Everyone's Invited"We're going to use a lot of guys."
Brian Kelly's otherwise innocuous statement Tuesday regarding his personnel for the season opener vs. Temple sounded like textbook coach-speak at the time.
Apparently he wasn't kidding.
Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Sheldon Day, Jarron Jones, Kona Schwenke, Isaac Rochell, Dan Fox, Carlo Calabrese, Jarrett Grace, Jaylon Smith, Ben Councell, Prince Shembo, Ishaq Williams, Matthias Farley, Austin Collinsworth, Elijah Shumate, Bennett Jackson, Keivarae Russell, Lo Wood, and Cole Luke.
All before the first quarter ended.
"I will tell you this," Kelly said. "It's a lot deeper than we've had at any time. I think that there's five running backs that can help us play. We feel like there's a number of players at the receiving position that can play for us."
Indeed, eight wide receivers -- including all three healthy freshmen -- earned scrimmage time before the team headed for the half-time locker room. All five healthy running backs played though the freshmen pair of Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston didn't debut until the game was no longer in doubt.
"I was very pleased, I thought you saw what I was hoping for," said Kelly of the offensive balance. "You had Daniels catch a touchdown. You had T.J. Jones (put up 100-plus yards) and obviously Chris Brown. You had Troy Niklas, you had the running backs catch footballs. You had Tarean Folston catching a nice ball coming out of the back field. I think you're going to see great distribution of the football across the board, and it's going to be somebody new each week.
"Now T.J. Jones is going to be in the mix every single week, because he's one of the best wide receivers in the country. But you're going to see a lot of guys contribute offensively. I think it's for the better. I really do. I think it gives us great balance across the board."
That Didn't Take LongThe 2012 Irish rode their defense to a No. 1 ranking, and the strength of that unit was a rock-solid, yield-to-no one rush defense, especially when an opponent neared pay dirt.
It took two months for the team to surrender a rushing score in 2012 -- less than two quarters had gone by before it happened in 2013.
"Coming into the first game, we weren't even sure what the offense was going to do," said Dan Fox of the mystery that was Temple's attack under new head coach Matt Rhule. "Walking off the field today I was thinking about the mistakes I made. I think we just locked in a little bit. They got us some new checks (as the game progressed) and we played a lot better."
Kelly called the inside linebackers efforts, "spotty" in the first half but that they were "firm, much better" in the second.
Economical UsageOne pass target, one reception, 66 yards, a touchdown.
Notre Dame employed its 12 package (two tight ends) often Saturday afternoon, but of quarterback Tommy Rees' 23 pass attempts, only one went the way of the big guys inside.
"He was wide open down the middle of the field, and Tommy did a good job of reading the coverage," said Kelly of Troy Niklas' momentum-seizing 66-yard seam route score to conclude the first half. "They were in their third-and-long coverage, and he outran the middle linebacker down the middle of the field.
"He asked him to block on the perimeter. He did a great job today. Then when he had his opportunity to catch the football, outstanding."
Niklas' highlight reel play might not have happened against a more experienced defense. Said Temple coach Matt Rhule of the back-breaking score, "The play right before the half, the freshman middle linebacker, wasn't his fault. Looked like it was his fault on film, but it wasn't his. Guys missed the call, and we turned one down the middle of the field."
Expect at least five pass targets to Irish tight ends next week in the Big House.
Irish on the Mic"He understands everything. He plays fast. He plays aggressive. He's real eager to learn and he's picked up everything really fast. There wasn't, to my knowledge, any ‘Jaylon do this. Jaylon do that.' He was definitely on his business."
-- Safety Matthias Farley on freshman starting linebacker, Jaylon Smith
"Jaylon (Smith) for them was the real deal now. Some of the things we wanted to do, he took out of the game right away. So he's the real deal."
-- Temple coach Matt Rhule on the freshman, Smith.
"I don't want to get into too much detail, but we pair a lot of our personnel groupings in with certain play calls. We really should have just kept him in with that personnel grouping. We got a little too technical on it, and that was my fault.
"He should have stayed in. He carried the load right down to the end, and he should have stayed in the game on that play. So, hindsight, I should have kept him in the game."
-- Kelly on taking out running back Cam McDaniel at the shadow of the goal line.
"It definitely gives us a lot of confidence. We know we can hang with teams like Notre Dame. We were planning on coming in here and winning. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. They made plays and we didn't, so you've got to tip your hat to them."
-- Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich
"It was everything I expected. I would have liked the W, but what are you going to do? It's an excellent environment to play football in though, and definitely one that I will remember."
-- Matakevich on playing at Notre Dame Stadium