Quick Hits: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly's Stanford Week press conference
Brian Kelly was finally dry.
After submerging himself in hurricane conditions and watching his team fall at NC State last weekend, Notre Dame's seventh-year head coach addressed the media in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
Here are the highlights from Kelly's address.
-- Kelly began his press conference by noting how Notre Dame has won many close games throughout his Irish career, but the Irish have not done that this season. Notre Dame has lost its four games by an average of 5.25 points. "We expect to win some of the close games we're going to be playing in over the next six weeks," Kelly said. He added that the mentality to win close games comes down to coaching. "I think we can coach them to the point where we understand it, and now we can go do it," Kelly said.
-- Kelly denied that he has blamed players for losses in the past, specifically following this season's 36-28 loss against Michigan State. He added that the blame falls on everyone, coaches and players included.
-- Kelly said that he has changed his routine for Notre Dame's practices, and he's now standing on the tower between practice fields so he can oversee both the offense and defense.
-- Despite the Notre Dame offensive line's significant struggles, Kelly reiterated his confidence in that group going forward. "This one's going to get better and better each week," Kelly said. "Again, it's got three new starters on it." He added that he likes that the five starters on the offensive line have the potential to continue playing as a unit in 2017.
-- Kelly was asked, considering his team's 2-4 record, whether his focus is still to win in 2016 or to begin to prepare for future success. "I'm doing everything to build the winning identity for this football team for right now, and for '17, '18 and '19," Kelly said. He added that his first priority is to win games.
-- Kelly again defended his sideline demeanor, which has drawn the ire of fans. "I don't feel like I'm crossing a line. I think I'm being who I am. I'm being direct. I'm handling the situation," Kelly said. He added that he has a great relationship with his players and people that don't like his sideline demeanor won't likely be fans of Notre Dame football going forward.
-- Kelly said, from the inside, he couldn't gauge whether there's less national buzz surrounding the Notre Dame-Stanford game than in previous years. "I'm sure all of those ardent Notre Dame fans will be there cheering us on, and we're appreciative of that fact," Kelly said.
-- Kelly said that he decided not to use senior quarterback Malik Zaire at a different position to get his playmaking ability onto the field. "I'm not going to insult him into moving his position," Kelly said. "He's a quarterback and a darn good one."
-- Kelly said that, in working more with Notre Dame's defensive backs, he most likes that group's "eagerness and willingness to be coached." He added that the defensive backs' shortcomings early on are due to the coaching staff's failure to instill defensive principles. "That falls on me to overemphasize the message," he said.