Kelly Q&A

Notre Dame head coach spoke with the media following his team's fifth practice of the spring. Among topics discussed: Corey Robinson, Andrew Trumbetti, Greg Bryant, Tarean Folston, Amir Carlisle, Chris Brown, Isaac Rochell, John Turner, Max Redfield, extensive use of 4-3 fronts, a potential two quarterback system in the fall and the relationship between Everett Golson and Malik Zaire.

Brian Kelly

"Had a great day. We would have scored 100 points today if we played Michigan. No, we're not playing them next year. Oh, we are. It's Michigan State.

"Good practice. It's been busy the last couple of days, so we've been back-to-back. Got a lot of work in. It's a process for us. Offensively, it's a process of really developing our quarterbacks and getting them comfortable in the offense. Really, just getting them to the point where they and we feel like we can get to their comfort zone. We're right in the middle of it.

"I got a pretty good feeling that we're going to have a supporting cast for our quarterback. We're going to have some skill players. I think our offensive line and tight end play is going to be good. Just have to get the quarterback developed to the point where we know he's comfortable running our offense. And he will be. It's just going to take some time.

"Defensively, as you guys have observed, we're going to do a lot of different things. We're focusing on some of our different packages right now that we need some work on. A lot of that is sub-personnel, but that's what we need a lot of work on right now.

"These are just different segments. They're not the whole offense or defense right now. We're going through it right now. I like our attention, I like the way we're meeting. We're just in the middle of it right now. I can't really give you any definitive statements one way or another."

QUESTION: We see a lot of 4-3 in practice. As you look at that, is it more a function of personnel being a better fit for that or is it more what (defensive coordinator) Brian VanGorder wants to do?

"Right now, we're working on our third-down packages, a lot more of our third down stuff, which is going to be more four-down, which was what we did last year. We were primarily a four-down team on third down. We're just spending more time on personnel packaging. We want to see who those guys are going to be that will give us a pass rush, so we're not doing a lot of first- and second-down defense.

"All of my scripting and our practice schedule has been a lot of third-down stuff, a lot of situational. It's just the way the practices have been set up. We haven't done a ton of 1st-and-10. Today was the first day we did any 1st-and-10, and we had a lot of snaps today, we had a lot of three-down.

"It's just what I wanted to work on, what Brian -- what we both wanted to get into to find out where those pass rushes are going to come from. You're right, we've been in some more four-down, but there's going to be three-down and four-down. It's just what we're working on right now."

QUESTION: Do you feel like he has simplified things? Is that his trademark? I know you mentioned he's a good teacher.

"I couldn't really answer that question definitively because, to me, I would have to be in that room to really give you that answer. It's simple to me, but they're learning some new things. We're not blowing a lot of coverages. We're fitting the plays the right way. Brian's been at this a long time. He's not going to be putting terminology or schemes out there that our kids can't comprehend, so I'm pretty confident based upon what my eyes have seen. In answering that question from what I've seen, is when we're in 7-on-7, we're not blowing coverages left and right that our guys can't comprehend."

QUESTION: How does Isaac Rochell fit into the line?

"I would say the first thing that's pretty clear is he is starting to physically develop. He's a different kid than he was in the fall in the sense that he is stronger. He has made gains in the weight room. You could just see it in our two-spot drill today. Physically, last year his legs would crumble underneath him. Today you could see he's got some bite to him. He's developing physically.

"Is he a dynamic pass-rusher off the edge right now? No, he's not, but can he be? I think in time. He's a lot stronger as a football player. So immediately he's going to help us more, especially in the early downs. He's a lot more physical as a football player."

QUESTION: What is your timetable for knowing who your starting quarterback is? When do you want to be able to say you've got your quarterback?

"I think it's just going to take time. It's always about finding that consistency at that position. It's just going to take some time. I don't have a timetable on it. I'll know when it's running the right way and it's smooth. It's not there yet. It will be.

"Again, the one thing that I caution about quarterbacks is we're laying down installation, we're just laying plays in there. When you just lay plays in on plays on plays, you don't get a chance to work on one thing and get good at it, because you've got to put another play in. That's why it looks scattered at times. I have to remind them that we have to lay these plays down, in installation, so we have it in so we can come back to it later and use it in our volume, in our library.

