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Kelly details offensive plan as Denbrock and LaFleur introduced

Jan 31, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

The evolution of Brian Kelly‘s offense is coming into focus after the long-awaited introduction of offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock and new quarterback coach Matt LaFleur. The Irish head coach, fresh from coast-to-coast recruiting travels, spent some time detailing how things will run in 2014, with Chuck Martin’s departure allowing Kelly to reboot the system.

That’s not to say we’ll see something new. But rather, after working with Tommy Rees and first-time starter Everett Golson, the Irish offense might go back to the vintage Kelly variety, something we haven’t yet seen in South Bend. That’s a big reason why the head coach tabbed himself as the playcaller.

“We’re transitioning back to an offense that I feel is best suited for the personnel that we have, and I think it’s important to really get that philosophy and influence back into the offense, and I know it the best,” Kelly said.

“I think it will give everybody a great visual look at what we want this offense to look like, and I think it starts with me.  I think it’s important that if I want that offense to have the look, it’s important that I have the influence in some fashion and this is the best way to do it.”

That’s not to say that Denbrock’s promotion is one in name only. After working with Kelly as both his offensive and defensive coordinator back at Grand Valley, and after coaching tight ends, wide receivers, and temporarily helping out on the offensive line in between Ed Warinner and Harry Hiestand, Denbrock now ascends to the manager of the offense.

“He’s coached virtually all the positions for me, a great understanding of the offense that we want to run, and certainly has my trust in putting together the offense on a day-to-day basis for us,” Kelly said of Denbrock.

“He will oversee the entire offense and set the table in making sure that all of that is put together and laid out there so we can have a great Saturday in moving the ball effectively, offensively.”

On the subject of his new quarterback coach, Kelly talked about how the position group will function now that the coordinator isn’t also the position coach. That means LaFleur will run the day-to-day meetings, but Kelly won’t be too far away.

“On a day-to-day basis, Matt will be with the quarterbacks, he will be in the quarterback room,” Kelly said. “I’ll sit in the quarterback room as well, but Matt will have the autonomy of running those meetings. I will be there as a resource.”

With LaFleur tasked with quarterbacks and Denbrock organizationally in charge of game plans and installation, there’s a new look to an offense that’ll likely look and feel differently without Tommy Rees, TJ Jones and Troy Niklas.

Potentially playing a true spread for the first time, even without playcalling duties, Denbrock understands the demands of his job, and how the offense will flow with him in charge. 

“I think moving into this role I move into that seat a little bit more where with the help of a very talented offensive staff it’s my responsibility to really make sure this thing looks the way Coach Kelly wants it to look, have the menu, if you feel, available to him that he feels like he needs on Saturday for us to be successful offensively,” Denbrock said.

With the hiring of Brian VanGorder as defensive coordinator, the Irish will have a coach that just two years ago was viewed (by paycheck) as the most valuable coordinator at the college level. 

As Kelly talks of spending time in the quarterbacks meeting room and calling plays, you can’t help but feel that Kelly has turned his focus on upgrading the offense, a group that has stood between the Irish being a good team and an elite one the past few seasons.

With their most talented personnel package and Everett Golson back from exile, there’s reason to believe that both the head coach and his offensive staff are very optimistic for the future.

“With the athletes that we have we feel like we’re in a position offensively to push the tempo more and to put our playmakers in positions where they can make big plays and do the things that all of us hope our offense looks like,” Denbrock said. “One that’s dynamic and can score more points and move the football consistently.”

  1. fnc111 - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    I guarantee that ND goes 7-5 or 8-4 next season.

    • andy44teg - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:34 PM

      So back that statement up…what are you going to do if/when they do better than that??

      • mtflsmitty - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:21 PM

        Save your breath (finger tips) Andy. Last year you may recall I repeatedly offered a wager to fnc over and over again when he made similar statements. The stakes were to be eternal banishment from this site for the loser. Of course, fnc never responded to the offer. Instead he persisted in his anti-Kelly nonsense for the entire offseason. I realized after a while the guy was just trying to bait me/us. He’s a troll, and here because he gets off on irritating others. Lonely dude.

    • andy44teg - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      “You can get a pretty good look at a T-bone by stickin yer head up a bull’s a$$…but wouldn’t you rather take the butcher’s word for it?”

      • mediocrebob - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:10 PM

        Awesome, Andy!

      • 1historian - Feb 1, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        I’ll take sirloin.

      • bearcatirishfan - Feb 1, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        ” I mean you can get a really good look at a thine by sticking your head up the butcher’s a – – … Shut up Richard”

        Ha ha I love that movie.

    • ndfaithful - Feb 1, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      So, will you go away and never come back if you’re wrong?

    • danirish - Feb 1, 2014 at 6:21 PM

      Remember ;last year when you made a prediction? I was wondering if this next season’s prediction was going to be fluid and morph as the season goes on like last year. Last year you were like: “Oh, we going 6-6″ and then next week “oh we are going 7-5″ and then the hard part “Oh, Kelly doesn’t even try to beat scum (really? wtf?) we are a 6-6 team.
      “oh, we are going to be an 8 win team”
      “Oh, hope we like winning 7-9 games a year” (that is my fav!)


      Pssst – are you PaulHargis53?

    • danirish - Feb 1, 2014 at 6:22 PM

      Oh wait, I just noticed that you actually posted two records.

      In that case, I predict ND will go 12-0 or 11-1 or 10-2, or 9-3, or 8-4, or 7-5

      Ya get the picture!

