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Football

Kelly pleased with Kizer, Redfield despite loss

| Tuesday, October 6, 2015

In his first collegiate road start, DeShone Kizer led No. 15 Notre Dame to the brink of a road win at No. 6 Clemson — and Irish head coach Brian Kelly said he was pleased with his sophomore quarterback’s performance on the big stage, despite the loss.

“I think we knew he was the guy that could handle the moment; he certainly was able to do that,” Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference.

Sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer drops back for a pass  during Notre Dame’s 24-22 loss at No. 6 Clemson on Saturday. Chris Collins | The Observer

Sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer drops back for a pass
during Notre Dame’s 24-22 loss at No. 6 Clemson on Saturday.

Kelly saw a variety of throws from Kizer in Saturday’s loss and noted the sophomore is a quarterback that can do more than just manage a game.

“These kind of games you get a chance to see more of what he’s capable of,” Kelly said. “We saw the different throws, a sidearm throw on a big conversion to [senior receiver] Chris Brown. He just made a lot of different throws, so poised in the pocket, some toughness, and handled the environment. So I think you can safely say that he can win games for you.”

Sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer breaks a tackle during Notre Dame’s loss to No. 6 Clemson on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The Irish coaching staff has praised his poise and leadership despite the loss. Notre Dame will look to rebound this Saturday when it welcomes Navy to campus. Chris Collins | The Observer

Sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer breaks a tackle during Notre Dame’s loss to No. 6 Clemson on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The Irish coaching staff has praised his poise and leadership despite the loss. Notre Dame will look to rebound this Saturday when it welcomes Navy to campus.

Despite the loss Saturday, Kelly said the Irish staff is more confident now than ever Kizer can lead the team to a title.

“I thought he showed great poise in the pocket, and I think it just added on to the fact that we’ve got a quarterback that can help us win a championship,” Kelly said.

Limiting mistakes

Kelly said his team had a big opportunity to knock off Clemson but he wasn’t disappointed with the team Saturday.

“I’m not disappointed in our guys,” Kelly said. “I’m disappointed that they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity that they had this weekend, and that was to beat a team on the road in a tough place to play and overcome the elements.”

The Irish were plagued all night Saturday by dropped passes, and Kelly said the Irish left yards — and a chance to win — on the field by not coming down with more catches.

“We had over 125 yards that we left out there,” he said. “So I thought we utilized the receivers that were getting the single coverage very well.”

Kelly said junior receiver Corey Robinson, who cost the Irish opportunities to score twice with key drops, has to improve his game in the future.

“Obviously Corey’s got to play better for us. He knows that,” Kelly said. “He’s got to make some plays for us, but he’s going to be involved in the offense as well.”

Two-point conversions

After throwing a touchdown pass to junior receiver Torii Hunter, Jr. to trim Clemson’s lead to two with seven seconds left, Kizer was stopped at the 1-yard line on Notre Dame’s subsequent two-point try — and Kelly said the Irish got the look they wanted.

“They gave us a six-man box. So it was six for six and we led the back up inside, and we didn’t do a very good job capping off the three technique,” Kelly said. “So we kind of stretched the play, and we did a poor job of blocking their nickel. We really had a favorable look, it was the look that we were hoping to get.

“After throwing the ball successfully down there, they went into their pass-coverage defense. So it was the right thing to do was to run the football down there, and they executed better than we did on that particular play.”

Kelly defended Notre Dame’s decision to go for two earlier in the game after scoring to cut Clemson’s lead to 21-9 early in the fourth quarter.

“I don’t chase the points until the fourth quarter, and our mathematical chart, which I have on the sideline with me and we have a senior adviser who concurred with me, and we said go for two,” Kelly said. “It says on our chart to go for two. We usually don’t use the chart until the fourth quarter because, again, we don’t chase the points. We went for two to make it a 10-point game.”

Had Notre Dame instead converted an extra point, and the game unfolded in the same way, the Irish wouldn’t have needed to go for two to tie the game in the final seconds — Kelly, however, said it’s easy to analyze in hindsight and that if Robinson had caught the ball, it would’ve been a moot point.

“Well, I mean, you’re obviously looking at the situation after the fact,” Kelly said. “If you look at it after the fact, you can draw any conclusion that you would like.

“ … Obviously, you know, if we catch the two-point conversion, which was wide open, then we just kick the extra point [at the end of the game] and we’ve got a different outcome.”

Redfield’s emergence

Despite still fighting a broken finger suffered in Notre Dame’s 38-3 season-opening win over Texas on Sept. 5, junior Max Redfield recorded a career-high 14 tackles Saturday, and Kelly said it was the safety’s best game yet in a Notre Dame jersey.

“This past weekend, [he] probably played his best game since he’s been here at Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “So, you know, there’s a standard for him now on film for how he can play this game, and hopefully we can continue on this track. Now we’ve got the film to show it against a very good competition against very good athletes, we can show him the kind of play that he’s capable of.”

Injury update

Sophomore offensive lineman Quenton Nelson suffered a sprained ankle late in the first half of Saturday’s loss, Kelly said. He noted Nelson’s status was uncertain for Navy’s visit to Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday.

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About Alex Carson

Alex Carson graduated from Notre Dame in 2017 after majoring in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics and living in O’Neill Hall. Hailing from the Indianapolis area, but born in Youngstown, Ohio, Carson is a Cleveland sports fan convinced that he’s already lived the “best day of his life.”At The Observer, Carson was first a Sports Writer, then served as an Associate Sports Editor (2015/16) and an Assistant Managing Editor (2016/17), before finishing his tenure as a Senior Sports Writer.A man of strong convictions, he ardently believes that Carly Rae Jepsen's 2015 release E•MO•TION is the greatest album of his generation, and wakes up early on Saturday mornings to listen, or occasionally watch, his favorite least-favorite sports team, Aston Villa.When he isn’t writing, Carson spends his time counting down the days to the next running of the Indianapolis 500 and reminding people that the Victory March starts with the lyric, “Rally sons of Notre Dame,” not “Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame.”

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