Kelly Q&A: Defensive Personnel

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly discusses his defensive personnel at today's post-practice media session.

Kelly's opening statement: "We have one significant injury. Nick Baratti dislocated his shoulder in practice on Saturday and he'll need surgery to repair it and be lost for the season. We hope to regain that year obviously. I'm very disappointed for Nick, he's worked so hard to get back but we'll expect the next man up to step up and get it done."

Which shoulder? "The same one he had surgery on (in January)."

Where does that put the safety picture? "It's really too early to start slotting (safeties). Elijah was running with the first group but there was really some flexibility there. (Austin) Collinsworth and Nicky were getting some first team reps. We have three other guys that have done a very good job and I'll highlight them for you.

"We've already talked about Max Redfield and we know about his ability. There's going to be a mental end of it that he's going to have to progress there. But we feel like physically he's got the ability. And he'll continue to grow.

"John Turner has had a very good week for us and Eilar Hardy. Both of those guys have, the old coaching cliche' it's not our job to notice you, it's your job to make us notice you. We have now noticed Hardy and John Turner. They have now put themselves in a position along with Collinsworth, (Elijah) Shumate, (Matthias) Farley, where we have pretty good depth there and we feel very confident in the position."

"Elijah Shumate, certainly very solid tackler. He's picking up the scope of the defense. He has some parts of the defense down very good. He has more that he has to learn. We do some things defensively that require him to communicate very well and those are things that he has to grow into. He's made those strides, but again, its a young man that didn't play very much last year that now is playing more with that first group. Just an evolution process for him but he's got all the skills.

"Collinsworth, he's healthy now, physically able to do the jobs, he wasn't able to in the spring because he was coming back from two surgeries, the back and the shoulder. What he does for us is give us great versatility. He can play both safety positions. Great to have that experience and versatility."

Q: Baratti Picked things up quickly last year (as a true freshman), where would you compare Redfield in those terms? "Equal. The difference is there was a lot more opportunity for Nick last year. Now (Redfield) has Eilar (Hardy) who has three seasons; he's got Collinsworth who's got three seasons. There's more safeties with more experience so he's going to have to overcome -- he can't just win it on being a great athlete.

"Nicky did a lot of that on athleticism last year and we didn't have a lot of safeties. Now we have mch greater depth. It allows us to be more patient with Max. If we had Max in last year's situation, I'd say its very similar to where Nicky (played early).

Q: With increased depth could you be able to use more nickel and dime packages than you did last year? "If we have to. Certainly we'll be creative with what we have to do to fit the pieces (talent). We'll install packages now through the middle of next week. We really won't be having staff meetings on those topics though we always have an eye towards it.

But we're always thinking about 'What are the worst case scenarios?' We have to consider those as well. We won't address those right , but we'll be thinking about it.

Q: What has KeiVarae (Russell) done to be better and how has that competition taken shape? "There's no competition there (field cornerback) other than the day-to-day competition, KeiVarae is our starter. Lo (Wood) is doing a great job, physically fit, no effect from his injuries, competing hard, but KeiVarae is the starter.

"(In terms of improvement) I just think confidence in the position, he was a first-time player at the position last year. He knows it well. His technique has improved immensely, he's stronger, physically. A lot more confidence. All of those things that come with being a returning starter.

Q: How does having his and Bennett (Jackson) experience back there change what you can do? "You can make the case that when you have more experience back there that you can play more on-body coverages and obviously tie down more. Whether we do or not, we'll have that in our repertoire. When you're less experienced you're more hesitant to do it. But I think it opens up the opportunity to do that when necessary."

Q: Now that Sheldon Day's workload has increased (as a starter) what are you seeing from him? "I mean, I know all the talk is about Nix and Tuitt, but I tell ya, Sheldon Day, just watch the film: his first step quickness, he's an impressive football player. I wouldn't trade him for anyone on our football team right now. He's as impressive of a player as we have on defense. His motor -- right now, if there's an eight-play drive, he does not come out of the game. He's the one (DL) that does not come out of the game. His work volume, his ability to go, his pass-rush ability…he's an outstanding football player. Top Stories