Transcript: Brian Kelly

Notre Dame's head coach discusses his first session with a handful of new assistants, initial impressions of Brandon Wimbush, and the weekly versatility needed at the new Rover position.

Brian Kelly:
First practice, I like the energy and enthusiasm on Day One. If every practice could be Day One it’d be awesome. A good day, I liked our tempo, I liked our teaching. I’m listening for good communication, for guys that are really locked in with an attention to detail and really focused.

I thought that by in large a lot those things came to fruition today. To point out anything in particular after Day One would be a little bit foolish. I thought overall, generally speaking, I really like the management of our defense and how it’s being taught.

Loved the tempo of our offense today. We didn’t have the typical sloppiness of the ball on the ground and guys not executing at a high level. I’m pleased with that from a first day.

Question: With so many new assistant coaches, what did you notice watching the way that they do what they do?
BK: You laid down what your expectations are and what you want your coaches to really focus on. We vetted all of these coaches out in the process and I wanted great communicators, great teachers, guys that are very positive.

I was able to get around and see all the position groups and I was really pleased with how they interacted with the players and communicated effectively with them. There was no lack of communication in an effective manner. It was a good day for me to get a sense of how our coaches are teaching and communicating with our players.

Q: We saw Asmar Bilal at Rover…
BK: Asmar was there today. I really think it’s going to be a week-to-week matchup situation. You’re going to look at the teams that can stress the position with a slot receiver versus a tight end. We play some power run teams in the fist month of the season.

We think Asmar is a guy that physically can run with most detached tight ends or backs coming out in the role that we’re going to ask that Rover to matchup with a (No.) 2. We’re not going to ask him matchup vertically and play corner routes. We think he’s a physical guy at the point of attack. A guy that is agile enough to play in space but not put him in a position where he’d have to play more of a safety at that position right now.

Q: Does the fact that we saw Drue Tranquill at safety there right now mean he won’t get a look at (Rover)?
BK
: No it doesn’t. No it doesn’t. I think what you’ll find at the Rover position is there’ll be some versatility based upon the opponent.

Q: What are you looking for this spring between Brandon Wimbush and the wide receivers?
BK
: I think in the first day we were really looking at tempo in our offense and we achieved that. We wanted to – look, to go fast and be sloppy is certainly not the end (game). But to be able to run a little bit more tempo with our offense and to be effective and execution was really the most important thing.

There is a relationship built already with these guys. Brandon has been with them for the last couple of years so we’re not starting from scratch. But there are the nuances that they’re going to have to work out. I thought in particular there’s already a pretty good sense of relationship if you will between the receivers and Brandon. I think we saw that today, at least I did.

Q: First, second, and third strings don’t mean much on Day One but I did find it notable that a former starter Kevin Stepherson began with the third group…
BK: Right now we’re moving positions around. You saw C.J. (Sanders) out at X. We actually have some tight ends that could play at different positions. You saw Chase Claypool out at Z. It’s really too early to read in to first, second and third because we’re moving some guys around and we don’t want to put Kevin into a position where he’s got to learn a couple of different positions. It’s by virtue of moving other guys to that X position and giving them reps – and Kevin already knows the X position so it’s not that he’s the third as much as we’re trying to get other guys some work over there.

Q: If legislation for the tenth Assistant coach doesn’t pass how will that affect (quarterbacks coach) Tommy Rees?
BK: Tommy is designated as a graduate assistant right now. If it didn’t pass he would stay in that role. He can’t go off campus but he can be on campus in a recruiting role. Phone calls, things of that nature on campus. Chip (Long) and I would pick up that role if the tenth coach is not accepted.

I think a lot of people feel it is going to pass. We do things with a mind and an eye towards things working in this direction that it would pass. We’re prepared to continue on and move forward if it doesn’t.

One way or the other.

Q: Inaudible
BK: When we go to predicting the NCAA membership and voting we have a better chance of winning the lottery. It seems as though the appetite is there from everything I’ve gotten from (senior associate director of athletics) Jill Bodensteiner who really has her ear to the ground relative to the membership (NCAA legislation). We’re taking our cues off of what we’re getting and we’re confident that something is going to happen because it is packaged with early signing. And that seems to be the one piece that has a pretty strong foothold.

