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Kelly:Coaches on "notice"

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly knew his offense would have to cover for a young defense this season. But he probably didn't expect his defense to struggle the way it has, especially in the season's final month.


Removing Everett Golson's two pick-sixes at Arizona State, Notre Dame's defense allowed 39, 41, 40, 31 and 49 points in its final five games — an average of 40 points per game in November. That put the Irish among the ranks of college football's worst defenses and bottom-feeder programs like Colorado (39.5 PPG), Kansas (40.6 PPG) and Iowa State (41 PPG).


Granted, Notre Dame spent nearly the entire month without its defensive MVP after Joe Schmidt suffered a season-ending ankle injury Nov. 1 against Navy. Defensive linemen Sheldon Day, Jarron Jones, Daniel Cage and Jay Hayes all missed time. So did cornerback Cody Riggs and safeties Austin Collinsworth, Drue Tranquill and Max Redfield. By the USC game, Notre Dame had to scrape near the bottom of its depth chart, and some of those guys — Greer Martini and Jacob Matuska — managed to get hurt, too.


The injuries are a convenient excuse for the point totals, but perhaps no team in college football dealt with losing players worse than Notre Dame.


Only three teams — Kansas, Oregon State and New Mexico — allowed more plays of 10 or more yards in November than Notre Dame (89 in five games). And this wasn't a bend-don't-break defense: Opponents in November reached the red zone 26 times (second most behind Kansas) and scored touchdowns on 77 percent of those possessions (eighth worst in FBS).


"We can't give up the big plays that we gave up," Kelly said. "They're absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances, whether we're playing a slew of freshmen or not.


"We're in position to make those plays with good fundamentals and good technique. So we have to eliminate the big plays we gave up."


While Bob Diaco's 3-4 defense was usually friendlier to veterans, it turns out Brian VanGorder's 4-3 scheme wasn't easy for underclassmen to pick up. Players struggled across the board — including Redfield, who was benched for two games prior to his injury at USC — with only a handful of bright spots (defensive lineman Isaac Rochell, linebacker Jaylon Smith, cornerback Cole Luke).


Kelly made it clear all positions are open for competition over the next eight practices, but it's not all on the players — there have to be coaching improvements, too.


"Everybody's on notice, coaches alike, our coaches are on notice," Kelly said. "Unacceptable. We have to, obviously, shore up that situation, and then we've got to do a better job on the offensive side of the ball."

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His pass-happy play-calling has not helped the defense get off the field. See, e.g. First Half of USC Game. The result is a weak, undermanned unit (excuses, excuses) on the field for long stretches. You'd think all of this would inspire a little bit of clock-eating on offense, as opposed to putting it in the air and turning it over, but I digress . . . With that said, the offensive line play has not been all that inspiring either.


Sometimes, it seems like the only beam of hope on this team is the running backs we bench . . .

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Actually a little surprised to hear his words...a rare glimpse that he actually is interested in sticking around...


Label me shocked...


I don't get sticking around from that.


I see this as BK showing his management skills regarding his assistants.


"I'm accountable but these guys have to do better"

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Like what I hear but I'll believe it when I see it. Kelly seems pretty angry and unimpressed, he's been just as much at fault as everyone else but I hope to see more than just one coach let go. I'm talking to you Heistand and one or two defensive coaches (db and linebacker coaches need to do a better job).


I get we had such few guys but I don't think we should bring BVG back, he was with the Jets for a reason last year.

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