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Kelly gives updates, notes on Georgia game

| Monday, September 23, 2019

Notre Dame football head coach Brian Kelly held a teleconference Sunday afternoon to answer questions regarding Notre Dame’s recent loss at No. 3 Georgia. He provided an injury update by announcing that junior linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had been examined for a blow to the head.

“Owusu was evaluated for a concussion. He was brought to the tent. So, that‘s hard to be booing at a young man who suffered an evaluation for a concussion,” Kelly said. “Again, it‘s a non-issue. It happens in college football all of the time. Guys go down and they’ve got to be administered to. I’ve seen games against us where there have been many, many more, so I’m not even sure why you’re asking the question.”

He also addressed the recoveries of, among others, junior wide receiver Michael Young and sophomore running back Jahmir Smith, who missed the Georgia game for a broken collarbone and turf toe, respectively.

“As it relates to getting guys back, I would say ‘probable’ for Michael Young, I would say ‘probable’ for Jahmir Smith, and I would say, as it relates to Jafar Armstrong, we‘re probably a couple of weeks from Jafar getting back into action,” he said. “I would say ‘probable’ for Braden Lenzy. Three probables for this weekend and Jafar is making great progress towards coming back sometime, we’re hopefully, right around the USC game.”

Junior tight end Cole Kmet also suffered a broken collarbone during fall camp but made his season debut against the Bulldogs. Kelly had praise for Kmet’s performance.

“Well, anytime you have a player that you believe can impact, to get him off to a good start, it creates obviously a lot of energy on the sideline when you‘re bringing a guy back in. His physicality was felt right away,” Kelly said. “Then he gives us great versatility because now you got to worry about somebody running down the seam and it creates some other opportunities for [senior wide receiver] Chase Claypool and some other players on your football team.

”Now that we know that we‘ve got him back, it allows us to really start to focus on how we can get our weapons the football. ” … He did a great job in terms of not worrying about the injury, coming back and making physical plays, and playing physical. I thought it was a great, great way for him to come back in his first game.”

Kelly also had praise for Claypool stepping up and making plays when the Irish needed it.

“He’s a warrior. He plays so hard. Every single play, he’s demanding the attention of the Georgia defense and made an incredible catch down late in the fourth quarter,” he said. “Everybody knows we’re going to go to him and still comes up with big plays. He got hit a couple of times and just gets right back up. He makes a huge play in special teams. Can’t get blocked. Just unblockable. He’s a warrior. He’s so instrumental to our success and I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Despite good performances from a few players, there were many errors that cost the Irish throughout the game. Kelly discussed the play of his offensive line and the several false start penalties his team committed.

“I think there’s room for improvement. We’re putting a lot of pressure obviously on our offense when you’re throwing the ball,” he said. “We want to be more balanced. We’re really thin at the running back position right now. So, when you put that much pressure on your offensive line and they know that you’re throwing the football, that’s a pretty good job with the group up front and sorting things out.

“Again, I think what was most disappointing was the inability to communicate effectively, and we got to coach that better, but we also have to be aware. We had too many false start penalties. We knew they were going to move and stuff up front and we didn’t handle that very well. Then we had some issues with the silent cadence with our quarterback and again, we’ve got to do a better job there. All in all, their pass protection was excellent.

Kelly also commented on how the atmosphere of the game got to the offense and threw senior quarterback Ian Book off of his rhythm.

“We had used silent count all week. Matter of fact, we had our Saturday walkthrough and we went 15 minutes of silent cadence without any issues. I just think unfortunately in the moment of the game, he just went back to muscle memory and what he had done so much, is the clap, and it cost us,” Kelly said. “So, obviously very unfortunate, but we’ll have to continue to work on it and clean it up so it doesn’t happen again.”

Despite the end result, Kelly is looking forward to the next game against the University of Virginia and will work to get his team back up after an emotional loss.

“We play a lot of big games and so, we can’t put all of our energy, emotional energy, into one game. We talked about that last week, that we have to go down here and treat the Georgia game like a business trip because the next game is going to be as big,” he said. “You go into a season with an emotional balance from week to week.

“We got to go to Michigan and that’s going to be a big one. We’ve got to go play our rival USC. We’ve got to go to Stanford. Navy is always difficult and an emotional game for us. We set the season up that way. We don’t play up and down or competition with. We play to a level that is consistent, week in and week out, and we kind of talk about that. Our guys do a great job of balancing it that way.”

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About Hayden Adams

Hayden is the former sports editor of The Observer. When he's not working toward his four majors (physics and film, television & theatre) and three minors (journalism, ethics & democracy), you can probably find him hopelessly trying to save his beloved Zahm House from being wiped out. He plans to attend law school at a TBD location after graduation.

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