Kelly discusses Irish potential
Samantha Zuba | Monday, September 15, 2014
The sample size keeps growing for Notre Dame after three games, but it’s still tough to tell how good the Irish are in relation to other top teams.Even head coach Brian Kelly couldn’t place Notre Dame definitively at his Sunday telconference. When asked if he thought Notre Dame is shaping up as a top-10 team, Kelly responded:
“It’s so hard to tell who is top‐10 to top‐15. So we are really starting from where the season began, and you’re slotting based upon winning and teams losing. That’s hard to tell really from my perspective. We’re just kind of playing the numbers game right now.”
The polls will shift many times before the season is over, so nothing is fixed in terms of a team’s relative ranking. But Kelly said this year’s team has a lot of potential in comparison to other teams he has coached at Notre Dame because of its youth.
“I really like the potential of this football team,” Kelly said. “It’s a young team that is learning and getting better. We are … playing, I think, just two seniors, one on offense and one on defense last night, … [senior tight end Ben] Koyack and [graduate student cornerback] Cody Riggs. So I think the potential is as high as any team that I’ve had here at Notre Dame.”
Now, it’s a matter of maturing as the season progresses and stretching out the moments of brilliance into consistent play, Kelly said.
“We had some silly penalties and some concentration issues, and when we are locked in and focused, we’ve shown that we can score quickly,” Kelly said of the offense’s performance against the Boilermakers. “Seems like the first drive of the game and the drive right before the half, when there’s a sense of urgency, we operate a little bit better.
“We need to grow up and carry that mentality in every possession; if we do that, we’ll be a pretty good offense.”Injury update
The already-banged-up Irish took some more hits Sunday against Purdue.
Kelly said junior safety Nicky Baratti will miss the rest of the season. Baratti missed all of his sophomore season due to injury as well.
Baratti injured his shoulder after one snap against Purdue, forcing junior Elijah Shumate to move from strong safety to free safety, a position he had never played at Notre Dame. Freshman Drue Tranquill came on to play strong safety.
“Unfortunately, his shoulder needs to be taken care of again, so he’s going to have to have surgery, and he’s gone for the year,” Kelly said.
Baratti was playing in place of injured graduate student safety Austin Collinsworth (MCL).
Senior receiver Amir Carlisle went down early in the Purdue game with an MCL injury that Kelly said probably was not as severe as Collinsworth’s.
“Amir Carlisle is having an MRI on his knee,” Kelly said. “We don’t believe it’s the severity of Austin Collinsworth, which was I think about four weeks.”
Sophomore cornerback Cole Luke left Saturday’s game with a head injury and will be evaluated.
“Cole Luke had a head injury, and he’ll go through our concussion protocol,” Kelly said. “He was feeling pretty good today, [and he’ll] take the steps that he’ll need to go through to be cleared for practice this week. We’re confident that he’ll be able to work through that.”
There is, however, no update on the five suspended players or the state of the investigation into academic violations.
“I talked to a couple of the guys,” Kelly said. “As of Friday, they had not had their hearings.”