Kelly Wraps Up Opening Week

Irish head coach Brian Kelly met with local media today to discuss his team's final practice before Temple, a pair of greatly improved freshmen, the line call burden falling on quarterback Tommy Rees, the status of Malik Zaire, C.J. Prosise, and Josh Atkinson, Luke Massa's aid at quarterback, and his growing relationship with ResLife.

Kelly Opening Statement

We practiced in the stadium today, got a feel for some game situations, a lot of (special teams), a lot of situational work. Really the finishing touches on preparing for Temple. I know our guys are anxious to play. Certainly a lot of preparation goes into an opener.

"As we talked about earlier in the week, a lot of things that we're not certain about but there's a couple things that we are really clear on and that is our guys are excited about playing at home to open up the 2013 season. A lot of excitement. Guys are ready to play and ready to kick this season off."

Q: How do you handle line calls, protections calls? Is Nick Martin ready to do that?

"Tommy (Rees) will handle a lot of that. Nick is going to make some of the calls, but we've made some adjustments with a younger center. Tommy will do a lot of that work himself."

Q: Do you anticipate having Malik Zaire (mono) available on Saturday? What did you do at scout team quarterback?

"This morning our last blood workup for Malik was that he is not going to be able to play on Saturday (mono). Luke Massa took reps this week as our third quarterback. Will Cronin, a walk-on that we brought in as part of our 105 (full roster) was scout team quarterback along with (freshman DB and former HS QB) Rashad Kinlaw. Both of those young men were the scout team quarterbacks this week. But Luke got a lot of reps as our No. 3 this week."

Q: Do you anticipate Malik being out longer?

"No. We were hopeful. He's on the back end of it, but we were really hopefully that we thought we were going to get him cleared today. But he's not, he didn't get cleaned. We're hopeful for Monday."

Q: There was a story by Dan Wetzel earlier this month where you talked about a desire for having more of a voice within more University-wide issues or having a say in things. Could you talk about how that involvement has gone (since)?

"I think those big picture items are a product of being here going on four years and to be accurate, and I know the article that you're referring to, I don't know if I want a voice, I just want to be part of the conversation. I think the communication is what I'm interested in more than anything else. Notre Dame has du Lac. Notre Dame has their policies and I am 100 percent behind all of those.

"I just want to be in the discussion. I want to be in the conversation. My voice doesn't need to be heard per se, as much as I want to be in the loop when those decisions are made because when I make a commitment to a young man and his parents, relative to looking out for him, I want to be able to live up to that commitment. That's really that's all that's about more than anything else, just I want to be in that loop of communication, that's it."

Q: Are you in it now?

"I believe I am. I feel very comfortable that we have made substantial progress to that end. I think it's like anything else, there's a crack in the Sistine Chapel. We're not perfect at Notre Dame. And it's not perfect at Alabama. It's not perfect. But we are committed to it and Father John (Jenkins) is committed to it, Jack Swarbrick, we're all committed to getting better every day. That's all I want. I don't want to be perfect, I just want to keep getting better every single day. And I really believe that we're getting better at it every day."

Q: Do you think being here for a fourth year accelerates that conversation or do you feel that 12-1 accelerates that conversation?

"Being here. For me, regardless of what the record is, accelerates that conversation. For me. We're building a program, not just one year. One record should not be about how you run a program. This is more about how to run a program year-in and year-out."

Q: To follow up on that, in previous interviews with ResLife, they noted a coach can't be the advocate for the player. Is that something you're dealing with?

"I disagree with that premise, obviously. I believe that's short-sighted. And I think that's a flawed premise as it relates to advocacy. I think that cuts across student life, I think that cuts across academics, I think that cuts across everything as it relates to being a student athlete. That's kind of the crux of where we are in terms of this old model that the football coach is trying to protect his players. I don't subscribe to that. He should be accountable for his actions on a day-to-day basis, but we should all be part of the dialogue."

Q: Could you talk about how the Josh Atkinson experiment went and how C.J. Prosise did this fall after a promising spring?

"You use "experiment." He's gonna take time. (But) the guy can fly. He's fast as heck. He can run. It's gonna take us a little time. We want to keep his skills as a DB, but we also think that we can…there's a lot of DB's that can play but I want to try and find a place to get him on the field. I think we can find some roles for the kid. It's gonna take us some time to get on the field offensively.

"We're trying to get some routes that he can handle. He's got to catch the ball more consistently That's what he has to work on right now. But he is all-in in trying to do that.. It's gonna take us some time to do it. I don't know when it's gonna be but we're all-in and it's gonna take some time."

"C.J'.s been steady for us. We're gonna do some specific things. He's not going to be that guy like Robby Toma. Robby was on the field a lot for us. He's not going to fit in like Robby did. He's gonna do different jobs. He's gonna do them well for us. But he's not going to be an A-to-Z slot receiver like Robby was."

Q: Tony Alford, he's been through so much. How have he and the coaches handled it.

"Well, it seems every year we've been tested on our staff with some tough personal challenge. Our first year, Mike Elston was sick to the point where we weren't sure what was going to happen to him. Of course coach (Bob) Elliott (kidney transplant) and this year with the loss of Tony's brother, we've all had to kind of rally each year.

"Our staff has been great, our support staff and the Notre Dame community has been great. I think like any other human being, he's had some good days and bad days. But he's got players that I think really helps him out a lot and I think he gets immersed in that on a day-to-day basis. He's here a lot, 80 hours. I think that really helps him a lot. He's got the support of his players and coaches and I think that gets him through it."

Q: How has Luke Massa looked at quarterback?

"He holds for extra points for us and he starts at that position. He's played some wide receiver. Immediately we put him in there at quarterback. We could put him in the game on Saturday. He could get us out of the game. I don't want to play him if I don't have to. It would have to be an emergency situation. But he can get us out of the game on Saturday.

"He's a great teammate. He's a kid that does whatever we ask him to do. For a guy that had two days, three days of work, it would be nice if we got him in the game and it wasn't because of injury."

Q: Are you to the point offensively where if you win the snap you're taking the ball? "I feel a whole lot better of doing it now than I did in the first couple years, that's for sure. No question about that."

Q: What about some freshmen that have improved the most since the start of camp?

"Freshmen, I would probably say James Onwualu. He went from a guy that was a try-hard guy, whatever we asked him to do to he's catching the ball much more consistently, route running, I think he's done a nice job.

"I think defensively for a freshman … I think Cole Luke, his ability to play corner at this level as a true freshman and nickel, that's a lot. He's had to learn nickel, now you're playing multiple coverages, two trail or man, then having play quarters, man, mix, there's a lot of things on his plate. I think he's made some really good progress. Those couple guys have done a lot."

Q: You mentioned Sheldon Day was a guy that could take eight consecutive snaps. Can (Louis) Nix and (Stephon) Tuitt get to that point?

"It depends on what the weather conditions are and it depends on what kind of game it is. If it's a heavyweight battle where it's right at you, they could play after play. If it's Stanford, if it's Michigan State, probably couple play play after play. If it's a dink and dunk and they want to throw it right for two yards and race you all the way to the sideline and then throw it to the other sideline and race you all the way over there, probably not.

"Which is probably what they'll try to do. I know that's what I'd try to do, get those guys tried. It really just depends on how they want to play the game. That plays to us in other areas. I really just depends on how they want to play the game. If they want to just try to do that, that's an interesting opportunity for us to do other things. They're in much better condition, we feel we're in a much better place with them this year than we were last year.

"We'll just have to see how it goes on Saturday. It's gonna be warm. We're gonna have to play a lot of guys anyway. It's not like they're gonna stay out there for the whole game." Top Stories