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Tuesdays with BK: Onward to BYU

Oct 16, 2012, 9:03 PM EDT

Stanford v Notre Dame Getty Images

Brian Kelly spent over 45-minutes talking to the media today, getting everybody up to speed on Everett Golson’s recovery from a mild concussion to prepping his team for BYU, which many people are calling a trap game.

There’s plenty of good stuff in here, so I’ll link to the video if you’ve got some time on your hands, but also clip some of the things I found most interesting.


Right now, Everett Golson isn’t cleared to practice yet after leaving the game after a nasty helmet-to-helmet collision in the fourth quarter. Kelly broke down the process that Golson needs to go through with the doctors before he’s let back onto the field to participate in drills.

“Well, there’s a number of different things.  First of all, there’s a balance test, which he passed,” Kelly explained. “There’s also just an exam that he’s passed, and then there are symptoms, whether it’s sensitivity, agitation, light sensitivity, all those things he’s passed.  Then there’s a computer test, a cognitive test that he has to pass, and he’ll take that again today.  Once he does that, he’ll be allowed to go back to practice.

“Again, I would say, there is a protocol, there are standards.  They are independent of the head football coach.  This is strictly on our medical staff.  They make all of those decisions, and they come to me and tell me when he’s ready to go.”

In an era where USC receiver Robert Woods reenters a game after having this happen, it should be applauded that Notre Dame is treating Golson with precaution. (Although not everybody agrees.) Still, don’t expect Kelly to scale back any running in Golson’s game. If he’s cleared to play, he’ll need to use his legs against a defense like BYU’s.

“I think we probably have to continue to move him,” Kelly said. “That’s one of the great strengths is his ability to run. He’s just got to take great care of the football. And we’ll get through it. It’s a painstaking process right now. But we’ll get him to hold onto the football.”


In the comments below the good, bad, and ugly, more than a few people pointed out the struggles Troy Niklas had on Saturday. It was a tough day at the office for Niklas who also drew one of the game’s tougher assignments: blocking the physical edge players of Stanford. Niklas fought hard at the position, and also allowed Tyler Eifert to play split wide, leading to Notre Dame’s critical touchdown.

Here’s how Kelly classified Saturday’s experience for Niklas.

“There’s no question, he was challenged,” Kelly said. “He wasn’t taken out of the game at any point.  He was right in the thick of it.  We put him in a role that some could argue was a difficult one for him to succeed in. What I loved about him, as I said earlier in my remarks about our team, is that that only will help him as a football player because he went against such a very good football player.  But he was there when we won late and contributed greatly to the success in the last drive where we were able to run the football effectively. So all those things are confidence builders.  Because he knows, hey, sometimes I get my butt kicked here.  But late when he needed it, he made some really big blocks for us and that just helps your confidence immensely.”

Kelly talked about Niklas’ technical problems against Stanford, over-extending himself as a blocker and getting his body out of position. He was also complimentary about the young tight end, who has already forced himself into a key role on this offense, even while building himself into a true tight end.

“We have to continue to work on his base,” Kelly said. “We’ll get him stronger, not necessarily from the waist up, but the waist below.  When he gains more strength in the lower body, he’s just going to be absolutely immovable, and that will come.”


It’s a question that needed asking, and Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated asked Kelly about the division of carries between George Atkinson, Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood. Specifically, if it was time to recalibrate the touch distribution with Wood averaging over two-yards more per carry than Riddick, and Atkinson leading the entire group.

Not surprisingly, Kelly said the situation is a bit more nuanced than that.

“We are getting way too much out of per‑carry statistics,” Kelly said.  We are looking at circumstances in the game, play call, matching of personnel versus the defensive personnel that’s in the game.  A lot of those things are not seen within the statistical numbers. So we think they are all very good backs.  I think if there’s any comment that needs to be made on the three running backs is we still have to continue to get more touches for George Atkinson.  It’s less about Cierre and Theo, because they know their role, they have accepted their role.  George has, as well.  We just think that from a coaching standpoint, if there is anything amongst the three backs, we have to get George some more touches.”

