat on some individual moves but again, we think that as a group, and I know coach Harry Hiestand believes that, that this group together can get the job done at a high level for us.”

***

On a personnel news, it appears the Irish got nothing but good news on the injury front. While wide receiver Davaris Daniels was in a protective boot over the weekend helping his ankle heal, the Irish should be all hands on deck this Saturday night, and will also welcome Danny Spond back to the fold, perfect timing as the Irish preparing to play a lot of defense where both Spond and Ben Councell will be utilized playing the ‘Dog’ linebacker.

“I think the big addition would be Danny Spond. He’s been cleared to practice today, which should clear up that drop position for us a lot better,” Kelly said. “We can go back to our original plan of Councell and Spond at the drop position. And that would be the hope moving forward that we are able to stabilize that dropped position with Danny.”

***

  1. don74 - Sep 11, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    Whenever I read BK quotes I scratch my head. When I listen to his pressers he makes sense. I liked his explanation of the the Purdue game, he took responsibility for not having enough run plays and gave enough praise to Golson.

    I am concerned with “the team has to play better”. It’s becoming a recurring theme.

    Saturday evening will be interesting. Go Irish!

    • 9irish - Sep 11, 2012 at 11:08 PM

      Well…yeah. The team has to play better. I’d be more concerned if he said “We played perfect! Beat an unranked team by 3 pts!” It’s coach-speak. I expect nothing less.

      • chisports14 - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:52 AM

        another couple posts.

        yetthir.wordpress.com

  2. domer77blowsgoats - Sep 11, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    Loved the shout out for Motta! He played a helluva game considering the added pressure with all the inexperience on the field.

  3. heisenbyrg - Sep 11, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    This game scares me. All of the problems ND had last week against Purdue would appear to be difficult to correct this week, particularly getting the F—ing plays in on time. If they had trouble getting the ball snapped against Purdue, how do we think they’ll do at Spartan Stadium with 75,000 fans screaming at them? It might be time to go back to the basics: Get a play in early and just run it regardless of the defensive look.

    That said, the game is winnable. It’s time for the O-line to show some pride and maul people.

    • glowplugv - Sep 11, 2012 at 10:06 PM

      Coach Kelly addressed getting plays in against the noise at MSU. He did not believe it would be hard (it is hand signals most of the time). He did comment that Golson needed to move quicker to get the team align after he got the signal.

  4. ndgoldandblue - Sep 11, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    Wow, after reading a few articles, it seems that a couple of the Michigan State players are talking some serious smack. By the sounds of it, they think that the loss last year to Notre Dame was some sort of fluke. I wonder how the Irish players are going to respond. Will they let it intimidate them, or will they use it as motivation? I really, really hope it’s the latter. I remember the build-up to last season’s game against USC. It seemed like our guys were doing a lot of talking, and USC came into South Bend and kicked our butt. I would love the Irish to do the same to Sparty this Saturday.

    I know that, when I was in high school, whether it was football, basketball or baseball, if opposing players did a lot of talking before the game, we certainly did not feel intimidated by it. In fact, we usually got pissed, went out there and deliberately tried to humiliate the other team. Our goal then became to run up the score as much as possible.

    I don’t care. You can talk about technique and strategy all you want. I just want to see both our offensive and defensive lines play a great game and push MSU around. I want to see tough, physical, hard-nosed football. During BK’s press conference today, what did you hear? Nothing but praise and respect for MSU and their players. What have we heard from the MSU players? Nothing but smack talk.

  5. gtizzo - Sep 11, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    Interesting nobody asked about the return of Wood to the line up? I think MSU went against there game plan when the played C. Michigan. Just to throw ND off a little and make sure it was on film. Bell is the key to stopping Michigan State just like it was last year. Good solid run defense and safety help over the top on the receivers. Should be a close game my prediction: ND-21 MSU-17

    • glowplugv - Sep 11, 2012 at 10:09 PM

      The key is stopping Bell, but don’t look for a lot of support for the corners. I believe this will be more like the Navy game coverage wise, with a loaded box and lots of 1 on 1 coverage until the MSU QB shows something. If he does, it will be a long night.

      • gtizzo - Sep 12, 2012 at 10:04 AM

        Don’t be so quick to worry about the Irish going man to man on the outside. The Irish pass defense went up 32 spots among FBS teams after the Purdue game. Michigan State receivers are just as young as ours, and as Keith pointed out so is there QB. Take heart in the fact our secondary is improving and will grow more and get better. Michigan States runs a pro style offense which also helps. The other thing ND isn’t really turning the ball over, that fact alone should keep it close. All of those things are reason to be positive going into this tough road test.

