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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 7:00 pm

Brian Kelly Weekly Press Conference: Vanderbilt

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

After his team narrowly defeated Ball State on Saturday, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said that he had to do a better job of getting his team prepared to play. As the Irish get ready to play SEC rival Vanderbilt, Kelly expanded on that point and many other topics at his weekly press conference Tuesday in South Bend. Possibly the biggest news from the conference was that tight end Cole Kmet, who left the Ball State game with an injury, has been diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain and is doubtful to play against Vanderbilt. The sophomore Kmet has two catches for 17 yards in the season's first two games.

Here's what Kelly had to say about...

...his opening statement: "Coming off a victory against Ball State. I think we talked about it after the game. We didn't play our best. But what we did well in that game is that we won the game. What we need to do better is certainly I've got to prepare our football team better. What we learned is that we have to be so much more intentional in our process during the week.

"We've already addressed that. We've watched the film. We've made our corrections. We've moved on to Vanderbilt. We have an SEC opponent coming into town, good personnel, physical, good quarterback. (Quarterback Kyle) Shurmur has done a nice job. Defensive structure is really solid, sound. As you would expect, personnel that can play with SEC opponents. Certainly a challenge for us here this weekend, and one that I know our players are looking forward to, our coaches are looking forward to, and know we have to play much better football."

...what he can do to better prepare his team: "Everything. Everything from tying their shoes to the food we feed them. We've gotta control the weather better. Preparation is what I'm responsible for. We're going to do a better job this week."

...how he balances remaining aggressive on offense with protecting a lead late in games: "I think each situation is different, quite honestly. I just want to win games. I've never been about style points, what they look like, as much as trying to find a way to win a game. I think my entire career has been about if we need to run the football here, even though more points would be better, I don't want to put us in a position where we could jeopardize winning the football game. It's always been about time and place in the game, how you can win the game more so than what it looks like."

...what he learned about his offensive line's performance against Ball State after watching the tape: "It's never quite as good as you think, it's never quite as bad. What you really learn is it's never about one player, it's generally, it was a miss-fit, we didn't get to the second level. It's always a combination of things. I think the bottom line relative to some of the things that went on up front was there was just a little bit too much indecision, a little bit too much thinking. We need to get off the ball, hit some people in the nose, and let's get rolling. I think there was just a little bit too much, back to back weeks, a lot of stuff going on, a little bit too much indecision. This week we're getting off the ball and being much more physical."

...the relative lack of designed runs for quarterback Brandon Wimbush: "A lot of our run plays are designed within a play itself. A pass play could turn into a design run based upon what (Wimbush) reads. I think what we have to do is continue to make sure that we pay attention to detail within our structure and offense. I think Brandon learned a lot from that game. What I mean by that is that he's given a lot of run-pass options. I wouldn't buy much into the notion that he's going to stop running, and we're just going to be throwing the football. What we really need to do is continue to work towards what his strengths are."

...how his defense has prevented quarterbacks from scrambling in the first two weeks: "I think second level support has been much better. It starts with better tackling at the second level. Drue (Tranquill) and Te'von (Coney) are really good linebackers, as well, a very conscientious group up front. You look at all three levels, all of them have to be part of that, conscientious group up front where they're not out of their gaps, two really good linebackers, in particular Te'von who is really instinctive. They're getting the ball on the ground."

...making sure his team has more energy against Vanderbilt than against Ball State: "They know the standard of play wasn't what it needs to be last week. I think everybody, including myself, wants it corrected. I think it's what I said at the outset, that there's a lot more intention about how we prepare. We expect to see that come to fruition. I just think it starts with respecting your opponent, and it carries itself into the way you practice. You have to have that buildup throughout the entire week. I think our players really understand that the whole week cumulatively gets you ready for Saturday, not 24 hours prior to the game. So we all learned. We have to coach better, prepare them better, I have to prepare them better, making sure that today is a great day, a physical day, then we build on it each and every day."

...his memories from Sept. 11, 2001: "It was really one of the first things I thought of today, certainly such an important day in so many lives that were lost. I was preparing for practice. I was the head coach at Grand Valley State. We were in our end zone. We had a suite of offices in the end zone. I was drawing up the cards as the head coach. We had this old box TV that was on as just backdrop. One of the guys ran up from downstairs and said there was a fire in one of the towers. We turned it on. We were playing our rival that week, Ferris State, ended up canceling the game. Really the first thing I thought about this morning."

dsinn@jg.net