I’m not sure I’m a 100 percent believer that the difference between Riddick and Wood is circumstance, but there’s also a very big role for Theo in this offense as a versatile pass-catching running back, even if he lacks the vision of Wood. That said, it’s not Cierre Wood isn’t a decent back in space catching passes, so while Kelly talked about getting the ball into Atkinson’s hands via the pass, I’d like to see it happen for Wood as well.



  1. rjamo123 - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    Not really sure if I am believing his ypc theory. I think the fact that GA3 is averaging 9 ypc is a big reason he wants to give him the ball more. And if Kelly doesn’t believe in the ypc aspect Cierre still has shown that he is the best back in nearly every situation and as you said Keith hasn’t really gotten a chance in open space with the passing game (for that fact not really any backs have with the lack of screen plays called)

    Regardless if he wants to get GA3 the ball more that must be a good sign and I am excited to see it

    • natesullivan24 - Oct 17, 2012 at 8:57 PM

      Atkinson is a huge threat when he has the ball in his hands and even as a distractor is pretty impressive. Kelly definitely needs to get him involved more for an offense that has struggled so mightily against good defenses. Cierre is solid, but you need to get as many playmakers on the field at once as possible. As for the quarterback position, I for one am calling for Rees. A nice warmup game for him before Oklahoma would be perfect. You can see more on what I think about the Irish here:

  2. zorichmidriff - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    Not crazy about Riddick. Never been really. But his play v. Stanford, especially catching the ball, was top notch. I’d rather see him running slant routes than trying to force the ball up the middle. That’s Wood’s strength. He’s got the vision and the acceleration to find the hole and then get gone. GA3 needs option touches. Maybe a reverse here and there. Still, a helluva problem to have: splitting touches amongst three killer backs.

    • nudeman - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:16 PM

      And I’m not entirely sold on GAIII. AT least not as a RB.

      As Mayock frequently points out (correctly) he runs with his pad level high, and that combined with the fact that he’s 6’1″ (tall for a RB) makes me wonder if his future isn’t better somewhere else. Also, he seems to have a very non-fluid, almost stiff style. If he’s in the open field and able to run on a straight line, no one can catch him. If he needs to slash and cut to make someone miss … not so much.

      Hey, don’t get me wrong. Tremendous athlete and frighteningly fast. There will be a spot somewhere for GAIII for the next 2 years and he’ll get a lot of touches, as well he should. Just not sure RB is the best place. BK said in his presser today that he’s made enormous strides catching the ball, so maybe WR? Probably won’t happen though.

      • ndlv - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:25 PM

        I agree completely. There is no doubt that GAIII has superstar speed and the ability to run through some tackles, but of the three backs, he is the least shifty. Maybe that will develop over time. Maybe he will get away with that style during the rest of his ND career, but he might also be better as a speedy receiver running past people (a la Golden Tate). While Theo doesn’t have the best YPC, he is the biggest threat when running routes.

      • dickasman - Oct 17, 2012 at 12:59 AM

        I dunno. I think he’s a running back material. Who cares about the pad levels, he’s not wearing tampons, just give him the DAMM ball yo!

      • zorichmidriff - Oct 17, 2012 at 9:00 AM

        No argument from me here. Redirection is the best scheme for GA3 IMO. Dude cannot bend and twist. But he is The Flash.

      • andy44teg - Oct 17, 2012 at 10:59 AM

        Here’s my take on GAIII:
        He’s ALWAYS been able to out run everyone he’s ever played against probably all the way back to grade school. He’s never had to be shifty and make people miss. He’s always just ran outside and burned past everybody, so he’s never really had to develope a shiftiness that we see out of Theo or Cierre.

      • nudeman - Oct 17, 2012 at 11:25 AM

        You’re right about that, no doubt.
        But at this age, that’s the style he runs with. Not sure if that’s a learned thing, or just the way he’s put together. I’m thinking it’s the latter.

        He reminds me of Michael Floyd who seemed to have a similar “non-fluid” running gait. Doesn’t mean he can’t be really good or even great though.
        At the other end of the spectrum are really fast guys who are extremely fluid, like Rocket. I’d even put our man Cam in that class (out of respect to his boyfriend, c4ever), however not nearly as quick.

      • nudeman - Oct 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM

        Here’s another way to think about it: 2 types of runners:

        1) The “just get them the ball” type. These are guys with tremendous speed and/or shiftiness. If you get them enough touches, and maybe even create enough space for them, they’ll break one or more big ones. Rocket is the essence of this type of runner. Gayle Sayers is the all timer here.

