Kelly addresses controversial penalty and Jones’ playing time
Benjamin Padanilam | Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Following Notre Dame’s 28-27 loss to Navy on Saturday, Irish head coach Brian Kelly was tasked with answering questions about special teams miscues during his weekly Sunday teleconference.
This week, Kelly was asked about a controversial 12-men-on-the-field penalty on a fourth-and-6 which ultimately cost the Irish (3-6) a defensive stop late in the third quarter, extending a drive for the Midshipmen (6-2, 4-1 AAC) that allowed them to take a lead they would not relinquish.
“The rule clearly states that if he is one step from the sideline, then that is not a reviewable play,” Kelly said of the call Sunday. “Very similar to when I had asked earlier in the game for a review on a [senior running back] Tarean Folston run, I was told by the official on the field because his forward progress was deemed stopped. … This could have been a similar situation where the play could not have been reviewed if he was within one step of the sideline after the ball being snapped.”
Following the game Saturday, Kelly said two officials on the field told him the 12th man had in fact got off the field in time, but the play was reviewed and overturned. On Sunday, he said he hoped the situation would lead to future, systemic changes to the replay system.
“No, not as of yet,” Kelly said when asked whether or not he had received further clarification on the call. “As you know, that was the American Athletic Conference who asked for a review of the play, so it really wasn’t the ACC, though we’ve obviously asked for further clarification because we clearly understand what the rule is.
“And it obviously brings up many questions relative to replay and, really, a need for uniform and nationalized replay. When you have different conferences with different ways of looking at specific plays, we’re the only sport that doesn’t have that, so I hope that affects some form of conversation that we can get to a nationalized replay situation.”
Kelly also was asked questions Sunday about his decision to elect for a field goal rather than attempting to convert a fourth-and-4 on Navy’s 14-yard line with 7:28 left in the game. The field goal cut Navy’s lead to one point, 28-27, but the Midshipmen subsequently burned the remaining time off the clock on their next drive to close out the victory.
“No, I don’t think I do,” Kelly said. “Look, here’s my way of thinking: I kicked into the wind in the third quarter for a reason, and that was to take the wind in the fourth quarter with the thought that a field goal would win the game in the fourth quarter. And we had many chances to get off the field. … They’re easily disputed, but I think it was the right call to make it 28-27 with a field goal and the wind to your back to win the game in the kind of game that we played.”
Despite a losing season looking more and more likely for the Irish at 3-6, Kelly said he’s been pleased with how the team has performed even in losing efforts and does not plan to make any major changes over the last few games on the schedule.
“It’s hard for me to want to make any significant changes,” Kelly said. “Yeah, I know we lost the football game, and the first thing is to look to make some changes, but we got a lot of inexperienced players that are gaining great experience and we’re still growing up. I love the way we compete and play hard, we’ve lost six close games that easily could’ve went our way and we’re going to keep battling and fighting. It’s hard for me in these circumstances to think that major changes need to be made other than continue to do what we’re doing and we’ll break through.”
There was some speculation following Saturday’s loss that graduate student defensive lineman Jarron Jones had suffered an injury during the game given his low snap count. Kelly clarified Sunday that Jones was not hurt, but rather he did not play much due to the team’s defensive game plan against the option.
“No, it’s really a whole different animal relative to option, and he’s got a job to do and he can’t be kind of force he was in a traditional offensive set because he’s got to play gap and he has a responsibility if they choose to run triple option,” Kelly said of Jones’ limited time in Saturday’s game. “ … You can take a Jarron Jones out of the game even if he’s being disruptive, so it really neutralizes players like him when you play a team like Navy.”
Kelly also confirmed junior safety Drue Tranquill and freshman cornerback Julian Love would undergo the team’s concussion protocol this week after sustaining head injuries Saturday.