Change, on and off the field

Brian Kelly discusses bulletin board material, increased accountability, Jumbo Trons, Michael Floyd, and progress where it counts.

Crazy Train: Remix?

Irish head coach Brian Kelly noted earlier this week that he has involvement in all decisions regarding the influx of entertainment at home games. That apparently includes what music to play on 3rd down, for kick-offs, etc.

"I think we want to get better at it," Kelly said, likely in reference to the widely-panned overuse of Ozzie Osbourne's "Crazy Train" lyrics prior to third-down defensive situations. "We thought it was a good start for us, relative to the atmosphere. But yeah, eventually we want a big Jumbo Tron in there. We think that's going to be something that adds to the atmosphere too."

Kelly's latter reference appeared to be half-joking. It wasn't.

"I hope that we continue to move forward in creating an incredible atmosphere in there," Kelly added later when asked specifically about the addition of a Jumbo Tron. "It won't be my decision to make. I can only give you my thoughts, and I think I have sprinkled that in the conversations.

"I don't think it's a mystery that we would like that. But it's not going to be my call," he said. "They know how I feel. I don't want to beat a dead horse with it either. You know what I mean? But I think it's pretty clear that we want to continue to create a great atmosphere in there."

While purists often balk at the idea of a Jumbo Tron in the House that Rockne Built, its worth noting the following: in my Game Night trip ‘round the Stadium, Notre Dame's current scoreboard already includes such hokey pleadings to "Wave Them Hands!" (sic) and "Make Some Noise." The difference? The current scoreboard is small and difficult to read. Notre Dame's half-hearted effort at a scoreboard upgrade when the Stadium expanded in 1997 is the issue. It's neither modern nor classic in appearance.

(It's more along the lines of a kitchen television than your big screen. Call it mini-tron, circa 1985, I suppose.)

As long as said monstrosity wouldn't further obscure a view of Touchdown Jesus (no chance they're that ignorant in the decision-making process), I don't see the harm.

Though partially kidding, Kelly reiterated the need for a better playing surface (perhaps to make Robert Woods more difficult to contain in space, I'm not sure…)

"Yes, yeah, all of those things," he said in reference to Field Turf, adding, "Uh, we're trying to do it by next week. I don't know if it's going to get done. We're working hard. There are only so many hours in a day, gentlemen," he joked. "But no, all those things are the progression that we want to continue to take."

My unsolicited take: Win 10 straight rather than four every once in awhile and you can play on a blue and gold field with green shamrocks if you want. But until then, if natural grass was good enough for Rocket, Lou and the gang…

Still searching

Will hitting more on Tuesday and Wednesday equate to crisper tackling when it matters on Saturdays?

"Quite honestly, it's not about the physical practices. It's really about getting our players to do it the right way all the time," Kelly said. "It's not about cracking heads; it's not about being physical. It's about being accountable, it's about doing it the right way all the time, and (getting to) that (unconscious competence) stage."

Kelly and offensive coordinator Charley Molnar used the phrase, "unconscious competence" often last season. It was a distant goal at the time, and easily discussed because the players weren't supposed to have reached that level at such an early stage in their development under a new regime.

After 20 games, it should probably be more evident.

"They know how to do it; they either can't do it or won't do it, and I've got to cure the can'ts and the won'ts, and that's the process," Kelly said of the inconsistent group. "We're a work in progress. We're working through it. We can win three or four in a row, but we can't string together seven or eight or nine or 10 in a row, and I want to string together 12 and 13 in a row. We can string together three or four and that's not good enough."

Pressed for a specific example of accountability and "doing things right," Kelly offered a curious, perhaps telling example of how much detail he expects.

"We started slowly in flex, stretch and agility," Kelly said of the team's standard second practice segment. "We spent a lot of time making sure we got that right. Again, I don't want to overplay it as much as I'm answering your questions honestly in the sense that we have a lot of things that we have to get straight if we want to win on a consistent basis, not just a few games here and a few games there. We're not at that level yet where we can string it together, and it's everything from meetings to preparation in the weight room to practice to all those things together. It's not just one thing."

No special treatment: Kelly's second season at the program represents the last true crossroads of "his" players vs. the former staff's group that cut its collegiate teeth under a different regime. (In reality, I believe they're all his players and were the day he, or any coach steps on campus, but I'll submit to popular thought for the sake of argument.)

Regardless, when the head coach talks about building a program, it's more one size fits all than tailored to the personalities of his troops.

"What we're trying to do is establish a consistency in the way that I want things done on a day-to-day basis, and that consistency has everything to do with off the field, on the field, practice field, meetings, all those things," he reiterated.

"And that consistency and that approach (is) that every single day, there's a sense of urgency. That's the process that I'm involved in right now. I'm committed to it. I took this job to make sure we got that done and I haven't gotten that done yet."

Personnel and taking it personally

Four receptions for 28 yards; nothing of consequence. Not the day Michael Floyd or Irish fans expected from the All-America candidate vs. the arch-rival Trojans and a 5'8" 100-and-nothin' pound cornerback.

"We missed him three times; our timing was off early in getting the ball to Mike," Kelly lamented. "As you know, we missed him a couple of times in the red zone as well. So if we were better timed up, if we were playing at a better level, a higher level…and some of it's (on) Mike too. Mike has to play at his level as well. Everybody shares accountability in how they played."

With Floyd exiting stage left upon his graduation at season's end, Notre Dame's wide receiver depth chart, one that employs just four regular targets in 2011, will have a far different look in 2012.

"Oh, it's a need. An absolute need, no question," Kelly admitted. "And again, we've got some guys coming along. (DaVaris) Daniels is going to be a nice player for us. But we need some more depth at that position, absolutely."

Any last words? Four days after USC players Marc Tyler, Chris Galippo, and Matt Barkley stated Notre Dame "quit" at the end of Saturday's prime time humbling at the hands of the Trojans, Kelly was asked if those words could carry any motivation for his group as the rest of the season plays out.

"No, I have not been that concerned because I've always felt like the preparation starts with us," Kelly said of using an opponent's trash talk as potential bulletin board material. "If we played better, those comments would have never come out. If we had started the game the way we should have started, if we took care of the football, none of that exists. So I've always believed that in my experience, it starts with yourself, and I think you always get what you deserve." Top Stories