Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wanted to avoid being trapped during his Tuesday new conference.
But after jokingly giving his special teams units an A-plus for their performances this season, Kelly admitted that there is still work to do at the No. 5 Irish (7-0) travel for a showdown with No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1) on Saturday.
Kicker Kyle Brindza missed field goals from 40 and 28 yards out in last weekend's 17-14 home win over BYU. Kelly said Sunday that Brindza, who made a 24-yarder against the Cougars, has the right make up to bounce back from missed chances and is sticking with the sophomore kicker.
Brindza has made 11 of 15 field goals this season, and he is averaging 62.6 yards on kickoffs with 18 of the 39 kicks going for touchbacks.
"Obviously we missed some field goals, and we're not pleased with that, but we've been pretty good kicking the football," Kelly said. "We haven't been the best in the country. But it's not taking away from winning."
Kelly did say he wanted to see improvement on punt and kickoff returns.
Freshman Davonte' Neal has averaged 2.8 yards on 12 punt returns with the longest going for 11 yards.
Sophomore George Atkinson III, who had 915 kickoff yards and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, is averaging 19.4 yards on eight returns this season.
"As it relates to punt return, we're fielding the ball much better than we did last year. We need to go north and south," Kelly said. "We're not pleased with our kickoff return game. … We have to give George Atkinson more room. We've got to do a better job. And we can. We just have to be better at that area right now."
Kelly said part of the reason the Irish have struggled in the return game is because of the inexperience on the units.
"When we lost (cornerback Lo) Wood and we lost (safety) Jamoris Slaughter (to Achilles injuries) and had to pencil in players fulltime on the defensive side of the ball, we lost some really good cover guys," Kelly sad. "We're really thin there. And we're not going to be able to answer it until we get some reinforcement. This recruiting class should help us next year where we have depth in personnel.
"We're still one click behind in special teams with the depth of the personnel that we need. And that's just the fact. We're playing some young guys there that have to get better. But I like where we're going to go. I think our punt return is going to be really good. I think we're going to have some guys that we'll be able to get on that team. But we are who we are right now."