Kelly talks Rees, Wood, recruiting
Tommy Rees might have performed ably in his first collegiate start last week against then-No. 15 Utah but that doesn't mean Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is prepared to cut him loose just yet.
The freshman quarterback was 13 of 20 through the air for 129 yards and three touchdowns with, perhaps most importantly, no turnovers and was it his most accurate on touchdown passes to Duval Kamara that stretched Notre Dame's lead in the third quarter.
With that in mind, Kelly plans to continue building on what Rees does well against Army at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.
"We'll try to give him some more opportunities within what I believe are his strengths," Kelly said. "He distributes very well; his ball placement. It's all now about what he sees and how he reacts.
"We spent a lot this week on some plays that we think in our running game can help him. But obviously our receivers are gonna have to do a very good job. I think, again, with Tommy Rees, he's still a true freshman and this is his second start. We've gotta keep it in perspective."
Rees will make do with what has been a banged up crew of wide receivers.
Theo Riddick will miss this game with an ankle injury and freshman TJ Jones is banged up, although he's expected to receive limited playing time.
Robby Toma is expected to start at the slot receiver position while the recent success of Kamara could lead to more playing time along with John Goodman. To this point in the season Mike Floyd has been the one constant, healthy performer at wide receiver.
That fact isn't lost on Kelly.
"We're just battling with the guys that are healthy," Kelly said. "It's not ideal. No question. We want some continuity. Mike Floyd has been a pretty consistent performer for us. I think that that's probably the one area that you look back on it, that's been difficult for us. We put so much time and effort in getting Theo ready and we just get him there and we lose him. And then obviously a number of other things occur. But they've really battled to come in there and the next guy has stepped up, whether it's Robby or TJ or Goodman or even this past weekend when it's Duval."
Wood continues his ascent
Notre Dame has yet to have a 100-yard rusher this season, something that could change against Army.
If it's going to be anybody Cierre Wood is the likely candidate as he has risen to No. 1 on the running back depth chart thanks in large part to the career-ending hip injury suffered by Armando Allen.
That's not to say that Wood hasn't impressed the coaching staff since taking over full time.
"He's getting so much better," Kelly said. "Just his ability to go out there and compete every snap. Remember, he was third when we got into camp and now he's taking the first-team reps. That requires a concentration level that he's never had to have before. He's been sitting there watching or taking some reps. Now he's in there and he's gotta be locked in. That matures someone quickly."
Last week against Utah Wood ran for 71 yards on 19 carries with a long of 20 yards.
Recruiting goes live in New York
Last time the Irish played on the East Coast, against Navy, Kelly and wide receivers coach Tony Alford spent part of the Friday before game day watching four-star running back Savon Huggins, from New Jersey, play with his St. Peter's Prep team.
It doesn't look like there will be any such trip this time around for Kelly, although several top prospects will be inside Yankee Stadium for the game.
Huggins will be in attendance along with four-star outside linebacker/defensive end Ishaq Williams, who has a playoff game at noon Saturday. New Jersey athlete Miles Shuler is expected as well, along with several juniors.
"We can give out tickets and we have a huge ticket list of requests," Kelly said. "Certainly we'll have somebody manning that booth and giving out the tickets. But we can't have any personal contact with them."
Depending on the result of his playoff game Saturday, Williams could be in for an official visit to Notre Dame as soon as the team banquet the first week of December. Huggins has already made an official visit to South Bend.
Calabrese injury update
Inside linebacker Carlo Calabrese is expected to play Saturday but in a limited role.
Brian Smith has been practicing at both outside and inside linebacker. Smith led the Irish with 10 tackles while playing inside against Utah.
"He's gonna play a little bit of the drop," Kelly said. "Carlo can't play the whole game just because he's been out the length of time. His volume won't be such that he can play 60-70 plays."