Kelly: "I can get them ready"

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly discusses preparation for Michigan, how quickly he could get currently suspended players ready to play, and a pending visit from Lou Holtz.

Brian Kelly

"We just finished up our heavy preparation for Michigan. We went Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, a lot of preparation, a lot of work for a very good team They do a lot of things offensively that we have to prepare for. A lot of shifts, motions trades. It's going to require a lot communication, eye discipline. The mental end of things is going to be very important for our team as well as the physical. And then offensively (for us), defensively they bring pressure and change fronts, multiple coverage looks. A lot at us going into Week 2.

"Preparation this week changed from just play physical and fast to we have to add a lot of the mental end of the game for our team. We're going to have to blend both the mental and the physical on Saturday against Michigan. At times we did good things during practice. Other times, do it again. That was a lot this week. We've gotta rep it again because we've gotta get it right. We've gotta be on our assignments and makes sure we're doing the little things the right way.

"We finished that today. Tomorrow we'll have walk throughs and Saturday we'll do the same thing in the stadium, keep our same routine on Saturday night. We'll drive up the stadium and have shake out Saturday in the stadium. That's our routine leading up the game on Saturday."

Question: What about your team gives you the most confidence?

"There's a good deal of guys on this team that have played in big games. At home, gives me confidence. I think we've won 14 out of 15 games at home. There's a confidence factor that we've got some offensive weapons that can make plays. Then defensively, we showed that we can do some things effectively against the run. In big games like this, you've got to be able to hold your own against the run and you've got to put some points on the board."

Question: Any status update on the five suspended players?

"Yeah, I was told that hearings were going to take place very quickly. That was on Monday. Today's Thursday. That's was the last information that I got relative to our players in the process of the honor code violations.

"I was not told that any of our players were in the process itself. The process has not actually begun for them. My understanding is it hasn't happened yet, but it's about to occur very soon."

Question: Given your experience with the honor code, does that surprise you?

"No, I don't know that I really had a defined understanding of what the timetable was. I can't tell you that I actually read up on whether there was a timetable. I had put it behind me really. Two weeks, three weeks, a month. I really relied, and continued to rely on Jack (Swarbrick) to update me on any information."

Question: With Michigan's new offensive coordinator (Doug Nussmeier) having a new quarterback than what he had at Alabama, did you use Alabama tape in preparation? Was that something you had to prepare for (considering Gardner is different than A.J. McCarron)?

"Yeah, certainly one game, Appalachian State, the game was a little bit out of control. We're watching a lot of Alabama film. But they've got a lot to defend with us as well and with Brian (VanGorder). So they're watching some NFL film. It works both ways. They're trying to defend a lot of things as well. I was speaking more about what we have to prepare for. I know they have a lot to prepare for from their standpoint as well."

Question: Does Matthias Farley's position at nickel make it hard for him to communicate with the back end as much?

"No. He's a very good communicator. He's always been a very good communicator. It (if Farley were to play safety) takes reps away from guys we believe we want to accelerate the process and get them ready. That's (Elijah) Shumate and Max Redfield. We're going to get Austin Collinsworth back. We just really believe Max is going to be a really, really fine football player for us. This is a great opportunity for Elijah to get the reps that he needs back there to be the kind of player we all believe he can be. It really has less to do with Matthias and more to do with those two guys."

(Note: Clarified with Kelly later, because the question wasn't about Farley as much as his actual slotting close to scrimmage as the nickel. Kelly noted that while Joe Schmidt and Farley can help, but it's time for Shumate to take the next step in his development, so they're relying on him and Redfield.)

Question: If the hearings are (Friday), do you expect to get a final resolution (Friday) as well?

"I don't expect it. I have not had expectations really one way or the other. I have not woke up in the morning going, 'Is this the day?' I have dealt with this situation, when I first heard of it, with maybe blinders on in that I was focused on the guys that I have. I miss the guys, I care about them, but I really have a responsibility to the guys on my team. I've really stayed focused on them and coaching the heck out of them. I hope that doesn't come across as callous, but that's really been my focus. I haven't woke up every morning going, 'Is this the day?' I haven't done that."

