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Irish Insights

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Insights from Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly covered a number of topics when he met with the media after Friday's practice.

Here are some of the thoughts Kelly shared:

On what the team was able to work on when it practice outside Monday and Wednesday: "We did a lot of punt work, fielding balls, catching balls, spent a little bit more time on that and we got some red zone work in there. You just get special awareness outside with the back of the end zone and certainly catching punts outside. We certainly did that. We're hopeful with no rain in the forecast to get a couple more days outside."

On the progress of linebacker Romeo Okwara: "When we started off the spring, it was new for him in a lot of ways. We've got this big, athletic kid, but there's a lot of room there for growth. What we hoped to see is what we're seeing. We're seeing that steady improvement. There's a lot of room left there for him to grow. I would probably agree with (defensive line coach Mike) Elston in that our expectations are that come time to play against Rice we're going to see a different player than we saw the first day of spring practice."

On Joe Schmidt, who has been working with the first-team defense at middle linebacker during the spring: "I think he's earned the right to be on the field right now because of his football IQ. It's really hard, defensively, you have to see things and then react to them. Joe can see it and react. Some guys can't see it, and then it makes it hard for them to react. If you're a guy that can't see what's happening, you can't use your athletic ability effectively. So Joe makes up for that in that he can see it and react, so all of a sudden he takes a 4.8 and turns it into a 4.6.

"His ability to see things and react changes his, maybe as some would perceive, some physical limitations, and he turns them into pluses. What's keeping him on the field is his football knowledge and his instincts and his ability to play this specific sport of football. He's a football player."

On Ronnie Stanley, who has been working at left tackle with first-team offense: "He's extremely athletic for a big fellow. He uses his arm length to his advantage. I think for Ronnie, we'd like to see him continue to work on being more physical. He's a really good athlete. He's a really good basketball player, too, on a very talented team in high school. He kind of has that awareness, in a sense, in that he can really get his body in position and knows where the quarterback is. He's just got a really good sense of the pocket and good feel for that in pass protection.

"He's still got work to do in terms of on the line of scrimmage, base drive, cut off, things like that (offensive line) coach (Harry) Hiestand works with, just a really good sense of awareness in pass protection."

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