Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly spoke to the media on Monday about the upcoming North Carolina game. He also took questions. Here are the highlights of what he said.
On the injuries
“Kyle Hamilton will be out this week. He'll get further testing and see where he is later this week. We don't think it's a long-term situation but he's out this week. As relates to Chris Tyree, that was a game-time decision. He's moving well. We're optimistic that he'll be back this week. Alexander Ehrensberger had back spasms and he was feeling better today. Again, I think we're hopeful that continues to clear up and gets better moving forward. Zeke Correll was in our concussion protocol. We expect him to move around. He'll be in the weight room today and we expect him to move around tomorrow if things progress after today. Adam Shibley had surgery. He had rotator cuff surgery and he'll be out for the year.
Clarifying Hamilton’s injury
“It's a knee. I don't want to get into the specifics, because there's a lot of moving pieces here. But I can tell you that there's some confidence here that we're going to have him back. Look, our medical people have done their due diligence. We'll make sure that we give everybody a chance to weigh in on this matter. So, there'll be some further evaluations during the week and then we'll do what's right and there'll be collaboration with everybody that's involved.
On the offensive line play
“I think what I was most pleased with is, first of all, you're gaining some continuity on the offensive line, where essentially that left side is working together now, which helps the entire group, five working together. What they really did well is, as I mentioned just before I answered some of your questions, was that USC came out in three down. They hadn't played three-down all year and then obviously implementing a scheme in a 3-5-3 was a lot of identification. That's a lot of communication. It's a lot of work upfront. I thought the adjustments that they made in-game were really outstanding. They picked up things as the game went on. There are some things that we'll need to clean up on but I think that's what stands out to me more than anything else, their ability to make the in-game adjustments, and work really well together. And the communication was outstanding.”
On Joe Alt and Andrew Kristofic playing together on the offensive line
"I just think that there's less of a burden on the center. I think Jarrett Patterson is just playing freer. I think there's just a feeling that the five work. I think you're always trying to find the combinations and how they work well. They just seem to work well together, there is better communication. I think Alt is a guy that really communicates well and that passes on down the line to Andrew and then into the center position. So, I just think it's not just one guy, I think I think they all just work well together.”
On the play of Cain Madden
“He's playing. It just seems like there is less of an expectation on him. It has allowed him to play free, faster, more physical, and again, I think maybe some of those expectations could be part of the reason why.”
On Joe Alt’s play and background
"We really liked everything about him when we recruited him. His demeanor, his makeup, smarts, and pedigree. When you take a kid at that size, is not fully developed, you're banking on his want and desire to be great. We just saw that he had all of those intangibles that in our mind that this kid had a high, high ceiling because he had that drive. Intrinsically, he was going to do all the things necessary to be a great offensive lineman and a great pedigree. So, I think that that's what we saw in him."
On not seeing Jordan Bothelo much the last two games
"I just think it's hard to get him on the field. I think he's done some good things. I think coach Elston just has a rotation there and he's kind of set into that rotation. I think there's a tendency as coaches that we all get into a comfort level and then come today when we have our coordinators meeting, I think we all come to the realization that we should play somebody more. Maybe he fits into that category.
On Houston Griffith and DJ Brown playing safety again against North Carolina because of the injury to Kyle Hamilton
”I'm mad at Kyle. He obviously doesn't want to play against North Carolina. He's got something against them. I think more than anything else is their confidence in playing together. Kyle played eight snaps against USC. Them playing high leverage snaps against USC, obviously, they feel really good going into this game. Now, we're gonna have to do some things relative to the depth at that position. I think I stood up here Saturday night and said don't pencil in Isaiah Pryor at the safety position, but you might pencil in Pryor at the safety position after we met a little bit deeper on it. We've got to find a little bit more depth at that position because asking them to play the whole game and obviously being cautious and understanding they are playing other positions as well on special teams... I think we need this week to kind of sort it out.”
On maintaining a high level of quarterback play
"You hope that it's that easy. Okay, we hit the right switch, and let's just obviously duplicate that during the week. But I would say that in the conversations that I had with Tom, it would be let's move in that direction. Let's replicate it. Let's continue to use the two quarterbacks in the manner that we did. It seemed to be efficient offensively and it got everybody involved in the right way. We're gonna move forward in a similar fashion."
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