North Carolina State v Miami

Tuesdays with BK: Time for the Hurricanes


Brian Kelly met with the media this afternoon, updating all of us on how the bye week went and his early thoughts on the 4-1 Miami Hurricanes that’ll join the Irish in Soldier Field this weekend.

It’s another prime time opportunity for the Irish to play a national opponent, and after five games, the ‘Canes look like a dangerous offensive opponent with a young and talented squad.

The whole press conference is available below, but here are a few things I found interesting.


Many wondered whether or not sophomore Chase Hounshell was being kept off the field for strategic purposes, with hopes of saving a year of eligibility. It turns out that’s a moot point now, with the sophomore set to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.

“Chase is going to get surgery this week,” Kelly said. “We’re going to shut him down for the year.”

There were rumors of a shoulder injury floating around this summer for Hounshell, but he did see time against Navy in Dublin, playing a reserve role at the end of the game.We don’t know how serious Hounshell’s injury is, but he’ll now be eligible for a medical redshirt and a fifth season at Notre Dame.

The emergence of freshman Sheldon Day, and the fact that Hounshell backs up Stephon Tuitt, have limited his ability to take a step forward this season, but this seems like a perfect situation for Hounshell. Redshirting a sophomore isn’t a crazy idea, it’s something that’s utilized at other programs, and a move the Irish coaching staff would’ve liked to do last year with Kona Schwenke.


If you’ve listened to Brian Kelly at all, you’ve heard him harp on “the process.” (He’s not alone, it’s also big with Nick Saban.) After two seasons where the W-L record didn’t reflect the progress that many felt was happening inside the Gug, Kelly was asking if he thought he was finally getting some of the results he expected.

Here are a few telling paragraphs from Kelly as he gives a status report on his team in the midst of his third season.

“Our guys have been committed to the process,” Kelly said. “It’s painstakingly slow, sometimes it’s quicker.  But they’ve been committed to the process.  It’s taking that and translating it to Saturdays.  And this group is translating it to Saturdays, at least for the first four weeks.  We’ll see what happens in week five.  But they’ve done a nice job of preparing and doing the things we’ve asked them to do.  We think we’re close to being consistent in that approach.  We’re not ready to say that we’ve arrived.  We’re still a group that has to show more consistency.

“You can’t win unless you eradicate all the things that go against it, and that is the process.  It’s looking at all of the things that go into winning.  If I asked you the question, what do you know about winning?  Well, you score more points.  Well, obviously you don’t know that there are so many factors that you have to concentrate on and the details on a day‑to‑day basis that goes to winning.

“That’s what I think people mean when they talk about the process.  Making sure you have your hand those things that go directly to win it.  Most of the time it’s eradicating those things that go to not winning more than anything else.  So I think that’s the process.”

Kelly’s done pretty well for himself in his third season at his different head coaching stops. At Central Michigan, he won nine games and the MAC conference. At Cincinnati, he ran the gauntlet and led the Bearcats to an undefeated 12-0 record. He’s off to a good start this season, and his overall record in year three is 31-7-2 (he was 6-3-2 at Grand Valley.)


The Irish will have their second look at quarterback Stephen Morris, who came in as a reliever in the Sun Bowl and played a good game after the Irish jumped out to a 30-3 victory.

With Jacoby Harris gone, Morris is now unquestionably the leader of the Hurricanes offense, and after putting up an ACC record 566 yards, he’s thrown for a staggering 1,002 yards the last two Saturdays.

Kelly commented on the progress Morris has made since he last saw them.

“He looks like more of a veteran quarterback,” Kelly said of Morris. “He’s made big plays for them.  He’s also somebody that can be on the perimeter.  He can run.  They’ve run him the last couple of games.  Again, he’s somebody that obviously is playing really good football.”


There’s been a lot of discussion on the Irish quarterbacking depth chart and after a bye week, Everett Golson hopes to go out against Miami and get right after playing his worst game in a Notre Dame uniform. With multiple quarterbacks playing in every game so far this season, for stability’s sake, getting a good performance from Golson would do a lot to move the Irish offense forward.

Kelly was asked about his young quarterback’s confidence after a tough Saturday and a long week off, and how he keeps Golson engaged moving forward with a lot of discussion about the state of the depth chart.

“That is player development at its core,” Kelly said. “So if you’re not having conversations with them about those kinds of games or preceding the lead‑up to those games, you’re not doing your job as a coach.  If you’re just going to let him sit by himself and figure it out on his own, I could just do something else.  So there are constant conversations about those things.  Eighteen to 21‑year‑olds sometimes don’t have answers of the questions that you may ask and I may ask.

“So it’s important that you’re communicating and working through any of those rough spots that every young player, whether he’s the quarterback or he’s the defensive back at Notre Dame, and that falls on the coaching staff.”


Go for two or not? Both sides of the highly-debated topic

during their game at Clemson Memorial Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Clemson, South Carolina.

Notre Dame’s two failed two-point conversion tries against Clemson have been the source of much debate in the aftermath of the Irish’s 24-22 loss to the Tigers. Brian Kelly’s decision to go for two with just over 14 minutes left in the game forced the Irish into another two-point conversion attempt with just seconds left in regulation, with DeShone Kizer falling short as he attempted to push the game into overtime.

Was Kelly’s decision to go for two the right one at the beginning of the fourth quarter? That depends.

