Kelly on the Defense

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly discusses his defensive personnel heading into this week's matchup with Temple in South Bend.

Q.  Did Austin Collinsworth win that job?  He's ahead of Shumate right now.  Is that another fluid situation? "Both will play.  I think it's a 1A, 1B situation.  Depending on where we are in the game, down and distance, a lot of those factors will be involved.  I think you've got to look at both of those guys playing an equal amount of football."

Q.  Just in the secondary, if Collinsworth is the one, does that mean Shumate is the dime? "No, they'll share (rotation duties) -- we've got three for two back there right now, and (Eilar) Hardy would be four.  And they'll play in a pretty balanced rotation right now as it goes."

Q.  You've been able to manufacture depth on the offensive line by bringing in Ishaq.  Can you get to that third rotational player in the backup, and who might that be?

"Well, I think right now Kona has some flexibility where he could play some four and five technique for us.  So I think you've got some flexibility.  We think Tyler Stockton can come in and get some plays for us.  You could obviously put that math together and figure that third rotation could be Tyler Stockton with Kona playing a little bit, as well."

Q.  And then at the beginning of camp you talked about the freshman class, what impressed you most is their ability to compete physically.  Now that you've had them for four weeks, what have you learned about that group at large?  We know about Jaylon (Smith) and Corey Robinson, but just the group as a big picture?

"Well, I've asked these questions:  One, have they-- and I've asked them on a couple of occasions; have they lost their passion or their desire to want to continue to get better.  And every day I see these guys wanting to get better, staying out, they're here to watch film.  It's not new to them anymore.  You know, they're here, they're doing football every day.  They still want to get better.  They haven't leveled off.  They haven't hit the wall in a sense.

"So I think what's impressed me the most about this group is that they're in it for the long haul.  They've had a long summer.  Our freshmen are-- they go through a very rigorous bridge program.  They're here all summer, weight training, conditioning, and they can still-- they can take on more.  They're a pretty remarkable group of kids both on and off the field, and from a football standpoint, we can heap even more on them."

Q.  When it comes to guys who are going to see their first time extensively, whether it's (Ronnie) Stanley or Jaylon, do you do much with them this week?  Do you leave that up to your position coaches, veterans, just to kind of keep them not too anxious about what's coming on Saturday?

"Oh, there's constant observations, communication.  We're very keen and aware of going in - this will be my 22nd year of being a head coach - where yeah, every time I go into the staff room I'm asking about the young guys, how they doing, how they handling things, are you seeing any anxiety, are you looking through the back of their head at this point.  So those questions are asked quite often.

"But we haven't seen anything.  We actually-- it was interesting, we were kind of talking about it last night, that switch where game week starts, kicked in at about halfway through practice questioned, and it didn't half until about-- we got about 10 periods into practice, and then you saw the switch.  And you saw it with the freshmen.  They did it after the veterans kicked it in.  So it was an interesting observation.

"They're going to do a lot of this after the veterans do it, so we're going to have to keep an eye on them all week because they're going to follow a lot of the leads that our veterans have.  We talked to our seniors, we talked to our veterans about making sure that they keep a good eye on them."

Q.  I believe you said at one point that you didn't think Manti (Te'o) as a freshman was going to start his first game.  What have you seen from Jaylon (Smith) that makes you think he's ready to start in game one?

"Consistent performance.  He's in a different position.  Manti was in a four-down defense.  We're going into a three-down defense.  Jaylon is playing on the edge of a defense asked to do a lot of different things.  Probably not a fair comparison, other than they're both great freshman players, right.  Jaylon is asked to do a different job.  He plays so well in space.  Very smart player, plays instinctively.

"I think the one thing that Jaylon has done as well as a lot of freshmen that I've been around, he doesn't make the same mistake twice.  He's a guy that comes back the next day, and he can eradicate the same mistake twice, and that's a hallmark of a guy that's going to play a lot of football for us."

Q.  With Ishaq (William) there's been such an expectation from fans and media that at some point he was going to be a breakout player.  Do you see him evolving into that this year?

"I hope so.  I mean, everything that I've seen, he's done cooking.  I mean, he's ready to go.  He's shown everything to me in practice.  His preparation, his off-season, it just took a little bit longer, but I'm excited to watch him play on Saturday.  He's done everything that we've asked him to do, hasn't said anything about, hey, I want to play at this position.  We've asked him to play end, he's played end; he's at cat, he's done everything we've asked him to do.  I'm really excited about watching him play."

Q.  With Jaylon, he came in with such a tag on him as being one of the top five players in the country.  How did he handle that as a guy here in the summer and fall camp, and then also how did he handle not having a clear path to getting on the field right away?

"I think he's done pretty well.  You know, I don't know that there were many times where we had to remind him that, hey, you have to work for it.  But he had to work for it.  It was Danny Spond, it was Councell and it was Jaylon Smith; it didn't start the other way around.  He was No.3 on the depth chart when they ran out there, even though there wasn't a depth chart posted. 

"He didn't go with the first group.  Danny Spond was with the first, (Ben) Councell was second, and Jaylon was third, and he went out and he did his job.  He comes from a good family.  He comes from a great program where they obviously did a great job of teaching him how to go about and do his thing.  He's been great, and he's put himself in a position now to do some great things."

Q.  You talked a little bit about Shumate, Hardy and Collinsworth at that safety spot.  Will we see Max Redfield at all at safety?

"You know, I think Max is in the mix there.  I think he has made great progress.  He is not right now in that rotation.  I think he is somebody that you need to keep an eye on that will be in that rotation, but he's not there yet.  But he's going to play on Saturday.

"We obviously have high expectations for Max as we move through the season."

Q.  You talked this month about the number of leaders on your defense.  Have you at all had to manage having too many voices in that room or talking or the hierarchy at all with that group?

"No, no, I have not.  I don't know that that has ever been, with this group, an issue.  They all work hard.  There's not a lot of chatter over each other.  Most of them are guys that just go and do their job and get their work done.  They know what's expected of them, and obviously Coach Diaco and his staff, the defensive guys do a great job of obviously articulating what's expected of them.  Our program has set those parameters for them, as well, and they go and do their work.

"No, we haven't had that issue of too many chiefs on the defensive side of the ball." Top Stories