Brian Kelly addressed the media today in a press conference that covered the waterfront that is Notre Dame football. Of course, all eyes, and ears, were on the four players currently suspended as the investigation into academic misdeeds continues, but the kickoff against Rice, the vacant captaincies, and the newly-released Two Deep got as much, if not more, attention. And, if his comments today were any indication, Coach Kelly wants to focus on the players available to him and not on those who may or may not return from purgatory.
Rice: I don’t think that much of what Coach Kelly said was pablum or coach-speak, but I do have the sense that he’s looking forward to playing, and beating, Rice. The official kick-off will be 3:42 p.m. He praised Saturday’s opponent and singled out their head coach, David Baliff, as having accomplished singular things at Rice, such as a Conference USA championship last season. With an “aggressive defense” and a player in Christian Covington, who is “very disruptive,” Rice is going to be a “good test” for the Irish. Here’s hoping that Notre Dame needs no academic assistance to pass it.
Academic Investigation: If this segue were any rougher, it would have resulted in a products-liability claim. In any event, mum’s, apparently, the word as to the suspensions of Messrs. Daniels, et al. Coach Kelly is very much out-of-the-loop as to what’s going on, but that does not mean that he feels he was “blind-sided,” or that the program does not have “a seat at the table,” as it were. Coach is pleased with the speed and manner in which the AD informs him as to what’s going on, and absent anything this week, Coach Kelly plans reach out to him. Kelly noted that he’s very familiar with this process thanks to Everett Golson and he knows not to build a time-table at this point.
Two Deep: Player and personnel were very much the talk of the day, and the media and Coach Kelly spent some time and questions addressing the two-deep they were all looking at for the first time. Evidently, Coach Denbrock determines who makes the two deep. Neither Torii Hunter nor Jarrett Grace will be ready for Rice, but Kelly sounded very optimistic as to their return. Jarron Jones, who can bend sufficiently and is athletically-gifted enough to make his 6’6″ frame work on the inside, and Sheldon Day will form the interior of the defensive line, with Romeo Okwara and Andrew Trumbetti on the outside. Corey Robinson underwent surgery to repair a fractured thumb and will be a “go” on Saturday. Ben Koyack has polished his game as a pass receiver and looks to be a force down the middle of the field. Steve Elmer has completed a remarkable transition to the (right-) tackle position.
Unity Council: This little-discussed player group was at the front of much discussion today, relative to the Alma Mater (it will be sung) and captaincies. Coach Kelly praised this year’s Unity Council as his most active, and full of young leaders. Coach was quick to point out that it was the players via the Unity Council who decided not to participate in the post-game singing last season and it was the players who voted to do so this year. Captains will be decided in the next twenty-four hours. The Unity Council acts as the bridge between the coaching staff and the players, offering a degree of “limited democracy” within the team.
The full transcript can be read here.
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