Brian Kelly met with the media this afternoon, updating all of us on how the bye week went and his early thoughts on the 4-1 Miami Hurricanes that’ll join the Irish in Soldier Field this weekend.
It’s another prime time opportunity for the Irish to play a national opponent, and after five games, the ‘Canes look like a dangerous offensive opponent with a young and talented squad.
The whole press conference is available below, but here are a few things I found interesting.
Many wondered whether or not sophomore Chase Hounshell was being kept off the field for strategic purposes, with hopes of saving a year of eligibility. It turns out that’s a moot point now, with the sophomore set to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.
“Chase is going to get surgery this week,” Kelly said. “We’re going to shut him down for the year.”
There were rumors of a shoulder injury floating around this summer for Hounshell, but he did see time against Navy in Dublin, playing a reserve role at the end of the game.We don’t know how serious Hounshell’s injury is, but he’ll now be eligible for a medical redshirt and a fifth season at Notre Dame.
The emergence of freshman Sheldon Day, and the fact that Hounshell backs up Stephon Tuitt, have limited his ability to take a step forward this season, but this seems like a perfect situation for Hounshell. Redshirting a sophomore isn’t a crazy idea, it’s something that’s utilized at other programs, and a move the Irish coaching staff would’ve liked to do last year with Kona Schwenke.
If you’ve listened to Brian Kelly at all, you’ve heard him harp on “the process.” (He’s not alone, it’s also big with Nick Saban.) After two seasons where the W-L record didn’t reflect the progress that many felt was happening inside the Gug, Kelly was asking if he thought he was finally getting some of the results he expected.
Here are a few telling paragraphs from Kelly as he gives a status report on his team in the midst of his third season.
“Our guys have been committed to the process,” Kelly said. “It’s painstakingly slow, sometimes it’s quicker. But they’ve been committed to the process. It’s taking that and translating it to Saturdays. And this group is translating it to Saturdays, at least for the first four weeks. We’ll see what happens in week five. But they’ve done a nice job of preparing and doing the things we’ve asked them to do. We think we’re close to being consistent in that approach. We’re not ready to say that we’ve arrived. We’re still a group that has to show more consistency.
“You can’t win unless you eradicate all the things that go against it, and that is the process. It’s looking at all of the things that go into winning. If I asked you the question, what do you know about winning? Well, you score more points. Well, obviously you don’t know that there are so many factors that you have to concentrate on and the details on a day‑to‑day basis that goes to winning.
“That’s what I think people mean when they talk about the process. Making sure you have your hand those things that go directly to win it. Most of the time it’s eradicating those things that go to not winning more than anything else. So I think that’s the process.”
Kelly’s done pretty well for himself in his third season at his different head coaching stops. At Central Michigan, he won nine games and the MAC conference. At Cincinnati, he ran the gauntlet and led the Bearcats to an undefeated 12-0 record. He’s off to a good start this season, and his overall record in year three is 31-7-2 (he was 6-3-2 at Grand Valley.)
The Irish will have their second look at quarterback Stephen Morris, who came in as a reliever in the Sun Bowl and played a good game after the Irish jumped out to a 30-3 victory.
With Jacoby Harris gone, Morris is now unquestionably the leader of the Hurricanes offense, and after putting up an ACC record 566 yards, he’s thrown for a staggering 1,002 yards the last two Saturdays.
Kelly commented on the progress Morris has made since he last saw them.
“He looks like more of a veteran quarterback,” Kelly said of Morris. “He’s made big plays for them. He’s also somebody that can be on the perimeter. He can run. They’ve run him the last couple of games. Again, he’s somebody that obviously is playing really good football.”
There’s been a lot of discussion on the Irish quarterbacking depth chart and after a bye week, Everett Golson hopes to go out against Miami and get right after playing his worst game in a Notre Dame uniform. With multiple quarterbacks playing in every game so far this season, for stability’s sake, getting a good performance from Golson would do a lot to move the Irish offense forward.
Kelly was asked about his young quarterback’s confidence after a tough Saturday and a long week off, and how he keeps Golson engaged moving forward with a lot of discussion about the state of the depth chart.
“That is player development at its core,” Kelly said. “So if you’re not having conversations with them about those kinds of games or preceding the lead‑up to those games, you’re not doing your job as a coach. If you’re just going to let him sit by himself and figure it out on his own, I could just do something else. So there are constant conversations about those things. Eighteen to 21‑year‑olds sometimes don’t have answers of the questions that you may ask and I may ask.
“So it’s important that you’re communicating and working through any of those rough spots that every young player, whether he’s the quarterback or he’s the defensive back at Notre Dame, and that falls on the coaching staff.”