We’re just over two weeks away from Notre Dame stepping on a plane and heading to Tallahassee to open the 2021 football season at Florida State.
Are the Irish ready and what still needs fine-tuned before kickoff the first Sunday night of September?
Head coach Brian Kelly met the media following Thursday’s practice and updated the masses on everything related to Notre Dame football. Here is everything the head coach had to say:
1 of 20: On Jack Coan
"Jack Coan kind of picks up where Ian left off in terms of accuracy. We’ve gone through practices now and we feel really comfortable with that part of his game. The accuracy is really good. He is smart. He knows the offense very well for just coming in during the spring and he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. You see that. He is not a guy that is throwing the ball into coverage and making poor decisions. He has a high football IQ. We’ve become very confident with his ability to move the offense… “He's come out of a system that's a little bit more drop back, play action, so it's a little bit more of the shotgun, quick mechanics, ball coming out of his hand, a little bit quicker footwork, some of the small nuances of the position, not the big picture stuff, which is great. He's got all those things down that has put him in a position to be the starter in a very short period of time, so these are just reminders of some of the things that he needs to do that he hasn't done a lot of in his career."
2 of 20: On Kevin Bauman
"He was a bull in a China shop in breaking glass all over the place when he started off and he is refining himself in this position. The tight end works in a phone booth, right? I mean, he's got to be able to slip and get open and he's really refining himself and getting on the edge of linebackers and safeties, and putting himself in positions where now he can use his ability. He's got really good ability, but he was tying himself up a lot. He was a bull in a china shop. He was running into safeties, he was running into linebackers, and he couldn't free himself up. This is just a guy that is developing along the way and we're starting to see that refining, if you will, from the position."
3 of 20: Offensive Line Development
"You guys have seen enough practices to kind of get a sense that thing is kind of shaping up to where it was today. Lugg strained his neck. He got his snapped back in 11 on 11, so we kept him out. But you guys have kind of seen the rotation. Blake is out there at left, Zeke's been in at left guard, and then Patterson, and Madden and Lugg. Carmody has been rotating in there. So, I mean, we're kind of settling into that rotation. I think Andrew Kristofic has done some nice things, Tosh Baker has done some nice things, Dirksen has done some nice things, but I think you guys can kind of see how that is shaping up. We'll continue to refine that and continue to work with the group that you've seen out there."
4 of 20: Playmaking Wide Receivers
"I think we're really confident in their ability. I think where we're going to go into this next week is consistency and performance. Lenzy shows really big at times, right? We saw the double move. We saw the speed on the perimeter. We see Kevin Austin flash at times. Avery Davis is a guy that gives us some consistency. We need to see that practice in and practice out. But we feel like that group is going to be a strong suit force."
5 of 20: On Michael Carmody
"First of all, he's extremely athletic. Bends well, moves his feet well, so it starts with he's blessed with a really good athletic ability. He's strong. His work in the weight room shows itself in the numbers that we get from coach Balis and in terms of how he handles themselves, so the physicality piece I think probably stands out the most. He's blessed with length. He is a guy that could probably be Robert Hainsey in a sense. He could probably play every position on the offensive line. So he's kind of our, again I'm throwing analogies out here all the time for examples, but he's a Swiss Army knife. He could play all those positions for us. I think it starts with he's smart and athletic."
6 of 20: Everything Avery Davis Brings
"He brings incredible grit. I had the players vote and their message to me was, we respect him, by the amount of votes that he's gotten from his teammates. Remember, we all know that he's bounced around at a number of different positions , so I think our teammates respect the way he's handled himself, the way he works, his work ethic. He's quiet in a sense that you don't hear him as a rah-rah guy, but he's the first guy to put an arm around a young guy. He's been a great mentor. I think he's one that probably is the guy that we look towards as that consistent performer and we want that standard to be across the board for all the receivers."
7 of 20: On Freshman Justin Walters
"He's got a ways to go physically, but he's a good football player. He's got to nose for the ball. Some guys just have a nose for the football. They just get around the ball. It's one thing to be around the ball and don't make plays, but he's around the ball and he makes plays. Good football player. He's going to be really good here."
8 of 20: On Lorenzo Styles, Jr.
"Styles is coming. He's coming. It's been slower, probably, for him than he would like, slowed a little bit with injury and he's such a detailed guy that they sometimes get in the way of him playing free. So we got to free him up a little bit. He's probably his own worst enemy at times and he wants to be perfect, so we try to get perfect out of the way in the first couple of periods and start working towards just being good. He's just as a great kid. I think he's starting to find a comfort zone. Now we've got him out at the X receiver position. He's starting to play faster. He's gonna be really good. Sometimes it just takes getting out of your own way a little bit and in a positive way, right? He's just so conscious of every little detail, but the progress is really coming."
