Kelly Q&A: Defense

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly updates recent developments on the defensive side of scrimmage as his Irish head into the second half of 2013 training camp.

Q: I know you said you would inform us of significant injuries, does Tony Springmann's leg fall into that category?

"Don't know yet. We'll have an MRI. We'll get some further information here. At first glance, any time there's a knee involved you're always concerned. But I can't give you any definitive information. We'll know a little bit more the next time we get together ... Thursday we'll be able to give you a little bit more information. And you guys will probably know before Thursday with the way you guys investigate things. But I don't have anything definitive. Any time it's a knee you're really concerned. That one is probably one we're a little more concerned with right now."

Q: And Danny Spond? (Limping with the aid of a cane)

"Danny announced today to the team that he will no longer be playing football. I am not going to get into the specifics. Danny and his family will release a statement relative to his reasons for not playing, which are medical, and get into the specifics with that release early next week. Expect to hear from him and his family directly early next week.

"The specifics, for me to stand up here and get into them, are extremely complicated relative to his medical condition. I'll leave that up to his doctors and his family and Danny himself to give a full explanation of the reasons. He's gonna stay with us. He's gonna help us coach the drop (linebackers). Who's better qualified to give his experience? To help us with Jaylon (Smith) and Ben (Councell). We'll cross train Romeo Okwara at that position as well. He got a chance to talk to the team today. He's beloved by everybody on our team. He has a special place on our football team.

Q: Further injury updates? "We're gonna do corrective surgery on (freshman LB) Doug Randolph's shoulder. We've got a pre-existing condition on his shoulder so he will not play this year. We're gonna correct the shoulder issue with him. Obviously, we know about Nicky Baratti and his shoulder surgery. Both of those will occur this week. I think we're scheduling those for Tuesday."

Q: Does (Spond's void) become a position battle between Jaylon and Ben? "They're both gonna play. They're both gonna play a lot."

Q: How are seeing Ishaq's (Williams) role evolve? "He'll be the first split-side end in ... He'll come in as the third end immediately. His hand is gonna go down on the ground and play end for us. He'll get quite a bit of work there."

Q: And are you happy with what you're seeing there? "Absolutely. He can play all the techniques. He can do all the things we're asking him to do. He's done it very well. We're very pleased with him."

Q: What's your opinion of Stephon Tuitt and how he showed for fall camp from a conditioning stand point and from an attitude stand point?

"I've heard a lot about his body. Look, the kid had a hernia operation. He couldn't do core exercises for over three and a half months. We had to change his whole summer work out. You know what our guys look like. He looks different because he put on some body fat that our guys don't normally put on because he couldn't do some of the workouts our guys do. It wasn't because he decided to eat Cheetos on the couch and not work out. He had to do a different work out. We're now working really hard to take some of that body fat and bring him down.

"He's doing a nice job. He's bringing that body fat down. He's stronger physically than he was last year. He just put on a little more body fat. We'll get that down. It'll be easy to whittle that down. His volume is at where it was last year. He didn't lose any of his volume. But the fact of the matter is we couldn't do a lot of the core work because they went and did an operation and put a mesh web up in his abdomen. We couldn't do a lot of the work we normally do with our guys. That put him behind the eight ball.

"I know he's been asked a lot of questions and I wanna kind of defend the kid a little bit in this instance that he didn't go off the reservation and decide to eat bad food. He's don what we've asked him to do."

Q: And in terms of his confidence and the way he's handled being preseason All-American, how would you evaluate those things?

"He's been great. You know me. I'm gonna immediately get after you if you're bigger than the team. He's been great. He's handled himself well. He's practiced well. Both him and Louis (Nix) have been great. I meet with these guys. I talk to them about my job is to get them ready to win for Notre Dame.

"We give them a great platform to do it here at Notre Dame and then the NFL comes second. They get that. They've been great. They've worked hard. They've been great teammates. I have no problems with either one of those guys and in particular Stephon relative to their aspirations."

Q: Not getting into specifics about Danny, but just how unfortunate is his situation?

"What was pretty apparent was that it was an emotional decision and didn't come without a lot of thought. He spent the day speaking to a lot of specialists and his family was here. This was not a decision that came easy. He loves his teammates. But what I think was most important is he did what was in his best interest for his future.

"He's got a bright future. His immediate (future) is he wants to be with the team. Our teammates were excited to hear that he's gonna be with us every day. He'll travel with us. He'll help coach. I think they see in one sense they're not gonna have a teammate but they're gonna have somebody that's gonna be with them every day and he will truly be seen every day. I think that although disappointed he won't be on the field they know that he's still gonna be a member of this team."

Q: Prince Shembo is not often a topic of conversation between you and us. Is that a reflection of his steadiness?

"I think you guys are missing the boat on Prince Shembo and I'm glad you brought him up. The way he plays, the passion that he plays the game every single play, it's just so enjoyable. He's a throwback in a lot of ways with his energy and his toughness and the way he comes to work every day. It's 100 percent all in. And he plays the game with that chip where I'm gonna do whatever is necessary on this play to be disruptive. You've almost got to take his helmet away from him. I love those guys.

"We're running a 7-on-7 drill. And you know we're a four down, three down team. He's the four down rush guy. It's 7-on-7 but he's collision-ing the receivers when they're coming across as a four-down rush guy. He just brings and energy to the team, a toughness to the team. And he's so skilled at coming off the edge too."

Q: Does he lead vocally?"

"He doesn't lead vocally. He's a guy that's not gonna say much but just his energy, his passion and just his actions out on the field and the way he works. You can see just by his uniform, it's drenched every day, about the work he puts in every day."

Q: We saw some of the nickel and dime today. What do you like about Cole Luke as a freshman and then Austin Collinsworth as a veteran guy?

"We like Cole because he's really close to being on the field at the cornerback position. You're trying to look at who is your third, maybe one of your top corners that you have that you're getting on the field coverage skill-wise. And then Collinsworth's versatility. We can run a lot more in our package with Collinsworth on the field. Those two guys on the field give us the ability to play a lot more man and a lot more variety in those packages with those two guys on the field."

Q: With Jaylon Smith, I think the perception of the DOG position is it's so mentally taxing that a younger guy maybe not couldn't do it but it would be a real challenge. What is it about him that makes him a candidate?

"That could be. When it comes to coaching, if we make it that complicated that we can't get Jaylon Smith on the field then we're not very good coaches. It's that simple. If Jaylon Smith or Elijah Shumate can't get on the field or I can't get Cole Luke on the field or we can't get Steve Elmer on the field then we're missing the boat. Yeah, we can make it as complicated as we want but we've got to get those kinds of players on the field. We've gotta get Corey Robinson on the field in certain situations. Yeah, there's some complexities to it but I think we can make it such that we can get talented players like Jaylon Smith on the field."

Q: At safety, Elijah Shumate, do you think he's started to nail that down?

| "He's gonna be on the field. I don't think that Elijah has nailed down anything but he's gonna be on the field. He's a guy that every day has gotta continue to progress. He's got some guys behind him that are playing pretty good. Collinsworth, (Eilar) Hardy, (John) Turner is playing good. We dropped down Turner. He's playing some DOG as well. Those other guys are playing well behind him as well but we're pleased with him. I don't think we're at that point where we're saying that he's got anything nailed down. I think we're still moving along there." Top Stories