Kelly announces Freddy Canteen will miss remainder of season, discusses status of offense
Tobias Hoonhout | Monday, September 18, 2017
On Sunday, Brian Kelly addressed Notre Dame’s 49-20 win over Boston College, and also looked ahead to next week’s matchup against Michigan State.
While the Irish (2-1) gained over 500 yards on the ground against the Eagles (1-2, 0-1 ACC), the offense struggled in the first half, and only gained 96 yards in the passing game. While junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush dominated the game on the ground, running for a program-record 207 yards and four touchdowns, Kelly acknowledged his team still had room to improve in the passing game.
“We have to get more efficient in throwing the football, catching the football,” he said. “I thought our protection, as you mentioned and alluded to, was excellent. Our quarterback had time. We just have to be more accurate, and we have to coach it better.”
“ … If you add all those elements, we’ve got to coach it better. We’ve got to catch better, and we’ve got to be more accurate. All those three things have to come together this week because we’re going to have to be more efficient in the passing game. We don’t have to throw for 300 yards, but we’ve got to hit receivers. Receivers have got to make some tough catches, and we’ve got to put Brandon in a position where we’re featuring the things that he does well.”
And as for the junior quarterback, Kelly has seen flashes from him, but with only three games under his belt, there’s still a learning curve.
“He’s seeing it, but it’s a little bit late, and consequently that’s a little bit of his passing game, too, which forces him to rush things and overthrow a little bit, more recognition,” Kelly said. “I’ll give you an example. He threw a beautiful corner route to [graduate student tight end] Durham Smythe because he loves that route, so it came out of his hand beautifully. He was positioned great in the pocket.
“ … When he sees things and he’s confident and he knows them, he’s synced up and he syncs up our offense wonderfully. We’ve just got to get him to that, and when we do, I think we’ve got great balance.”
In other news, Kelly announced that graduate student wide receiver Freddy Canteen has been diagnosed with a torn labrum and is out for the season, which Kelly said will give sophomore wide receiver Chase Claypool and the rest of the receivers an opportunity to prove themselves.
“We just think that he needs to continue to grow at that position,” Kelly said on Claypool. “We just like that he blocked very well for us. He was assignment correct. We saw him really grow in the areas that we wanted him to grow in, and I think in terms of all the receivers, they just have to make more plays for us, contested catches, and they will. Hasn’t got off to the kind of start we want, but it’s a long season and I have a great deal of confidence in them.”
While Notre Dame did give up 400 yards to the Eagles, the defense came up with a number of key stops and turnovers to keep Boston College from gaining the upper hand, including a big fourth down stop in the third quarter. For Kelly, while the Irish walked away with a win, the team still needs to develop the defensive fundamentals, especially against the run.
“You know, I think in terms of what they wanted to do and running the football, you know, you see — look, this is still about going from not a particularly solid run defense to one where we want to be a really good run defense, and it still comes to fundamentals,” he said. “We were a little loose in some of those fundamentals at times, and so tackles show up on the sheet, but fundamentals show up on film, and we were a little bit loose in some of the fundamentals on Saturday.”
“ … We would like to have played a little bit better in our fits and a little bit stronger fundamentally, and that will be the message moving forward. If we want to be a really good defense, we’ll have to be fundamentally better than we were on Saturday.”
The Irish hit the road again next week to face Michigan State (2-0), who beat Notre Dame last season to start the slide that led to former defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder’s firing. With the familiarity between the two programs, Kelly said he is expecting Mark Dantonio’s team to play as they have in the past.
“You know, a style of offense and defense that has been his hallmark, trademark, whatever you want to use, that is part of who he is as a coach,” Kelly said. “It’s hard-nosed, physical football. You know, run the football, certainly feature a very physical defense, man-to-man on the back end of the defense.”
“ … When you see Mark Dantonio’s football team, you’re not playing a finesse team. It’s physical, hard-nosed and our guys know what to expect when they play Michigan State.”