Skip to content

For Notre Dame, battle with Michigan filled with familiarity

Sep 2, 2014, 7:56 PM EDT

There will be no secrets between Notre Dame and Michigan Saturday night. Entering the fourth matchup between these two coaching staffs, even a game featuring three new coordinators won’t likely bring any true surprises.

“I think we all know the kind of game that we’re going to play here with this opponent,” Kelly said on Tuesday. “Each team knows each other very well.”

So while Pat Fitzgerald takes the Cal bloggers and beat writers to task for not divulging the Bears’ secret plans for a second quarterback, the formula seems quite obvious for both teams.

For the Irish, it means finding a solution to quarterback Devin Gardner and his tight end turned wide receiver Devin Funchess, who connected for three touchdowns last week.

“We’re playing an offense with Gardner and Funchess, a 1‑2 combination that is very dynamic,” Kelly said. “Funchess being on the perimeter is the a matchup problem, and he will be a matchup problem for everybody he plays this year. We will have to find ways obviously to slow him down, and he’s going to be difficult, and Gardner has played great against us. “

Calling Gardner’s play in 2013 great might be an understatement, especially after the Michigan quarterback almost single-handedly dismantled the Irish defense, throwing for four touchdowns while leading the Wolverines in rushing in their 41-30 win.

With Brian VanGorder presenting a much different scheme than Bob Diaco, Kelly talked briefly about the need to slow down Gardner. A week after scheming to keep Rice quarterback Driphus Jackson in the pocket to lessen his threat running the football, VanGorder will need to dial something up tactically different than the Irish’s game plan in 2013, as Kelly acknowledged the multiple ways that the senior quarterback can hurt Notre Dame.

“I would think we would have a little bit more and a variety of schemes for Gardner because he can hurt you obviously running the football and throwing the football,” Kelly said.  “We’re going to have to have a comprehensive plan for him.”

Whether that comprehensive plan includes players like KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams still remains to be seen. Kelly had no update on the five suspended players on Tuesday morning, with the status quo still all we’re told.

That means the Irish are not only practicing without the five suspended players, but also meeting without them, a decision that could change depending on the timetable for any discipline according to Kelly. But mental reps this week — especially with VanGorder likely heavily scheming to take advantage of a susceptible offensive line — are at a premium, and if Russell or Williams is expected to play this weekend, understanding their responsibilities will be key.

So will shoring up any other communication issues. While the game Notre Dame played last week was remarkably clean for an opener, a few communication breakdowns in the secondary turned into big plays for Rice, with the Irish head coach tabbing poor communication for three explosive plays.

The remedy for that has been sought not just on the practice field, but in the meeting rooms as well.

“We have to be more demonstrative and take more control back there,” Kelly said. “We aren’t standing back there like we are during practice, and I think Coach VanGorder, if you were here at our meetings yesterday, made it clear during the meetings how he wants those guys to communicate.

“I was in the quarterback meeting room and I could hear our safeties communicating very well during film study.”

The storylines are plentiful this week, but Kelly did his best to make sure he wasn’t one of them, begging out of a question that asked if there was any upside that comes with the Michigan series ending.

With a huge weekend on tap both on the field and off the field in recruiting, perhaps the only thing controversial Kelly did was select his plaid sport coat, the spoils of victory from a summer golf tournament among old coaching friends.

 

 

Latest Posts
  1. Can Notre Dame kill Pac-12’s playoff chances?

    Oct 21, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT

    After eight weeks, the forecast for the first College Football Playoff is coming into focus. After falling to Florida State last weekend, the Irish lost pole position. But as a one-loss team now likely competing for one of the final spots in the four-team event, Notre Dame remains one of the top dark horse candidates.

  2. Bye week breather: Brighter days ahead

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT

    Will Fuller, P.J. Williams Will Fuller, P.J. Williams

    At this point, it doesn’t matter that the ACC has reversed course, deciding that the pass interference penalty was on C.J. Prosise after all. And that they’ve acknowledged that the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty they missed for P.J. Williams removing his helmet should’ve set up Notre Dame with a 1st-and-goal at the 9-yard line.

    We’re moving on. (I promise.)

  3. The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. Florida State

    Oct 20, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    Notre Dame at Florida State Notre Dame at Florida State

    Usually, Brian Kelly gives his team 24 hours to celebrate a win or get over a loss. That rule was likely tested — and you couldn’t blame him if it was slightly relaxed — after Saturday night’s 31-27 loss.

    “We need to give our kids a break. They’ve been going since June,” Kelly said on Sunday. “Our first bye week we kept them here to stay on top of their academics. We’re going to give them a little time off. But we’ll come back recharged, ready to go.”

  4. Kelly: Less clarity on FSU’s “blown coverage”

    Oct 19, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    Notre Dame at Florida State Notre Dame at Florida State

    Upon second inspection, Brian Kelly hasn’t gained any clarity on the offensive pass interference call that took a game-winning touchdown off the board. While the head coach has moved on, with the Irish getting some much-needed time off during fall break, Kelly’s opinion on the play — now that he’s realized the penalty was on Will Fuller, not C.J. Prosise — is even more muddled.

