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Kelly breaks down training camp

Jul 30, 2013, 12:04 PM EDT

Brian Kelly BCS

With Brian Kelly meeting the media in just a few days, our friends at Fighting Irish Digital Media got a head start, posting a great interview with Jack Nolan talking with the Irish head coach on the state of the program.

I’ll post the video below, but here are a few bullet points that I found interesting.

* Strength & Conditioning: It’s been fun to watch Notre Dame be the team that gets better as the game/season goes on as opposed to the team that wilts down the stretch. It wasn’t too long ago when the Irish had one of the ugliest November records you could imagine (it’s probably the main reason Charlie Weis was shown the door).

Kelly talks briefly about how strength and conditioning have made a big difference, entering the fourth year of Paul Longo’s training program. That difference should be seen up front along the offensive line, where fifth year players Zack Martin and Chris Watt are joined by fourth year veteran Christian Lombard, while the “youngsters” likely joining the starting lineup, Nick Martin and Conor Hanratty, each have spent multiple years in the training program. (A pleasant reminder that this program has come a long way since 2007…)

* Replacing Leaders and Contributors: Nolan wouldn’t have been doing his job if he didn’t ask Kelly about the unenviable task of replacing a transcendent player like Manti Te’o or a great leader like Kapron Lewis-Moore on defense. But Kelly rightly pointed to the fact that while the program will miss both players, they’ll also have ten guys returning that started at least two games for a defense that finally took the leap from good to great.

“You’ve got a group of players coming back that understand how to play championship defense,” Kelly said. “We couldn’t talk in those terms before.”

On offense, Kelly talked about the challenges of replacing an offense that looked to Tyler Eifert to carry the load in the passing game and Theo Riddick (with a smattering of Cierre Wood) on the ground. While the offensive philosophy with Everett Golson was basically to find single coverage with Eifert and throw him the ball, Kelly talked about the evolutionary step this offense will take and how it will use camp to “(fit) players to where they can help us the most.”

“We really love the players we have,” Kelly told “Camp will be sorting out who is the playmaker and how we can get them the football.”

* Staff Continuity: Only in the rearview mirror will most be able to appreciate the staff that Kelly has put together. A few years down the line, we’ll likely see both Bob Diaco and Chuck Martin running their own college programs and guys like Mike Elston and Tony Alford on track to lead their own as well.

That Kelly has built a staff that seamlessly preaches the same message, has wonderful camaraderie, and is relentless on the recruiting trail is a credit to a head coach that took a lot of heat for bringing in a staff that he trusted, not one with national visibility.


  1. dudeacow - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    Ultimate optimist viewpoint:

    Defense will be better, and so will the offense with Rees at the helm. The 2011 offense(with Tommy) was better than 2012’s offense(with Golson), and since Tommy is a senior, he will drastically cut down on his turnovers. Offense will score 36+ per game, defense will allow 9- points per game, and ND will go 12-0 and return to the title game.

    At least that’s how I’m choosing to look at things.

  2. bb90grad - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Glad he said “understand how to play” championship defense. 42 points was not actually doing it.

    Agree that half full is better than half empty.

  3. bearcatirishfan - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    At least it’s the first camp where tommy won’t have to share first team reps, this could help??

    • irishpuma - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:36 PM

      He has always had to share reps because he is not that good.

  4. fnc111 - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Just saw Kelly on campus. He was very nice. Maybe I should stop bashing him.

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      you should have totally told him exactly what you think of him as you do on this site.

      he might have really taken it to heart…

      then again, he might have told you to “piss off crapbag.”

  5. fnc111 - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    This team doesn’t have a punter or a QB. That scares me into thinking 6-6.

    • bearcatirishfan - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:23 PM

      Well that’s and improvement as last week Tim Curry in the movie IT scared you into 5-7.

  6. 25kgold - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    South Bend Don’t Break

  7. irishdog80 - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    The key to good teams in any sport is that the players trust each other and have each other’s back. If this team is to realize it’s full potential… especially on offense… Kelly, Martin and Rees or any QB have to trust the options they have on offense. They can’t just lock in on one or two players. This must be a true spread attack with the “open” player getting the ball not just the guys that they “trust” Trust is built by giving players the chance to show what they have even if it means they might mess up some of the time. With increased opportunity, the young playmakers on our offense will only get better and be ready to make plays when it really counts. We know our defense will have the offense’s back that will lead to short fields and plenty of opportunities for the offense.

    I have a feeling that the camp at Shiloh Park will go a long way towards building the trust and team unity that this team needs to reach it’s full potential.

    Go Irish!

    • bernhtp - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:58 PM

      Kelly trusted Tommy at the end of the Tulsa game. To quote the Raven, nevermore, nevermore.

