Kelly kicks off 2012 season

57 Comments

He already made a few waves during his radio comments last night, but Brian Kelly addressed the assembled media at Notre Dame today to discuss the start of the 2012 season. With so much still needing to play out during camp, Kelly was understandably hesitant to give too much coach-speak, but did have a few interesting comments on starting anew.

“There’s a new dynamic on our football team,” Kelly said. “There are new players that have emerged as leaders. We are certainly, from a coaching standpoint, really excited about our players. Not only as players and winning football games, but from a leadership and getting things done on a day-to-day basis.”

Let’s run through a few quick bullets before we spend the rest of the week going through these comments with a fine toothed comb.

***

Kelly mentioned that he wanted to have six scholarship cornerbacks heading into the season. On the roster he had five: Bennett Jackson, Lo Wood, Josh Atkinson, Cam McDaniel, and Jalen Brown.

Now he’s got six, with the announcement that KeiVarae Russell, recruited as a dual-threat running back, will start the season as a cornerback.

Interestingly, Kelly felt like Jackson, Wood, Atkinson, and McDaniel, another converted running back who switched to corner after Tee Shepard left Notre Dame, are out in front.

“We feel really comfortable with those four,” Kelly said. “Jalen Brown has to continue to improve and emerge for us and we’ve moved KaiVarae Russell over to the defensive side of the ball to be our sixth scholarship corner.”

***

There’s plenty to get to when we discuss quarterbacks, but someone asked Kelly how much patience he’ll have for the new starter, whoever that might be. His answer wasn’t exactly surprising.

“I don’t have any patience for that. I want it done the right way,” Kelly said, after pausing to choose his words. “We have to have a quarterback we can trust that’s going to take great care of the football and get us into the right plays. As we move forward here, it’s developing that trust with our quarterbacks. Not accepting anything less than that level of trust and taking care of the football. The starting quarterback against Navy is the guy that carries those traits with them and that we can trust he’s going to make good decisions.”

***

Lastly, freshman number assignments have been a great source of speculation. With the roster being under lock and key throughout the summer and veterans shifting jerseys as players depart, here are some number assignments that caught my eye:

No. 1 – Gunner Kiel, QB
No. 2 – Chris Brown, WR
No. 3 – Amir Carlisle, RB
No. 6 – KeiVarae Russell, CB
No. 10 – Davaris Daniels, WR
No. 15 – Justin Ferguson, WR
No. 16 – Chris Badger, S
No. 19 – Davonte Neal, WR
No. 22 – Elijah Shumate, S
No. 29 – Nicky Baratti, S
No. 31 – John Turner, S
No. 32 – Will Mahone, RB
No. 34 – C.J. Prosise, S
No. 45 – Romeo Okwara, LB
No. 61 – Scott Daly, LS
No. 75 – Mark Harrell, OL
No. 78 – Ronnie Stanley, OL

The long standing debate about how the Irish would have two offensive players wearing No. 3 was solved with the most logical solution. Neal wears No. 19, while Carlisle keeps No. 3.

***

On the subject of Amir Carlisle, Kelly delved a little deeper into the talented USC transfer who plans on inserting himself right into a crowded race at running back.

“I think if you take what he did at USC as a true freshman, and now his summer workouts, he’s an explosive players,” Kelly said. “He’s someone that can get big chunk plays at the position. A kid that wants to be the best. He’s got a great make-up and a desire to want to be ‘the guy.’ You love that when you’ve got a number of really good players at the position and he’s not discouraged one bit that he’s going to come in and be the guy. You like that kind of confidence. He has that kind of confidence in his ability and he’s got a great burst.”

I think I’ve been pretty open about my excitement for Carlisle. Even though he missed spring practice with a broken ankle and still isn’t 100 percent, I fully expect him to be a difference maker in this offense, as evident by the No. 12 ranking I gave him individually in my Top 25.