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Football

Brian Kelly discusses Notre Dame’s turnover troubles, names Malik Zaire starting holder

| Tuesday, November 11, 2014

20141108, 2014-2015, 20141108, Arizona State, ASU, Away, Football, Karla Moreno, Loss, Sun Devil Stadium, Sun Devils-9Karla Moreno
Five Everett Golson turnovers spiraled into 28 Arizona State points Saturday, but Irish head coach Brian Kelly said the senior quarterback isn’t entirely to blame for the miscues and the resulting 55-31 loss to the Sun Devils.

“He’s responsible for the football. Every one of those turnovers, he’s responsible for because he’s the leader,” Kelly said Tuesday. “And he took full responsibility and that’s why I’m proud of him. But he’s got 10 other players that have to do their job. And they’ve got to do their job better.”

Golson tossed four interceptions and fumbled twice, losing the ball once. The Sun Devils returned two interceptions for touchdowns and had two scoring drives — that followed Golson turnovers — that lasted a combined four plays and 36 yards. And although Golson was under constant pressure from the blitz-happy Sun Devils, which notched seven sacks, Kelly said the offensive line wasn’t “central to the issues of turnovers.” The line wasn’t to blame for any of the first three turnovers, Kelly said, and the coaching staff isn’t “pressing the alarm button” on the offensive line.

“Those had nothing to do with the offensive line,” Kelly said. “When we look at it, it’s easy to say, ‘Alright, it’s the offensive line that’s breaking down.’ We don’t see that. … It’s not pointing to one specific group.”

Irish senior running back Cam McDaniel will continue to get more playing time in pass-protection situations as he continues to stay a cut above sophomore running backs Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant as a blocker, Kelly said. Folston and Bryant can improve their “want-to” and technique as blockers, Kelly added.

 

A New Holder

Irish senior kicker Kyle Brindza reaches down to pick up the loose ball after Notre Dame botched a field-goal try to begin the fourth quarter during Arizona State’s 55-31 win over the Irish at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday afternoon in Tempe, Arizona.KARLA MORENO | The Observer

Irish senior kicker Kyle Brindza reaches down to pick up the loose ball after Notre Dame botched a field-goal try to begin the fourth quarter during Arizona State’s 55-31 win over the Irish at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday afternoon in Tempe, Arizona.

Irish sophomore quarterback Malik Zaire will take over duties as the starting holder, Kelly said. Zaire replaces junior walk-on Hunter Smith, who has mishandled three snaps — two against Stanford in poor weather conditions and one in the warm sunshine against Arizona State — this season. The mishap Saturday occurred with Notre Dame trailing 34-17 at the start of the fourth quarter.

“We’ve had three drops. Three is too many. Can’t take a fourth,” Kelly said.

Zaire has served as the backup holder all season, per Kelly.

 

What Lies Ahead

After Notre Dame suffered its second loss of the season and dropped to 7-2 — effectively eliminating itself from College Football Playoff contention — Kelly said his message to the team doesn’t change much.

“We haven’t talked about playoffs since day one,” Kelly said. “All we really talked about was how we compete and what we need to do this weekend to win because we’re all in it to win it. So our focus is really about what do we need to do to win this weekend because they want to sing the fight song at the end of the day.”

The Irish sat at No. 10 in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings. The latest batch of rankings will be released Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. Notre Dame dropped to No. 15 in this week’s AP poll and No. 16 in the coaches’ poll.

“We weren’t going to be able to control even if we won out whether we were gonna go to the playoffs,” Kelly said. “So we focus on things we can control. And what we know we can control is what we do during the week. And that’s really been the message.”

The Irish host Northwestern on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Notre Dame Stadium.

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About Mike Monaco

Senior Sports Writer Mike Monaco is a senior majoring in Film, Television and Theatre with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy as well as Business Economics. The O’Neill Hall native hails from the Boston area and is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.

Contact Mike