Kelly discusses offensive line competition, DeShone Kizer
Daniel O'Boyle | Monday, September 4, 2017
Irish head coach Brian Kelly discussed his team’s depth and health, as well as his former quarterback Deshone Kizer in his Sunday teleconference following Notre Dame’s 49-16 victory over Temple.
The Irish rotated between two right tackles — sophomore Tommy Kraemer and freshman Robert Hainsey — in the season-opening win. And although Hainsey was called for two penalties, the Irish had success running the ball to the right side regardless of which tackle was on the field, running for a total of 422 yards on the day, the most Temple gave up since a 2012 encounter with Army’s triple-option offense. Kelly said he is undecided on whether the team continues the season with Hainsey, Kraemer or both players playing at right tackle.
“I think that we’ll leave that open-ended in terms of whether we’ll have two guys there or not,” Kelly said. “I really liked the fact that both of them competed and did some good things, both of them. Other than the two procedure penalties, and those are the only two penalties we had on offense by Robert, he competed his butt off. And Tommy did a pretty good job, as well. I kind of like playing both of them right now, but we’ll see how that goes. I don’t want to be married to one concept there. I think we’ll let that kind of play itself out and see where it goes.”
It wasn’t just on the offensive line where Kelly was impressed with the depth of players at his disposal, however. Kelly said he hoped to continue to rotate heavily on the defensive side of the ball.
“There was a lot of rotation,” Kelly said. “We played I think 24 players 10 plays or more on defense. We’ll continue to do that. As it relates to the right tackle position, I think we’ll continue to evaluate it and see where that ends up as the season moves on.”
The Irish entered the season with an almost entirely clean bill of health, and suffered no major injuries against the Owls. Although graduate student tight end Durham Smythe went through concussion protocol after a hit early in the second quarter, Kelly said he did not show any symptoms Sunday.
“He’s gone through the concussion protocol,” Kelly said. “He showed no symptoms today, which is a very encouraging sign. Generally if you show symptoms the next day, it generally means that you’re probably in for a long week. But he was good today, no symptoms. Tomorrow would be a day where he would condition, if he goes through that. We could be moving this thing quite quickly.”
Junior defensive tackle Micah Dew-Treadway did not dress for the Irish season-opener due to a knee injury, but Kelly said he should be able to play this weekend against Georgia.
“Micah had a knee strain,” Kelly said. “We just felt like it was best that we didn’t put him out there unless he was 100 percent. We expect to have him back this week.”
Apart from Dew-Treadway and Smythe, Kelly said the Irish continue to be in a very good shape in regards to health.
“We came out clean,” Kelly said. “Little bumps and bruises, but expect to have everybody back.”
Kelly was given the opportunity to clarify his comments made about former Irish quarterback Deshone Kizer — who is set to start for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday — in the spring, when he said Kizer could have benefited from returning to Notre Dame. Kelly said he was always in full support of Kizer, and felt too much had been read into his comments.
“What I said was that he was the best quarterback in the draft, and he had the biggest upside, but would benefit from staying at Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “Once that decision was made, we were all for DeShone seeking out what his dream was: to play in the NFL. That’s what he’s done.
“In a very short period of time he’s gotten himself into a great position to be the starting quarterback. We’re thrilled for DeShone. We’re big fans. Hopefully he’s surrounded with guys that can get Cleveland back into championship caliber.”
Kelly said he believes Kizer has the mental fortitude to have success in the NFL, but stressed that any young quarterback in the league can make mistakes at times.
“One of the things that I said was he has outstanding character,” Kelly said. He’s got great traits. So you’re not going to have to worry about any of those things. I think he’s got what it takes to persevere and fight through adversity, and knows this isn’t a short-term solution, he’s there for the long haul.”
“He’s going to have some good days. I saw him yesterday. I said, ‘Look, there’s going to be some good days and bad days. Just keep fighting through it.’ On the other side of it, there’s going to be some great success. I think he’s definitely somebody that will be able to get through those tough times.”
The Irish will be in action again when they play Georgia on Saturday at Notre Dame stadium. Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m.