9 of 20: D-Line Rotation
"Well, I'm not going to get into the details of it, because you guys got to see a lot there today and we hope that, obviously, we don't have a scouting report out there. But I think it speaks for itself, right? We're gonna move guys around and they're gonna be difficult to block."
10 of 20: Zeke Correll at Guard
"He brings a lot to the table, right, in terms of he's strong and he's athletic at the position. We've got two guys that really move well in Madden and Zeke. We missed a backer firing through the B-gap in 11 on 11. Look, if we're going to be athletic and not quite as big, we better be able to pick up backers running through A-gaps. He's doing some really good things. Our awareness has got to be better. I think he's made good progress. There's still progress to be made."
11 of 20: On Blake Fisher
"He's better than anybody that we have... I think we've talked about this a little bit. It's the length of a play. You saw it today, right? It's just finishing off plays. He is, from a pass-rush standpoint, he's hard to get around. He's long, he moves his feet well, he's strong, you can't bull-rush him, he can get his hands on you. His development is still there, it needs to continue to grow, but look, you guys were out there, it's hard to compare him to anybody that we've had here. Was Ronnie Stanley a better athlete? Maybe. But he certainly didn't have the size. His makeup is elite and when I say makeup, his ability to go out there, his body recovers, most of these guys don't recover. They don't have the ability to bounce back the next day and recover with the workload they get. He can recover. He's got a gift and he is a gifted young man."
12 of 20: On play of Isaiah Foskey
"He's consistent. He shows up every day, runs to the football, he's assignment-correct, he's very detailed in his work. I don't know if you guys have talked to him much but he takes a lot of pride in his work and how he does things. He's clean in everything that he does. He's a guy that, you'd be really surprised sometimes when people grade out, he is assignment-correct. He does a nice job."
13 of 20: Fine-tuning before Florida State
"When you get to this point where you've just finished installing, you kind of want to now go into this week and see where your strengths and weaknesses are so you can start to address those. We were just on this treadmill of install, right, and get the installation in and situational work and preparing for two minute and goal line, you know what I mean. It's been whole-part-whole in putting it all together. That question could be better answered maybe middle to late next week. Does that make sense? We're putting this thing together, so it's kind of hard to really assess it this point."
14 of 20: On Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa as a Teammate
"Well, he's beloved. The players love him and he loves being around his teammates. It's a very difficult time for him, but I think he gained a lot of solace to be around us as well. I think he wanted to come back and be with his teammates and I think that that was his way of healing in a way too. This worked well for him, getting back and getting back with his teammates."
15 of 20: Will Michael Mayer be ND's best tight end ever?
"There's been so many great tight ends here. Michael Mayer is an exceptional football player. He's going to be an NFL player and he's going to have great success. How you measure those, I think it's just beauty is in the eye of the beholder when you get to greatness. There's so many great tight ends here. Kyle Rudolph was pretty good. Cole Kmet was pretty good. Tyler Eifert was pretty good. The list goes on and on, just for me since I've been here. That's just a snapshot. He's an amazing player, great player, but I'm not here to kind of rate them. I'll let you guys do that because you guys are pretty good at that."
16 of 20: Positives as Opener Approaches
"I like the team. I like the way they come to work. They understand our process. Look, if your process has been established and the standard of the way you do things every day has been met and exceeded, you feel really good because you know it works. Now we're gonna have to go make plays and there'll be some tight situations and things will have to happen, but I think you know going in that when they meet and exceed the standards that have been set in this program, you feel pretty good about your football team. Now the quarterbacks got to do this and the defense has got to do that, and that's just playing the game. You got to go play the games, too. But overall, this group has done all the things necessary to prepare for having a great season."
17 of 20: Latest on Kyle Hamilton's back
"He was tight. Lower back tightness. So, we held him out for precautionary reasons."
18 of 20: On Jordan Botehlo
"He's been really active. We think he's going to be a guy that shows up for us. We like Jordan. He's a good story. He's really done a nice job in the classroom. I think he's going to be really active for us and make plays for us."
19 of 20: Houston Griffith's Growth
"He's had a really good camp. Well, he's had a really good spring, summer. He has been a great leader. He had a really good camp. We've been looking for that guy that's going to be a tackler. You've got Hamilton, right, and then get the ball on the ground, because Hamilton's gonna be doing a lot. Get the ball on the ground at that other safety position. DJ and him have been battling it out. It's been great competition with both those guys, but he's had a really good camp. He's gonna play a lot of football for us. It'll be fun to watch him play."
20 of 20: Defense's performance on Thursday
"I put a lot into it. It's not schematically. It's freedom of movement, energy and enthusiasm. So when you see a defense that has a lot of moving pieces, but there's not a lot of thinking out there and they're getting their cleats in the ground and they're playing fast, that generally leads to good success in my experience. So either I don't know what the hell I'm talking about, and that's probably a good bet most of the time, or they're gonna play really fast and play exciting defense."