If that passes this one is essentially a rider to that. We feel pretty confident.

Q: Talk about what you’ve seen from Mike McGlinchey.
BK: A couple things. First, he came back with a want and a desire to improve in the weigh room. There was a commitment that we needed to make to get him bigger, faster and stronger. I don’t know if you’ve seen him, but he’s gone up 8-to-10 pounds. Good weight. He’s gone from 16 to 24 in terms of 225 bench reps. He’s made significant gains in the weight room.

We owed him something on our end as well, and it’s a commitment to physically develop him, to mentally develop him as a captain and as a leader and then to develop his skill. We moved him over to left tackle and it was an adjustment period there. And so obviously Harry working with him is crucial to us. This was kind of the deal, you come back, you finish off at Notre Dame, you help us win a championship and we’re gonna help develop you physically, we’re gonna help develop your leadership skills. As you help Notre Dame football, it’s also going to help your individually.

Q: What are you looking to see from Brandon Wimbush outside of the physical stuff?

BK: There’s so many things that you have to be able to balance, outside of just being a really good student. It’s (the media), it’s alumni, it’s the pressures of playing it, the position itself. Coming every day and believing in yourself and having the confidence in the position, being aware of where you are every day as the quarterback of Notre Dame. It’s balancing all those things. That’s really the biggest focus for me and Tommy (Rees) and Chip (Long) on a day-to-day basis, is making sure that he’s handling all the other things that come with being the quarterback at Notre Dame.

Q: How much will Rees really be able to help there?
BK: That’s a big reason why I think he’s a great hire. His time at this place. Knows Notre Dame, has been in it. He played as a freshman. He can relate to the young quarterbacks that are under his tutelage. Could we have found a quarterback with a deeper resume? But they would not have understood Notre Dame. They would have not understood playing as a freshman. They would not have understood all the intangibles that Tommy has that he can bring to the position. And the knowledge of who I am as a coach and what my expectations are and the offense. I just think he’s a great step for us.

Q: What’s the next step for Nyles Morgan?
BK: I think what he’s working on right now is his intent and impact on the team. In other words, he’s an emotional leader and we really want to fine-tune how he impacts the other people around him. Through his leadership, I think we can continue to grow as a defense. He impacts the other 10 players around him. He leads by, sometimes, his emotions. We want that to be balanced on a day-to-day basis. Holding players accountable, communicating with them mentally. I think that’s just been a great maturation process for him.

Q: Is the strong-side defensive end position different now under Mike Elko?
BK: There will be some similarities to it. It’s an anchor end position versus obviously the drop position where you have some flexibility to get into coverage and things like that. He’s going to be a guy who’s got to hold the point; he’s got to be physical at the point of attack. You’ll see a hybrid on the other side, a guy who can do a little bit more in space and that fits some personnel that we have. (Strong side), this is a guy that’s bigger in terms of size and stronger run fit guy at the point of attack.

Q: Jay Hayes fits there? Khalid Kareem too? What about Andrew Trumbetti?
BK: We do. Now (Trumbetti) is up to 255. I think he’s in a strong position to handle the rigors of the position, in particular that strong side. When he wasn’t holding his weight in the manner that he needed to that would have been more of a concern, but we feel really good about where he is right now.

Q: What about the three-technique?
BK: It will vary. It’s not always gonna be a true three technique. You’ll see him move around a little bit. (Jonathan) Bonner would be a guy that we’re looking at the three. Micah Dew-Treadway. If you move him to a four technique he’s got to be able to do that shade position. Maybe see Jerry (Tillery) at a one technique. It’s a different situation in terms of the body types you’ll see.

Q: Cross training for Jay Hayes?
BK: I’d like to see him on the edge.

Q: How was practice for you bouncing around?
BK: I have different priorities. My priorities were making sure that the offense is running the installation effectively, doing the things necessary to make sure that the offense is running the way it’s supposed to. That’s not my priority right now. My priority is emphasizing the things that I want. Today was about evaluating the personnel and where they are. It was much more of a different priority for me that it has been.


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