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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame HC Brian Kelly | Cards Are Better Than They've Played

October 12, 2020

Brian Kelly doesn’t care what Louisville’s record says.

“I know the record speaks at 1-3, but it's a much better football team than that,” the Notre Dame head coach said on Monday afternoon of his team’s opponent this Saturday.

The Cardinals were beat 46-27 this past Saturday by Georgia Tech. Louisville lost three fumbles that each led to Yellow Jacket touchdowns during a rainy contest.

“They were the better football team, but they put the ball on the ground,” Kelly said. “They know you can’t turn the football over against anybody and expect to win the football game. But this is a really good football team.”

It starts with quarterback Malik Cunningham, who has the ability to make plays with his legs, but has mainly done it through the air so far this season, throwing for 986 yards and nine touchdowns. Kelly said Cunningham “does a great job of running the offense.”

Kelly noted the Irish didn’t defend Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis very well in their own game this past weekend, especially when he scrambled, rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

"I don't know that they will put Cunningham in as many scenarios, but we'll be prepared for it,” Kelly said. “They will utilize all the tools they have at their disposal, but we'll have to be ready for option and the quarterback runs.

“They're an outside zone team and they're really, really good at it. It will have to start there in defending that. Their boot game is very, very good and getting the ball in space to the receivers. Defending him out of the pocket is going to be a big concern for us. He's very good at creating and that is as big of a concern for us as anything."

Kelly called their scheme “well-coached and well-executed.”

“And it’s surrounded with some talented offensive players,” he said.

Kelly said All-American wide receiver Tutu Atwell was “probably as good as we’ve seen in space.”

Kelly has a lot of respect for Louisville HC Scott Satterfield and WR Tutu Atwell.

Louisville running back Javian Hawkins is one of the nation’s most explosive backs having rushed for 468 yards and three touchdowns in four games

“Arguably one of the best, if not the best, backs in the country,” said Kelly.

“It’s a very talented offense. They have a lot of returners, I think 10 in particular. Really good scheme, really well-coached, dynamic playmakers, an offensive line again that is really good technically at what they do.”

Neither Kelly nor Irish defensive coordinator Clark Lea were pleased with the overall performance of Notre Dame’s defense against the Seminoles.

“It’s not the kind of defense that Clark has put out there nor the kind of defense that I want to put out there,” said Kelly. “There are some factors that were unique in that we had a lot of those guys who were not practicing during the week and it showed. You’ve got to practice this game to be at your very best.”

He didn’t seem concerned about that becoming a trend.

“I think there were some uncharacteristic defensive lapses if you will that occurred that we don’t normally see, but we will address those and our guys are aware of them and they’ll be corrected for this weekend,” he said.

Defensively, Kelly noted the Cardinals will be the first “true 3-4 defense” the Irish have seen this season.

“Obviously, it’s got to have the backers and they do,” he said. “They’ve got two linebackers in particular in (Dorian) Etheridge and (CJ) Avery, the inside guys. They have a lot of experience playing and they’re very good players inside.

“Certainly, athleticism when you look at their defense is the thing that shows up the most. They can run, they’re athletic. They’ve got some experience in the backend with (safety Russ) Yeast, who’s played a lot of football for them and looks bigger and stronger.”

Kelly said the look will create “some unique situations for us.”

“Where we have obviously prepared for more four-down during the year, they’ll be moving up front and athletic on defense and we’ll have to be prepared for that,” he said.

Kelly repeatedly called Scott Satterfield’s group “a well-coached football team.”

“A team that in my estimation could be very easily on the other side of that 1-3 mark. And if they take care of the football, this is going to be one heckuva football game.

“We’re going to have to play our very best, we’re going to have to play better than we did last weekend against Florida State. That will be our focus this week. Again, it’s normally about how we prepare and we’ve done a really good job of that and we’ll have to get back to it this week.”

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