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Football

Kelly discusses imperfect win over Syracuse

| Monday, September 29, 2014

Notre Dame beat Syracuse on Saturday, 31-15, but the win was hardly the most polished performance from the Irish this season.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly acknowledged this at his Sunday teleconference, telling reporters that his players weren’t entirely satisfied with the win.

“If they were in [the locker room after the game] giddy and happy, I’d be a little bit concerned,” Kelly said. “I want them to enjoy the win, but I also want them to know that there’s better football [that] needs to be played, and they knew that.”

Irish senior quarterback Everett Golson aims a pass downfield in Notre Dame's win against Syracuse on Saturday at MetLife Stadium.Kevin Song | The Observer

Irish senior quarterback Everett Golson aims a pass downfield in Notre Dame’s win against Syracuse on Saturday at MetLife Stadium.

Senior quarterback Everett Golson threw 25 straight complete passes, setting the Notre Dame record for most consecutive completions and falling one pass short of tying the FBS record. But Golson threw two interceptions as the Irish (4-0) racked up five total turnovers.

“We start always with that premise because if you can’t enjoy winning, it doesn’t mean as much,” Kelly said. “Then we get to the heart of it is that you can’t win consistently by turning the football over. You can’t win consistently if you don’t compete for the ball in the air. And we know that.”

Although the game did not go smoothly, Kelly noted several positive developments, including the reshuffled offensive line, which settled down after allowing a sack.

“By and large, a good first start from that group, did some good things,” Kelly said. “But it’s going to be a process for us. Look, we [made changes] because we felt like it was an area that allowed us to grow, and so I think that what we saw in the first game together was that it validated the fact that this group will be able to grow together throughout the season.”

Irish sophomore Will Fuller breaks a tackle Saturday against     Syracuse at MetLife Stadium during Notre Dame’s 31-15 win.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish sophomore Will Fuller breaks a tackle Saturday against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium during Notre Dame’s 31-15 win.

Kelly also discussed the improvements made by Notre Dame’s receivers.

Sophomore receiver Torii Hunter Jr., playing in place of injured senior receiver Amir Carlisle, saw his first game action for the Irish. He had a touchdown reception and 13 receiving yards.

“He’s a guy that we think we can run the ball with at the receiver position,” Kelly said of Hunter. “He’s a physical kid. We just think he’s got an all-around skill set. … He’s going to take some reps off other guys and keep them fresh, so we’re excited about him.”

Carlisle should return this week. Kelly said the increased number of receiving options will help round out the Irish offense.

“It’ll really bolster that receiving corps and keep them fresh and allow us to really amp things up offensively,” Kelly said.

Sophomore Will Fuller leads the Irish receivers with five touchdowns and 344 yards this season. Sophomore Corey Robinson, Carlisle, junior Chris Brown and junior C.J. Prosise comprise the rest of the receiving corps, a unit Kelly said has made great strides this season, particularly the younger players.

“We’re starting to develop some real pieces within that wide receiver corps that we can develop because these are all new guys for us,” Kelly said. “They’re going to be around for a while. These are guys that are underclassmen. So we’re starting to develop some consistency with that group.”

Heisman talk

Kelly spoke about how Golson has handled hints of Heisman buzz.

“The real challenge is looking at what you do on a day-to-day basis and how he can really hone in on [his] craft,” Kelly said. “… If you do that and you’re grounded truly in that, then all that other stuff is fine. But if you’re affected by all the talk, then that’s where you have an issue. So far I haven’t seen that with Everett. He looks at things critically and wants to get better every day.”

Looking ahead

Sophomore running back Tarean Folston took a hard hit against the Orange (2-2) but returned the game. He’ll be ready to go against Stanford on Saturday, Kelly said.

“He got hit in the sternum and had a bruised sternum but was cleared to go back in the game,” Kelly said of Folston. “We don’t have anybody that showed up on the injury report that would be affected for Stanford.”

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