      • wisner74 - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:24 PM

        Bern, wasn’t Rees a freshman then? Give him a break, man. As I recall it, Kelly took the heat for that, saying that he called the pass into the end zone, when the Irish were in reasonable field goal range. I always thought that wasn’t true, which told me two things. First, that Kelly was a stand-up guy who would protect his players when necessary, and that that boded well for the future. Second, it told me that Kelly had enough confidence in the ability of a true freshman to read the situation at the line of scrimmage that he gave Rees the ability to check into that play (which, of course, was a mistake given the overall game situation) when he saw that he had Floyd in a one-on-one. It cost the Irish a game they should have won, but it should give us a bit of hope for this fall. Kelly has made his living, which now includes a seven-figure annual salary, making those kind of judgments and he has a proven track record that he knows what he is doing. I’m going with him on TR’s ability, man, not yours and E.A.Poe’s.

      • bernhtp - Jul 31, 2013 at 7:41 AM

        Of course Rees was a freshman and Kelly was largely responsible, but the purpose of my intentionally provocative post was to rethink the whole notion of trust. After becoming Tommy Turnover, the number of Rees passes up the middle of the field became very rare, which contributed to making the offense very one dimensional and easily defended, especially by very good defenses. For this to change, Rees must get better and earn the trust.

        I think that Rees will be helped by a slightly improved oline and potentially more explosiveness at the RB and slot positions, assuming that Carlisle stays healthy, GA3 develops, and Bryant lives up to the hype.

      • ndadvocate - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:09 AM

        You guys are all missing the point! Tommy made the perfect check at the line of scrimmage. If you have Michael Floyd one-on-one with anyone than you take it. The issue is that he can make the perfect read and just not have the arm strength or the accuracy to throw a decent pass! There is no upside with this kid.

      • jeremyericnimtz - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:40 AM

        This is why Tommy scares me. I’m sure he will make better decisions this year, but does he have the arm strength and accuracy to thread the ball over the linebackers and under the safeties in the middle of the field. Failing this, I don’t see how the offense improves all that much.

      • irishdog80 - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:43 AM

        The Tulsa game was certainly a low point for Irish football on many levels. That said, the Irish went on to win the last four games of the season including the beat down of Miami in the Sun Bowl. I was also at the Utah game the following week with my two sons and that was the best game of the year for Notre Dame for many reasons… very cathartic given all of the negativity surrounding the program at that time. Maybe the turnaround started when “trust” was shown in the players by Kelly? A win over USC at USC and a bowl victory to finish the season with Rees at the helm.

        Go Irish!

  8. irishpuma - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    The TR apologist strikes again. Talk about distorting a whole number of facts. You have no idea if that is in fact the play Kelly called but lets go wtih your story. A terrible check by TR with no concept of the game situation then that is what you are going with??? That bodes real well. lol

    I know I know he was a freshman but even Freshman know game situations a FG wins that game. Ask Johnny Football.

    Kelly going with him has nothing to do with his ability nor a vote of confidence. He is simply all Kelly has at the moment and BK is making the best choice he has as he is unwilling to go all in with Malik until Tommy collapses.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      You want to win an argument on the comment boards and you support your theory with Johnny Football references?


      • irishpuma - Jul 31, 2013 at 12:11 AM

        was a joke douche….read deeper….I am saying even johnny football has better game sense as freshman, more than the genius of TR……geez everyone so serious.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jul 31, 2013 at 1:26 PM

        mine was also a joke “douche”…it was a cheap shot at Johnny Football, not you…I can’t stand that little bieber-like sportslebrity….having been on these boards for more than a year now, i figured you wouldn’t be taking ME so seriously.

        Guess sarcasm and tone of voice don’t play well on message boards. Slang terms, however, do play well. Despite being called a gentle shower of water, I “read deeper” and understood your true intent.

        Stay classy!

    • wisner74 - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:31 PM

      Yes, puma, what I believe is that BK had enough confidence in TR’s intelligence, moxie and game-sense as a true freshman to allow him to check into a play at the line of scrimmage for Floyd when he saw that he had Floyd in one-on-one coverage. I also believe that Rees made the type of mistake there that a freshman QB might make. He saw that he had Floyd in single coverage and went with it, when it would have been better to play it safe and set up the game-winning field goal.

      I also thing that BK took the heat himself for that mistake because he is a stand-up guy and knew that TR needed some cover.

      My point is that Rees should have even more intelligence, moxie and game sense as a senior than he had as a freshman. To me, that means that he will be much more of an asset to the Irish this fall than a detriment.

      • bernhtp - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:12 AM

        I agree. Kelly wanted Rees to take the single coverage on Floyd. If Rees makes a reasonably good pass, it’s TD, incomplete or PI. He expects his QB to make that throw, even a freshman QB. He wanted to increase the chance of winning the game, which was around 60-70% if he left it as around a 40 yard FG.

        The second-guessers would have also taken their shots had Kelly run it up the gut a couple of times for little gain and then missed the 37 yard field goal. You generally like your chances with an athlete like Floyd in single coverage.

