Kelly talks Georgia game, offensive line, skill positions
Daniel O'Boyle | Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Irish head coach Brian Kelly discussed his team’s offensive line, junior running back Dexter Williams and junior receiver Equanimeous St. Brown during his Sunday teleconference following Notre Dame’s 20-19 loss to Georgia on Saturday.
Although junior running back Josh Adams averaged only 2.8 yards per carry against the Bulldogs (2-0), Kelly opted not to turn to Dexter Williams, who had six rushes for 124 yards against Temple but did not appear at all on offense Saturday. After the game, Kelly claimed Williams’s absence was a “coach’s decision.” Kelly elaborated on his decision, saying that he was confident in Adams, particularly in pass-protection.
“It really depends,” Kelly said of whether Williams will see action against Boston College next weekend. “Dexter Williams is a fine back, but we really have high regard for Josh Adams”
“I don’t think it’s very unusual to go with the guy you consider your top back. We’ll try to get him in, they’re all really fine backs, but it’s hard to get them all in the game. We love Dexter too, it’s just really difficult to get them all in the game. Josh is a really fine pass-blocker, and Georgia liked to do a lot of confusing things with blitzes and stunts up front, Josh is really good at dealing with those things. It goes week-to-week, we’ll see what happens next week.”
Brandon Wimbush was sacked three times against Georgia and fumbled twice, including on Notre Dame’s (1-1) final offensive play of the game. Kelly said the difficulties in protecting Wimbush came from a combination of the quarterback’s protection and Wimbush himself.
“Sometimes there were certain protections where the backs need to get out there, sometimes we’re fanning out with the tackle, sometimes the quarterback held on and didn’t step up in the pocket,” Kelly said. “It’s not generally one thing, it’s a combination of a lot of guys doing their job and we’ve got to get better at it, we’ve got to coach it better and we’ve got to play better, which we will next week.”
Kelly added that he would continue to work on making sure the offensive line lives up to its high pre-season expectations.
“We’re really talking about a comprehensive kind of evaluation,” Kelly said. “They did some things well, there are some things they have to do better. What they did well, as a group, we put up 19 points and gave ourselves a chance to win that football game. What we have to do better is sustain blocks and be more consistent in pass protection. What we learned is you have to go back and be better at coaching the fundamentals. We have to be better at our technique. I’d love to say we’ve arrived, but we haven’t. We have to keep working on it and get back at it Monday. We’ll get better because of this game.”
On the final offensive play, graduate student tackle Mike McGlinchey was beaten by Georgia senior linebacker David Bellamy, who forced the game-sealing fumble. Although the play ended Irish hopes of a victory, Kelly said he did not believe McGlinchey cost his team the game.
“I didn’t have a specific message for Mike,” Kelly said. “I never felt like there was one play that determines a game. There were a number of things. We could have made a run on a third down on the series before, or if we don’t have a late hit, or if we make a play on that third-down flip with Daelin Hayes, or maybe if there was a better play call offensively somewhere. I don’t think there was one singular play. I usually say players have to make plays. There were big opportunities in the game and when you’re presented with opportunities you have to have it all working together to make those plays. In that situation, he didn’t. So let’s go back and revisit why and make sure that when we’re presented in the opportunity to make that play again, we make it.”
“It was just a one-on-one scenario. It was simply one guy against one guy, everything else was picked up, one guy came off the edge against Mike, Mike set, he used a quick arm over and just flat-out beat him on a pass-rush. That’s our best player, that’s a guy who’s going to be playing in the NFL and their guy was just better on that play.”
Equanimeous St. Brown led the Irish in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2016 and had 80 receiving yards and a touchdown against Temple, but had his most quiet game in his career as a starter on Saturday, catching only two passes for 16 yards and recording no first-half catches. Kelly said the Bulldogs set out to prevent St. Brown from making an impact, forcing Wimbush to throw to other receivers.
“They were really physical with him,” Kelly said. “When they were in any kind of two-deep coverage, they made it really difficult to get it to him over the top. That made it difficult for us to get him the ball. They tried to force us to throw to somebody else. We needed to be better in the running game and someone had to try and pick us up. We had that emerging when we made some catches with some other receivers, but we weren’t consistent enough. We needed to make one or two more plays and we just couldn’t do that.”
The Irish will be play their first road game of the season Saturday, taking on Boston College at BC Alumni Stadium. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.