  2. oldschoollyons - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    Kelly said, in other words, that he himself will, in effect, lead the offense. That is, he will design it, decide how it is run, have the bigger hand in fashioning a game plan and call the plays. Denbrock will “implement” what Kelly designs. Based on what he sees and on his own judgment, Denbrock will present Kelly with a “menu” of choices from which Kelly will choose. In short, Denbrock will be just short of what in opera is known as a “castrato.” He will have a pretty important role in the offense, but he will not nearly be the leading man.

  3. mediocrebob - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    Guarantee, huh?

  4. fnc111 - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    The head coach who said over four years ago that he had a five minute plan not a five year plan has his offense just now evolving? Wow…..

    • andy44teg - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      I think you overheard your significant other talking to her girlfriends about how you had a “5 minute gameplan” to last 4 minutes longer than your usual

    • ndfaithful - Feb 1, 2014 at 8:36 AM

      Kelly immediately improved the program. Can you come up with a 5 minute plan to disappear permanently?

  5. whodabigdog - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    Effen c. Your mom called, she wants you to to come up stairs your dinner is ready

  6. fnc111 - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    Andy, I will own up to it. I will pay everyone in here $50 each if ND goes 9-3 or better in the regular season.

    I’ve seen the same ole thing four years in a row. 2012 was no different brand of football. For once we got lucky a few times. Kelly has no offense. The defense will be similar to the 2009 team defense. Just look at how Kelly has screwed up recruiting this year. The 2014 schedule with nitwit Kelly at the helm? Good luck. 8-4 would be a big season with the way the program is heading.

    • papadec - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:28 PM

      fnc – I’d rather you spent my $50 on your kids.

    • andy44teg - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:44 PM

      Sounds like a deal to me..

    • ndfaithful - Feb 1, 2014 at 8:41 AM

      Yeah, you have a point. As usual, it is about as sharp as a bowling ball. A top ten recruiting class is such an embarrassing result. We have seen the same ol’ thing for four years too. You’re still the same ol’ idiot.

  7. fnc111 - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    Yes. Mediocre, I have zero faith in a Kelly offense. He is the same coach who allowed Farley to play all season on defense. Too many head scratching moments from this ego maniac coach.

  8. footballnut85 - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    Kelly does not have a clue. I was excited to get him four years ago but he has done nothing to upgrade this program. He loses recruits, he loses players in-house, he got exposed with the 12-0 giddiness everyone had. What has he done to awaken the echoes? Talk is cheap!

    • mediocrebob - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:18 PM

      Nothing to upgrade the program!?! You’re insane/high/both.

      If you honestly feel that way, you have absolutely no clue. I’ve read and heard quite a bit of Irish fans that aren’t big on BK and are pretty adamant about it. And they state their issues with him which at least make sense. However, your comment is completely outrageous. Either you’ve only been an Irish fan for the past 4-5 years ( if you’re an Irish fan at all) or you’ve completely forgotten the 10-15 years prior to BK. I’m not sure how anybody in their right mind could ever make that claim.

      We’re all dumber for having read your post.

    • ndfaithful - Feb 1, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      Ok, so help me understand something…
      Did you not enjoy being ranked number 1 when it happened? I did.
      Did you not enjoy it when we started winning against our biggest rival again? I did.
      Didn’t you feel the least bit ‘awakened’ when we stuffed Stanford on that goal line? Or when we pulled out the miracle against Pitt? It felt good to me.
      If you can’t get excited about playing for national championships, then you may not have a football pulse.

      I know it hasn’t been all roses. I watched the Pitt game this year too. But really? You haven’t noticed anything?

    • bogtrottin - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:31 AM

      dude, come on now. we went to the national championship game. national. championship. game. la final del campeonato nacional. if i knew how to say it in japanese, i would. if we’d have won it, you’d probably say we didn’t win by enough points.

    • bogtrottin - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:31 AM

      dude, come on now. we went to the national championship game. national. championship. game. la final del campeonato nacional. if i knew how to say it in japanese, i would. if we’d won it, you’d probably say we didn’t win by enough points.

  9. irishdog80 - Feb 1, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    An offense that can score a lot of points and a defense that puts pressure on the other team. I like the combination.

    Go Irish!

  10. 1historian - Feb 1, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    Coach K – This is your 5th season coming up (209 and a wakeup!!) all the guys on the team are your recruits, you have YOUR kind of QB be it Golson or Zaire, a stableful of running backs, some good young receivers, all your top staff members are guys you are familiar with, there’s another good recruiting class coming in, in other words:

    No excuses

    GO IRISH!!

  11. viktory2013 - Feb 1, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    The team will do well enough. Kelly is not Ara by any stretch of the imagination, but nor is he Willingham. He pretty much wins wherever he goes, and he’s won here albeit not overwhelmingly. His only mistake was an unfortunate loyalty to a few mediocre players that basically clogged up the system. I think with the nucleus and team leaders he now has in place, 2014 has a distinct possibility of a 2012 type season.

    The potential is there guys, now just need a few things to go right.

  12. danirish - Feb 1, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    If you really think about it, the O’s biggest problem was the Red Zone and yes, that’s a big problem. BUT, with a mobile qb behind center there is a whole new game – look at Golson’s plays in the Pittsburgh game – the td and the 2 point conversion.

    This offense has always been an enigma with pieces falling in and out all the time. Golson’s suspension hurt – bad! That is your red zone right there.

    Now I really don’t care who plays qb, I have no favorite but I do know that the O should improve.

    If the O-Line plays to its ability we will see a healthy dose of QBTBNL*, McDaniel, Folston, Bryant and hopefully see some youth at WR develop into legit weapons.

    * QB to be named later

  13. paulhargis53 - Feb 2, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Wow, the 2nd story I’m not involved in the comments and my name gets brought up.

    I’m touched.

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