Kelly Q&A: Nov. 13

Irish head coach Brian Kelly discusses practice in inclement weather conditions, a week of leadership from Everett Golson, the example Cam McDaniel and Austin Collinsworth set, and a message written on Tarean Folston's arm tape this week.

Brian Kelly

"Just finished up preparation. We started outside today, got some work done outside, then it became a little too dangerous to be out there much longer, we finished up practice indoors. Got some work outside in the elements yesterday, practiced outside the entire day. Prepared for the weather conditions, so that won’t be a factor and had a really good week of practice.

"I think what I’m most pleased with is we got great leadership from Everett (Golson) this week. He’s got an immense amount of pride and I really enjoyed coaching him this week. It was a fun week in the growth department from that perspective.

"Again, nobody likes to be that guy that is singled out for their play, he’s the quarterback at Notre Dame and he embraces that and took control this week of practice. Was vocal. Was a guy that I hadn’t seen before, and was enjoyable to be out there coaching him. Great week of practice, expect great things from him on Saturday."

Question: That was a change in Everett? You had not seen him like this before?

Brian Kelly: "Not this manner. Not in this manner. It was fun."

Question: I assume Cody Riggs is a game-time decision?

Kelly: "No, he’s gonna play. He’s not gonna play the whole game. But he’ll be able to contribute and play some. He practiced this week. We’re not gonna put so many snaps on him that we lose him next week. We’ll be smart with him."

Question: Running back rotation returns to as is? Tarean Folston at No. 1?

Kelly:"He started, it just was the situation in the game, we were throwing it much more, we were coming back. In a balanced situation we’d go back to what our rotation was."

Question: Cam McDaniel keeps hanging in there…

Kelly: "That’s him. He’s such a gritty, tough competitive kid. He’s always been counted out, whether it’s in middle school or high school or Notre Dame. He finds a way to help your football team. That’s probably his story. He continues to compete. He’s a great leader for us as well."

Question: It seems he thrives on being doubted?

Kelly: "I recall him coming in my office prior to the Stanford game and telling me, Telling Me, underline telling me, that he should be starting against Stanford because that’s his kind of game And that’s Cam. And we did start him against Stanford because that is his kind of game. He carries himself with a great deal of confidence and it shows."

Question: When someone plays that well in a reserve role, is it something you tend to recognize the following week? I know this is a different opponent, different type of game --

Kelly: "He sets a standard for those other kids. And they see it too, they see it. They understand. They hear what we say. They listen to my press conference too. They hear me say (Tarean) Folston needs to be a complete back. He had it written on his tape on his wrist this week, “I need to be a complete back.” He was focused on blitz pick up. When it was blitz pick up drill he was wanting to be in there proving that he can be. I frankly told him, when you get that completed there will be another box that we’ve gotta check, they understand that. There’s more for those guys to accomplish, but they all have their own styles."

Question: Can you improve on blitz pick up during the year?

Kelly: "I think Folston can. Greg (Bryant) is still learning protections and still picking up some things in terms of recognition and he’ll get better at it. Folston knows what he’s doing. This was more of a kick in the butt with him."

Question: Is Austin Collinsworth available?

Kelly: "I think it’s just a matter of when we’re ready to get him in the game. I think just a coaching decision, he’s not holding himself back. We just have to put him in. He’s practicing. He’s able to play if we decide to play him. There’s no holding back on his part. He wants to get back in the game."

Question: Does that type of injury mitigate him playing on special teams?

Kelly: "I’m not going to lose him on special teams. Not in this situation. Here’s a kid, he’s given us everything to even get back out there. I’m not going to lose him on special teams."

Question: How has Austin led under the circumstances?

Kelly: "This year he’s done it with a demand of personal accountability. Specifically, on the unity council, he’s the guy that has really gotten that council to be a strong mover within the 2014 team. I’ve alluded to it on a couple occasions. That’s why I was holding back from naming captains because our unity council this year was a real strong mover. He was that guy. Just things with off-field behavior and how they handle themselves. A lot of that is driven by Collinsworth, that’s the kind of influence he has. Personal conduct, the way kids do things, the way they represent the University. That’s really a big push for him."