        I wasn’t as critical of Kelly for that call/game as most people were.

  9. irishpuma - Jul 31, 2013 at 12:16 AM

    Wisner I agree with you he should have more sense as a senior. I just don’t know if that is going to equate to anything with his lack of other attributes. We shall see. Makes for great debate =)

    As for BK I don’t share the opinion that he is a stand up guy and I believe he made the call to go for the jugular. If you remember his first few years which i know you do. He made a lot of game management bad calls and was written up about it all over the place. But fair take if your scenario is true.

    PS He never covered Golson like that, he threw him under the bus repeatedly.

    • wisner74 - Jul 31, 2013 at 1:01 AM

      I absolutely remember Kelly making some very questionable game management calls in the first year or two, including passing up a field goal just before half in ’10 when Crist was hurt and instead going for a TD with Nate Montana at QB. He needed to take the easy three, and at the end of the game he would have only needed another field goal to win it. Instead, he needed a TD, and the Irish lost.

      I give him credit for recognizing that he doesn’t need to play that kind of gunslinger football at ND to generate fan interest. He doesn’t make that kind of hyper-aggressive decision anymore.

      I have no proof that Rees actually made that call and that BK covered for him. It just always seemed that way to me.

      Maybe he’s thrown Golson under the bus; I can’t recall. But it does seem to me that all of ’12 was designed to spoon-feed the kid so he’d be ready this year. And that all blew up BK’s face thanks to Golson’s bad decisions.

      • irishpuma - Jul 31, 2013 at 2:00 AM

        true on that It was a dumbed down offense which is why I insist it could work again with a very similar athlete who is smarter. (Allegedly)

        Your finally coming around lol. I think we all agree Zaire is the only real option past this year as you can not count on Golson to return. You may be right about TR, you know I don’t think so =) but my point all along is we might as well just suck it up now and start forging our future in the fire right now and we would still have Rees the closer.

  10. gtizzo - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    I can’t wait for the start of the season. ND can make all those ND haters out there eat there words one more time.

  11. irishdog80 - Jul 31, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    I am not a big fan of Tommy Rees, but he could have a break out year… for him… and that could be good enough with our defense. He could be our Trent Dilfer. Quarterbacks do tend to get better with age and additional experience, maybe Rees will put it all together and be just fast enough to score against Stanford instead of moving at the speed of a 400 pound lineman and have enough arm strength and decision making ability to run a true spread offense that takes advantage of all the weapons ND has. That said, I have to believe that Malik Zaire could match what Golson did last year and what would be wrong with that?

    • nudeman - Jul 31, 2013 at 12:54 PM

      The hype on Zaire is getting out of hand.
      He’s 18, just 2 months removed from HS. Starting him against Temple is one thing. Starting him week 2 in Ann Arbor would be insane.

      Rees is the QB, as he should be.

      • irishdog80 - Jul 31, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        I agree that Rees deserves the opportunity to start until proven otherwise. Kelly needs to play Zaire in the Temple game if it becomes a rout like I expect. If that happens, Zaire should be given plenty of opportunities to “make plays” not just run the offense.

      • wisner74 - Jul 31, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        Nude – I agree with you that there is too much wishful thinking about Zaire. If BK thought MZ had even a small chance to be ready to play, he would not officially anointed Rees as starter.

      • irishdog80 - Jul 31, 2013 at 4:22 PM

        At this point, it can only be “hype” for Zaire since he has not played a single down of regular season college football.

        Rees is the starter and deserves to be the starter for 3 reasons:

        1. Rees is a Senior with plenty of game experience and success despite his shortcomings.
        2. Rees is recognized as a leader by most of his teammates.
        3. Zaire is a freshman and Hendrix has not shown enough to be considered the starter.

        What speaks volumes is that given the above, Kelly, at first, said it was an open competition for the starting QB position after Golson had to leave. He changed course likely after Rees and possibly the senior leadership made the case for Rees. If Rees was clearly the “best” QB, Kelly would have immediately said Rees is the starter. He didn’t largely due to the “hype” around Zaire… Eliite 11 QB, offers from Bama and Ohio State among others and Zaire’s performance during the spring.

        I do not question that Rees has earned the opportunity and I would like nothing more than for him to lead ND to a 12-0 season and BCS victory. We shall see.

  12. 1historian - Jul 31, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Dog – your 1:34. If the Temple game becomes a rout (in our favor no matter what Bill Cosby says) then put in Hendrix.

    • irishdog80 - Jul 31, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      Play them both, though I believe Hendrix’s best option is to save it for a 5th year at whatever school he goes to for med school… take a light first semester if possible. We may need him to burn his last season of eligibility. Touch is the toughest skill for a QB to learn and Hendrix lacks touch. He probably clanks most shots off the rim in basketball too. He also has happy feet in the pocket and will gun the ball into trouble. Good kid and nice third option for the team that most teams would love to have.

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