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Tuesdays with BK: Wolverines!

Sep 18, 2012, 6:22 PM EDT

091110_UM V ND FBC ROBINSON 3 LON

Brian Kelly met with the media this afternoon to discuss the Irish’s preparation for Michigan, a game that’s likely been circled on the calendar for every member of ND Nation since last year’s late-game implosion.

With a primetime start and two nationally ranked teams, there’s a lot at stake. Yet don’t tell  Kelly that there’s reason to change the team’s focus. He’s been working on keeping this team in check since the offseason.

“We have a sign that is pretty visible for our guys to see when they walk in and walk out of the building,” Kelly said.  “It starts with, ‘Don’t Believe or Fuel the Hype.’  That’s No.1.  No. 2, ‘Manage Expectations.’  No. 3, ‘Avoid the Noise.’  And 4, ‘Speak for Yourself.’  They see that every single day. I put that up last year; expecting that that was going to be something that we were going to have to deal with.  And we’re dealing with it right now, and they have seen that now for over a year and a half.  They know what that sign means.  And they know if they want to continue to be successful, they need to continue to do the things they are doing.”

We’re still waiting for the video of the presser to be made available. But in the meantime Feel free to watch the near 40 minutes of press conference.  Or I’ll pick and choose some of the parts I found interesting.

***

He’s always been one of the players Brian Kelly spoke highly of, but for the first time we actually got to see what a Notre Dame defense would look like with Danny Spond heavily featured.

After missing the season’s first two games after a scary issue with migraines, Spond got the first start of his career at the ‘Dog’ linebacker, contributing four tackles and looking good at home in coverage.

Here’s how Kelly evaluated Spond’s play, and what he thought of his ability to rally from a pretty significant medical issue.

“He’s a big, physical kid, almost 250 pounds,” Kelly said. “I think once you make that decision to put the gear on and go back out to practice, you’ve handled it, you know, and he pushed the envelope, he was the one who wanted to get out there. And so I think we had no hesitation of practicing him and playing him, because of the way he handled it leading up.  He wasn’t, oh, I don’t know if I should play; it’s always been, once I’m cleared, I’m going to play. So I think he handled that before he even got into game week.”

As an edge player with good athleticism, Spond will likely have a big responsibility this weekend as well, needing to give chase to Denard Robinson, a guy that’s gotten loose against the Irish defense before.

***

Speaking of Michigan’s quarterback, Kelly told us with a straight face that 2011 hasn’t come up when discussing the Wolverines and what Robinson did last year. (If you believe that, well — I’ve got some beachfront South Bend real estate for you.)

What he did candidly speak about was the type of player Robinson is, what type of challenge he represents, and how the Irish did against him last season.

“Well, I thought we did a pretty good job, really, for three quarters,” Kelly said.  “I think if there’s a couple plays we’d like to have back in the passing game maybe; but we liked our plan.  We think that we are physically a better football team than we were the previous couple years.

“He’s a superior football player. He’s a difference‑maker.  So we have to find a way to limit big‑chunk plays, just like we have the first few weeks.  It’s about our defense not giving up those big, chunk plays.  We gave them up in the running game in year one and we gave them up in the passing game in year two. We have to eliminate and control those big plays that are out there.  If we do that, we feel pretty good.”

When asked the best way to stop him — whether it was shutting down the run game first or the pass game — was there a secret, Kelly got in a good little quip.

“If there was a secret out there, you know, we would have probably gotten it way before everybody else. We’ve got great alumni out there.”

It’s a difficult proposition, because you can’t sellout on either one of those.  You have to be balanced.  You have to be able to manage it and you’ve got to keep him from making big plays. So there isn’t an easy answer to that.  He’s a superior football player.  He’s not a great player; he’s the best player on the field.”

Irish faithful hope Manti Te’o takes exception to that statement.

***

He may catch some grief because he tend to notice a few of his missed tackles, but Kelly was incredibly complimentary about safety Zeke Motta, whose role in the Irish defense is even more important now with the loss of Jamoris Slaughter for the season.

