The Brian Kelly era began last Saturday with a win over Purdue, but now the Wolverines of Michigan come to the stadium this Saturday.
Coach Kelly held a press conference on Tuesday, and it sounds like there’s a learning curve, both for the coach and the players.
Kelly blamed himself for Notre Dame's offense only scoring 23 points against Purdue. He wasn't really happy with his play calling in the red zone, but he said part of that is because he's still working on setting the personality of his team.
"I think what I’m referring to relative to the personality of our players is really accentuating what they’re good at. And now getting a sense and feel for what they’re really good at and going to that strength, and calling plays that way, and repping out particular plays that we have," said Coach Kelly. "It was really an installation fest if you will where you’re putting all these plays in and you got them all in and you go ‘Okay, what are we really good at?’ And the Purdue game gave us an indication of that and we’re certainly not there yet. We’re going to need some more time but that’s kind of what I’m at in terms of the individuals themselves and going to what we think their strengths are."
As for injuries, Kelly says linebackers Darius Fleming and Prince Shembo are fine. They had some cramping during the Purdue game but no after effects. Safety Jamoris Slaughter gets out of a walking boot on Tuesday, and Kelly says all signs are positive on him.
Kelly understands when the wolverines and Irish butt heads, it's something special, but he feels he can't afford to emphasize one game more than any other when you only have 12 in a season.
"I have never prepared football teams in a manner that we focus on a particular rivalry, that this is all eggs in one basket. I try to keep a steady, enthusiastic approach to every game. I just try to remind them that this game has some historical significance and respect that, but we’re going to focus on ourselves," said Kelly.
Kelly gave the Irish an 89 for their performance against Purdue, but says the little things are really big for this team.
"I thought we were disciplined. Our football team played disciplined football. I thought we played with enthusiasm, and I thought there was clearly a great deal of effort. So if you take those three things—if you take discipline, enthusiasm, and effort—and you just say that you’re going to apply that to the way this team plays each and every week, I believe that that is going to allow us to be successful," said Kelly.