Kelly sees talent but inexperience for Notre Dame

South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND -- When fifth-year Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly looks at his 2014 roster, he sees talent. He also sees inexperience in a number of key areas, identifying quarterback, defensive line and inside linebacker at the top of the list.

"It's our job to get the inexperienced players ready to play," Kelly said Friday, "and this is the time to do it."

The Irish open spring practice Monday and will also practice on Wednesday before a two-week break because of spring break. The Blue-Gold Game, which will be played April 12, comes earlier than usual because Easter is on April 20.

A handful of position switches were revealed Friday at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex during Kelly's spring preview press conference. Safety Matthias Farley will work at cornerback, wide receiver James Onwualu shifts to safety, and safety John Turner moves to linebacker. Running back Amir Carlisle is now listed as a running back/wide receiver.

Kelly announced Friday that new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder will also coach the inside linebackers while safeties coach Bob Elliott will shift to outside linebackers. Cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks will add the safeties to his responsibilities.

On offense, coordinator Mike Denbrock will also work with the wide receivers while Tony Alford, who worked with running backs and slot receivers, will focus primarily on the running backs.

--Kelly was asked Friday about former linebacker Prince Shembo's comments last weekend that he was told by Kelly to not discuss 2010 sexual assault allegations made against him by a Saint Mary's student who later committed suicide.

"That was a collaborative decision," Kelly said, adding that Shembo could have discussed the matter had he wanted. "We felt it was in Prince's best interest that this was not a matter that needed to be discussed. It was still his decision."

--Luke Massa, who came to ND as a quarterback before shifting to wide receiver, had been expected to return for a fifth year but will not. Massa has an opportunity for an internship that is expected to turn into a job offer.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly discusses the start of the spring football practice sessions Friday at Guglielmino Athletics Complex on the campus. SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