The Offense

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly discusses running back depth, communication with his new offensive coordinator, injuries up front, and DaVaris Daniels' maturation of late.

Q.  When you elevated Chuck Martin to offensive coordinator, communication and kind of streamlining the process, how have you seen that show itself over the last couple weeks, and how would you describe Chuck's influence on the offense?

"Right.  You know, Chuck, just as he was my defensive coordinator, he's the same way as the offensive coordinator in that we can have a very short conversation, and we know exactly what the outcome is going to be when we go on the field.

"Him being in that position is just I know what to expect.  It's not going to be a surprise.  I come out on the field, our guys are executing the things that I want done.  He's just really good at following through on whatever decisions were made relative to our offensive structure.  I know it's getting coached.

"You know, it's the same offense that we have.  Chuck is really good at being flexible.  He doesn't have to be in this particular formation, he doesn't have to be in this type of offense.  He can really adapt well to all circumstances.  So I like his ability to adapt based upon what our personnel is, and I like his ability to carry what we talk about in a staff meeting onto the field, and I would expect that from Bob Diaco, as well, on both sides of the ball.  I want my coordinators to be able to do that."

Q.  In a situation with Chuck Martin in the three years he's been here, how has he handled going from a head coach to an assistant and fitting in rather than being the guy that sets the pace?

"You know, I think he was an assistant for as long as he's been a head coach, and I think just being in a leadership position-- he was in a leadership position on the defensive side of the ball.  He didn't have a title.  But he was a valuable member of our staff last year, and I think he felt validated.  I think it's how you're treated.

"You can make that transition to a program as a head coach, and it could be, hey, I'll tell you when I want you to talk.  It's never been that way.  I want people to be who they are.  I want ideas.  If you disagree, let's talk about it.  So I don't know that there's ever been an environment here that he's felt stifled or that that's been a tough jump for him.  Certainly now it's even more gratifying because he's in more of a leadership position on the offensive side of the ball, and he's clearly got a voice.

"But again, I think you probably have to ask him, but I don't think that we created an environment within our staff that you would ever feel as though you couldn't make that transition."

Q.  I have to ask you an injury quite right off the back.  Tate Nichols, what's his situation, and how are you addressing that?

"He's had a knee, a patella subluxation, and he's had it before.  He hasn't had it, and here he had one, and we lost his services for about two or three weeks.  So you know, we expect him back in a couple of weeks.  Whether we get him ready for the Navy game is unclear right now.

Q.  And that means Martin and Stanley are kind of your--
"Martin and Stanley right now would be 1A and 1B at this point."

Q.  Alex Welch had the surgery?
"Yeah, very successful, had no collateral damage, just the ligament damage, which generally, generally speeds the recovery process for him.  He's back in that time frame of four to six months."

Q.  I wanted to ask you a little bit about DaVaris.  On some of -- certainly the last practice we were in on Saturday, we saw a lot of freshmen.  I know you wanted to get a good look at them, but a kid like DaVaris, has he shown you some of the things you wanted to see in the spring from the consistency standpoint, work ethic standpoint?

"Yeah, I think that's a very fair question.  He's been here two years, but he hasn't gotten to get the reps that he's getting now.  Now he's fighting through that mental fatigue.  He's getting banged up a little bit, and he's answered the bell.  I thought yesterday he could have very easily begged out of some practice time.  He didn't miss a rep.

"So we're really seeing a young man continue to mature.  Look, he's far from where we want him to be, but boy, has he made great progress in the last couple of weeks."

Q.  How has the running back situation played out for you so far this camp?  How do you think the reps are going to distribute?

"Well, I think we're going to play all of our backs.  When we talk about all of our backs, they're playing both wide receiver, slot position, we can move them anywhere on the field as well as play the running back position.  And I've seen great growth in George Atkinson.  We always look to George as somebody that-- boy, maybe he's just a running back.  Well, he's really evolved into somebody that can catch the football for us.

"We know about Theo, obviously with his stint at the wide receiver position, and Cierre has really made great strides over the past 10 days or so.  They're all going to play, and it would not be a surprise if a couple of them are on the field at the same time. "

Q.  You mentioned in the spring, you touched upon George Atkinson, but I think at the end of the spring game you mentioned heart attack and Golson and Atkinson in the same sentence.  Where is your heart as it pertains to their ability to eliminate those mistakes?

"A lot more trust in both of them, and they've exhibited it.  I'll give you just an insight:  We've had 126 throwing opportunities for Everett.  He's had one interception.  You build trust.  You don't just give it, you build trust.

"So going from that phrase that I used in the spring to where we are today, I had to be able to move from where I was to where we want to be, and so we had to really load a lot of work on his plate.  And he's exhibited that trust in the way he's handled himself in camp.

"And the same for George.  We've put the ball in his hands and have thrown it to him and had him run with it and essentially said, listen, George, the only guy that decides playing time is you, because if you take care of the football, you're going to play, and he's done a great job. 

"He has not put the ball on the ground.  I know these are all things that coaches should never talk about, but in answering your question, they have both done the things that I have asked them to do, and their position coaches have obviously done a great job of reinforcing it, but both of those guys are no longer on that heart attack list."

Q.  Good for you?
"Good for us."


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