        2) The “if you get them into open space” type. These guys are very very fast but lack either the instincts or cutting ability/fluidity to make guys miss. They can outrun Secretariat though, so if there’s blocking and/or you get it to them with nobody around … forget it; no one catches them.
        This is GAIII

  3. c4evr - Oct 16, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    3 words… Cam-Mc-Daniel. The kid is tough as nails and looks for contact. The other 3 guys are arguably very similar in styles compared to what McDaniel brings to the table. Nude argues that he’s not an every down back – perhaps, but he’s already won over his teammates (looked like they were trying to pick him up after his touchdown against Miami in the Onward documentary) and is a difficult tackle. He at least should get some looks for short yardage plays.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Oct 16, 2012 at 10:47 PM

      Cam is a stud, but I wonder if he’s just a step below each of the other three, not quite as fast as GA3, not quite as experienced in the offense as CW (assignment correct, w/block, reads, etc.) and not as good in the passing game as Theo.

      The other thing I wonder is…who are you going to take carries away from to get Cam the ball more? It’s one of the things that I think BK doesn’t spin when he’s asked…”There are just not enough footballs for everbody.”

    • bernhtp - Oct 16, 2012 at 10:47 PM

      If the game goes well, we’ll see a lot of Cam in the fourth quarter.

    • nudeman - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:19 PM

      I’m sorry but I heartily disagree.
      I love Cam. But he’s #4 for a reason. He’s lighter and a step slower than the other 3. That’s not an opinion; it’s fact.

      Not saying he can’t get a touch here and there on meaningful snaps. Just do not see him as any sort of an answer right now.

      Cam-mania needs to be reeled in.

      • c4evr - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:29 PM

        Your lighter and slower guy nearly carried 4 Hurricanes into the endzone.

      • nudeman - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:45 PM

        Based on what I saw, I’m pretty sure I could have carried 4 Hurricanes into the end zone.
        Possibly the worst defense I’ve ever seen.

      • jimbasil - Oct 17, 2012 at 9:13 AM

        Well, lets leave it at, Riddick ain’t the guy for all the carries he’s gettin’. Cam certainly can produce those yds per carry and it looks as though he could, no matter the what string the D is, he’ll carry at least two defenders with him for a few extra yds where Riddick will simply go down.

        There is a reason Cam is #4 and it’s not because he can’t do the job.

        But the real problem is Riddick being moved back to RB and receiving a goodly amount of carries. So far, vis a vis the other RB’s Theo is not deserving.

    • dickasman - Oct 17, 2012 at 1:02 AM

      C4never,, are you residing inside cams jock strap as you write this? Because I think what you’re saying is THAT nutty!

      • c4evr - Oct 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM

        Not exactly, dick, he just reminds me of what ND backs used to display. And it’s always nice to see your comments like ‘residing in cams jock strap’ classing the blog up – grammatical errors and all.

  4. gtizzo - Oct 16, 2012 at 10:44 PM


    First when you play the hardest schedule in the country there is no such thing as a “trap” game. Kelly has managed to keep the team focused each week. I’m really having a problem with the ND offense, maybe someone can shed some light on this for me. Why not attack an opposing teams linebackers? This season I have yet to see a screen. How about we make linebacker run with our speedy backs doesn’t that make sense? There are two games where ND had a huge advantage over the opposing teams linebackers. Purdue was the first there is no way a Purdue linebacker was going to run with any back on the ND roster. The other was Stanford the linebackers were blitzing every play it seemed and ND did nothing to take advantage…what am I missing?

    • Patrick Hannegan - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:24 PM

      There is no way this game is not a trap game. When you play #17 Stanford and remain #5 in the country, @ Oklahoma sticks out as the next important game. This is definitely a trap game. I do agree with the other points though.

  5. glowplugv - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:28 PM

    I think the issue with Wood taking over the running game is that he just does not always make the right decision. I think he more concerned about breaking the big run rather than following his blocks to make the yardage. There was very good example in the game where the announcers said, “forget about going 70 yards, just cut up and get 7 yds.” I think it was 3rd down play, but I could be wrong. Couple that with the comments from Coach Kelly pointing out that Wood is finally getting more patience and allowing the blocks to develop. I think issue is that Coach Kelly wants RBs to run the play as diagramed and then start the freelancing. Riddick seems to do that and Woods may not do it as consistently as the coaching staff wants.

