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Kelly praises Redfield, reflects on quarterback chemistry

| Tuesday, September 29, 2015

After not seeing the field against Georgia Tech due to a combination of injury and scheme, junior safety Max Redfield returned to the field Saturday against Massachusetts, getting a heavy dose of playing time in the second half.

Irish head coach Brain Kelly said Sunday that Redfield, who broke his thumb during Notre Dame’s 38-3 win over Texas on Sept. 5, is getting more comfortable with dealing with the injury.

“We’re a little concerned with his tackling, but we see that is coming along and he’s feeling a lot more confident,” Kelly said during his weekly teleconference. “He’s three weeks now with that cast. I think we’re going to see more and more confidence each week with him.”

Kelly said Redfield and graduate student Matthias Farley will continue to split time at the free safety position, across from senior strong safety Elijah Shumate. He said Redfield saw the field a lot in the second half due to a heavy dose of zone coverage.

“I think Max certainly got an opportunity in the second half when we played a lot more zone,” Kelly said. “We like the fact that he’s certainly got great speed and the ability to play the ball.”

Nick Coleman also saw a decent amount of time in the game at safety Saturday, and Kelly said there’s a lot the staff likes about the freshman’s game.

“We really like Nick,” Kelly said. “He’s got speed. He’s got great competitiveness. [He] plays the ball well in the air, but his technique is not where we need it to be. And the case in point, the touchdown he got beat on, he just got beat at the line using poor technique.

“But we want to get him more and more playing time because we have a really good feeling about the way he plays the ball. He had two pass breakups prior to that, and we see that he’s got a chance to be a real good player for us.”

Quarterbacks sticking together

Freshman quarterback Brandon Wimbush saw his first action — and recorded his first touchdown — Saturday in Notre Dame’s 62-27 win over Massachusetts. After the game, sophomore starter DeShone Kizer seemed more excited for his teammate’s play than his own, which Kelly said is evidence of the tight bond the Irish quarterbacks share.

Irish sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer winds up to throw during Notre Dame's 62-27 win over Massachusetts on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.Amy Ackermann | The Observer
Irish sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer winds up to throw during Notre Dame’s 62-27 win over Massachusetts on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

“It’s a room that I sit in every day, and I can tell you that they have a very close relationship,” Kelly said about the quarterbacks. “You know, when [junior] Malik [Zaire] went down, the first guys that were in that room to see him were Brandon and DeShone.

“So it doesn’t surprise me that it’s reciprocal now with DeShone and Brandon.”

Kelly went so far as to suggest the camaraderie in the group is stronger than it was a season ago, when Everett Golson was Notre Dame’s signal caller.

“Last year it wasn’t like this, but this is a different group of kids and they are pretty close,” Kelly said.

Kelly also mentioned Zaire, who broke his ankle in Notre Dame’s 34-27 win at Virginia on Sept. 12, has been fully involved with the team despite his injury.

“Malik Zaire didn’t miss a meeting this past week,” the Irish head coach said. “I mean, he did not miss the quarterbacks meetings. That just tells you about him as a person.”

Kelly also said Zaire will travel with the team to Clemson this weekend, as expected.

Tight end emergence

A trio of tight ends saw the field for Notre Dame on Saturday — graduate student Chase Hounshell, sophomore Nic Weishar and freshman Alizé Jones — and Kelly said he was pleased with each one’s performance.

“Alizé made a big jump in his assignments,” Kelly said. “He had a number of errors last week. Cut down on those.

Freshman tight end Alizé Jones sheds a tackle during Notre Dame's 62-27 win over Massachusetts on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.Emily Kruse | The Observer
Freshman tight end Alizé Jones sheds a tackle during Notre Dame’s 62-27 win over Massachusetts on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

“And Nic Weishar was very, very good in assignments and catching and blocking.”

As for Notre Dame’s fourth tight end, sophomore Tyler Luatua, Kelly said the Irish staff would be cautious returning him to the field after suffering the second concussion of his collegiate career.

“We’re going to be very cautious with Tyler,” Kelly said. “ … We’re going to take the right steps and go through the right protocol, and we’re never going to put a player back in the position to play unless they are 100 percent able to do so.”

Staying injury-free

Notre Dame’s only injury concern from Saturday’s win was junior receiver Corey Robinson, who did not play after suffering a knee injury during pregame warmups.

Kelly, however, said the Irish got positive news Sunday, and that Robinson will be good to go.

“No damage to the knee, so we finally came up with good news,” Kelly said. “And we gave him a cortisone shot [Sunday], and we expect him to be full go for Tuesday’s practice.”

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About Alex Carson

Alex Carson graduated from Notre Dame in 2017 after majoring in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics and living in O’Neill Hall. Hailing from the Indianapolis area, but born in Youngstown, Ohio, Carson is a Cleveland sports fan convinced that he’s already lived the “best day of his life.” At The Observer, Carson was first a Sports Writer, then served as an Associate Sports Editor (2015/16) and an Assistant Managing Editor (2016/17), before finishing his tenure as a Senior Sports Writer. A man of strong convictions, he ardently believes that Carly Rae Jepsen's 2015 release E•MO•TION is the greatest album of his generation, and wakes up early on Saturday mornings to listen, or occasionally watch, his favorite least-favorite sports team, Aston Villa. When he isn’t writing, Carson spends his time counting down the days to the next running of the Indianapolis 500 and reminding people that the Victory March starts with the lyric, “Rally sons of Notre Dame,” not “Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame.”

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