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Notre Dame Football

Brian Kelly Wants Faster Start from Notre Dame on Saturday

September 17, 2020

Notre Dame's offense put up 441 yards on Saturday in a 27-13 win over Duke. 

The message boards and Social Media blasted Brian Kelly, Tommy Rees and Jeff Quinn for late in-game adjustments. 

Notre Dame's offense mustered just seven yards of offense in the first quarter with no first downs, but rebounded with 221 yards of offense in the second quarter alone. 

Kelly took notice of the slow start and now wants them to flip the switch early this weekend as the No. 7 Irish host South Florida. 

"I've been pleased with their focus and how locked in they've been," stated Kelly on Thursday. "We have to get off to a better start. We talk about four quarters of football and for us, it's getting off to a good start, having attention to detail, which our attention to detail wasn't great at times, especially defensively. 

"We gave up some uncharacteristically big plays, which was about attention to detail. The second half, which is effort and enthusiasm, was outstanding. And then we finished strong. Those are four quarters of football for Notre Dame. That's always been our standard." 

Quarterback Ian Book finished Saturday's game going 19-of-31 for 263 yards, one touchdown and a pick. 

Book has drawn heat this week, but Kelly isn't overly worried as he felt his quarterback was a little anxious in week one. 

"More than anything else, probably just a little too amped up and needed to settle him down a little bit this week," Kelly explained. "A bit more patience in the pocket. Maybe a little too anxious to make plays. 

"I know he's had a good week of recognizing that. From my perspective, watching him this week (he) fully understands how some of those smaller plays turn into big ones. He's got to make those for us and I think he will." 

Notre Dame will also look to build on its run game in week two. The Fighting Irish ran for 178 yards against Duke, but a week of game film could prove valuable as the Jeff Quinn's offensive line moves deeper into its emphasis on the outside zone. 

"You've got to be able to have those other schemes," Kelly stated. "You can't just be an outside zone play and that's all you do. We have to run the outside zone as our base and then come back with pins and pulls, counters and misdirection. 

"It's where you begin your teaching progression and where you're going to start. We believe with the size, athleticism and the ability that we want our offense to look like with utilizing multiple tight ends and then the misdirection, the boots and the things we want to do off that - that's what we believe is our system of offense from a running game perspective.

"You're going to see that as our base and then work off of that from week to week. It's not just exclusively one scheme. It's that coupled with some pin and pull, misdirection and some counter. I don't know that's much different from any offensive structure that you'll see throughout NFL and college football." 

Notre Dame will be without receiver Ben Skowronek who suffered a hamstring injury on Saturday, which trainers have predicted as college football faced a condensed offseason, but they will get one back in speedster Braden Lenzy. 

"I think we had a good day with him yesterday," Kelly said. "Hamstring injuries with skill players - they have to feel comfortable. They have to feel a sense of being able to run out and do the things necessary at that position. 

"The big thing for him is his speed and really push at the top end and get out of breaks. I think he feels that way now. He had a good day yesterday."

Kelly also had good news about receiver Kevin Austin Jr., who is working his way back from a foot injury at the start of August. 

"Kevin had his six-week scan. It showed good signs. He is no longer in a walking boot. He is on the Alter G and he has begun a running progression. 

"We will do another scan. It's a new scan. Low radiation scan that allows you to do these scans every two weeks to see the progress. We'll get one more scan done in two weeks. At that time, he could be cleared to begin practicing. Good progress for Kevin Austin from that perspective." 

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