Brian Kelly"Wrapped up Thursday's practice in the stadium again, wanted to get our guys in there. Got some work in with some crowd noise for both the offense and defense. Good week of practice. Guys did what I asked them to do.
"The message all week is ‘Don't be someone you're not.' No need to change what you've done. Be who I remember you as, as somebody that's worked hard. It's not an accident you are where you are. You get what you deserve. If you keep working hard, keep doing the right thing, you're gonna find yourself in a good position at the end of the day.
"Saturday you're going to have to execute, we're going to have to do the things that good football teams do on a day-to-day basis to beat a very good opponent in Michigan. Good week of practice and now we've got a couple more days to polish some things up and be ready to go."
Q: Guys getting more comfortable in the Stadium?
"I just think it's good to be in there, good to go down the tunnel. Be in there more than six times a week. We'll keep pushing on that."
Q: Against Michigan last year, you had some things that worked through three quarters last year. You know they're going to adjust to that, so do you anticipate adjusting to what they'll do? How do you balance that line of sticking to what worked, but also being prepared to change?
"I think you go into the game knowing you can't defend every element. There are obviously some plans that we had that put us in a good position, but you have to tackle well, I don't want to lose site of the fundamentals that we have to execute within the game plan. One of the things coach (Bob) Diaco has done is kept it simple enough for our guys to play fast. I didn't want to get into this and try out-think what we wanted to do.
"In answering your question, you've got to be ready that they're going to hit some plays. You've got to minimize the big plays and that's what we really focused on this week."
Q: Who was Denard Robinson in practice this week?
"It was Fitzy (Nick Fitzpatrick). Gunner (Kiel) did some things for us in the passing game. Connor Cavalaris did some things for us. We had some of the walk-ons in there for us. I'd say Fitzy did a nice job for us. He can throw the ball. He's pretty quick. Obviously you're not going to duplicate it. I think we're prepared as well as we can be for a guy of that magnitude because you're really not going to get somebody like that."
(Kelly added that Everett Golson simulated Robinson in practice last season.)
Q: We asked the players about what they learned from the Michigan game last year, but is the USC experience more applicable this weekend in terms of managing a home game, night game, big crowd, all the distractions?"
"I guess it would make for a rational response to say yeah. We just didn't play that well. We turned the ball over against. If you really look at that game, our inability to secure the football when we needed to. I really would rather think of it in terms of not playing well in a big game. And really that would be my response more so than it was a big game and you didn't rise to the occasion. I really don't think that was the case as much as we just didn't play well in a big game and we needed to play well at that time."
Q: What have you seen from Everett (Golson) this week?
"Every day you're seeing more development from him. It's things that you probably wouldn't see on film. Just being a student of the game. Clearly, we're going to get all kinds of looks from Michigan. They brought pressures 47 out of 82 snaps last year against Tommy Rees. You can imagine they'll be cranking up their different looks for us.
"We tried to give him a lot. In terms of his knowledge base and recognition is much better. I think fundamentally he continues to grow. All the things that I can say that measure the quarterback's growth other than what happens on Saturday, we're seeing that each and every week."
Q: What have you seen from Matthias Farley this week?
"He did a good job. You know he's got 140-some snaps? That's a lot of football. It's not a guy that's getting the first time out there on the field, he responded really well in practice this week. Now, he wasn't put in the same position that he's going to be put in this week.
"So he's going to be asked to do a lot more. But he's s smart kid, he's athletic, he's sneaky fast. He can run well. Again, I think the most important thing is he's played 140 snaps and he's starting to feel more comfortable in the position."
Q: You talked about 'avoiding the noise.' Did you see a different focus this week?
"I sensed a very similar, purposeful type of work ethic. They went in there with a purpose. They knew what they needed to do. They were focused on what I asked them to do. I will say this, my group last year was very similar. They did a very good job in those areas.
"The real difference is we're executing a little better on Saturdays. We're not turning the ball over. We're playing great run defense. Our special teams are better. And so there's been a consistent theme in that and this group is the one I thought it would be. They're continuing on that path."
Q: What's been the key to you playing well in the fourth quarter?