  6. ndirish10 - Oct 17, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    Hey guys, on a recruiting note: This kid is 100% definitely ND material.

    Not just a great athlete but also a great teammate. Am I crying? No, my eyes are just sweating.

    • dickasman - Oct 17, 2012 at 12:55 AM

      Hey I’ve pulled up short on many occasions usually to avoid pregnancy though! Where does it say he’s nd recruit?

      • ndirish10 - Oct 17, 2012 at 1:17 AM

        It doesn’t. I thought that I posted a followup post that he is a michigan recruit but it did not go through.

  7. nateprez4irish - Oct 17, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    Another thought that I haven’t heard mentioned…I know it’s about winning games and the best player should play. Is it possible Kelly is trying to get exposure for Riddick to move him on to the NFL early to free up some room? Just a thought. Would have LOVED to see Atkinson in the slot taking slants from Golson into the Stanford blitz and running up and down the field. Think the slot is a great spot for him. It could be about who is the best pass protector though for Kelly. With the solid backs, he just needs to make sure Golson stays upright and doesn’t kill the offense.

    ND 38 BYU 16 (TD in garbage time) GO IRISH!!!

    • ndgoldandblue - Oct 17, 2012 at 8:52 AM

      I love your boldness when it comes to the game prediction, but I just don’t see us scoring 38 points. When the Irish have gone up against defenses that are average to good (everyone except Miami and Navy), the pass blocking has been pretty poor. I think the O-line has done a decent job with run blocking, and there’s a reason for that: they love the style of blocking that running involves. Pass blocking, as everyone knows, requires a somewhat different style. The lineman aren’t driving forward with their legs; they’re moving backward and keeping the defense at bay with their hands. Every O-lineman will tell you that it’s more enjoyable to run block, and that really shows with our team.

      I don’t know if they aren’t spending as much time with pass blocking in practice or if they aren’t using the same amount of focus when doing pass blocking drills, but the drop-off has been showing in games. Granted, pass blocking is more difficult than run blocking, but the drop-off in production is much greater this year than last year, and something has to change in that area if we are going to score a lot of points on BYU. The O-line has to take more pleasure in pass blocking.

      Just look at the Navy and Miami games. How did we score all of those points? Primarily, through running the ball. Yes, we had some success with the pass in both games, but that success came after we had established the running game. I thought, against Stanford, that BK went away from the run a little too early. A few times, in the second half in particular, we got some big gains on the ground with Wood and Riddick. Then, BK would call two pass plays in a row. I’d like to see Coach Kelly really stick to the running game against BYU. If he does that, I see us scoring two touchdowns in each half, plus a field goal to give us 31 points.

      I don’t think he’s going to do that, though. I still see a lot of passing attempts. If that’s the route we take, it may be tough sledding. Realistically, I see a touchdown and a field goal in the first half for the Irish, and a field goal for the Cougars. In the second half, I think the Irish get one touchdown in the third and another early in the fourth. BYU will get one more field goal. Final score 24-6, Irish. Still a good showing, and the defense keeps another team out of the end zone.

      • nudeman - Oct 17, 2012 at 11:00 AM

        Other than the 2nd half vs. Miami BK consistently gives up on the running game too quickly

  8. dickasman - Oct 17, 2012 at 1:06 AM

    Actually, I’m ok if Rees starts this game as I think we should be able to win and take a sneak peek at Hendrix during mop up time. Guys I have news for ya, I’m not sure if golson can pass the last test even if he didn’t suffer from concussion.

  9. yaketyyacc - Oct 17, 2012 at 6:31 AM

    so what is the BYU coach telling his team? at least we will see the golden dome, touchdown Jesus, and have the privilige to “scrimmage” the no 5, and tradition laden Irish?
    OR is he telling them the Irish are ripe for the plucking. they will be looking ahead to Oklahoma, T’eo will be busy writing his Heisman speech, the defense will be flat, and the offense, with a stable of backs and quarterbacks that has Saban looking over his shoulder,will play with the usual lackluster effort, relying on the ND defense to once again save their butts? Yes, young Cougars, I see a three touchdown edge, a 6-1 for ND, a fall to reality for the Irish, and headlines that read: Irish stunned by BYU, yes BYU.