Kelly spoke with pride about the work Motta has done to make himself a better football player and person on and off the field.

“I wanted to push him out front because I saw a young man that the way he practiced, the dedication he has to the game, the kind of young man he is, you want him representing your program,” Kelly said of Motta.

“He gets more than Elijah (Shumate) lined up.  It’s probably one of the most remarkable developments of a player from year one or year two to year three in that sense.  He had a hard time getting himself lined up last year.  He has been terrific back there.  He’s been physical.  He’s played the ball well.  And his leadership skills have continued to grow.

“He was a young man that at times had a hard time speaking in front of a group.  This spring, I had him speak at our spring banquet, along with Justin Tuck; handled himself well there, and it’s just been a great evolutionary process to see him continue to grow as a person and as a player.  He deserves all the credit for that.”

I’ve said it before, but Motta is one physically impressive looking football player. While Harrison Smith had the opportunity to spend a year redshirting before seeing the field, it’s too bad Motta wasn’t afforded the same opportunity, and he still may show himself to be the type of player that gets a chance to play on Sundays.

***

  1. 808raiderinparadise - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    Heard ND students and fans are wearing leis to the game to honor Teo ….. FYI if anybody in here is going, seen it on Twitter.

    Smash this team at home !!! iI the passing game improves on 3rd down we will be rolling.

    Bottle-up Denard inbetween the tackles, protect the edges, contain and pressure the short pass. WIN

  2. irisheyesnate - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Amen!

  3. barneysbullet - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    Let’s! Go! Boys!

    Show Meatchicken how sick and tired we are of getting our butts kicked…

    Irish roll 38-24.

    • runners00 - Sep 18, 2012 at 11:15 PM

      I don’t see them puttin up 24

  4. dudeacow - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    I can’t believe it’s been over a year since that horrible Week Two night! I remember it so clearly… I wish I didn’t. Hopefully next year we will be saying “I can’t believe it’s been over a year since that awesome Week Four night! I remember is so clearly… I wish remebered it even better.”

    Hopefully ND wins 1683854-0

    Reality (mixed with hope) 31-24

    • ndgoldandblue - Sep 18, 2012 at 10:13 PM

      dude, I was actually thinking 31-24 in favor of the Irish as well. For some reason that score stays in my mind. Weird.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 19, 2012 at 12:28 AM

      I was actually thinking ND wins 1683854-0 too!

      F’ing REEEEEEEEDICULOUS

      Seriously, though, I’m with runners00…I don’t see them putting up 24

      • dudeacow - Sep 20, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        Just so you know, that’s 240,550 touchdowns and 2 safeties.
        One touchdown every .0149655(ish) seconds, and the two safeties are reserved for the other .0000002 seconds.

  5. gracehall1980 - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    Keith–

    Keep up the great articles.

    24 – 14

    GO IRISH!!

  6. yllibnosredna - Sep 18, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    Ol’ Adolph remembers it quite well too. Despite the poor spelling, bad grammar, and occasionally too fast captions, I laughed my tits off at this:

    By the way, can you say “paper tiger?” Because that’s all this team is and really was last year. Was anybody at all surprised by the degree to which Alabama dismantled this team on the first day of the season? I’m still regretting not betting the farm on the over in that game.

    U of M’s success in 2011 is really a testament to how good a coach Brady Hoke is and and how well he and Mattison have done in preventing this ship from capsizing given the state of affairs in which Rich Rod left the program. But I do believe Rodriguez’s follies will ultimately catch up with them this year. I really don’t see this team winning more than 8 games.

    Based on what’s happened the last three years and the atmosphere and what’s at stake Saturday night in South Bend, this is the most important game of the season. And as incomplete and unimpressive as Michigan has looked so far this season, they still have Denard and we have been jaw-dropplingly adept at finding ways to lose to inferior teams in the recent past. ND has to absolutely maintain focus and take care of business. Do that, and we should be fine. Do it not, and Robinson could single-handedly beat us for a third year in a row. And I’ll have no choice but to hire a hit man to dispose of this man they call Shoelace–a man who has generated more personal anguish and rage for me than any other athlete I’ve ever watched. As far as I’m concerned, the man is one more (horseshoe up his ass) win over ND win away from equating that to raping my entire family. I would absolutely be beside myself with joy if BK just broke down and had a Woodie Hayes type moment and mauled the kid when he runs down our sideline.