  5. Five things we learned: Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:37 AM EDT

    Jameis Winston,Everett Golson Jameis Winston,Everett Golson

    With 13 seconds left, Corey Robinson caught the 4th-down pass from Everett Golson and walked into the end zone, all but uncovered. And for a moment, it looked like Notre Dame pulled off a win for the ages.

  6. Live blog — Notre Dame vs. Florida State

    Oct 18, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    William Fuller, Julian Whigham, Durell Eskridge William Fuller, Julian Whigham, Durell Eskridge

    It’s finally here. Not just the biggest game of the year, but the ultimate test for this Notre Dame football team. Entering Doak Campbell Stadium against the defending national champs and Heisman Trophy winner, we’ll see if the Irish have what it takes to upset the Seminoles.

  7. FSU Mailbag: Just in time

    Oct 18, 2014, 6:08 PM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

    With the big showdown just a few hours away, let’s get to the mailbag questions.

  8. Pregame Six Pack: Showdown with the Seminoles

    Oct 17, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    It wasn’t too long ago that an undefeated Notre Dame team was about to head into some of the most hostile territory in all of college football. A double-digit underdog for a primetime, ESPN game, many expected Brian Kelly’s flawed, but surprisingly undefeated squad to be no match for their opponent. Then the Irish pulled away in a tight game and beat Oklahoma 30-13.

  9. Hardy could return to practice after bye week

    Oct 16, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Navy v Notre Dame Getty Images

    We’ve heard from four of the five suspended Notre Dame football players, with DaVaris Daniels, Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams all acknowledging that they’re out for the season. But Brian Kelly gave an update on safety Eilar Hardy’s status, opening a window for his return to the roster.

  10. Irish add Indianapolis LB recruit Asmar Bilal

    Oct 16, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

    247Sports.com / Blue & Gold 247Sports.com / Blue & Gold

    Notre Dame’s recruiting train keeps rolling with the Irish accepting the commitment of Indianapolis linebacker Asmar Bilal. The Ben Davis product chose Notre Dame over Michigan in a recruitment that seemed to have the Wolverines in the driver’s seat until the football season started.

  11. Golson set to challenge Seminole defense

    Oct 16, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

    Stanford v Notre Dame Getty Images

    It’s clear that Florida State’s defense is showing the appropriate respect for Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Just look at who they’re comparing him to.

  12. Florida State Mailbag: Now Open

    Oct 15, 2014, 7:46 PM EDT

    New Mailbox

    Questions below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  13. Kendall Moore announces his departure from Notre Dame

    Oct 15, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT

    Notre Dame v Stanford Notre Dame v Stanford

    As expected, Kendall Moore took to Instagram yesterday and announced his departure from Notre Dame. The fifth-year linebacker was likely to play a reserve role for the Irish this season before the academic investigation took him off the field, ending his football career before his final season could start.

  14. And in that corner… The Florida State Seminoles

    Oct 15, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT

    Wake Forest v Florida State Getty Images

    The off-field drama can wait. The biggest game of the year awaits. Ben Jones of Warchant.com gives us an inside look at the Florida State Seminoles.

  15. Kelly excited for the opportunity to play Florida State (VIDEO)

    Oct 14, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    North Carolina v Notre Dame Getty Images

    While off-the-field issues have stolen plenty of headlines lately for both programs, Notre Dame and Florida State meet in a battle of Top Five teams that has the makings of a game of the year candidate.

  16. Door potentially open for Ishaq Williams to return in 2015

    Oct 14, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT

    USC v Notre Dame Getty Images

    While the news of DaVaris Daniels’ departure broke just minutes before Brian Kelly was set to hit the podium, the Irish head coach gave a significant update on his five suspended players during his Tuesday afternoon comments. Defensive end Ishaq Williams told his head coach that he wouldn’t play during the 2014 season. But Kelly left the door open that Williams might return and finish his eligibility in 2015.

  17. DaVaris Daniels done at Notre Dame

    Oct 14, 2014, 12:40 PM EDT

    BYU v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Another piece of finality has arrived in the ongoing suspensions of Notre Dame’s five football players. Wide receiver DaVaris Daniels will not return to Notre Dame.

  18. Big test ahead for Irish offensive line

    Oct 14, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT

    Notre Dame v Syracuse Notre Dame v Syracuse

    After an early-season reshuffling, Notre Dame’s offensive line will get its biggest test of the year on Saturday. The starting five in charge of protecting Everett Golson will have to go into hostile territory and take on Florida State’s star-studded defensive line.

  19. Despite the distractions, Winston plans to play against Notre Dame

    Oct 13, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Wake Forest v Florida State Getty Images

    Amidst a university disciplinary hearing and two damning media reports from Fox Sports and the New York Times, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has no intention of doing anything but playing football next weekend. The returning Heisman Trophy winner might have storm clouds surrounding him, but he says he’ll be on the field in Doak Campbell Stadium next weekend.

  20. The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. North Carolina

    Oct 13, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT

    North Carolina v Notre Dame Getty Images

    That the Irish took the Tar Heels’ best shot and still ended up victorious is worth something. Just what that something is might be defined as the games roll on.