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Saturday, March 2, 2024
The Observer

Kelly discusses injuries, offensive line, bye week in post-Louisville teleconference

After No. 8 Notre Dame’s 35-17 victory over Louisville on Monday, Brian Kelly answered the media’s questions in his weekly post game teleconference.

Overall, Kelly expressed a positive attitude towards the younger and less-experienced players who stepped up in the game. He said the first-game jitters were noticeable, but he was pleased with the unit’s performance.

“I think from watching film — I don't have all the grades from the coaches yet — but there were significant contributors in a positive way in a win against a team that played very well against us with a lot of energy,” Kelly said. “So from that perspective, when you go into a game where you have first-time performers and the kind of environment that it was, I think obviously there were some first-time jitters for some of them. But they settled in nicely into the game, and it’s pretty apparent that they have the ability to impact this team and make it a better team as they continue to grow and get better.”

Emma Farnan | The Observer
Irish senior wide receiver Chase Claypool accelerates toward the end zone during Notre Dame’s 35-17 victory over Louisville at Cardinal Stadium on Monday. Claypool left the game with a minor shoulder injury.

Kelly also addressed the potential injuries to senior wide receiver Chase Claypool and junior running back Jafar Armstrong.

“No, just Jafar — soft tissue injury,” he said. “He’s getting an MRI today. We’ll know a little bit more about his situation, but it was the groin area. He felt some discomfort in the groin, ab area, so we want to make sure. He’s had a sports hernia injury that was repaired in high school. So we feel good that there’s no structural damage, but we need to obviously ... examine it further. So he’s getting an MRI today, and we’ll have some more information as we move through the week.

“Chase landed on his shoulder on a tackle out of bounds,” Kelly said. “Our doctors wanted to take a look at him, but he came out of the game with no other injuries.”

Kelly also commented on some of the teams more significant pre-existing injuries, specifically those of junior tight end Cole Kmet and junior wide receiver Michael Young.

“I think that Cole is scheduled for his CAT scan ... on Thursday of this week, which will give us the one way or the other, the green light as to whether we can begin his full regiment of practice in terms of contact. So we’re close there,” Kelly said. “Michael will get an X-ray either today or tomorrow, which then sets into motion the next step, kind of where Cole was, where we can begin moving him, catching the football, running. So he’s about a week or so behind Cole Kmet in terms of that process. But he will follow very similar steps along the way as we work through — not the same kind of break, but a similar protocol — as we work to get them both back.”

Moreover, Kelly talked about how not having a game in week two will be beneficial to the squad’s development.

“Sometimes we talk in terms of, ‘Hey, the bye week is coming at the right time. We need some time to get our guys healthy and get a breather,’” he said. “I don’t think that’s the case here. This is much more about continuing to develop our football team in terms of its preparation, so it’s different in that respect.

“Certainly, it would be very difficult to put these kids in a position to come back and play on Saturdays,” he said. “So we’ll take advantage of the week in terms of looking at the things that we’ve got to get better at and get better at as a football team. So we’ll practice and put our guys in a position where they can look to improve next week against New Mexico.”

Kelly also said he was pleased with the offensive line overall despite a few mishaps, but he stressed the need for development is just as much a responsibility of the coaches as it is of the players.

“I thought [our offensive line] was solid — anytime that you rush for over 200 yards against a defense that you really hadn’t seen,” he said. “I think our guys did a pretty good job. I think we’ve got to do a better job coaching it, and we’re part of that process, too. ... Every third-and-short needs to be evaluated in terms of our game plan as well. So we’re part of that as coaches as well. It’s not just on the players because those are loaded boxes, and some of it comes down to individuals making plays against unblocked [inaudible] as well.”

The Irish will not play during week two, with their next game coming at home Sept. 14 at 2:30 p.m. against New Mexico.