Kelly’s task even steeper
The promise generated by Brian Kelly’s arrival at Notre Dame
still exists. It’s just been watered down early on by a 1-3 start
that has exposed the Fighting Irish’s weaknesses and put them in a
hole they weren’t expecting.
Kelly says it’s time to dig out, starting Saturday night back in
the coach’s home state when the Irish face Boston College, a team
with its own set of problems.
Dating back to last season, Notre Dame has lost seven of eight
and another setback would match the skid at the end of last season
that led to the ouster of Charlie Weis.
It’s hardly panic time in South Bend especially with a softer
schedule ahead – save for games against Southern California and
Utah – Kelly has worked through rough patches before in previous
successful stops at Grand Valley State and Central Michigan.
”It’s just the expectations are different,” Kelly said
”It’s the same process that we’re going through in terms of
building our program and doing the thing that we need to do to win
for a long, long period of time.”
The Irish’s running game managed 44 yards last week in a 37-14
loss to Stanford and quarterback Dayne Crist threw an interception
that was returned for a TD. He did pass for 304 yards, but most of
that was after the game was out of hand.
And during the three losses – last-second heartbreakers to
Michigan and Michigan State preceded the Stanford setback – the
Irish have yielded 532, 477 and 404 yards, respectively.
Now Notre Dame faces a Boston College team that is switching
quarterbacks after it was blanked last week by Virginia Tech with
Mike Marscovetra or Chase Rettig taking over for Dave Shinskie.
Kelly’s not expecting big changes in the BC offensive philosophy
– no matter the signal caller – and emphasized he’s more concerned
with how his team performs and how he gets the Irish ready than
what the Eagles try Saturday night.
”Look, I coach and I teach,” he said. ”That’s what I
Having Crist take more of a ball carrier’s role this week – he
was dinged on a carry against Michigan in the second game of the
season – is one way of enhancing the running game.
”There has to be an element in the spread that the quarterback
can keep the football at some time, and we’re moving in that
direction,” Kelly said. ”He’s got to have an element of that
within our offensive structure.”
Crist has started four games and is still learning on the
He’s passed for 1,155 yards so far, with eight TD passes and
”His interceptions, obviously, are not crazy. They’re higher
than I want,” Kelly said.
”It’s the combination of making four or five really, really
good plays and maybe one or two not so good plays. So I think where
we are in the development is obviously playing more
Kelly’s not used to losing and he’s certainly not ready to chuck
what he believes in after just four games.
”What allows you to plow through those times is probably your
experience, you’re going through it before and having experienced
all of those things,” he said.
”You take over a new company as the CEO, and you’re having a
rough quarter, you know. You’re going, `OK, I’m not sure what’s
coming up here, but I’m going to stick with what I’ve been doing
and know that it’s worked in the past and it’s just a matter of
time.’ That’s kind of what we’re going through right now.”
Kelly’s evaluation of an offensive line that has three news
starters is that it’s been fairly good. But he added that center
Braxston Cave needs to work on his cadence and his shotgun snaps,
some of which come out below Crist’s knees and force the
quarterback to take his eyes off what is in front of him.
Kelly said fifth-year senior center Dan Wenger, who suffered two
concussions during preseason camp and has not played this season,
will have another evaluation next week before a final decision is
made whether he can return or be shut down.