{{ timeAgo('2019-09-03 14:53:05 -0500') }} football Edit

TRANSCRIPT: Brian Kelly Post-Louisville Teleconference

Notre Dame Head Football Coach Brian Kelly spoke to the media today via his weekly teleconference. He touched on the linebacker rotation, young players stepping up and more. Kelly also provided injury updates on running back Jafar Armstrong, tight end Cole Kmet and wide receiver Michael Young.

Below is a transcript from that conversation.

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On the play of younger and less-experienced players...

Kelly: "I think from watching film, I don't have all the grades from the coaches yet, but there were significant contributors in a positive way in a win against a team that played very well against us with a lot of energy. So from that perspective, when you go into a game where you have first-time performers and the kind of environment that it was, I think obviously there were some first-time jitters for some of them. But they settled in nicely into the game and it's pretty apparent that they have the ability to impact this team and make it a better team as they continue to grow and get better."

On potential injuries to running back Jafar Armstrong and wide receiver Chase Claypool...

Kelly: "No, just Jafar [Armstrong] — soft tissue injury. He's getting an MRI today. We'll know a little bit more about his situation, but it was the groin area. He felt some discomfort in the groin, ab area, so we want to make sure. He's had a sports hernia injury that was repaired in high school. So we feel good that there's no structural damage, but we need to obviously to examine it further. So he's getting an MRI today and we'll have some more information as we move through the week.

"Just answering your question, Chase [Claypool] landed on his shoulder on a tackle out of bounds. Our doctors wanted to take a look at him, but we came out of the game with no other injuries."

On learning more about a team from a week-one road game, as opposed to a game played a home...

Kelly: "Yeah, and obviously, when you play a team that is well-coached and has some athletes and plays emotionally charged, like they did, you learn a lot more. It's a Power Five Team in the ACC at home on the road. Those are all things to consider when you're evaluating your football team. It's not against an FCS opponent or a non-Power Five team at home.

"So yeah, all of those go into the evaluation of your football team and where it is and where it needs to go. Certainly we need to improve. But the platform from which we look at the improvement is judged upon going on the road against the Power Five opponent that is clearly playing at a higher level with some really good athletes. So we take that into consideration. Absolutely."

On being idle in week two of the season...

Kelly: "Yeah, I would say that it's a little bit different than... Sometimes we talk in terms of, 'hey, the bye week is coming at the right time. We need some time to get our guys healthy and get a breather.' I don't think that's the case here. This is much more about continuing to develop our football team in terms of its preparation, and so it's different in that respect.

"Certainly it would be very difficult to put these kids in a position to come back and play on Saturdays. So we'll take advantage of the week in terms of looking at the things that we've got to get better at and get better at as a football team. So we'll practice and put our guys in a position where they can look to improve next week against New Mexico."

On if the linebacker rotation is a work in progress or if it is somewhat set going forward...

Kelly: "I think it's a little bit of both. I don't think you saw Jack Lamb on first down. You saw him on third down. You didn't see Drew White on third down. You saw him on first and second down. But Genmark Heath played in rotation, Simon played in rotation. So it's a little bit of both of those things where there's clearly still competition, but there are also specific skill sets that we think that these guys have that we want to take advantage of.

"There's clearly for us some work out there now that we've been able to evaluate from this game that that allows us to move forward now with a little bit more of a plan than we had maybe before coming into this game."

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On Drew White and his in-game improvements...

Kelly: It was a rocky start for him here. Injuries kind of derailed him. But he really worked at physically getting himself in a position to compete, and finding that position at Mike linebacker has really allowed him to elevate himself with the right role. We've found the right role for him. He has accepted that role. He has physically developed himself to play that position. And last night, he showed the traits that we're looking for from that Mike linebacker.

"He did some really good things for us. There are certainly some things that he experienced that he'll get better at, but he played with a confidence and a fluidity at the position that we think that he's going to be able to build on and play at a really high level for us."

On recovery timeframes for tight end Cole Kmet and wide receiver Michael Young...

Kelly: "I think that Cole is scheduled for his CAT Scan, I believe, on Thursday of this week, which will give us the one way or the other, the green light as to whether we can begin his full regiment of practice in terms of contact. So we're close there.

"Michael will get an X-ray either today or tomorrow, which then sets into motion the next step, kind of where Cole was, where we can begin moving him, catching the football, running. So he's about a week or so behind Cole Kmet in terms of that process. But he will follow very similar steps along the way as we work through, not the same kind of break, but a similar protocol, as we work to get them both back."

On what linebacker traits Kelly prioritizes...

Kelly: "Well, the Buck and Mike have different roles and responsibilities. We're not asking the Buck linebacker to leave the box and play out over a receiver. We're asking him to play a lot more within the box structure, downhill knocking off linemen. So there's gotta be a physicality and he's gotta be somebody that is getting the defense lined up. He's making calls.

"So there's a cerebral part there that we're looking for with the Mike, whereas the Buck has got to be somebody that can play in space, that can cover a back man-to-man, out of the backfield. So there are different traits that we're looking for between the Mike and the Buck linebacker. I think we found who possesses those. At the end of the day that, they've gotta be assignment correct and they've got to tackle the football.

"If they have all those other things, but they're not assignment correct and can't tackle the football and get it down on the ground, it doesn't matter if they have all the athletic ability in the world. But they've shown that each one of those positions has different things that we look for. And right now Drew and Asmar [Bilal] have shown a pretty clear line that they have those traits changed. Shayne Simon has done a nice job. Jordan's done a nice job with it. Bo Bauer. So they clearly have defined who is Mike and who is Buck, and now it's just to continue to develop them."

On Kelly's overall evaluation of the offensive line...

Kelly: "I thought it was solid — anytime that you rush for over 200 yards against a defense that you really hadn't seen. I think our guys did a pretty good job. I think we've got to do a better job coaching it, and we're part of that process, too.

"Every third and short needs to be evaluated in terms of our game plan as well. So we're part of that as coaches as well. It's not just on the players because those are loaded boxes and some of it comes down to individuals making plays against unblocked [inaudible] as well.

"There's a little bit of all of those things, Lou, in terms of that evaluation of your third-down package. Are we calling the right plays? Do we have the right personnel in the game? Are we going to what we consider our strength, and we're kind of learning all that in the first game so we can refine what our third-down package looks like moving forward."

On cornerback Donte Vaughn...

"I think it's just a competitive situation. We haven't lost confidence in Donte at all. It's just that Shaun Crawford is a guy that we wanted to continue to get reps and play him. We like his overall sense and playing the wide-field corner as well with TaRiq Bracy. Houston's been playing into the short field cause we've played Donte to the wide field. You'll see Donte this year. It's just this week, it just didn't pan out for him to be in the game plan. But I'm sure you're going to see him play a lot of football for us."

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