Video: Young talent catches Kelly eye

Brian Kelly met media post opening practice. Several players impressed Brian Kelly during Notre Dame’s first practice, but the head coach wanted a cleaner start to camp. Includes transcript.

 Brian Kelly:
“We didn’t start the way I’d like to. We had to have one of our best leaders take a lap because we had a couple guys that didn’t pay attention to detail. And I think we can give a little bit more, quite frankly. I thought the effort was good, not great. Nothing they can’t control, it’s all stuff they can control. I told them what I expect from them coming back.”

Question: What were your impressions of Malik (Zaire) today?
BK: He’s got real good management skills. He communicates effectively. For a first day you didn’t see a lot of sloppiness from an offensive standpoint in terms of false starts and things of that nature. He’s got a good command, a good presence. It’s probably what I thought it would be on the first day.

Q: How about KeiVarae (Russell)?
BK: He’s obviously a talented player. You can see that in one-on-one. His transition, you can see why he’s one of the better players in the country at his position.

Q: How important do you think this day is to him? Just to be back with the team?
BK: I’m sure – look, it’s hard to put myself in his shoes, but he just loves football. I’m sure it’s a big day for him to get out here and play. You see a big smile on his face. You feel for him and I’m happy he can get past all the things that were in front of him. It’s been long. He’s had to work hard to get back here and all the credit goes to him in the sense that he’s really had to sacrifice a lot to get back to Notre Dame. That’s why it’s great to see him get back here.

Q: Putting aside the slow start, how nice was it to get back out here with your guys?
BK: This is what we live for. To see the guys and their development. I think there’s a lot that we like. We know it’s a process and today is just Day One.

Q: You talked yesterday a lot about establishing culture. How did that translate out here?
: It’s been a process of every day, establishing culture since we got here. It’s been fine-tuned to what we’re expecting with this group; this team; the 2015 team. Because we think we’ve got the parts, but the parts have to be running together. The emphasis is really about that we know we have the individuals, but it’s about coming together. Emphasizing that has been the focal point since January workouts. This is just an extension of that. It would be crazy for us now to all of a sudden to forget culture and go all to scheme. So we stay on point and continue to talk about coming together as a football team.

Q: What do you want to see from your guys (at Culver)?
BK: Well I want to start fast. We didn’t start fast. As a football team it’s important that we get off to better starts. We play Texas, Virginia – I just told our team it’s going to be 100 degrees with 90 percent humidity when we go down to Virginia and they better use this opportunity from a conditioning standpoint. We play Georgia Tech early; we play Clemson early. We have to get off to a fast start. So the way we start practice, the way we do everything, we have to get off to a fast start.

Q: How important is being away from campus to your culture?
BK: What we get here is our guys can focus on being teammates. They don’t have any distractions. Their parents love them. They love them too much, because they certainly can’t do any wrong. We know that when they come back. So it’s great for them to be around teammates or coaches. That’s what’s great about putting a team together, times like this. It’s nothing but football, there’s nothing going on. It’s just football. That’s where you start to build a football team.

Q: What were your impressions of Brandon Wimbush today?
BK: A lot of the things we thought. He has a strong arm. He tries to overpower a lot of stuff. Some of the things that jump out, he’s using some footwork that doesn’t sync up to the things we do so we’ll work on those things. But he’s so bright, wide-eyed, and extremely coachable. That’s the great thing about it. He’s going to pick up things really, really fast here. He has a really live arm as you could see, so he’s going to be able to make all the throws. We’re going to have to catch up his footwork. Once we do that, a lot of the things are going to come to him quickly.

Q: Anyone pleasantly surprise you?
BK: I really liked a number of the receivers, from Miles Boykin to C.J. (Sanders) to Jalen Guyton. I thought all the receivers did a very nice job today. Defensive backs, I liked all the young kids out there. They just all showed up in one-on-ones today, the way they competed. Breaking on the ball, it was fast, it was active and it was deep. Sometimes we run out of gas in one-on-ones, we went 10 minutes today and that was a big difference for us.

Q: You mentioned a couple games in the south. Do you need to push (the team) in its conditioning?
BK: There’s no question they have to give 100 percent 100 percent of the time to be in great physical condition. I thought we had a great summer but we need to continue it through football related activities. In our 11-on-11s and 7-on-7s and our running and all these physical things. We have to be in our best physical condition. We can’t round into shape. We can’t play three or four games like it’s a pre-season. It’s too late. We have to be ready to go in Week One. This is very important for us.

Q: Was the slow start today physical rust or mental rust?
BK: Well it takes one guy to have a slow start, right? It takes one guy to turn the ball over, one guy to not make the right call. We expect our players to hold each other accountable to make sure it’s a fast start.

Q: How important is it to have Joe Schmidt on the field to make sure everything runs smoothly?
BK: Well he’s our best leader. His recall – I’ve never seen anybody that has the immediate recall that he has for what we do. It’s very important that now we have a guy in Jarrett Grace that can back him up. Matthias Farley has emerged as an outstanding leader and has the same kind of leadership skills. It’s very, very important for (Schmidt) to be here but it’s great now that we can surround him with some other leaders as well.

Q: You’d say practices are different for the defense when he’s healthy an on the field?
BK: Oh without question. Without question. Now add, as I mentioned, Redfield, Farley, Jarrett Grace, and now you have something totally different than we had last year.

Q: The practice seemed much more vocal today. Is that something you encouraged with the guys?
BK: Absolutely. This is theirs. They have to take ownership. They have to be communicating with each other. We’re not going to be out there for them and we lived through that last year where they weren’t vocal, they weren’t communicating, and it really hurt us in a number of instances. So it’s been something we’ve been working hard with them and they have to take control of it. Tomorrow, on special teams we’re going to have players lead the drills. And really get them taking this thing over.

Q: What were your Day One impressions of Justin Brent at running back?
: It’s one of those things where we’re just trying to see if he has a sense and a feel for things. Today was really about getting him comfortable liming up back there. We really won’t know until we tackle. That will be the real test. Today when you’re running around and tagging, he still has the ball in the wrong arm when he turns the corner. It’s hard to tell, we’re just trying to get him ready in these next three days to get him ready to go tackle and go live.

Q: How did Jarron Jones look?
: Yeah he looked good. He was able to do 88s and he was able to do all the tempo stuff and line up and move around without any issues. I thought it was a good day. Top Stories