Kelly points to game’s minutiae as fix for Notre Dame’s season
BY LAMOND POPE Staff Reporter October 1, 2013 9:17PM
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly talks with quarterback Tommy Rees (11) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, in South Bend, Ind. Oklahoma defeated Notre Dame 35-21.(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Updated: November 3, 2013 6:31AM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly recently put together a 10-minute video clip from last season.
The highlights included Pittsburgh hitting the upright on a field-goal attempt in overtime, the fourth-quarter rally against BYU and quarterback Tommy Rees converting a key pass to John Goodman during the Purdue game.
“My point being the margin last year was razor-thin,” Kelly said Tuesday, “and the margin this year is razor-thin.”
Notre Dame’s lack of execution of the “ordinary plays,” as Kelly put it, has the team at 3-2 heading into the Shamrock Series against Arizona State in Arlington, Texas.
“We have got to stay above the cut in Cover-3. We’ve got to run routes better. We’ve got to pick up protections that are day one protections, we’ve got to pick those things up. We’ve got to complete easy balls. And those are the little things that we’ve got to do better,” Kelly said.
“So the margin I think is about as thin as it was last year, and the difference between 5-0 and 3-2 is about five or six plays, and that’s kind of where we are at this point.”
Defensively, the team has to do a better job of limiting big plays. Oklahoma essentially wrapped up Saturday’s 35-21 victory on a 56-yard pass play.
“I don’t think they’re spectacular, but I think it’s a solid defense that we can win with,” Kelly said. “We uncharacteristically gave up two big plays that we’re not accustomed to giving up. We’re solid as a defense. We’re not spectacular, but we’re solid.”
Offensively, Notre Dame still seeks the right mix of run and pass. In a reversal from most of the season, the Irish had success running the ball against Oklahoma (220 yards), but struggled throwing it (104 yards).
“If we rewind here, we were talking about how well we were throwing the football and how poorly we were running it. Now we’re talking about how well we’re running the ball and how poorly we’re throwing the ball,” Kelly said. “We have to find our balance there offensively, and I think that for me is where we’re really pulling our hair out is trying to find that balance.”
Kelly is confident the group will keep fighting.
“You’re talking about a program that has won a lot of football games over the last couple years, they just want to go out and play better football,” Kelly said.
To turn it around, Kelly says the Irish need to pay better attention to details.
“It’s so fine on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. You go across the board week-in and week-out, it’s a battle, except for maybe one team in the country who’s made it look easy, everybody has got a battle from week to week to win football games and to win them consistently,” Kelly said.