  6. bernhtp - Sep 11, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    I heard no mention of Amir Carlisle, who appears headed for a medical redshirt unless there are major injuries at RB during the next four weeks.

    • dmac4real - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM

      For the record, I think Amir would get just a straight up red shirt. You dont have to be a freshman to get a redshirt. For example, they tried to get Kona one last year until Tuitt got his 1 game suspension and Lynch got injured forcing him to play against purdue.

      • joeschu - Sep 12, 2012 at 9:34 PM

        It is an unfortunate situation after they successfully lobbied the NCAA for a transfer waiver to get him eligible for this year.

  7. dickasman - Sep 11, 2012 at 10:23 PM

    Big game guys. Here’s our season. First big test of the season. I think this game will tell us what kind of season we are headed for. we win, all the guys get an incredible boost that they need. We lose, it’s back to here we go again! We need some big plays from the unknowns here. Davonte Neal’s, bennett Jackson’s, danies smiths, etc…somebody need to step outta closet and on to the spotlight! It’s prime time Saturday night on abc, cmonnnn out boys!!! Don’t be a Craig James son locked up in closet! Hoping for couple big returns from Atkinson or neal! We re going to need it! Now’s the time to make a statement to let us know that you can foking play for reals dawg! Show me the money!

  8. dickasman - Sep 11, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    “cues” the song, coming outta the dark by Gloria Estefan…..finally see the light nowwwww

  9. dickasman - Sep 11, 2012 at 10:29 PM

    Guys, if we are losing and spartans start talking smack, be sure to please remind them that they will be washing YOUR Mercedes in 10 years from now…

  10. nudeman - Sep 11, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    Lot of ridiculous stuff here
    People saying “I’m scared of this game” were the same ones saying “Navy scares me”
    Perspective, gentlemen. ND can beat MSU

    Keys to the game:
    1) No more than 1 turnover
    2) 150 – 200 yards rushing
    3) At least 250 yards passing
    4) No dumb penalties (Zack, you there?)
    5) Some positive yardage on punt returns. Come on Davonte, it’s your TIME!!!

    • 9irish - Sep 11, 2012 at 11:16 PM

      I would put emphasis on the dumb penalties….kicked ourselves in the ass a few times, by players that should know better.

    • bostonjan - Sep 11, 2012 at 11:16 PM

      love your post, nude. Nailed it.

    • dmac4real - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:01 AM

      That seems like a lot to ask for tbh….150 rush yards would make me ecstatic against them.

    • ct111 - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:37 AM

      Nude, love your list but you forgot, DBs need to learn how to tackle!

  11. nudeman - Sep 11, 2012 at 11:13 PM

    BTW, here’s another thing. If I told you 3 weeks ago that EG would have the following stats after 2 games, AND ND would be 2-0, would you have said “I’ll take it”; or “God, I’m so nervous about everything I just want to puke”????

    33 for 49, 433 Yds, 67.3%, 8.8 YPA, 2 TD, 1 INT, 151 QBR, and a Rushing TD

    • 9irish - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:44 AM

      That’s why I like him….very measured. Rees did a good job though, EG was getting a little crazy out there. TR might not have the skills, but he does know the system. A big W is all that matters.

  12. mtflsmitty - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    57 Getting a Bad Rap

    I just finished watching the Boiler game on DVR with FF and RW buttons worn out. Felt like Dan Divine with his reel to reel, sans the sour disposition. Anyhow, I focused on Golic on every offensive play. With 11:10 to go in the 4th Short just slapped him out of the way on his way to an 8 yd sack of EG. However, other than that, I didn’t see another blown assignment all game long. On runs he either consistently sealed the inside, or extended past the front four to the linebackers (which did look tougher for him). No glaring mistakes. And on pass protection I never saw his man rush EG much less sack him.

    I think we have a case of someone assuming that the last OLman to secure a spot must have been the source of the issues, and then everyone started just repeating it. It looked to me like Cave and the left side of the line were less effective that MG and CL.

    Note: My son, God love him, recorded to low def version and he failed to record the show immediately following the game. Naturally, the game ran long and I missed all but one snap of the last drive. So if MG missed every block on that series, ignore the analysis above.

    • 9irish - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:54 AM

      Yeah, I buy that. He didn’t have a fantastic! game, but had a rough assignment, too. He gets more attention because of the name.

  13. irishirish777 - Sep 12, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    Irish by 3, Kyle puts up the winning kick.

    Go Irish!

  14. glorygreyhound1 - Sep 12, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    Bring on the Spartans, hell yeah! Go Irish.

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