Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly gave his weekly Tuesday press conference today, speaking briefly about his team's win over Virginia Tech on Saturday and looked forward to a matchup with 3-3 Pittsburgh in South Bend this weekend. There was quite a bit of discussion about Kelly's musical tastes – he loves Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" but hasn't added any of the music the players listen to to his collection. The coach also confirmed that quarterback Ian Book would start against the Panthers on Saturday, knocking down apparently baseless online speculation from Monday that Book had been suspended.
Here is some of what Kelly said Tuesday on ...
...Pittsburgh: "When we talk about Pittsburgh, (head coach) Pat Narduzzi is somebody that I'm very familiar with as a former Michigan State defensive coordinator. We've had many battles with him, and now as the head coach, we know the style of football, physical, hard-nosed, run the football, aggressive defense. We're going to get that again. They beat a very good (4-2) Syracuse team last week, (Pitt is) coming off a great victory, a lot of momentum. ... They're running the ball very, very well, as well as anybody that we've seen this year. This is an offense that wants to control the line of scrimmage. I like their offensive line. It's a veteran group. They play exceedingly well together as a group."
...Injury report for defensive end Daelin Hayes, who missed the game against Virginia Tech: "I think he's a day-to-day really. You know, I think I mentioned to you that he had a stinger. Those typically clear up in most cases immediately. Some linger. He is getting better. He's got good strength, which is a great sign. Generally if there's weakness associated with that, that could be a longer-term kind of injury. He's got great strength. Now it's just a matter of getting that full feeling back in his arm and hand, and he was reporting progress in that regard. I think we're at a day-to-day situation. He'll be out there today in a non-contact situation, and he'll be non-contact until we get full resolution with the stinger."
...how Drue Tranquill is dealing with playing with a cast on his hand from a broken bone: "He plays with a high level (with the cast). Other players would probably be bothered. You have to acclimate to that, the cast. He got caught inside a couple of times with his left hand being the lead hand, and he struggled a little bit trying to get outside. He's getting used to playing with that cast, and he felt it a couple of times on Saturday. He's much more aware of how to use that and be cognizant of it. But he'll be in a better place with it this week."
...whether the game against Pitt is 'trap game' coming off an emotional win over Virginia Tech: "No, we weren't very emotional. I think we didn't play with enough passion at times (against Virginia Tech). I think one of the things that we talked about is that that wasn't our best performance in a lot of ways and we have to play with more energy. We have to play with more passion, and that is going to be the emphasis this week in terms of how we need to play against Pittsburgh. You know, this is really about going back to the practice field, having much more of a focus on how we prepare.We have a great deal of respect for Pittsburgh and how they'll come out to play us. We know that this is a big game for them. But for us, it's important that we play at a higher level this weekend."
...on whether its okay the Irish only have 15 sacks because they also have 31 quarterback hurries: "Yeah, we're much more interested in quarterback hurries and getting them out of the pocket and getting them out of rhythm, much more than anything else. Today as you know, the passing game is a three-step passing game. Pass deflections are also part of that, getting your hands up. The escapability of quarterbacks make it much more difficult, obviously, the ability to run. We're much more interested in disruptions, hurries, pass deflections, and getting the quarterback out of the midfield, getting out of it so he's only in one quadrant of the field. If we can get him to escape to one third of the field, get him out of the pocket, we're affecting the pass."
...putting teams away in the second half: "Well, certainly the last two weeks we've done a really nice job with that. I think something is in the ability to complement your defense, and offensively we're scoring some points, we weren't doing that earlier in the season in the second half. You know, sometimes we make a little bit too much. I think we're playing a little bit better on both sides of the ball. We can play better as a unit offensively and defensively together for four quarters. We were a little spotty, obviously, on Saturday where we had a good run offensively, and then maybe not such a good run defensively. It would be nice to put it all together. We've got some room for growth there. But I think more than anything else, this putting opponents away is much more about our guys are in really good physical condition. They can play all day. I think we're scoring some points in the second half that we weren't earlier in the year."
...if this is a difficult week for the players because of midterms: "It's Notre Dame. Let's go. Bring it on. I mean, I told our guys, you can say this is a tough week, and I've got three exams, and that's not going to do you any good. Let's go at it like warriors. Let's get after this. Let's change the narrative. Let's get up early for the exam. Let's be positive about what we're doing. It's a mindset. I mean, everybody in the world has got to take exams. You want to use it as an excuse? It's not going to help you. So let's be positive about it, let's get our work done, let's get through Tuesday, and we'll be fine."