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Notre Dame Football

Kelly praises Coan's accuracy, command; touts offensive versatility

August 19, 2021
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Typically, Brian Kelly doesn't trade in player comparisons.

Most coaches try to avoid maneuver – either not wanting to insult or apply pressure.

Yet Kelly of his own choosing Thursday, after Notre Dame's 12th preseason session concluded inside Notre Dame Stadium, elected to compare newly minted starting quarterback Jack Coan to the just-departed Ian Book, now a rookie with the New Orleans Saints.

Kelly specifically praised Coan's decision-making and command of the offense after the Wisconsin graduate-transfer had produced a strong, turnover-free effort in the day's work that also included some 11-on-11 scrimmage work.

“That's what we does. I think we were all … took in some instances, Ian Book's performance here for granted because he was a very accurate passer. Jack Coan kind of picks up where Ian left off in terms of accuracy,” Kelly said. “The accuracy is really good. He's smart. He knows the offensive really well for just coming in in the spring. And he doesn't make a lot of mistakes, you see that. He's not a guy that's throwing the ball into coverage making poor decisions.

“He's got high football IQ. He's a guy that we have come to feel really confident with his ability to move the offense.”

Coan popped early in Thursday's work, when he hit difficult sideline passes to both Braden Lenzy and Avery Davis; later, Coan also rolled out to his right and drilled a strike in a neat window to tight end Michael Mayer.

HAMILTON, LUGG UPDATES

Both senior right tackle Josh Lugg, who's essentially nailed down the starting right tackle position, and All-America safety Kyle Hamilton had their workdays ended early Thursday.

Lugg endured a “neck strain,” per Kelly, that was suffered during some 11-on-11 work.

Hamilton worked almost the entire day until he pulled up with about 15 to 20 minutes left in work.

“He was tight, lower-back tightness,” Kelly said of Hamilton. “So we held him out for precautionary reasons.”

BOTELHO COMING ALONG

Sophomore defensive end Jordan Botelho has been positioned to become a key player in the Notre Dame defense, due both to Botelho's own progress and the Irish's need to reload along their defensive edge after losing multiple key contributors from the previous two seasons.

Though he started off perhaps a bit slowly Thursday, Botelho played some of his best football later in the drills. He even had a moment where he stood up in the middle of the defense and attacked the line of scrimmage, darting into the backfield and forcing freshman tailback Logan Diggs to bounce the handoff outside.

Diggs ended up with a great run, but Botelho showed burst and physicality as he charged into the backfield.

“He's been really active, you know?,” Kelly said. “We think he's going to be a guy that shows up for us. We like Jordan, he's a good story.

“He's really done a nice job in the classroom and I think he's going to be really active for us and make plays for us.”

OL ROTATION SHAPING UP

Though not official, Notre Dame has all but set its starting offensive front. The Irish have begun to consistently feature, from left to right, Blake Fisher, Zeke Correll, Jarrett Patterson, Cain Madden and Josh Lugg.

After Lugg got dinged Thursday, it became apparent that as of now Michael Carmody has positioned himself as the Irish's next offensive lineman as he was inserted in place of Lugg.

“You guys have seen enough practices to kind of get a sense to where that thing was shaping up where it was today,” Kelly said. “(Josh) Lugg strained his neck and got his neck snapped back in 11-on-11. So we kept him out. Blake Fisher is out there at left. Zeke at left guard and Patterson and Madden and Lugg.

“Carmody's been rotating in there. We're kind of settling into that rotation. I think Andrew Kristofic has done some nice things, Tosh Baker has done some nice things.

“We'll continue to refine that and continue to work with the group that you've seen out there.”

OPTIONS APLENTY

An element absolutely obvious with this Notre Dame offense is a bevy of weapons at the skill positions.

Yes, the coaches want the wideouts to bring consistency day in, day out and to transfer that to the season when it opens next month at Florida State.

But the Irish have a deep group of wide receivers, elite running backs and perhaps the best and deepest tight ends group in the nation.

“This offense has got to produce more points,” Kelly said. “You saw that we're going to be more multiple in our offensive sets and we've got to get the ball down the field to playmakers.”

 
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