    Please guys, for the love of all that is good and sacred, let’s kick the SHIT out of these guys this week! And let’s send Mr. Robinson out of the South Bend in style–in a stretcher!

    • bernhtp - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:11 PM

      I completely understand the sentiment and the hyperbole. Well said.

      While none of us really wants Denard sent out on a stretcher, black and blue in the ice bath is not out of the question. Maybe even needing therapy for the incessant nightmares of Tuitt slamming him to the ground and Nix sitting on his chest.

      Muck Fichigan. Please! It’s almost as satisfying as beating USC.

      • yllibnosredna - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:50 PM

        Bern,

        Really do appreciate that you get the hyperbole in my comment. I was a bit concerned that it may be way too much for some of the more sensitive readers of this board. Apologies to Keith for the profanity–His blog. His rules. My bad. And yes, my aggressive vitriol towards Denard is a bit much and frankly irrational–He’s a great athlete and apparently a good guy. But I really don’t care about that this Saturday. He needs to go down and be put in his place. I can’t even recall the last time I wanted an ND win half as much as I want to witness against Michigan this Saturday. The last three losses against this school have been so painful and impossible to stomach. Here’s to not re-living that emotional nausea this weekend. Go ND!! Destroy Michigan because it’s been a long time comin!

    • tradertrik - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:53 PM

      That was hilarious! I bookmarked it just in case! Hitler had his moments!!!!!! Hahahahahahah

    • onebigloadofcrap - Sep 18, 2012 at 10:20 PM

      did the $86 ND jersey adolph bought get burned up in the bunker too? or is that on display somewhere?

    • 9irish - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:24 AM

      Man…freaking hilarious. That clip has been altered before, but that is by far the best one I’ve seen.

  7. ndfaithful - Sep 18, 2012 at 8:26 PM

    I’m not much into predictions, but I’m starting to buy into this team. I really think BK has these guys ready for the challenge. I think DR will get some highlights, because he’s a superior athlete. However, I am going to go out on a limb and predict a big showing for the Irish. I think we’re going to connect on some big plays and I think the defense puts up at least 7 of their own.

    I’m going with 42-17 Irish

    GO IRISH!!!

    • papadec - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:59 PM

      ndfaithful – I like your 42-17 better than the 38-24 predictions. I also have nothing against Denard – I really don’t want to see any players, on any team injured. I can’t get upset with Michigan – after all they introduced ND to football, AND I know too many Blue fans (that are nice people). I just don’t like the trolls that come out and say nasty stuff about ND & our faithful. GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. onebigloadofcrap - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    hope we beat these fuckers 45-0 then beat usc 67-0, in between i don’t care

    • onebigloadofcrap - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:18 PM

      actually i do care in between, other team i’d like to roll is oklahoma and miami

      • papadec - Sep 20, 2012 at 12:01 AM

        onebig – I’d like ND to WIN ALL the games by at least 10!

  9. bernhtp - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Here’s a thought: to better cover their passing game, our DBs should all practice with the punt return team this week. Being able to catch high, wobbly punts will dramatically increase the chances of intercepting Denard.

    • onebigloadofcrap - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:36 PM

      some here are getting awfully cocky, slow down boys, denard wore out his shoes last visit to ND stadium

    • andy44teg - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:48 PM

      bernhtp
      That’s actually one of the funniest things you’ve said on here. Nice work!

    • seadomer - Sep 18, 2012 at 11:35 PM

      Love this one bern.
      And guys, tackle the ankle NOT the SHOE

  10. onebigloadofcrap - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    where has the nudester been?

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 19, 2012 at 12:25 AM

      He’s redecorating is den…taking down all of the Tommy Rees posters

      • papadec - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:36 AM

        Ohhhhhhhh that was cold.

