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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame HC Brian Kelly Has Respect For FSU Talent, Norvell

October 5, 2020

Brian Kelly doesn’t care about Florida State’s 1-2 record or about the fact that the Seminoles’ only victory so far this season came after trailing FCS Jacksonville State at the half last weekend.

The Notre Dame head coach knows his team has to overcome some challenges of its own following a COVID-19 outbreak, which caused the Irish to cancel a game two weeks ago and put the entire program on pause for almost a week.

But Kelly views this week’s opponent as an outright challenge as well.

“We’re preparing our football team for a very challenging opponent in Florida State,” Kelly said during a conference call with reporters on Monday.

It’s been a bit of a rocky start to the Mike Norvell Era in Tallahassee with a loss to Georgia Tech in the opener and a blowout loss to rival Miami two weeks later, but Kelly has no doubt which way the arrow is pointing for the Seminoles.

"I have a lot of respect for Mike and what he's accomplished,” said Kelly. “I've known Mike and followed him and love what he's been able to do, certainly at Memphis, but at Arizona State as the coordinator.

"In very short order, he'll have Florida State back in a very good position nationally.”

Trailing 14-0 against Jacksonville State, the Seminoles turned to redshirt sophomore Jordan Travis. Florida State would go on to score touchdowns on five straight drives with Travis at the controls and would punt only once en route to a 41-24 victory.

“It seems as though they've found their quarterback in Jordan Travis,” said Kelly, minutes before Norvell made that announcement official during his own news conference.

Travis finished the game 12-for-17 for 210 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He also rushed for 48 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

“It looked like they have gotten some energy from Travis,” Kelly said.

“They needed to find their identity offensively. I think they have found somebody they feel comfortable with from an offensive standpoint at the quarterback position. Now that kind of allows them to get into a rhythm offensively.”

Kelly also noted Florida State’s “outstanding running backs” and “talented wide receivers,” specifically wideouts Tamorrion Terry and Ontaria Wilson.

“We know the challenges that we're going to face with this offense,” he said. “All of them are big-play kind of players.”


Defensively, Kelly pointed to the amount of individual talent across the Seminoles’ roster.

“If you look at this team overall, there's probably six or seven first-day draft picks,” he said, singling out defensive end Joshua Kaindoh, defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, linebacker Amari Gainer, cornerback Asante Samuel and safety Hamsah Nasirildeen.

“So, very talented on defense as well.”

As a group, Kelly believes Florida State’s defense is likely settling in after three head coaches in four years.

"They've played some different defenses over the last couple of years, so they're starting to get more accustomed to the system that they're playing,” he said. “Lot of respect for the talent that we’re going to see.

“Defensively they were in three-down and four-down, maybe they have found where they want to be there.”

Kelly noted the importance of a fast start simply by pointing to the two games the Irish played so far this year, an unimpressive victory over Duke and a very impressive win against South Florida.

“We’ll need to get off to a good start against Florida State,” he said.

“This is a team that will continue to get better from week to week. It's an established head coach, one that knows what he's doing, knows what he wants.”

Kelly believes it’s a question of when – not if – Norvell gets Florida State back to playing the kind of football the program is accustomed to.

“I just hope it's not this weekend.”

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