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Tuesdays with BK: Temple edition

Aug 27, 2013, 7:26 PM EDT

Kona Schwenke

Brian Kelly started his weekly game press conferences today with 45 minutes of discussing Temple, the week one depth chart, and the state of the Irish heading into Saturday afternoon.

You can catch the entire press conference below, but let’s pull out the highlighter and cover some of the interesting stuff:


It seems as if Kona Schwenke looking good on practice report videos wasn’t just clever editing. The senior defensive lineman should turn into a versatile, important piece of the defensive front, especially with the injury to Tony Springmann.

From the sounds of it, Schwenke will be more than just Louis Nix’s back-up at nose guard.

“I think right now Kona has some flexibility where he could play some four and five technique for us,” Kelly said.  “So I think you’ve got some flexibility.  We think Tyler Stockton can come in and get some plays for us.  You could obviously put that math together and figure that third rotation could be Tyler Stockton with Kona playing a little bit, as well.”

More to that point, Kelly singled out Schwenke’s work over the summer as some of the most impressive on the team. It comes at a good time as well, with Schwenke able to spell Nix in the middle but quick enough to play out on the edge of the front.

“I think defensively Kona Schwenke has been a different player in the spring than he is right now,” Kelly said.  “He’s going to play a lot of football.  He could play for a lot of teams and make an impact.”

It might feel like crying over spilt milk right now, but Irish fans can think back to the Purdue game two seasons ago when Schwenke was forced into the game to take limited reps because of the lack of depth up front when Stephon Tuitt was suspended. If it were up to Kelly, Schwenke would’ve sat out that season, saving a year of eligibility, which would look pretty good with Nix all but guaranteed to leave school after he graduates and head into the NFL Draft.

Still, this should be a big year for Schwenke, who still looks like a great developmental find for this staff, who plucked a 230-pound Hawaiian out of obscurity and turned him into a defensive tackle that would’ve started on just about every team but the last few.


The opening game each season comes with some surprises, especially when opponents are transitioning coaching staffs. That’s certainly the case for Temple, where head coach Matt Rhule came from the NFL and defensive coordinator Phil Snow came from Eastern Michigan.

Kelly talked about that challenge and how his team prepped for the unexpected.

“I think I know more about Eastern Michigan’s defense than I do anybody else,” Kelly said. “Coach Snow, who’s their defensive coordinator, was at Eastern Michigan last year, and I found myself talking in terms of what Eastern Michigan was doing, and clearly obviously that’s not their talent pool.  They’ve got Temple players.

“So there’s that unknown… Obviously with a new quarterback, a new offensive coordinator who comes from Tennessee Chattanooga, there’s so many different variables that go into the opener first of all.  Now add a new staff, a new head coach.  So we have to be on guard, and from our standpoint we’ve got to take care of what we do.”

In his latest post at the Philadelphia Inquirer, John Mitchell mentioned that the Temple offense should look an awful lot like the New York Giants attack if things are working properly. They’re shy of Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, but it’s just another part of the difficulty that comes with scouting an opponent with transition in the coaching ranks.


More than a few people wonder about the status of the relationship between head coach and starting quarterback. It hasn’t always been duckies and bunnies between Kelly and Tommy Rees, but it sure sounds like the head coach is in the quarterback’s corner when it comes to unequivocally stating that the offense is going to be more productive this year than last.

“You know, I mean, I’ve been doing it a long time,” Kelly said. “I mean, I don’t throw bouquets out unless I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I know.  Tommy Rees is going to help us score more points than we did last year, and our offensive line and our running backs and our balance at the wide receiver position is going to allow us.  He’s making good decisions.  He’s showing some escapability.”

While most people seem to subscribe to the mantra of “As Tommy Rees goes, so goes the Irish offense,” Kelly doesn’t quite feel that way. Mostly because of improved personnel that might not be as star-heavy as seasons past, but certainly is the most complete since Kelly arrived in South Bend.

“It’s not just going to be him,” Kelly said. “We can threaten you over the top.  We can push the ball over your head.  If you want to drop down on us, we’ve got some weapons that can beat you one‑on‑one, and we’ve got a quarterback that can see that and throw the ball to you.  We struggled with doing that at times last year.  We won’t struggle doing that this year.”


  1. dickasman - Aug 27, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    50-0 win please. Thank you.

    • ndnphx - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:18 PM

      Amen. We need Temple to be chum and get everybody’s gills flapping for the Big House…

      • NotreDan - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:57 PM

        I didn’t know there were sharks in phx

  2. wisner74 - Aug 27, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    I’ve always liked Kona Schwenke as a player. A really decent second-teamer who has played well. But I have always loved his hair AND his name. I’m delighted to hear that Kona Schwenke is improving and will be a big contributor this year. I cannot hear the name Kona Schwenke enough! Very cool.

    • seadomer - Aug 27, 2013 at 8:11 PM

      I think I know what you mean …. sounds like a really great blend of exotic coffee bean … fragrant, woodsy and invigorating finish without any harshness

      • ndgoldandblue - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:19 PM


  3. NotreDan - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    Damn. I hope the boys deliver up to CBK’s optimism here.

    Is it Saturday yet?

  4. ndnphx - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    Sand sharks, NotreDan.

    Seriously, we haven’t really blown anybody that matters out in the BK era, except for maybe Miami last year. I would like to see us absolutely squish somebody and set a tone for the year. Hoping!

  5. mediocrebob - Aug 28, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    Oklahoma in Norman?

    • dillonbigred - Aug 28, 2013 at 8:36 AM

      A 17 point win is nice, but the game was tied with less than 6 minutes to go. Without Manti’s interception, that might have been a different outcome.

  6. bswelly - Aug 28, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    duckies and bunnies?

  7. jem5b - Aug 28, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    seashells and balloons.
    waffles and ice cream

  8. 1historian - Aug 28, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Perhaps the most stinging comment to emerge from last January’s debacle was that from an Alabama lineman who called ND “simple.” He explained that he didn’t mean to insult ND but that they were “easy to figure out” and “uncomplicated”.

    I do not know the name of the lineman who made that comment but I do think that it is worth thinking about.

    Think about the look on Kelly’s face at HALFTIME of the game -he knew we were in way over our heads. IMO we were there a year too soon, but if every other team has at least 1 loss and ND is 12-0 – whatchagonnado?

    If we learned 1 lesson from that debacle it is this – we learned what it takes to win it all. 2 out of Notre Dame’s last 3 Championships have come following a season in which they (WE) were given a serious butt-kicking in the season ending Bowl game the year before.

    Does this team have the stuff to go all the way? IMO the answer is yes.

    • tedlinko - Aug 31, 2013 at 5:15 AM

      The player who made the comment was Barrett Jones. I agree with you that I feel good about this year’s team. Talent and depth is improved, and Kelly and Co have shown the capacity to learn from past failures.

  9. Hakuna Budi - Aug 28, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    The key to the QB play this year can be summed up with two words: “red zone” – and here’s where I think even last year Tommy showed he could pull it together.

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