Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 6 of 55 SEPT. 19, 2016 7 UNDER THE DOME struggling under coordinator Gary Darnell. "Everything that we do is collab- orative," Kelly said. "At the end of the day the defensive structure and what we're doing is run through me. Anything that we do from a defen- sive standpoint has my signature on it. I'm in the meetings. Brian and I are in communication, so anything more would be me taking a role in more of a play calling — I'm not in that role, and I have somebody that can do that quite well." VanGorder 's scheme has been under fire for all but the first five games of his career at Notre Dame, and it's been at a crescendo since the Stanford loss last year. Neverthe- less, Kelly channeled his best Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers star quarterback who told the fan base to R-E-L-A-X after a 1-2 start in 2014. "Everybody should just tap the breaks and relax," Kelly said. "This is a football team that showed great resolve." After falling behind 31-14 midway through the third quarter, the defense helped the Irish take a 35-31 lead, but some miscues on offense and a shanked 24-yard punt by the Irish helped put the game into overtime at 37-37. "This narrative about it's all the de- fense's fault is just Monday morning quarterbacking," Kelly said. Three freshmen in safeties Devin Studstill and Jalen Elliott, plus nickel Julian Love, and sophomore corner- back Shaun Crawford, who medically redshirted last year, started or were regulars in the secondary during the second half when the Irish rallied. "We're a young group of guys," Kelly said specifically of the defen- sive backfield. "It's going to take some time. … They're athletic kids, they'll all continue to develop and they'll all get better each and every week. "… Last year was last year. We evaluate week to week. We have to coach better. We have to play better. It's college football." When asked if he is confident that VanGorder is the coordinator to con- tinue to lead the defense in the future, Kelly didn't flinch. "Absolutely," Kelly replied. "It's great conversation for everybody to have, but it's so short-sighted of what really happened in the Texas game. … I just think we're jumping the gun. If we're 10 games into this and we're giving up 50 points a game, I'll have to answer your questions. "I think y'all should relax a little bit. I think our defense is going to be fine. And quite frankly, as a head coach, I never think of it as one side of the ball. Our defense settled in in the second half enough for our offense to extend itself and score some more points, and we didn't execute well enough in that phase." ✦ Holy Cross Village is a continuing care retirement community, sponsored by the Brothers of Holy Cross, with a tradition of caring, compassion and trust. Holy Cross Village welcomes people of all faiths. 54515 State Rd., 933 North, Notre Dame, IN 46556 ... AND ENJOY THE GAME OF LIFE AT HOLY CROSS VILLAGE I magine making new friends and developing new talents, where everything you need to enjoy the game of life is right outside your front door. Nestled among three institutions of higher learning, Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame is a senior living community unlike anything else around. Our warm and inviting community offers: Independent Living Homes and Apartments Assisted Living Apartments Skilled Nursing Memory Care Rehabilitation Services Call (574) 251-2235 today for more information and to schedule a tour. "EVERYTHING THAT WE DO IS COLLABORATIVE. AT THE END OF THE DAY THE DEFENSIVE STRUCTURE AND WHAT WE'RE DOING IS RUN THROUGH ME. ANYTHING THAT WE DO FROM A DEFENSIVE STANDPOINT HAS MY SIGNATURE ON IT." KELLY

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