Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly knows that his football team faces a stiff test this weekend when the Fighting Irish head to Chicago to take on Wisconsin. Kelly had plenty to say about the Badgers and his squad as Notre Dame kicks the week of practice off.
On Jack Coan playing against Wisconsin this week and how he can help Notre Dame prepare
“You don't get too much intel from those things in terms of what he knows about Wisconsin. I'm not a big believer in that. Like hey, do you know the signals? You got to play the game. Jack is a competitor. He loved his time at Wisconsin, but it's a new chapter for him. He's, like I said, very mature, level-headed. He wants to beat Wisconsin, but he wants to beat Cincinnati the following week, so I think we can make as much as we want and make it a story. In the building, it's not that much of a story to him.”
On Wisconsin’s linebackers, who are big and skilled
"No doubt. We're still going to show up though.I think as you probably saw, we began to do some rotation. Andrew Kristofic got in the game. He's gonna play some more. We're really pleased with the snaps that he's taken. I think it takes a little bit of a load off of Zeke (Correll) and Cain (Madden). Obviously, we're hoping to have (Michael) Carmody back, which gives us some depth now at the tackle position where you can roll in Carmody, maybe you can give a blow to Tosh (Baker), and then Joe Alt, who played a lot. He played very well by the way.
"We're in a position now to kind of assess where does Joe fit the best? Is he that tight end, or can he do both for us? So, we're in the process of figuring that out. But I think we're gaining some depth where I think that'll help us a lot as we go through this game. Again, as I mentioned before, we got to keep their defense on the field. We've got to be productive and we've got to sustain some drives ourselves. I think that last week Tosh got some confidence playing against, arguably, those two ends are really good for Purdue. They gained some confidence there. Yeah, we got beat on some, but I thought we got better.”
On whether linebacker Prince Kollie and running back C’Bo Flemister will play?
"So, Prince is available. We'll work him out today and then we'll have a better sense and feel for him. C'Bo is not available to us.”
On Tyler Buchner’s hamstring injury
“As I said, it was truly a tight hamstring. We didn't have a pull that we feel was dangerous, but we're going to be aggressive in the treatment of it. So, we'll see how he responds today. I think we'll have a really good feel for him tomorrow. We expect him to play, however, on Saturday.”
On how the offensive line will improve
"Certainly, there is always the practice technique that they could use, but I think we're past that now. We're into game situations where they need to gain those reps. That's where Tosh is going to get better, that's where Zeke is going to get better, that's where you're going to get Joe Alt better. Carmody obviously gets a handful of snaps and he gets injured. Obviously, we lost Blake (Fisher) early. So, look, we are transitioning on the offensive line, but we are so excited about the young players and the veterans that are playing their butts off as we go through this transition on the offensive line. Rocco Spindler is making great progress. It's one of those things where we just have to be patient and work through the process and some guys are holding down the fort for us as we kind of grow up."
On the short-yardage running situations
"We were pretty good on our base dive play. We averaged about eight yards. We had one zero play on our double team dual play and we had a 57 yard run in there. But we were averaging about six yards. So no, I'm not about to say, ‘Hey, every time we get in short-yardage we got to pitch it around. No, we feel pretty good that we got some movement and we feel good that our running game can be effective for us. Which is run the ball when they know you're going to run it, run the ball down in the goal-line situations and run it when you've got to end the game. So, no, I think we're still progressing towards where we want to be and having more balance within that running game, absolutely."
On big plays for this offense
“Well I know, certainly the offense that we have, we feel like we've got some big-play guys that can make plays now. Did they make them on Saturday? No. They didn't make them to the level they're capable of, but you're going to have those things happen. We still were able to overcome it and make big plays in some other positions. But yeah, part of this game is that we're going to have to make some big plays. There's no doubt about it. So that, and get off the field against a team that wants to control the ball. So, kind of going back to what I said earlier, is that if you think about this as a Navy game, is that scoring touchdowns is at a premium. Kicking field goals is not going to get it done for you. Scoring touchdowns and being really efficient on the offensive side of the ball and when you get matchups, you better win those matchups.”
On what it means to play in NFL stadiums
“We do it in its totality, right? We don't do it as a one-shot deal. But we do it more so over the course of looking at our schedule over the last few years. Coming to Notre Dame, you're going to get that kind of exposure and playing in all these NFL venues. So, if you look at it over a course of your four years here, you're playing in a lot of different NFL venues that you don't get anywhere else in the country. Our guys are excited about these opportunities. The Shamrock games are important to them. They see them a little bit differently, especially when you're playing close to home in Chicago, they know the history there."
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