Kelly Q&A: Pittsburgh Prep

With the exception of Kona Schwenke and Ishaq WIlliams -- both ruled out earlier this week -- Notre Dame enters Saturday night in better health than it began the week. Brian Kelly wrapped up his team's week of on field preparation with the following Q&A session.

QUESTION: Do you think Louis (Nix) is going to play Saturday?

"He will play...He had a good week of practice, a full week of practice, moving around well. Was in the training room all week. Thursday's are 48-hour meeting with our medical staff which is where we get our pretty definitive idea whether our guys are going to be full strength and everybody feels like he's going to be good to go."

QUESTION: Does he have the insurance through the NCAA? Do you know if he does?

"I don't know. That's a good question. I haven't asked him about it. But I'll research it and let you know."

QUESTION: How does Lou handle being sidelined for a couple weeks?

"He was antsy last week. I think the first week he was okay. He needs to be around the team. He's a guy that obviously football is so important to him, he's close to finishing his degree, so a lot of his focus is about being with his teammates and being around football. I think the first week was kind of, hey, this is some time off. The second week he was around and was on the sideline this past weekend and into the ballgame. I think if you had asked him, he's back to where he likes to be."

QUESTION: How are the safeties? Austin (Collinsworth) and (Elijah) Shumate?

"Austin was cleared. He participated in non-contact activities yesterday. He was fully cleared today, so he'll be able to play on Saturday. It will be (Eilar) Hardy and himself, Austin, with Shumate and (Matthias) Farley. Those will be your four safeties."

QUESTION: Nothing lingering with Shumate?

"No. he looked good this week. We were pleased with what he did this week. He was able to cut it loose."

QUESTION: You talked earlier in the week about how Louis, when he was out, he was able to work out. Are Ishaq (Williams) and/or Kona (Schwenke) able to do anything right now?

"Ishaq is in week two. He started range of motion, specifically leg lifts, to begin some strengthening. You don't want atrophy in the quad and that area. In week two he begins a weight-training regimen. Next week he'll begin running, so in the bye week, it'll be a week for him to begin some cardio, some heavy cardio and running. Our expectation is that he'll be practicing for BYU.

"As it relate to Kona, we put him in a cast. He's in a cast for 10 days. We were more, I don't know if it is aggressive or conservative, I don't know what the medical terminology would be. Instead of putting him in a boot, we wanted to go 10 days to really shut that down. We'll know when we take that cast off, where we are with him. If we've gotten the pain and inflammation out of there, we could be looking at something in the line of getting him back for BYU."

QUESTION: Chris Watt and Sheldon Day kind of in a full-time mode?

"Knocks on podium) We are pleasantly surprised with Chris Watt. As you know, he couldn't play on Saturday, but I think we're all a bit surprised as to how well he's been able to -- once he got the swelling out of there and the pain -- he's taken virtually all the first-team reps, and looked good in practice this week.

Sheldon Day, as long as he doesn't have someone fall on that or tweak it, he should be able to help us on Saturday."

QUESTION: Obviously, or maybe it's not obvious, if Louis cannot play the entire game, would Tyler Stockton be the guy that rotates in?

"I think Jarron Jones. Jarron would be your first guy that would get the action."

QUESTION: How's he look at the defensive tackle?

"Pretty good. He played pretty good against Navy. We were pleased with his play. He's a big kid that we just need to continue to develop. We feel like he can go in there and hold his own and contribute."

QUESTION: You think that could be maybe where he ends up later? "I would say standing here right now, that's a good possibility."

QUESTION: This has nothing to do with the last two weeks because you were playing option, but early in the season you were real aggressive with your linebackers as far as rushing the quarterback, and corners. Did you go into the season saying we want to be more aggressive and attack a little bit more? Did you have to do that because maybe (Stephon) Tuitt wasn't maybe where he is now? Did you back off of that because you didn't feel it was the best way to approach it?

"I think if you look at, in particular the Michigan game plan, we wanted to play a lot more man coverage because of (Michigan quarterback) Devin Gardner. We felt like we needed to be on body a lot more against him. I think that was a lot more of a plan of action and I don't think we necessarily went away from it because of how the game went as much as we continued to look at our personnel and figure out where we would be best suited.

"And we didn't get the kind of pressure, we didn't get home a lot, so we had to go to plan B. I think always, defensively, our plan A has always been to get it out of our front four. I think that's where we ended up the rest of the season going back to that. Our pressure has come from those guys up front instead of going with the pressure from backers."

