Brian Kelly discusses how ND can bounce back after struggles against Miami
Daniel O'Boyle | Tuesday, November 14, 2017
No. 9 Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly talked about his team’s 41-8 defeat to Miami (FL) and the performance of junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush during his Sunday teleconference.
“We really haven’t had any specific goals,” Kelly said. “We just have had one mission, and that is to play to a standard, and we didn’t live up to that standard last night, you know, a standard of excellence that we’ve had since day one. So we’ll go back to applying that standard in everything we do and our preparation and obviously learn from what happened on Saturday night and look to live up to the standard of excellence at Notre Dame and Notre Dame football on Saturday against Navy.
“This is about focus and then refocus. So we really have not talked all year about winning as much as we’ve talked about living up to a standard, and that standard was not met on Saturday. It’s really refocusing on the standard and not worrying about all of those other things that seem to have maybe gotten us off our process. So really getting back to the things that have gotten us here, and getting back to a level of play that is the appropriate standard for us.”
Kelly said his team should look to the example of USC after the game and gave another example during his teleconference, pointing out that Ohio State bounded back from a blowout loss to Iowa.
“Look, Ohio State went on the road and had 55 points put up against them when they played Iowa,” Kelly said. “They came back the next week and really took it to a Michigan State team. It’s really how you respond in college athletics. We’ve got good kids. They really want to win, and I expect them to really come back with a higher standard of play. I think in retrospect, it was a big game. There was a lot to the atmosphere. You know, I think our guys really wanted to win. I mean, they wanted to win really, really bad. I have to do a better job of keeping them in the moment and keeping them from being distracted from all of what’s going around them.
“I think you may have asked the question about big games and such, and I’ve never given it too much thought because we play in a big-game atmosphere at Notre Dame, but this one was a little bit different. A number of these kids hadn’t played in a game of this magnitude since maybe the Clemson game, and I don’t know that there were many defensive players on the field for that. We’ll have to take a good close look at that and making sure we prepare our guys. I’ve got to do a better job of making sure that they’re in the moment.”
Wimbush threw his first interception in over 100 attempts on the third drive of the game against the Hurricanes and was briefly pulled for sophomore quarterback Ian Book in the second quarter, before returning and finishing with a completion percentage of under 50 percent, two interceptions and only 24 rushing yards. Kelly said the big-game atmosphere may have been difficult for the inexperienced Wimbush.
“It was the first big game atmosphere, being able to get into his optimal zone,” Kelly said. “He obviously didn’t perform at the level that he wants to perform at, and then he quite frankly needs to perform at. You take this as an opportunity to learn, and more importantly, how your preparation prepares you for these big games. I think, you never like to learn lessons in losses, but I think he gained a lot of understanding of what he needs to do to lead this football team.”
Kelly examined each of the team’s turnovers, three for Wimbush and one for Book, and said each one was based on a correctable mistake.
“One was a bit of a high throw,” Kelly said. “The first one, if you recall, was a high throw to [junior wide receiver] Equanimeous [St. Brown] but one that should be executed. The next one was just a decision that Ian would probably like to have back. He threw a quick slant into coverage, and he knows that that’s a man beater side and not a zone side to throw it into. We’ve got to coach him better in that situation.The third one with respect to Brandon, again, just a late throw, one that’s got to come out sooner. It was thrown behind [sophomore receiver] Chase [Claypool]. So that’s just being more accurate and being on time with the throw. And then the fourth turnover was the strip sack, where in that situation Brandon has got to feel the pressure and step up in the pocket. In all those we’ve got to coach our players better. We’ve got to demand in practice that there’s that attention to detail because the process really escaped us in some of those turnovers, and that really was a major, major problem for us Saturday night.”
The Irish run game couldn’t live up to its usual standards, gaining only 109 yards on the ground and no scores, far from its season average of over 300 yards per game. In particular, Irish offensive linemen struggled to deal with the Hurricanes’ speed and prevent the backside pursuit on run plays, which Kelly said was a combination of Miami’s athleticism and some bad reads.
“There are really two instances,” Kelly said. “One, they beat us on some cut-offs. They were quicker off the ball, where we’re supposed to cut off. And second, we’re reading that backside, and we should have pulled it on a couple of occasions. As a matter of fact, the first play of the game, if it was run again, we would have pulled that because the tackle pulls, the defensive end was in the hip of the tackle. That should have been a pull. We had the tight end coming around. We had a nice play there.”
“Again, there’s some cut-offs that we missed, and I would say this: They were quick off the ball, so give them credit. But we had some reads, as well, that we definitely should have pulled the ball on.”