POPE: Brian Kelly, Irish focused on improving executuion
September 10, 2013 7:58PM
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees (11) talks with head coach Brian Kelly on the sideline during a break in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game with Michigan, in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
The Big Number
Tommy Rees became the sixth Irish quarterback to pass for at least 5,000 yards in his career. He has 5,073 career passing yards at Notre Dame.
The Extra Point
The last time Notre Dame failed to score in a game against Purdue was 1933. The Boilermakers won that contest 19-0.
Updated: October 12, 2013 6:39AM
SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly noticed something different in the aftermath of Saturday’s loss at Michigan.
“Dinner doesn’t taste good,” Kelly said during his Tuesday news conference.
Kelly knows there’s only one way to fix that, and that’s by getting back to work.
The Irish are doing just that. The team turned the page from the 41-30 loss at the Big House and is concentrating on the next opponent, Purdue.
“Meetings are a lot harder. Practice is probably a little bit more spirited. But you know, it still comes down to the attention to detail,” Kelly said. “We’ve got to be smarter and more disciplined as a football team and that’s what I’ll be looking for this week.”
What are the steps to bouncing back?
Defensively, it’s tightening some things up. The Irish are No. 78 nationally in total defense, allowing 411 yards per game.
“I thought we got better inside,” Kelly said. “I thought that the combination of (inside linebackers Jarrett) Grace and (Carlo) Calabrese and (Dan) Fox, their play was considerably better from Week 1 to Week 2. We’ll continue to improve there. We’ve got to get consistently better at the corner and safety positions. I thought (safety Matthias) Farley was better. We’ve got to continue to get better there.
“You’re going to see some other guys get some playing time during the year obviously because you’re going to get guys banged up and nicked up. We just need to continue to progress and continue to get better, and be more consistent as a defense.”
Offensively, Kelly stressed the improving the “little things.”
“When you’re in the red zone, you never want to turn the football over. But you know, you want to run the right routes. I could give you a number of scenarios where it wasn’t just (quarterback) Tommy Rees,” Kelly said. “There’s a number of scenarios in that game where we didn’t execute properly to win that football game. And we had our chances. It’s 34 27, and it’s first-and-10 from the 25-yard line, we throw a corner route, and we step out of bounds. There’s little details within why we’re out of bounds and that wasn’t Tommy Rees.
“There’s a number of little things that go into execution, and it’s attention to detail. It’s the little things that decide ballgames.”
Kelly gave plenty of credit to Michigan. And rightfully so. Devin Gardner was fantastic, passing for 294 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receiver Jeremy Gallon was unstoppable, catching eight passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns.
Still, Kelly knows the Irish didn’t do themselves any favors.
“We made a lot of mistakes and that’s on us and we’ve got to clean up. We’ve got to coach better and we’ve got to play better. Look, at the end of the day, this comes down to execution when you need to,” Kelly said.
“And this game boils down to this: There’s 115,000 people in the stands, and you have 18 to 21 year olds, and you’ve got to get your players to execute to the finest of details in those situations. That falls on me during the week to make sure that that happens. That didn’t occur, so I’ve got to look at myself; our coaches have to look at how we prepare our football team so we get them to perform in those situations, and that’s really what that’s about.”
And so now it’s on to Purdue.
Notre Dame preps for a Purdue team that ranks 115th in total offense (255 yards per game).
Kelly is certain the players won’t be taking the 1-1 Boilermakers lightly.
“Let down? (Notre Dame) just lost. They lost a football game,” Kelly said. “Look, we’ve got to worry about all the things I just talked about: The attention to detail, the way we work, all the things that we have to do. We’ve got our own work to take care of. We’ve got to be smarter, more disciplined. We’ve got to practice better. We’ve got to take care of a lot of things on our own.
“Purdue’s going to be ready for Notre Dame. We have no doubt about that and we respect our opponent. But, we’ve got to put blinders on and we’ve got to focus on ourselves. We’re not a finished product. We’ve got some work to do.”