"That's kind of the frustrating part for me sometimes, because you look at it and you go, I wish I was running just two plays right now. We'd be a whole lot better, our practices would look better and I wouldn't go home with a migraine. That's where we are at this point. It's just going to take some time."

QUESTION: How much of a challenge is it to have a right-handed and a left-handed quarterback? Does that make it tougher?

"Play-calling, you have to be thinking about some of the things relative to play-action and sprinting out and doing some things because obviously you don't want to put the lefty moving to the right, and vice versa. Calling plays today, for the first time in awhile, you have to be cognizant of who's in there and how you're moving from hash-to-hash."

QUESTION: Where do you think Everett Golson's comfort level is after a couple weeks of practice?

"What do you mean by that?"

QUESTION: Just re-adapting to the offense, finding his timing with some of the guys.

"I don't think he's feeling comfortable yet. I think he's still trying to find that. He doesn't have any of the guys. He doesn't have TJ (Jones). (DaVaris) Daniels isn't here. All the guys that he had a little bit of that timing with, he's working with all new guys. He doesn't have any of that. It's really like he's working with a whole new cast of characters in that sense.

"Malik (Zaire) has more timing with some of these guys than he does, in a sense. He's working to it. I wouldn't say he is frustrated at all. He's got a good grasp of what we're doing. It's just going to take some time."

QUESTION: What about his sense of the playbook?

"Oh he's good. He's got a great sense of what we're doing, how we're doing it. He's been away for a little bit. We've got plenty of time. He's been fun to coach. I look for guys to be coachable. He's very coachable. He communicates well with me. He's extremely competitive. That's a good thing."

QUESTION: How has Amir Carlisle gotten past the frustrations of last year?

"I was asked that question before. Somebody asked me about him being frustrated. He's just kind of going through the process of finding a home in a sense. Last year he didn't really get into a rhythm offensively at running back, and then he's playing a little bit of slash slot. Now he's playing full-time at the receiver position. I think he's getting into a consistent role. I think that's very, very important for him. It's helping a lot. For him, I think he feels a lot more comfortable."

QUESTION: As you move guys to receiver, what are you looking to accomplish as far as the defense is concerned?

"I think anytime you can prompt defenses to make adjustments with their coverages. Primarily it's based upon forcing different coverage variations with formations.

QUESTION: Can you envision or would you be comfortable with a two-quarterback system to take advantage of Malik's better grasp of the read-option stuff that you do. Would you be comfortable with a situation like that?

"I'll do anything to win. If I felt like when we got to August, that is where we were, I'm all in. I can handle that. I think the ideal situation is one, but he definitely has shown in himself to be ready to compete in some of those areas that you mentioned. I want to see him compete in all those areas. That's a really good thing."

QUESTION: What have you seen from Andrew Trumbetti?

"He's got a great motor, and he's got pretty good football instincts, and he has opportunity. If we had a little bit more depth in that position, we probably wouldn't be talking about him. Opportunity and then he has a really good motor and really good football instincts. And he's physically mature enough to go in there and mix it up a little bit.

"I would probably tap the brakes on Andrew Trumbetti, because he's a young kid. Generally what happens is it catches up with you a little bit. He's done really well, but it's a lot for him. There's a lot going on out there. He has shown really well early on."

QUESTION: Has John Turner surprised you?

"I'll be surprised only if he doesn't take advantage of this opportunity, because he's been given a great opportunity here. We all knew about his physical ability. Now he's been given a chance that is an incredible opportunity. We knew he had the ability to do it. Now he's been given the chance to do it. I don't know if he really had the chance last year, to be quite honest with you. Now he's been given the chance, so I'll be surprised if he doesn't take advantage of it."

QUESTION:What do you coaches read out of Max (Redfield) in just a few practices this year as far as understanding the defense, where he needs to be, getting guys lined up?

"Better each day. Better grasp each day. He's got a ways to go there, there's no question, but crazy, crazy, crazy ability. He can make a mistake and get himself out of it. I think I was asked a question before, he's a guy that we just need to keep working with. He's getting better. His knowledge base was zero. We feel like we can make the progress necessary so that when we line up against Rice, he'll be good."