Question: Is this weekend's weather a concern with the turnovers?

Kelly: "It don't (sic) matter what the weather is, it was 85 degrees and sunny and we turned it over five times. We have to handle it in terms of execution and attention to detail and all those things. We’ve practiced in the elements, we’ve had 7-on-7, we were out there today throwing it, catching it in the elements, quarterbacks out there in short sleeve shirts. We’re prepared for that. That won’t be an issue for us."

Question: How did Nyles Morgan (and the other freshmen) come through this week?

Kelly: "They are so engaged. They are so anxious. It’s probably a poor analogy, they wanna do so well, they’re like hunting dogs. Just looking up at you, 'what can I do?' But they’re young. There’s mental errors and mistakes that we have to clean up every day with them. You ask coach (Brian) VanGorder and for him it’s great because you have such captive group that they just want to learn -- but there’s a lot of learning going on. Every day it’s something new for them.

Question: Did Joe Schmidt travel last week? Was that ever a plan?

Kelly: "Joe did not travel, no. By the time he got back, there was still swelling so elevation, getting him on the plane, they were worried about that, all that kind of stuff. They weren’t fired up about getting him back on the plane. He was not happy. He’s been great (this week). Engaged, helping, he’s got his little cart right now, scooting around on his cart. He’s gonna be, once he’s up and walking around, he’s probably gonna be a handful because he’s now just zipping around in practice in his cart. We gotta get him off the (practice) field."

Question: Everett talked about check downs yesterday and talked about how that’s tough for him. Is that true of all quarterbacks? Something more specific to him?

Kelly: "I think that’s difficult for him in that when you have an athletic quarterback that knows he can make a play with his feet, dropping it down to the back is, 'Well, I can do that.' What we really want him to do is through his progression, utilize if you’re in trouble and you can’t get out of it with your feet, find out where you outlet is. We felt there were a couple instances where there was an impending crisis that he couldn’t get out of and he couldn’t get out of it. I don’t want to change him, I want him to use his feet, I want him to try to get out of some things, but you can’t get out of everything. So I think the process there is, you can’t get out of everything, understanding that. What you can’t get out of, find your release and get the ball out. That’s gonna be a process."

Question: Is that (for example) taking your fifth progression earlier? If there’s trouble, look at your first, second, then jump to the fifth?

Kelly: "It’s understanding a couple of things. First of all, understanding where you blitz beater is and really being clear on where that blitz beater is. We missed two of them on Saturday where the ball needed to come out, which caused a problem. The second thing is where’s your check down? Touchdown to check down. Where’s your check down? And we’re getting better there, but that’s the next step."

Question: You guys struggled against play action last week, ASU was 9-of-10 passing. Is that a concern?

Kelly: "When it comes to play action, anybody would tell you that play action, if it’s well executed and you have an effective running game -- 9-of-10 of anything is too high -- but there’s not one thing that you can say is gonna eliminate really good play action if you’re running the football. Last week, Arizona State was really good running the football. The best way to eliminate play action is to do a better job against running the football. When we were struggling against play action it was when we were giving up significant runs."

Question: How has Malik Zaire been during Golson's season? How is he processing everything? Is he processing everything?

Kelly: "I think our room is such that there’s no secrets in the room. When we go over things, there’s not, ‘Let’s do this separately, Everett.’ We watch film together, we discuss things in that room together. He’s hearing those conversations, for example I was asked about progressions, (Zaire) is hearing all of those things. And then at practice all that teaching, he should be absorbing all of that as well. But when you’re not playing, sometimes you only absorb what you want to absorb. That’s the problem. You don’t know how much you’re really sinking in until you get out there and play. But he’s hearing all of it, he’s seeing all of it. But you never know until you get into the game. You just never know."

Question: Any new injuries this week?

Kelly: No. Nothing.

Question: Did the (new) FieldTurf hold up?

Kelly: "It was pretty good. It was coming down there pretty good. We got the plow out there and plowed it off, so it was in pretty good shape. Considering that we should be in really good shape (Saturday)."


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