If you expected head coach Brian Kelly to be excited about Notre Dame jumping into both the AP and Coaches Poll at No. 22, you might be disappointed. When asked if it was something he paid attention to, Notre Dame’s head coach was pretty succinct.
“White noise,” Kelly said. “White noise.”
With in-state rival Purdue set to come to South Bend on Saturday, Kelly had his usual Tuesday press conference where he updated media members on the status of the Irish and also shed some light on what’s going to happen at the quarterback position now that Tommy Rees is eligible to work his way back into the rotation.
Here’s the entire 33 minutes, courtesy of UND.com. If you don’t have time to watch that, I’ll cherry pick a few sections I found interesting.
While both Carlo Calabrese and Tommy Rees were suspended for the opening game of the 2012 season, only Rees was exiled to taking individual reps during their time off. The logic behind it was obvious, considering the Irish staff needed to let Everett Golson battle Andrew Hendrix for the starting job, and give them both the necessary reps to beat Navy.
But with Golson now comfortably holding onto the starter’s job, the battle for No. 2 starts in earnest, with Rees now needing to get caught up on the field.
“I think both of them have to get some work, but Tommy probably needs the most work at this time,” Kelly said of his junior back-ups. “Both those guys will share reps. But it will be, for me, more about making sure that we get Tommy up to a level where he can be sharp if he’s in a position where he had to go into the game, and I don’t know if he’s got enough work yet.”
Kelly hasn’t made the decision on who would go into the game if Golson went down, but after watching Hendrix against Navy — where he put up decent numbers with 4 of 5 passing, but immediately pulled the ball down and ran at the first sign of trouble — Rees likely is the best choice if push came to shove. (After all, he did beat Purdue soundly last season.)
Kelly was pretty complimentary of the work Rees has done this fall when he’s been relegated to the sidelines and an advisory role to Golson, his fall camp roommate.
“Tommy is a very valuable player to our program,” Kelly said. He’s got a lot of experience and we are happy to have him.
“He’s a young man who really handled himself very well in a very tough set of circumstances. I think we all know that. He was a great teammate, that’s all I would tell you. He was a great teammate. He handled himself the right way.”
After stepping in a steaming pile of backlash with his field turf comments and previously speaking about needed to help make the home game atmosphere better at Notre Dame Stadium, Kelly deftly sidestepped any more trouble when given the opportunity to make additional suggestions for helping to make the home field a louder, more hostile, place.
“No way. No way,” Kelly said with a chuckle. “I think it’s up to me to provide a better atmosphere in that stadium. We win games, it will be nice and loud.”
There were a lot of concerns over the coverage the Irish secondary displayed when chasing down Navy wide receivers. When asked to comment on the play of Bennett Jackson and the secondary in general, Kelly helped explain the difficulty that comes along with playing a team like Navy.
“It’s hard because you’re defending man-to-man essentially on double and triple moves,” Kelly said. “So you look like a center fielder that’s had to back up looking for a baseball. It’s hard because you’re not in your back pedal, it’s not as structured.”
Kelly said everybody played disciplined for the most part and that freshman KeiVarae Russell slipped while in press coverage, leading to one of Navy’s long receptions.
While CBS might have whiffed on a few talking points during last Saturday’s broadcast, they brought up a really interesting tidbit when talking about Golson. In an effort to get his young quarterback to grasp the enormity of being the starting quarterback for Notre Dame, Brian Kelly pulled out the Heisman Trophy acceptance speech of Robert Griffin III.
“What I talked about was that playing the quarterback position at Notre Dame is more than what you do on the field,” Kelly said. “I used Robert Griffin as a great example as an ambassador of college football and I said, listen all you have to do is look at his Heisman acceptance speech and how he was able to articulate his experience and how it was more than just playing the game.”
Here’s a brief snippet of Griffin’s acceptance speech. Pretty moving stuff.
“This moment is unbelievably believable,” Griffith said during his acceptance speech. “It’s unbelievable, because in the moment, we’re all amazed when great things happen. But it’s believable because great things don’t happen without hard work. The great coach Art Briles said, ‘Great things don’t come without great effort,’ and we’ve certainly worked for this.
“That’s why everybody associated with Baylor University has a reason to celebrate tonight. I’d like to thank my teammates. As we say, the hotter the heat, the harder the steel. No pressure, no diamonds. We compete, we win. We are Baylor. Baylor we are and Baylor we’ll always be. But it’s up to us to define what that means. And this Heisman Trophy is only the beginning of this process.”
Great, concise words by one of college football’s best players of recent memory.