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, and the Irish are 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.
“I have less clarity. I guess it was actually called on Will Fuller, not C.J. Just adds more uncertainty as to the final play,” Kelly said Sunday, during his weekly teleconference. “Again, the play itself in terms of what we ask our kids to do, it was pretty clear what happened on the play. Florida State blew the coverage and they got rewarded for it. So it’s unfortunate.”
If you’re looking for a stronger statement by Kelly, you won’t likely find one. (It’s also my opinion of the play from last night.)
At this point, it all feels relatively meaningless in the final equation, though just about everybody on the internet, and certainly in the broadcast booth, thought the penalty was on Prosise, who was actively engaged with his defender from the snap.
Kelly talked about Prosise’s assignment on that play, which wasn’t flagged by the officials.
“C.J.’s job is to get into the end zone and turn around and be a big target,” Kelly explained. “He was immediately grabbed at the line of scrimmage. He’s trying to get depth into the line of scrimmage, into the end zone, so Corey can clear a path. As that contact was being made, it was seen, I guess, I don’t know who saw it as interference, but you’ve got two guys that are trying to fight for space. We saw it as such.
“He’s supposed to find space, sit down and be a target. Again, it’s a play that is a pretty common play in NCAA football where you’re setting a point, the guy turns around, the ball is thrown. The ball was thrown quickly. C.J. didn’t even have a chance to turn around, which may have led to some of the optics that people were talking about on TV, that was blocking. But he was simply trying to get his space in the end zone.”
Kelly has a call with the ACC’s coordinator of officiating, where he’ll also talk about the fact that Florida State’s P.J. Williams took his helmet off at the end of the play, another penalty that by rule could’ve given the Irish a 1st-and-goal, half the distance to the goal after the penalty was marked off. Kelly said that the officials already acknowledged that they missed that call, though expects even “less clarifiaction” after the call.
But on a Saturday where the Irish could’ve built a bigger first half lead after dominating and let the game seemingly slip through their fingers in the end, it’s an important lesson for a young team that still has everything to play for.
“You got to take the belt from the champion. You can’t leave it up to a decision that’s made at the end,” Kelly said. “We’ll talk about. If we’re in this situation again, you got to close, you got to finish.”