Quick Hits: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly's Northwestern week press conference

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

November is coming for Notre Dame football. The Irish hope to finish the season stronger than last season starting with a road matchup at Northwestern on Saturday.

Before heading to Evanston for the 7:20 p.m. EDT kickoff later this week, head coach Brian Kelly hosted his weekly press conference.

These are the important statements from Kelly.

• Kelly said linebacker Drue Tranquill isn't ready to return to full practice yet, but he's no longer wearing a boot for his ankle injury. Kelly labeled him as questionable for the Northwestern game. "We're definitely optimistic that we can get him back," Kelly said.

• Linebackers Jordan Genmark Heath, Drew White and Asmar Bilal are all options to play in Tranquill's spot if needed, Kelly said.

• On cornerback Julian Love: "Julian doesn't have to be out there making interceptions to be considered one of the top corners in the country."

• Kelly said he's not concerned with where Notre Dame lands in tonight's first College Football Playoff rankings release. "I want to pay attention to the last one," Kelly said.

• Tight end Alizé Mack, who didn't play in the second half against Navy, is dealing with a head injury and has entered concussion protocol.

• "We probably played him a little too much," Kelly said of running back Jafar Armstrong. He was tired after making his return to the lineup against Navy.

• On offensive coordinator Chip Long's dedication to the run: "We're not going to abort the run game as an offense. But we're not going to run the football into a situation where we don't feel like we have a chance to be successful."

• Kelly said Book's high completion percentage has been a product of his accuracy as a thrower and his understanding of which receiver will be open within the scheme.

• On how left guard Aaron Banks played in his first career start: "He was physical, he moved his feet well. We were pleased with his first starting performance."

• Kelly named freshmen Ovie Oghoufo, a linebacker, and Luke Jones, an offensive lineman, as guys who have developed physically behind the scenes. He compared Oghoufo to defensive end Julian Okwara.

• On why he's confident this November will be better than some previous seasons: "A lot of those guys went through it last year, so they know what we can't do."

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly watches as his team warm up before facing Navy.