Kelly talks moving past Miami, preparing for Navy and Senior Day
Tobias Hoonhout | Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Coming off of a crushing loss to Miami this past weekend, Brian Kelly discussed how the Irish can get back to their winning ways on Saturday against Navy.
The matchup with the Midshipmen, which will be the 91st consecutive meeting with Notre Dame — the longest rivalry in college football — will also serve as Senior Day for the program. Kelly said he hopes to send his seniors out on a strong note.
“This weekend we’ve got 26 academic seniors and/or graduates that will be honored before the game, and some are playing in their last home game at Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “So very, very important game, obviously, for them and for our football team and important for us to get back to playing to our standard.
“That standard is set by the jerseys and the uniforms that we’ll be wearing. We’ll be wearing Rockne uniforms. There isn’t a better name that you could be wearing that has set the standard of excellence for Notre Dame football.”
Despite facing Navy every year, the Irish always face a new challenge preparing for the Midshipmen, particularly with the triple option offense and time of possession. Kelly said Notre Dame needs to get back to the fundamentals in order to be successful.
“It’s about getting back to our traits, and you have to have an incredible attention to detail when you play Navy and their offense,” he said. “I think everybody knows quite well how prolific they are and how difficult they are to stop. They do things offensively that teams each and every week struggle to defend.
“… You have to play physical. You have to be able to get off blocks. You have to be able to make tackles against a very good and well-disciplined football team, a team that fights for four quarters. They’ve won close games. They manage the clock very well. They play smart football. It will be a great challenge for us.
“…We’ve got to get the football, take it away, and revert back to some of the things that we were doing defensively. If we can get some turnovers and get some points relative to touchdowns instead of field goals, then we’ll put ourselves in a much better position against a very good opponent.”
Last year, the Irish only managed six offensive possessions in a 28-27 loss to Navy in Jacksonville, Florida. Kelly said Notre Dame has to do a better job of getting off the field defensively and finishing drives against the Midshipmen.
“We’ve got to get back to playing that kind of defense where we’re much more aggressive,” Kelly said. “We’re defeating individual blocks and making plays on third down to get off the field. We need more than six possessions. Six possessions is not going to do it. It’s too razor thin.
“…Offensively, we have to be able to score. Last year, obviously, we scored, but we didn’t score touchdowns. You have to score touchdowns. You have to finish off your drives. You have to be extremely efficient, and that’s what their offense forces you to do is to be extremely efficient on offense.”
Rebounding from the Hurricanes
Despite the fact that the 41-8 loss to Miami all but dooms Notre Dame’s playoff hopes, Kelly said the focus of the program hasn’t changed, and the Irish can get back on track with a win against Navy.
“We coach our players on a day-to-day basis to the mission of our university and to the mission of our football program, and that is to graduate all of our players and play for a National Championship,” Kelly said. “Every day we’re working on the traits to develop our players. Miami played really well. We didn’t play to our level. We’re back at it this week. And we’ll get back at it this week, and we’ll play hard for Notre Dame, and that’s really what we invest ourselves with on a day-to-day basis. We can’t get caught up in anything else. So that is left up for other people to judge.
“… Clearly, the most important thing for our guys right now is to get back on the winning ways. They can count. They know how important it is to win and win games, and they know, if they win football games, good things will happen down the road. We were 7-2 or 7-1, and they put us up there and said how great we were, and then we haven’t played quite as well. What we’ve done is refocused our guys back on day to day. We’ve been really good when it’s been day to day.
“So that’s been the focus this week. Let’s get back to each day, and let’s have a great Tuesday. And then whatever happens later, then that’s great because it’s really about your preparation. If you do a great job, you’ve seen how well you’ve played. And then they’ll all love you again. So let’s just work on preparation on Tuesday and Wednesday and send our seniors off on Saturday to win. They deserve that. They’ve done a great job of redirecting our program back to where it needs to be, and that’s really the most important thing.”