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The Journal Gazette

Monday, September 09, 2019 10:30 pm

Brian Kelly Week 3 Press Conference

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Notre Dame had Week 2 off after playing Louisville on Monday of Week 1. The Irish will have 12 days off between games, before taking on New Mexico in Week 3 on Saturday. To break up the routine of practice and stay sharp, the Irish scrimmaged on Saturday, and coach Brian Kelly called it a "physically demanding and mentally demanding week for our team." 

Now, preparation for the matchup against the Lobos begins in earnest. Kelly began his press conference this afternoon with a kind word for New Mexico coach Bob Davie, the former Irish coach. Davie will not be able to coach again Notre Dame after being hospitalized with chest pains during New Mexico's Week 1 win over Sam Houston State.

"We'll begin by wishing a speedy recovery to Coach Davie," Kelly said. "Certainly we will miss him here, but certainly he has bigger things (to deal with), and that is his health. Again, we're pulling for him, and hoping for a speedy recovery. It seems like he's moving in that direction, and we hope for him to be back on the sidelines quickly."

Here are some other highlights from Kelly's press conference Monday:

On not overlooking New Mexico the week before playing No. 3 Georgia: 

"We play to our standards, we talk about day to day, and that's how we've done it here at Notre Dame. So we have so many big games on our schedule, if that's the way we operated here, we wouldn't be able to win games. So it is just business as usual for us. The most important thing for us will be how we handle ourselves today and our preparation. We just stay one day at a time."

On the area in which he's looking for the most improvement from Game 1 to Game 2: 

"We got a little bit outside of ourselves and put a little bit of a 'We've gotta win every game we play' instead of worrying about every play we play. (Winning every play) really is the focus of our football team and getting back to what's most important, and that is 6 seconds, trusting our technique, and really that being the focus. Not 'I gotta make plays,' but 'I've got to do these things that are going to help us win.'

"Don't worry about winning. Focus much more on how you can be the best player you can be through your technique, and trusting it, and I think you'll see that this week."

On why he thinks his veteran players (whom he wanted improvement from after Louisville) will be better against New Mexico:

"I have said to them, they care so much, and they're so committed to what we want to accomplish that sometimes it gets in the way of their performance and that performance is focusing on their technique, focusing on the little details of their position. They just, again, want it so bad. There's nothing wrong with that.

"They just have to emotionally get it centered into the right position so they can focus on the little details of their position. They will. They all did a nice job this past week of really refocusing and focusing on the most important things. I think you'll see a big difference in those guys."

On the benefits and drawbacks of having a bye in the second week of the season: 

"It is a bit unusual in terms of the way things are structured for the first couple of weeks where you're not really in a routine.I think it affords you great teaching opportunities and it allows you to put together a practice schedule that really drills down on the things that you need to improve on. It is kind of a give/take.

"You don't get the routine that you normally have, but you do, in fact, get to really have focused and detailed work on the things that you didn't get done that you would have liked to have gotten done in the first game."

Injury Update: 

  • Cole Kmet: The Notre Dame tight end is recovering from a broken collarbone and his recent x-ray showed "significant" improvement in his prognosis. He has done 7-on-7 drills and other practice work and he's questionable to play against New Mexico. A return against Georgia is more likely.
  • Michael Young: The sophomore wide receiver also broke his collarbone in fall camp. Kelly said he is "healing" and is about a week behind Kmet in his recovery.
  • Jafar Armstrong: Kelly confirmed that the redshirt sophomore running back will miss "a few weeks". Armstrong tore his rectus abdominis against Louisville and an exact timetable remains uncertain.
  • Jahmir Smith: In another blow to the running backs room, Smith sprained his toe in the team's scrimmage Saturday. Kelly said he will practice this week, but he is also questionable to play against the Lobos.

To make up for the loss of Armstrong and the potential loss of Smith, Kelly announced that cornerback Avery Davis will play running back this week, continuing the redshirt sophomore's strange odyssey at Notre Dame. Davis came in as a highly-touted quarterback, but was moved to running back last season after it became clear Brandon Wimbush, Ian Book and Phil Jurkovec were ahead of him on the depth chart. After playing sparingly in the backfield last season, he moved to corner before this season, but is now going back to carrying the ball.

"Avery is a great teammate," Kelly said. "If I was Avery, I would be sick of the head coach too. He just wants to get on the field. We're in a need situation. He wasn't getting a lot of time defensively, so he was anxious about the opportunity and excited about the opportunity of coming on the offensive side of the ball and seeing what he could do to help us."

dsinn@jg.net