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Football

Kelly discusses new facility, early season on ‘The Brian Kelly Show’

| Friday, September 13, 2019

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly sat down with men’s basketball announcer Jack Nolan on Thursday evening for the first episode of “The Brian Kelly Show.” Formerly the “Brian Kelly Radio Show,” Kelly and Notre Dame Athletics partnered with Tire Rack to bring exclusive content this football season.

Each episode will be recorded in the new indoor practice facility which finished construction this summer, which Kelly commented on during this week’s show.

“Well it’s a training facility and,” he said. “The best analogy I can use on a college campus is a laboratory, where you have hands on training; this is where you do it. Our guys need the opportunity to train all year and this gives them certainly a great venue to do that.”

Kelly also mentioned the benefits of having this new facility after being limited by the Loftus Sports Center’s space and availability.

“You know, Loftus was a facility that really was being overrun. Many sports teams, scheduling became difficult and made it very difficult for us to be able to use the facility at the times that really fit a very demanding schedule for our football team,” Kelly said. “When you get football out of there, it takes care of a lot of headaches, because we were obviously taking a big chunk of that time in the morning, so now you’ve got other sports teams that can use a chunk of that time in Loftus.

“It’s not just about the football end of things, it’s about the conditioning elements, certainly in January and February,” he said. “Really the biggest issue that we had was that we couldn’t get both of our lifting and running done at two different times, we had to get it all done in the morning which put us up early in the morning. Now we can get a lift done in January and February in the morning, come back in the afternoon after classes and get a run in, and that will really help our guys in terms of scheduling and sleeping at a better hour. They don’t have to be up at 5:30 in the morning, so it’ll help in the long haul.”

The new facility has over 114,000 square feet of space, including a 1,600 square foot multi-purpose lounge and Jumbotron. Kelly said having the video board is nice because players can watch what they just did and make corrections in real time.

“Then you add the Jumbotron, and the great thing about the Jumbotron is that, each play, we have the ability to rewind each play so the guys standing on the sideline can see the last play and kinda see things that are happening, and it’s a really good teaching tool as well,” Kelly said.

While the applications of the new building are numerous, Kelly said a big advantage is being able to train with the special teams indoors because of the height of the ceiling.

“We never hit the ceiling here, and that’s a great advantage,” he said. “There’s not a lot of facilities that have that ability to be able to have your entire special teams indoors without the roof coming into play. So, we’re blessed; it’s a great facility, it was designed with that in mind … and it’s worked out well.”

Aside from the practice facility, Kelly also discussed his team’s preparation for their home opener against New Mexico following a somewhat sloppy 35-14 win over Louisville and a very early bye week.

“We used [the extra time]. Sometimes you’re thinking about your bye as coming at the right time and you need to kind of regroup and get guys back that are banged up, and certainly you need the rest, but that wasn’t the case with this team,” Kelly said. “So, you don’t expect bye weeks early in the season like this, but I think with a team that has a lot of veterans and some young players, it kind of recentered us and refocused us on what was most important and that was ourselves and our own kind of process. … It was a good week and it came at the right time, with this team at this time, so we took advantage of it.”

Kelly also talked about what he saw from his team in week one and the identity he thinks they will take on.

“I still think we’re not a finished product in terms of who we are. I did see some things there that were indicative of who we’re going to align ourselves with, but we’re not cast in terms of who we are exactly,” Kelly said. “They really, really care about representing Notre Dame in the highest fashion — almost too much — and they played tight a little bit. I mentioned this after the game, our veterans played a little tight because they care so much about wanting to win for Notre Dame. The identity of this football team aligns itself with high, high standards. … They just have to understand that there’s a process to that a little bit.”

When his team was struggling during the Louisville game, Kelly said he told them to focus on “the next six seconds,” and he explained what he meant by that statement.

“Then you focus strictly on the technical part of the game instead of worrying about, ‘Oh I’ve got to make this play; I’m an All-American; I want to go to the NFL; my parents are here today; my girlfriend, will she still love me if I drop the ball,’ all of that other minutiae,” Kelly explained. “Just worry about six seconds and the technique and trust your teaching. If you do that, your girlfriend’s going to love you, and you’re gonna go to the NFL, and you’re gonna make this catch. Quite frankly, those were some of the things that when I first came to Notre Dame, they carried all of this baggage with them early on in their careers, where they were worried about so many different things, and we got away from all that. We need to continue to get back to just worrying about six seconds, one play at a time. If we do that, we’ll be fine.”

Kelly gave a sneak peek at what the Irish will try to do at the New Mexico game to address the loss of junior running back Jafar Armstrong due to injury. Junior Avery Davis, most recently a cornerback and someone who has seen multiple position changes at Notre Dame, is now back at running back and has a chance to contribute greatly to the Irish.

“He’s got some real speed. It’s just one of those things where we didn’t have a real role defined for him, but now we’ve got a role defined for him. It’ll be fun to watch him play,” Kelly said. “He’ll be involved in the offense; we have plays that will definitely get him involved in what we’re doing offensively. Again, [he’s] a guy that’s worked extremely hard, he’s physically gifted, strong in terms of the physical traits. Now he’s just gotta go out and play, so this is an opportunity for him. I’d love to see him take advantage of it.”

After talking about the upcoming game, Kelly answered submitted questions, including some from guests who won tickets to the show. Kelly revealed how he celebrates wins, both from a team and individual perspective.

“The first thing is we sing the alma mater together on the field. The second is we go in the locker room and sing the fight song,” he said. “I think part of winning after 29 years is celebrating with your coaches and your teammates, and then all those that are part of the preparation, and then going back and spending time with family. That’s it because you have to get right back to work less than 12 to 15 hours later. You really want to share those moments with those that are so invested in it. … Sharing them with those that put in all the time and effort is the best way.”

Though he has many, Kelly revealed his favorite moments from his time at Notre Dame.

“One of my favorite moments was when the replay official said ‘the play stands as called’ in overtime against Stanford on the goal line. That was a favorite of mine,” he said. “Another favorite was, I would say, singing the fight song twice, celebrating undefeated seasons at USC. That is always fun, when it’s your rival.”

He concluded his show by discussing whether or not he would reserve some of the playbook for next week’s matchup against Georgia.

“You’re going to run your base offense and defense,” Kelly said. “Do you run everything that you have in your offensive arsenal? No, because sometimes they’re not congruent to your opponent. We’re not going to do everything that we would do against Georgia against New Mexico, but we’re going to do the things necessary to beat New Mexico. … I’ve never really felt like we have to hold this part of the playbook off because we’re going to save that for Georgia. We’re going to be who we are.”

The radio show airs on WSBT 960 AM and 96.1 FM South Bend and streams on und.com from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Thursday before a Notre Dame football game.

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