QUESTION:How has Chris Brown handled an increased role? With Daniels gone for the spring, he is kind of the veteran.

"He's been good. I liked his progress physically, he's stronger. I like what he's doing. I just want more out of all of them. I want a little bit more out of him. I need more out of C.J. Prosise. I guess if I could talk about one guy out of all the receivers, the guy that I'm pleased with the most is Corey Robinson."

QUESTION:What has Robinson done to earn that praise?

"He does exactly what I ask him to do all the time, and he does it right. He may screw it up the first time, but you coach him, and he does it right the second time. I love that kid."

QUESTION: How often can you say that about a player? How many guys are on the team that you can say that about?

"They try to do it right. They all try to do it right. He does it right the second time. He's fun to coach."

QUESTION: We had a chance to talk to Malik yesterday. He comes off as a competitive guy, fearless guy. Does he ever push himself too hard? What's the chemistry like between him and Everett?

"They're good. They like each other. Everett's not going to sit down and read him the playbook, though. But they like each other, they get along very well, but it's not Tommy Rees where he would sit down and teach Everett the offense. We don't have that kind of situation.

"These two compete. Malik wants to beat out Everett. But it's a very positive type of atmosphere. He's just a highly competitive kid and extremely confident. Extremely. Sometimes I have to settle him down. But that's a good thing. I'd rather have that than somebody who doesn't think they can do it.

"The dynamic is very positive. They're very good with each other. They help each other. But it's not one where they're going to share notes or sit down and ask how to help each other."

QUESTION: Will Mahone and Christian Lombard, when are they expected back?

"Christian's going to be -- it's the first time I've had this injury in 24 years. He just fell on his hand. He fell backward on his hand, and broke the bone. It's such a minor deal, but it's so major because they had to put a pin in it, and they had to go in, make an incision, and pin it. You can't move it for 4-6 weeks. If this happened during the season, it would be such a minor deal, but he would be gone for six weeks. It won't impact anything relative to his conditioning. Really just a freak injury. 4-6 weeks. He feel back and landed on his hand and broke his bone in the wrist. 4-6 weeks.

"Will unfortunately broke his other foot, so another 4-6 week deal. Just bad luck. But he's coming back and he's ready to get in and work hard once back on the field."

QUESTION: Does Christian's absence create an opportunity for someone else to really shine?

"I would think he'd be really hard to beat out. He's such a veteran, senior. It'll give other guys, it just puts (offensive line coach) Harry (Hiestand) back to nine guys again, which he's used to, unfortunately. Just makes us thinner at offensive line. You'd be hard-pressed to get a guy to unseat Lombard in there, he's such a tough guy."

QUESTION: What dimensions does (sophomore running back) Greg Bryant bring to your offense that maybe you haven't had or didn't have last year?

"Power. Power. Powerful. He's very powerful. Tarean (Folston) is very smooth. Cam (McDaniel) is shifty and gutsy. Greg is a powerful back. I think he brings that presence to our game."

QUESTION: Does he play hard every snap? The few times we've had a chance to see him he seems to treat every rep like it's his last one.

"It's interesting that you bring that up, because we haven't seen a ton of him in scrimmage. When we were in the fall, he was really working with the younger guys, because we had George (Atkinson) and all these guys. He didn't get a ton of work. Today was his first -- I wanted him to get most of the work today, and he got most of the reps today. The word that I would use watching him run today is pretty powerful. He's a physical guy running hard, and physical."

QUESTION: Have you gotten to the point where you started to sift through your kickoff or punt return men?

"No. We've been working on fundamentals. Fundamentals and the personnel we want on those teams other than the skill players. I'm going to find the skill players there. We need the rank-and-file guys that are running down. Not the returners, but those guys who are integral to the schematics of setting that up. That's what is in our focus, putting that together.

"I'll get to those guys next week when we get outside. It's so hard to do that inside, catching punts and kickoffs, so hopefully we get outside again this year and catch some balls. We'll get to that when we get outside. We're really working hard on some things that we've been able to. We had (Detroit Lions special teams coordinator) John Bonamego in here yesterday and spent some more time on some special teams things.

"We've been really focused on some individual drill work and some specific guys. That's what we've been looking at." Top Stories