QUESTION: Can you talk about Mike Elston a little bit. He's had some challenges almost every year he's been here, trying to get Tuitt and (Aaron) Lynch up to speed when they were freshmen and a lot of expectations this year and now all the injuries.

"Well, he probably has one of the most challenging jobs. When you talk about defensive linemen, the kids that he has in particular. If you take Lynch and Tuitt and Nix, these are guys that are going to be next-level guys. He's confronted with developing their talent level here as well as keeping them grounded as they play for Notre Dame. That's a complex situation. Attention-to-detail, going to class, because he's responsible for both on the practice field and off. Hitting them with the stick when they're not going to class, and doing those things.

"There's a lot on his plate other than getting them lined-up right and executing the right pass-rush technique. The story here for Mike Elston is Stephon Tuitt from Georgia, coming out of a high school that doesn't normally predict to Notre Dame, and Louis Nix, that are going to get their degrees from Notre Dame. He's done a great job of having these young men assimilate and grow here at Notre Dame, not only on the field but off the field."

QUESTION: There's a couple big games nationally tonight. College football, just like the NFL, has morphed from not just Saturday to -- "I know that. I played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays. I've done this trip."

QUESTION: At Cincinnati maybe you need to do that for exposure reasons. At Notre Dame maybe that's not so applicable, but would you ever be open-minded if some network called Notre Dame and wanted a Thursday night game?

"If we could play St. Joe's, I'll play Wednesday afternoon. Anytime that I can play a game of that sort, for us, it's driven certainly by our NBC contract. That has a lot to do with it. Now being in the ACC, as you know the ACC plays Friday night games, we've tried to stay away from that, being in that rotation, and I think we're going to be successful in staying away from those Friday night games. I would like to stick with the Saturday format, unless it's a prime-time game, maybe an opener where it's Notre Dame versus a marquee match-up where we could play on Labor Day or something to that effect. Staying with the Saturdays, I've had enough of Tuesdays and Thursdays and those other days."

QUESTION: I'm always curious about a young guy like (Tarean) Folston who jumps up and maybe demands more playing time by his performance, how do the people around him react to it. How have George (Atkinson) and Amir (Carlisle) reacted to the challenge from Folston?

"Well, I think it's a fair question. If your program is developing the players in the right way and things are in the right place, they respond in a positive way. What I mean by a positive way, is that they get in there and they make every rep in practice count, because they can see that it's a very competitive situation. I think they've done that. I look at it is an extremely positive situation, where they're in there and doing everything they can to make certain that they're getting better as well. They're very competitive, all the guys that are here want to play, I see it as a positive. I don't see it as a negative with those guys."

QUESTION: Well into the football season now, Heinz Field is good place to play in but it's gotten a little beat up by this point with the Steelers and high school games --

"Man you've set this up for me again. Every week she does this. I want to answer the question, but I'm going to get in trouble."

QUESTION: I was just wondering, the week of practice leading into this game, is there anything you can do to prepare for --

"Yeah, we just went in our Stadium. I just couldn't help myself. I tried so bad. I've been at Heinz Field. It's a solid surface. It does come up in certain areas, but it is matted down pretty good. I'm not really that concerned with it. The concerns for me sometimes is the wind there. They've got some conditions that are tricky in the kicking game, so we've had to spend a little bit of time with our kickers. We'll spend a little extra time in our pre-game, because the wind there can impact the game. I'm more concerned with the wind and the impact on the kicking game than we are with the surface."

QUESTION: Looking ahead to the future, with the Shamrock Series potentially being in Lucas Oil Stadium, are you excited about that?

"Man, you're getting a lot of information out here. I don't know that that has been decided, but if it is, Lucas Oil is a great venue. Obviously we've played in great venues, so I think we're always looking for great venues to play in. That sounds like it would be fun. For us, atmosphere, the uniforms, that's all part of the Shamrock Series. I hadn't given it much thought, and nobody has come to me and said that's where it's going to be."

QUESTION: With Stanford-Oregon tonight, when you have some time in a few weeks and you go back and watch that, will there be a couple things you'll look for?

"We'll always in our film breakdown look at games that match quality opposition. I'm not going to go back and look at the maybe the Stanford opener. The Army game, which runs option, I probably won't watch that. I'll look at games like this that are great competition and look at those kind of games. Certainly this will be a game we'll go back and take a look at, as we did when they matched up last year and we were able to look at some things. These are games you've got to go back and look at."


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