Debacle in the desert
Mary Green | Monday, November 10, 2014
Notre Dame will use this week to focus on improving for its final three regular-season games instead of looking at postseason possibilities, Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in his Sunday teleconference.
“Well, after the debacle in the desert here on offense, we have a lot to focus on just on Tuesday,” Kelly said. “So we’re going to focus on cleaning up what we need to clean up internally, offensively, defensively. So there won’t be any big-picture conversations. We’ve got a lot of work to do to be better as a football team. That’s going to be the focus this week.”
Kelly also said he will be looking for more consistency across the board from his players as the team heads into the final stretch of its schedule.
In Saturday’s 55-31 loss to Arizona State, Notre Dame quickly fell behind and was not able to catch up, thanks in large part to the Sun Devils’ 28 points off five Irish turnovers.
Senior quarterback Everett Golson threw four interceptions and lost one of his two fumbles on the night.
“I mean, look, there is clearly a number of things that we’ve got to clean up, and in a game where the turnovers decided the game, there are things that we can do better as coaches,” Kelly said. “We’ve got to be able to — I think the biggest thing for me is, we’ve got to take care of the careless mistakes. There are going to be some mistakes made within the structure of our offense, but they can’t be careless. Then we’ve got to do a great job of putting him in a good position, and that’s on me as a coach.”
However, Kelly said he was still confident in the abilities of his signal-caller to lead Notre Dame drives, especially since Golson brought the Irish back within three points of the Sun Devils in the fourth quarter.
“Well, I mean, after the first 30 plays, I mean we had — I think the first 35 plays we had most of all of our mistakes were made, and they were all correctable mistakes,” Kelly said. “Then our next 47 plays, other than the last play of the game, the last sack there where we were trying to make a play, he’s doing really good things.
“So we know what he’s capable of doing. … It’s striving for consistency, because we get really great batches of work. It’s really gaining that consistency for four quarters. So my eyes tell me the body of work just needs to be more consistent.”
Kelly said more of that consistency needs to come from the field-goal tandem of junior long snappers Scott Daly and Hunter Smith. The unit botched a hold on a fourth-quarter attempt during Notre Dame’s comeback bid.
“Yeah, I would probably use John McKay’s line — I’m in favor of execution, executing both of them,” Kelly said. “Better execution for those two. Those are the only two guys. These guys like live with each other all summer. It’s just absolutely crazy that we can’t get a snap and catch in that situation.
“… It was a crucial time in the game to have that kind of a mistake. So go back to the routine and continue to work on it, and hope that we don’t have that mistake again.”
Graduate student cornerback Cody Riggs sat out Saturday’s game with a stress reaction in his foot, and Kelly said his staff will keep an eye on the injury.
“It’s something we’re going to have to monitor the rest of the year,” Kelly said. “I think we’ll probably have to cut back a little bit in his practice and really kind of make sure that we can get him through the rest of the season.”