Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly spoke at length during his Tuesday press conference about changes to the Irish’s struggling defense, the youth on the roster, and, of course, NC State. Kelly was complimentary of Ryan Finley, Jaylen Samuels, and Matt Dayes—strangely, he was not asked about the Wolfpack’s defense. I’m just kidding, that ain’t strange.
Kelly on handling Samuels and State’s passing attack:
Q. With what NC State does with Samuels, they get him the ball a million different ways, Harmon and Louis, does their style of attack offensively force you to be more aggressive with your secondary than you were last week?
Brian Kelly: Well, I think you have to obviously account for number one. He's not really a tight end. So we have to treat him differently. We don't want him matched up in what we would consider "unfavorable" match-up situations. So we first have to check personnel groupings. That's important to us.
But in answering your question relative to the secondary, we have to be on body. They're a spot passing team. They're really good at getting it to opening spaces. They have really good concepts that stress your defense. You can't be a vanilla coverage team. You have to show them different looks or they'll just -- he's patient enough he throws it over 70% completion. They'll just wear you out. You can't get off the field. I think they're sixth or seventh in the country in third down efficiency. So, yeah, you just can't lineup like ducks or you're going to be on the field all day.
Actually, NC State is second nationally in 3rd down efficiency, at 54.9%, behind only Ohio State. It’s funny, I was looking at that conversion rate the other day and I thought it felt low. (Not low relative to the rest of the country, just to how State has performed up to this point.) Clearly I’m getting a sense of entitlement with this offense and that’s making me uncomfortable.
Kelly plans to continue shaking up his looks defensively, and has gone with more 3-4 formations and shifted some guys around in the secondary since taking a more hands-on approach to that unit. Some of those adjustments didn’t make a significant difference against Syracuse last weekend, so we’ll see what else he has up his sleeve.
On the weather topic, Kelly’s not worried about rain so much as wind:
Q. In terms of your game planning, alternate game plans in case there is a monsoon like Clemson last year?
Brian Kelly: Clemson threw it every down in the fourth quarter. Just try not to turn it over and get too far behind in the game. I think for us it's always about wind more so than it is about precip. The field conditions we have been told should be, unless it's unplayable, we should be able to be fine relative to the field conditions. But, you know, we are very good at moving the ball and throwing the football in most conditions, unless the wind becomes, you know, at a point where the ball just can't be moved through the air. Then we get into formations that we already have in our system and we'll employ those.
Precip ain’t no thing, man.