Take away the result—a pass that flew through the fingers of a wide open Corey Robinson. Had the Irish kicked their extra point, Justin Yoon would’ve trotted onto the field with a chance to send the game into overtime. (Then again, had Robinson caught the pass, Notre Dame would’ve been kicking for the win in the final seconds…)

This is the second time a two-point conversion decision has opened Kelly up to second guessing in the past eight games. Last last season, Kelly’s decision to go for two in the fourth-quarter with an 11-point lead against Northwestern, came back to bite the Irish and helped the Wildcats stun Notre Dame in overtime.

That choice was likely fueled by struggles in the kicking game, heightened by Kyle Brindza’s blocked extra-point attempt in the first half, a kick returned by Northwestern that turned a 14-7 game into a 13-9 lead. With a fourth-quarter, 11-point lead, the Irish failed to convert their two-point attempt that would’ve stretched their lead to 13 points. After Northwestern converted their own two-point play, they made a game-tying field goal after Cam McDaniel fumbled the ball as the Irish were running out the clock. Had the Irish gone for (and converted) a PAT, the Wildcats would’ve needed to score a touchdown.

Moving back to Saturday night, Kelly’s decision needs to be put into context. After being held to just three points for the first 45 minutes of the game, C.J. Prosise broke a long catch and run for a touchdown in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Clemson would be doing their best to kill the clock. Notre Dame’s first touchdown of the game brought the score within 12 points when Kelly decided to try and push the score within 10—likely remembering the very way Northwestern forced overtime.

After the game, Kelly said it was the right decision, citing his two-point conversion card and the time left in the game. On his Sunday afternoon teleconference, he said the same, giving a bit more rationale for his decision.

“We were down and we got the chance to put that game into a two-score with a field goal. I don’t chase the points until the fourth quarter, and our mathematical chart, which I have on the sideline with me and we have a senior adviser who concurred with me, and we said go for two. It says on our chart to go for two.

“We usually don’t use the chart until the fourth quarter because, again, we don’t chase the points. We went for two to make it a 10-point game. So we felt we had the wind with us so we would have to score a touchdown and a field goal because we felt like we probably only had three more possessions.

“The way they were running the clock, we’d probably get three possessions maximum and we’re going to have to score in two out of the three. So it was the smart decision to make, it was the right one to make. Obviously, you know, if we catch the two-point conversion, which was wide open, then we just kick the extra point and we’ve got a different outcome.”

That logic and rationale is why I had no problem with the decision when it happened in real time. But not everybody agrees.

Perhaps the strongest rebuke of the decision came from Irish Illustrated’s Tim Prister, who had this to say about the decision in his (somewhat appropriately-titled) weekly Point After column:

Hire another analyst or at least assign someone to the task of deciphering the Beautiful Mind-level math problem that seems to be vexing the Notre Dame brain-trust when a dweeb with half-inch thick glasses and a pocket protector full of pens could tell you that in the game of football, you can’t chase points before it is time… (moving ahead)

…The more astonishing thing is that no one in the ever-growing football organization that now adds analysts and advisors on a regular basis will offer the much-needed advice. Making such decisions in the heat of battle is not easy. What one thinks of in front of the TV or in a press box does not come as clearly when you’re the one pulling the trigger for millions to digest.

And yet with this ever-expanding entourage, Notre Dame still does not have anyone who can scream through the headphones to the head coach, “Coach, don’t go for two!”

If someone, anyone within the organization had the common sense and then the courage to do so, the Irish wouldn’t have lost every game in November of 2014 and would have had a chance to win in overtime against Clemson Saturday night.

My biggest gripe about the decision was the indecision that came along with the choice. Scoring on a big-play tends to stress your team as special teams players shuffle onto the field and the offense comes off. But Notre Dame’s use of a timeout was a painful one, and certainly should’ve been spared considering the replay review that gave Notre Dame’s coaching staff more time to make a decision.

For what it’s worth, Kelly’s decision was probably similar to the one many head coaches would make. And it stems from the original two-point conversion chart that Dick Vermeil developed back in the 1970s.

The original chart didn’t account for success rate or time left in the game. As Kelly mentioned before, Notre Dame uses one once it’s the fourth quarter.

It’s a debate that won’t end any time soon. And certainly one that will have hindsight on the side of the “kick the football” argument.



Navy, Notre Dame will display mutual respect with uniforms

Keenan Reynolds, Isaac Rochell

The storied and important history of Notre Dame and Navy’s long-running rivalry will be on display this weekend, with the undefeated Midshipmen coming to South Bend this weekend.

On NBCSN, a half-hour documentary presentation will take a closer look, with “Onward Notre Dame: Mutual Respect” talking about everything from Notre Dame’s 43-year winning streak, to Navy’s revival, triggered by their victory in 2007. The episode will also talk about the rivalries ties to World War II, and how the Navy helped keep Notre Dame alive during wartime.

You can catch it on tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or online in the same viewing window.

On the field, perhaps an even more unique gesture of respect is planned. With Under Armour the apparel partner for both Notre Dame and Navy, both teams will take the field wearing the same cleats, gloves and baselayers. Each team’s coaching staff will also be outfitted in the same sideline gear.

More from Monday’s press release:

For the first time in college football, two opponents take the field with the exact same Under Armour baselayer, gloves and cleats to pay homage to the storied history and brotherhood between their two schools. The baselayer features both Universities’ alma maters on the sleeves and glove palms with the words “respect, honor, tradition” as a reminder of their connection to each other. Both sidelines and coaches also will wear the same sideline gear as a sign of mutual admiration.​

Navy and Notre Dame will meet for the 89th time on Saturday, a rivalry that dates back to 1927. After the Midshipmen won three of four games starting in 2007, Notre Dame hopes to extend their current winning streak to five games on Saturday.

Here’s an early look at some of the gear: