As he does every Tuesday, Brian Kelly threw on a suit and addressed the assembled media for his weekly press conference. On tap this week, a date with the pesky Naval Academy.
Here’s a snippet of what BK said:
As usual, here are a few observations:
During an interesting exchange, Kelly was asked about the difference in using a 3-4 alignment against the triple-option as opposed to using a 4-3, with Eric Hansen asking if in theory, a 3-4 is a better fit against Navy’s attack.
“I think you could probably make the case for it. We’ve defended in four down and three down. We’ll continue to blend and mix up,” Kelly said. “It still comes down to assignment football, getting off blocks whether you’re in the three down or four down. Provided you start with the premise that you’re fundamentally sound. After that, three down, four down, you’re still defending inside out across the board.”
I’m glad that Kelly made it known that he’ll vary the looks against Navy’s option, something the Irish didn’t seem to do last year. As Kelly said, assignment-correct football is more important than alignment, but giving the Navy offense varied looks and reads is a smart move.
For all the talk that’s been around about Kelly getting into the ear of this player or that one, number one on the list might be a guy you never suspected: Back-up quarterback -- and chief signal caller -- Brian Castello, who claims he’s the most yelled at player on the roster.
“That’s probably true. I would probably give him that,” Kelly said. “He’s way too smart for me anyway.
“Funny story, we have pass pictures that we give out. It’s probably that thick, it’s probably 35 pages of pass pictures, all of the diagrams of every play. He will digest those and find any error in them within 30 seconds. So if you need your taxes done, that guy -- or maybe you don’t want him to do your taxes, but he’s pretty good.”
Castello works as a grader/corrector in Mathematics department, so I’m guessing he’s one-part back-up quarterback, one-part Good Will Hunting.
Kelly expanded on a bit of coaching jargon this afternoon when he talked about Carlo Calabrese’s difficulty playing the curl routes against Western Michigan.
“His responsibility is the curl,” Kelly said. “If you have a drive route underneath or you have a divot route that is at your level and then bouncing out on to the flat, you want to chase that because they want to throw the ball over on the curl route, and he got baited a couple of times.
“The funny thing about it is after the game we ran the same route during the week and he didn’t fall for it. But that is the nature of football. 18, 19, 21-year-olds not getting caught up in the emotion of the moment, but staying with what they’ve been coached. He didn’t handle the emotion of the moment, and consequently there were some completions there that shouldn’t have been made.”
Carlo has made some great strides this year, but difficulties playing the pass are part of the evolution of becoming a complete linebacker.
Zack Martin is shifting back to left tackle, regardless of whether or not Taylor Dever is healthy.
“We’ll move Zack back to left tackle, and Romine will battle that out,” Kelly said of the right tackle battle. “Romine’s had two very good consistent weeks. Taylor’s been out, so you can imagine there may be a little bit of rust there. So both those guys will battle that position and Zack will move back over to the left, backed up by Andrew Nuss.”
Good for Matt Romine, who is playing well enough to push for playing time on the right side, and good for Kelly in letting everybody on the roster know that competition battles happen every week and at every position.
Think Shaq Evans is kicking himself? With injuries to both Mike Floyd and Theo Riddick, Shaq would likely be playing meaningful snaps instead of getting only practice reps with the scout team at UCLA.
If there’s reason to be hopeful that Kelly won’t see massive attrition after this season, it’s because he’s shown a willingness to play and develop depth and competition, things that the Charlie Weis regime didn’t seem to stress as much.