    • zorichmidriff - Oct 17, 2012 at 8:59 AM


    • ndgoldandblue - Oct 17, 2012 at 9:20 AM

      Maybe that’s what Mendenhall is telling his team, but he’s going to be in for a rude awakening if he thinks the Irish will overlook BYU. Do you really think Kelly is going to allow his team to overlook anyone? I expect the Irish to be ready and extremely fired up for this game. BYU’s offense has been below average at best and horrible at worst, and they are going up against the best defense that they will face all year. Just look at Stanford. Their offense was riding high after the Arizona game, but they certainly came back down to Earth against us. Our offense might not do much, but it will certainly be enough because our defense won’t give up double-digit points, and that’s what it’s going to take for BYU to win this game.

      • irishgal - Oct 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        Don’t forget. Manti is Mormon-and will want to really show off to the Mormon audience. He will not be shining his Heisman trophy yet. The Catholic team will really want to show up the Mormon team. I watched that BYU-OSU game and as much as I like Reilly, he is not bringing it this year.
        If Kelly puts Tommy in and utilizes Eifert I see:

        ND 27 BYU 14

      • bernhtp - Oct 17, 2012 at 1:22 PM

        The Mormon angle is interesting, and one that was asked/addressed during Kelly’s press conference.

        I think we have 4 Mormon scholarship players on the football team – Te’o, Toma, Schwenke, and Badger. BYU is more special to Mormons than Notre Dame is to Catholics because BYU is THE LDS school and also because Mormons are far more clannish due to their minority status. It’s an interesting dynamic, but I believe that we will see the best from these guys on the field this Saturday. I do expect Te’o and company to give them a big hug when the game is over, at least the ones not hospitalized from the hits he’s delivered.

  10. jimbasil - Oct 17, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    I’ve changed my thinking on BYU after sitting down and viewing their game vs OSU. They’re a much better team than their record but I don’t think they’re as strong or as talented up and down the roster as the Irish. However, they have enough talent to pull-off an upset in SB.

    Their QB has talent and if given time he can pick the Secondary apart, but then again, with enough time. I’m not sure BYU has big play ability on O but really if their QB has some time…

    I thought originally ND could run between the tackles on them, and I still thinks so to some degree but I don’t see Riddick as the guy to do it. Breaking through the line BYU tends to arm tackle, ND will need someone who can break arm tackles. I like GAIII’s chances to stretch the field and I see Toma as the guy along with Eifert in the short passing game to make the run game work for ND.

    This could be similar to the PU game for the Irish unless Golson can somehow bring his passing game up to a new level.

    • bernhtp - Oct 17, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      Jim, I agree with your assessment, but also think that ND has developed significantly since the beginning of the season. The weakness in the secondary has closed up and I expect Golson to step up his game. BYU is better than their record, but the Irish have the opportunity to dominate.

    • ndirish10 - Oct 17, 2012 at 7:02 PM

      Guys and irishgal,

      I think I figured out why GAIII keeps running into his own players. I mentioned that he might just be closing his eyes right before he hits the holes, I was definitely wrong…he is just too damn fast!!!

      Like everyone…most are saying, CWood needs to start this week to set up a great running attack. Run between the tackles, BYU will crowd, then have GAIII run a counter sweep, or fake the dive ( Ezekiel Ansah will bite), toss wide and everyone should sit back and enjoy the long, speedy TD. GO CATHOLICS!!! BEAT THOSE MORMONS!!! Wait!!!…Manti and three others are Mormon. I take that back. GO IRISH!!! BEAT THOSE COUGARS!!! ONWARD TO VICTORY!!!

  11. 1historian - Oct 17, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    1) Niklas got his butt handed to him a few times, but it was handed to him by a much older more experienced player.
    2) He’s been playing TE for 6 months – he’ll be fine.
    3) Nudie – Secretariat’s been dead for 23 years – didn’t you get the memo? (ha ha)

    But that horse surely could run

    BK looks as if he’s really settled into the job. This can just get better.

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