Quick Hits: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly's Virginia Tech Week press conference
Notre Dame needs to win.
But first, Brian Kelly needs to meet the media.
With two games remaining in the regular season and two wins necessary for the Irish to become officially bowl eligible, Kelly arrived for his weekly press conference on Tuesday. Here's what Notre Dame's seventh-year head coach had to say.
-- Kelly stressed that Notre Dame's focus is to stay out of third-and-long situations against a defense that currently ranks sixth nationally in tackles for loss. "What you see with Virginia Tech is negative plays," Kelly said.
-- The key in the final two games, Kelly said, is to finish games and play with a mental and physical toughness that the Irish haven't always shown. "If we do that," Kelly said, "I think people can make their own opinions as to what type of team we have."
-- Kelly was asked, if his team finished 5-7, if he would be interested in playing in a bowl game with that record. "I haven't given it much thought, to be honest with you," Kelly said. "I think those scenarios I would address at the end of the year."
-- Kelly has seen marked progress with junior linebacker Greer Martini from the season opener at Texas to now. "He's in a different place mentally," Kelly said. "He's a lot more confident as a football player."
-- Kelly updated the statuses of wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. (knee) and Daniel Cage (concussion). "We'll get Torii back out there," Kelly said. "He'll be a day-to-day situation." Kelly said that Cage's outlook will also be day-to-day, without a set timeline as doctors monitor the concussion.
-- Notre Dame scripts out the first 20 offensive plays of each game, Kelly said.
-- Kelly called senior linebacker and team captain James Onwualu a "model of consistency." "I don't even know if he wants to play in the NFL, but I would put him on my team," Kelly said. The head coach attributes Onwualu's progress to his tireless work ethic. "I think he made himself into the player that he is."
-- Kelly said that continuing to play well and becoming bowl eligible is important not just for this season, but for the future of the program. "How we play the game is more important than really anything else, because we're playing for right now and we're playing for next year," Kelly said. "We're starting to figure out how to play."
-- Kelly was asked about the importance of getting a win for his seniors in their final home game. "They've been resilient," Kelly said. "I think that's how I've put it. They have not cracked at all." He added that this group -- singling out linebacker James Onwualu and defensive end Isaac Rochell -- has worked as hard as any group he's had at keeping the team together.