"I think those things start up front. Being stingy against the run. Depth at running back for us and particular the Michigan (State) game when we had some fresh legs out there. And then the game slows down a little bit for a young quarterback in managing things, quite frankly. Then defensively we were able to play a lot of players, keep guys fresh going into the fourth quarter."
Q: Back before August, did you see Elijah Shumate filling this kind of role before you got him in camp?
"Yeah, we felt we think he's a very special player. We're going to continue to work with him. We'll have more time over the bye week to spend some more time with him and continue to work with him both at that nickel and corner positions and allow us some even more flexibility in the secondary."
Q: More than nickel moving forward (this year)?
"Yes. That's our hope. We've begin to accelerate that process and it will be easier next week to continue to work on that. He'll be here with us"
Q: Do you keep an eye on Manti Te'o this week with all he's going through?
"Absolutely. There's a lot going on. He hasn't been available to the media this week and it's just to give him a break. It's been a lot. He'll be ready on Saturday. I'd like to give him a break in the sense and just focus on school and practice. We've got his arrangements set for him to go home. So we've worked on a lot of that this week."
Q: For him to be nominated for another student-athlete award, what does that say about him off the field? What are some of things that we don't see that make him different?
"He knows the names of the walk-ons. He knows all those guys. Doesn't call them, 'hey 32 or 57.' He knows each one of those guys. I've been doing this a long time. I'm not saying all the great players don't know the names of other players. But he takes special attention to know the names of guys that don't play prominent roles. That's pretty unique."
Q: Did you hear about the student movement to wear leis on Saturday? What does that say about the support from the Notre Dame community?
"The students are rallying behind one of their student-athletes. That's uniquely Notre Dame. When I heard about it, my foundation was going to do the Brian Kelly popsicle faces made famous by Digger Phelps, right? We shut that off right way (laughing). You won't see any of those because we want to focus on the leis for Manti."
Q: Are you content having Kyle Brindza kick his kickoffs out of the end zone?
"Oh yeah. Content starting at the 25? Yes. I think that five yards from a percentage point it's miniscule. It's like a percent different from the 20 and 25. So yes."
(The question was asked in reference to trying to "sky kick" to the shadow of the goal line, instead, with the intent of the coverage unit pinning the return team inside the 25-yard line.)
Q: A guy we get asked about all the time is (safety) Eilar Hardy. Is he still recovering from injury? Level of competition? What's keeping him from getting on the field?
"He physically has all the tools. Some guys just pop a little later. He wants to. He's athletic. He's got a great attitude. He's a team player. Just, I don't know. Sometimes it just takes a little bit longer. It's gonna happen for him, it just hasn't happened yet. We haven't lost any confidence in him. He's on our demo squad right now."
Q: Would it be accurate to label Tony Springmann as your utility lineman?
"Yeah, he can play the four-(technique). He can play the nose. He definitely has that ability and we recruited him as such that would give us a guy that could do both. He can certainly help us if we need to get into a rotation at that defensive end position."
Q: Injury updates for Sheldon Day and Kapron Lewis-Moore?
"They both practiced today. Physical game last week, we've got some bumps and bruises just like everybody else. But those guys will play and they'll contribute."
Q: DaVaris Daniels?
"Yes, he's much better. If you look at it from an NFL perspective. Last week, DaVaris he was questionable. And then he got stepped on and he went form questionable to doubtful if you use that kind of vernacular. He's so much further. He's not even in that category this week, he's practiced each and every day at a good level."
Q: Tate Nichols?
"He's in our two-deep. He will travel. Or be part of our travel team. So he is back practicing with the varsity." (A backup right tackle, Nichols has been out with a knee injury since mid-August)
Q: Along the lines of Eilar Hardy, you've got so many good safeties and some of your young guys have really jumped up there, but Chris Badger and Danny McCarthy, where are they right now?
"They're role players for us right now. They're going to have to help us in special teams at this point. When you have 85 guys, well, we don't have 85 on scholarship, but when you have scholarship players, there's going to be an order there. We haven't lost any confidence in them, but if they're called upon, they'll be ready to play."