In his Sunday teleconference the day after winning his 200th game as a head coach with a 28-6 defeat of Temple, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly downplayed the importance of the Michigan rivalry as the series approaches its temporary finish in 2014.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly spoke Sunday, a day after winning his 200th game as a head coach.
“I really haven’t seen it as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries,” Kelly said. “I’ve seen it as one of those great football games that Notre Dame has played. For me, I’ve been in Michigan a long time so I’ve always felt that the Notre Dame-Michigan game was a big regional game, but in the Notre Dame history books, this game has played itself, but obviously there’s been some years where it hasn’t been played for a number of years.
“I think for the traditionalists, the historians, there’s been many years where it has been played. From my perspective, I’ve seen it more from being in Michigan as being really hard fought and really high-profile games.”
As far as on-field issues go, Kelly said there are no lingering injury issues from Saturday that would affect availability at Michigan Stadium next week. Junior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels left the game with a slight groin injury after scoring two touchdowns, but Kelly reiterated Sunday that he was removed as a precaution.
“I think this is an injury that was at such a low level that he would’ve played if I allowed him to,” Kelly said. “I told him, We’re done for the day.’ We feel really strongly that he’ll be a full go on Tuesday.”
Third-string freshman quarterback Malik Zaire missed Saturday’s opener due to mononucleosis, and Kelly said he will know Tuesday whether or not he will make the trip to Michigan.
“I just met with our team doctors,” he said. “We’re going to get the lab report Tuesday and know where we’ll stand with him. We’re hopeful that we’ll get him back. The lab report is based obviously on the spleen and making sure there is no risk in rupturing the spleen when you’re fighting mononucleosis.”
One of primary concerns — maybe the top concern — from Saturday’s win were the missed two field goals (one each by fifth-year senior Nick Tausch and junior Kyle Brindza). Kelly said he will use the week of practice to figure out the playing time for Saturday.
“Obviously Nick did a very good job on the extra points,” he said. “On the field goal attempt by Nick, just a bad kick. He was kicking heavy on it, and just a bad ball. Kyle, clean kick, just pulled it. Forty-plus [yard] kick and struck it well and just pulled it.
“We can’t have a technically bad kick, which we had with Nick. We’ll make a decision on where we go with that. I think Nick has very good mechanics generally, he didn’t on that kick, but we’ll see where we go.”
Kelly said one of the positives of the win came in the added experience of the team’s freshmen. Ten appeared in the game and many, including starting Dog linebacker Jaylon Smith, played the majority of the contest.
“I liked some of the things our younger players in the back end of the defense,” he said. “I liked [cornerback] Cole Luke. He was in on a number of plays. Certainly when you’re talking about overall it’s hard to say one guy, but Jaylon Smith was out there for a lot of football. He’s going to benefit the most from the amount of snaps he took from week one to week two and he’s got a great skillset.”