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Brian Kelly reflects on Northwestern miscues, provides injury updates on Sheldon Day, Everett Golson

| Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Irish junior receiver Chris Brown coughs up a fumble near the goal line during Notre Dame’s 43-40 overtime loss to Northwestern on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.Michael Yu| Observer
Irish junior receiver Chris Brown coughs up a fumble near the goal line during Notre Dame’s 43-40 overtime loss to Northwestern on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
Three days removed from Notre Dame’s 43-40 overtime loss to Northwestern, Irish head coach Brian Kelly reflected on some of the decisions that impacted the surprising defeat.

Kelly mentioned Sunday that Notre Dame is seven points away from being 9-1, but he’s aware an opposite argument could be made too.

“College football is such that it comes down to a couple plays and the fine line,” Kelly said in his Tuesday press conference. “That’s why it’s so critical that when you turn the ball over — when we turn it over, it’s critical. It’s catastrophic turnovers.”

Irish senior running back Cam McDaniel fumbled on a second-and-eight carry with 1:28 remaining in the fourth quarter and Notre Dame nearing a victory. The Wildcats took over, drove down the field, tied the game and eventually won in overtime. Kelly said he told McDaniel he’d give him the ball again in that situation.

“We really think that the self-inflicted wounds on offense have been the story of the season so far, knowing that our defense has been young and that we were gonna have to hold on,” Kelly said. “We’ve made it really much more difficult than it’s had to be.”

While turnovers and other critical errors have piled up over the past few games, Kelly said he does not think they’re becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

With Notre Dame leading 40-29 with 10:34 remaining in the fourth quarter following a touchdown grab by sophomore receiver Will Fuller, Kelly elected to go for the two-point conversion, which the Irish didn’t convert.

“I think you get in the game and it definitely affects you,” Kelly said. “Look, it affected me. I went for two when I should have kicked the extra point. It affects everybody. I can’t fall into that. I’m not getting paid to make stupid decisions like that. You fall into that. I can’t let our players fall into that.”

Irish senior kicker Kyle Brindza hooked two field-goal attempts, and sophomore quarterback Malik Zaire botched a hold that led to Northwestern returning an extra-point attempt for two points. Kelly said the place-kicking battery will remain the same when the Irish host Louisville on Saturday.

“Our kicking game has to get back to where it was,” Kelly said. “I still think we have one of the best kickers in the country. He had an off day on Saturday, but I expect him to bounce back.”

Defensively, Notre Dame has allowed an average of 34.3 points per game in its last seven contests after surrendering just 31 points total in the first three games of the season.

“We’ve never been as young as I’ve been [this season] on defense. So that’s difficult,” Kelly said. “And we’ve never had this much difficulty holding on to the football on offense at the same time.”


Injury Updates

Irish senior quarterback Everett Golson (sprained AC joint in shoulder) has received treatment each of the last few days and has reportedly responded well, Kelly said. Golson has a full range of motion and is expected to practice fully Tuesday, according to Kelly.

Irish junior defensive lineman Sheldon Day (MCL sprain) will not play this week, but Kelly expects Day to return at some point this season.

Irish freshman defensive tackle Daniel Cage (knee sprain) is also out for Saturday’s tilt with the Cardinals, but Kelly said it looks like Cage will be ready for the Nov. 29 rivalry game against USC.

Irish senior linebacker Jarrett Grace and senior defensive lineman Chase Hounshell have not played this season while recovering from injuries. Kelly said it’s too early to determine their playing futures at Notre Dame and the possibilities of fifth years.

Notre Dame will celebrate Senior Day before it hosts Louisville on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Notre Dame Stadium.

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About Mike Monaco

Senior Sports Writer Mike Monaco is a senior majoring in Film, Television and Theatre with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy as well as Business Economics. The O’Neill Hall native hails from the Boston area and is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.

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