  11. runners00 - Sep 18, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    Kelly is starting to get it. Shoelace is a superior football player. To be sure, we can contain him,but we have to recognize that he is fast and aggressive and willing to do crazy things with his body to get an extra yard. Someone has to be assigned to him on every single play.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 19, 2012 at 12:21 AM

      I vote for Manti to spy Denard the whole game…not that BK lets me have a vote :)

      • ibleedirish - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:33 AM

        think faster…i vote ishaq for top spy

  12. idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 19, 2012 at 12:24 AM

    My prediction….

    Notre Dame 704 – Ditka 3
    Notre Dame 54 – Chuck Norris 53 1/2
    Notre Dame 30 – Michigan 20

    • onebigloadofcrap - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      no way they would beat iron mike, ditka 35 ND 23

  13. dallasstars9 - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:02 AM

    You guys are supposed to be good alter boys. You’re nothing but a bunch of bitter and angry pricks! ND has always made me itch and now I know why, their fans suck balls! GO BLUE!

    • papadec - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:42 AM

      Hey dallas – I was an alter boy – also a Marine Corps Platoon Sgt. How ’bout you shove a candle up your a**? Have a nice day.

      • 9irish - Sep 19, 2012 at 5:59 AM

        ooh-rah, Devil Dog

      • dallasstars9 - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:35 PM

        Better a candle in my ass than a priest. GO BLUE!!

    • ndgoldandblue - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:24 AM

      Did you just order your balls to go blue? If you’re not getting any, I imagine they’re doing that all on their own.

  14. norcalirish - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:24 AM

    YES ON THE LEIS! My Facebook is blowing up about it, such a great idea, 3k+ people commited already. All those heading to the game bring as many as you can (I’ve heard South Bend is sold out) pass them out to those that…wait for it…need to get lei’d (har har). I think it would not only be supportive but really fire up the guys on the field.

    I have a VERY good feeling about this game

  15. 9irish - Sep 19, 2012 at 6:01 AM

    Hey, I’m not all boo-hooing here, but food for thought. I don’t know why they weren’t there for the MSU game, their crazy fans would’ve eaten up with a spoon. Just another ESPN boycott. They seem to like it south of the Mason-Dixon line.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1336375-why-college-gameday-should-be-at-michigan-vs-notre-dame-not-clemson-vs-fsu

    • ibleedirish - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      9irish… Its a home game. Therefore an NBC televised game. I think ESPN is as biased as the next guy, but they aren’t going to have the Gameday crew at a game they can’t televise and I can’t blame them. If the game was in Ann Arbor they’d be there no doubt. We’d much rather have the NBC contract than Gameday right?

      • 9irish - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:05 AM

        You are absolutely right…made that point in the article. And I am not all boo-hoo about it (actually it would just be a bigger pain in the ass!). Just find it curious, not serious. Last week would’ve made more sense, they had to fly Herbstreit up there from that Fla-Tennessee set up, that nobody cared about, to East Lansing anyway. Obvious motivations, and I understand it…I’ll take the NBC shun by ESPN any day of the week.

        Go Irish

  16. 9irish - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Keith, BTW, was that a “Red Dawn” reference that you slipped into the header? “Wolverines!”

  17. fitz79 - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Don’t know about ya’ll but I’m getting mighty sick of hearing about Denard Robinson. If he’s so good why doesn’t Michigan consistently perform better on the field. If it’s a case of, he’s got talent but is surrounded by no talent that doesn’t bode well for Michigan either. This Saturday Shimbo, T’eo and a whole host of others are gonna drive him into the ground! By the way, after watching the Irish D front 7 this year I bet you that there’s a certain transfer to lowly South Florida who just might be regretting his decision at this point!

  18. tradertrik - Sep 19, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    I haven’t seen this much optimism and celebration about winning a game since before the U$C game last year. While this is a vastly improved Notre Dame gang and I do think we’re gonna win, I’m trying to temper my certainty with the realization that it ain’t over ’till it’s over. Four and oh and a Top Ten team sounds great but let’s let it happen before we p*ss ourselves. Just a thought.

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