Question: Hypothetically, if you got any of them back, how much time would they need before they'd be ready to play in game?

"If I got them back tomorrow, they'd play on Saturday. I can get them ready. They're physically conditioned. I know they're working out with (strength and conditioning) coach (Paul) Longo. I can tell you that for sure. They are conditioned, they've been going to class. Other than that, they haven't been taking any football reps. But if we were hypothetically to get that call, they'd been running out of that tunnel on Saturday."

Question: Are they back in meetings?

"No, they're not. That's my decision. The University, they've only kept them from practices and from games."

Question: How much contact have you had with them?

"Personal contact, none. We've kept in contact via text. Checking in, making sure they're getting what they need."

Question: There's a lot of pressure on this game from fans. Do you avoid that? Do you (embrace) wanting to be the team that won the last Michigan game?

"I think we want that. We all want to be that. But we don't get consumed with wanting to be that group that says, 'Hey, we're the last team to beat Michigan.' But we're not consumed with it. We know it has nothing to do with winning the game. What we're consumed with is communication, technique, execution, fundamentals of the game.

"That's really what our guys have done a nice job of this week. Sure, they want to be the guys that beat Michigan and get that pat on the back. But they're not consumed with that. They're consumed with what goes into winning."

Question: You've kept the players out of the film room because you think it's s distraction?

"More than anything else, I don't want them to feel like they're on 24-hour watch as well. Take care of your academics. I don't want them to be torn. When this process finishes itself, there's plenty of time to get in the film room."

Question: What do they do on game days?

"They get their four tickets and they're in the stands."

Question: Long way away, but adding Ohio State in I think 2022, what reaction did you have to that?

"I think they were probably equally as excited to have Notre Dame on their schedule. We're looking to have those high profile programs on our schedule. We added Georgia. We've added Texas. We continue to look at the programs that have that national appeal. Certainly Ohio State has that as well."

Question: Torri Hunter update? Other injuries?

"He went through individual this week. I'm pretty confident he's gonna be cleared to practice next week and possibly compete. (Trainer) Rob Hunt will make the final decision on that, but I really liked the way he moved around this week. We'll see, but he's ahead of schedule. He was in full gear on Wednesday. Did a lot today. Very optimistic that next week he'll get released and we'll see how that turns out to be for a game.

"No other injuries. We got through Thursday without an Austin Collinsworth incident. (Collinsworth was injured during a drill in last Thursday's practice.)

Question: (Freshman defensive end) Jhonny Williams didn't play last week, you had alluded to him as a potential pass-rusher. With (Devin) Gardner's mobility, is he ready for action?

"Jhonny Williams, (Jay) Hayes, those guys are really close. I think it's probably a game-time kind of decision that coach VanGorder would make. They're practicing very well. We're accelerating them probably little bit before their time. We don't believe that we need them on the field right now, but if we have any kinds of injuries, they're ready to go.

"That's kind of where we are with both those guys. We like the way they're practicing.  They hit a little bit of a wall probably last week or so before we got into the Rice, a lot of overload in terms of the games and the playbook and things of that nature. They're starting to come back to speed, playing faster. I still think we'll continue to see their games continue to elevate over the next weeks."

Question: What type of atmosphere do you expect for Saturday night?

"I think it's gonna be awesome. I think that this game in itself has always created a big buzz here, but I think with it not being played again for a while, I think there's an added attention to it. It's early in the season here on campus, there's a lot of energy. I just think it's gonna be a great college atmosphere."

Question: When you got the job Lou Holtz was a great resource. He's in town this weekend. Do you still keep in contact?

"We do. He'll talk to the team tomorrow. It's always good to see coach. He's great. He never is somebody that's gonna call you and ask you for anything. If you call him, he gets right back to you. I had a couple questions during the summer and he got right back to me about a couple things I wanted to ask.

"I asked a couple questions about some things that we were doing internally. He's that kind of guy, he'll get right back to you. He'll talk to our team tomorrow. We're excited about him back on campus."


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