Coach Kelly discusses bringing the team back to elite status
Head Coach Brian Kelly is entering his tenth season at Notre Dame. In a one-on-one interview with he discussed what it will take for Notre Dame to again become one of the elite programs in college football.
This season's mantra comes down to what Coach Kelly calls the basic tenets of football.
"Sometimes we talk about how good are our perimeter players, how great the quarterback is. We've got great pass rushers, but at the end of the day it's going to be about stopping the run and running the football. And, if we play with that physicality all those other pieces will come into play," Coach Kelly said.
The Irish held up one end of that mantra by rushing for 230 yards and 4 touchdowns against Louisville.
But the defense has some work to do to hold up its end of the bargain.
The Irish gave up 249 rushing yards and struggled to stop the run early against the Cardinals giving up 2 rushing touchdowns in the first quarter, but made adjustments at halftime and held them to just a field goal the rest of the game.
Now at 1-and-0, the Irish have taken that first step towards a return to the playoffs.
Last season's loss to Clemson in the Final Four has served as a lesson for Kelly.
"I don't know if it's motivation as much as it is realization of knowing that the work that you put in has gotten your program to the point where, ok, we are now in a position where we can win this thing. Now, look, there's a couple players here and there that they have that, were elite that day that we're going to have to defend. Their quarterback, a couple of receivers but other than that, I felt like our players matched up favorably. So on any given day, our football program has elevated itself to that status. Now we've got to maintain that, continue to recruit, continue to push the envelope. But I felt after that game that we had moved ourselves into that position to compete with anybody in the country," Coach Kelly said.
What will it take for Notre Dame to beat the likes of the Clemsons and Alabamas of college football?
"Well, you've got to continue to push. You've got to push in all facets. In recruiting, in player development, in coach retention, in facilities. All of those things, it's not just one thing. It's not just your quarterback's got to get better. It's all of those things that go to building a Fortune 500 company. You know, I've got to have great product, I have to have great people around me, so all of those things we've got to keep pushing. We are. The university is backing us in that and I think we are well on our way to maintaining that," Coach Kelly said.
While Notre Dame ranks second all-time with 13 national championships, the Irish haven't won a title since 1988.
Meanwhile, Alabama has played for a championship 7 times in the last 10 years, winning it all in 5 of those contests bringing its total to 15 national titles.
Is there a point where the question becomes 'How do other teams match up to the Notre Dames of the world?'
"Oh sure. I think we can be in that conversation. I think we're on the cusp of it. I think Ohio State's in there, but I think after that there's 3 teams and then everybody else is trying to get into that group. I think we've entered into that other group. Now it's, let's move out of the 'other' group and into that elite group and that's the next stage for this program," Coach Kelly said.