Irish aftermath: Kelly discusses injuries, QB situationPublished 8:28am Monday, September 10, 2012
NOTRE DAME – The injuries continue to mount for the Notre Dame football team as it begins preparation for its toughest opponent so far this season – Michigan State.
The Fighting Irish went into Saturday’s home opener against Purdue nursing a few injuries and even lost its starting kicker just 48 hours before the game.
So it was the “next man in” for Notre Dame most of the day and those players all seemed to have stepped up and helped the Irish fend off the Boilermakers 20-17 on a last-second Kyle Brindza 27-yard field goal.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said that none of the injuries sustained Saturday will likely keep the players out of this week’s contest with the Spartans.
“(Jamoris) Slaughter and (Tyler) Eifert have been cleared,” Kelly said in his post game press conference. “Everett Golson had a thumb; he’ll be fine. Strain on Louis (Nix), he’ll be moving around tomorrow, should be cleared. Ankle sprain on (DaVarias) Daniels. We’ll progress him during the week. He should be able to answer the bell.”
Kelly said he learned a lot about some of his players as they filled in for injured starters. He noted that it was good to see them get some significant playing time.
Kelly also had to answer questions about his quarterback situation.
Tommy Rees, who was suspended for the first game against Navy, entered the game late in the fourth quarter and led Notre Dame on a winning drive.
Kelly said there is no quarterback situation and that Golson is the starter this week against Michigan State.
“He (Golson) was having trouble gripping the ball,” Kelly said when asked about the quarterback swap. “I think he could have probably still have gone. I just felt like two minute drive, the experience that he has, you know, Everett was having a hard time gripping the ball.
“This is not going to be an excuse for Everett that he’s pulled out because of an injury. We also had the decision with the flow of the game that Tommy could come in there and manage our two minute and he did a great job. I will further say there is no quarterback controversy. Everett Golson is our starter. He will start against Michigan State. We know we have assets at that position with Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees.”
Kelly also addressed the return of last year’s leading rusher Cierre Wood from a two-game suspension and what his role will be this week against the Spartans.
“He’s a really good player,” Kelly said. “So we like good players and so we want to get him on the field and get him involved, and obviously because the game and the way the game unfolded, George (Atkinson) didn’t get enough touches. So we’ve got to do a good job of making sure that all those guys are reintegrated. But certainly he’s a player that can help us win.”
With Saturday’s win over Purdue, Notre Dame is 2-0 unlike 2011 when it started the season 0-2. Kelly said that it all comes down to execution.
“We made the plays we needed to in this game,” he said. “You can go back to South Florida; we turned the ball over. Michigan, we turned the ball over. If there’s one common dominator, other than the late fumble that Everett had, we have taken the ball away more than we have turned it over and I think that has a lot to do with it.”
So Notre Dame will put its unblemished record on the line Saturday night against the Spartans, who are also 2-0 after dismantling Central Michigan 41-7. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. and the game can be seen on ABC.