SOUTH BEND, Ind. - New Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly paused for a moment Wednesday when asked if anyone had surprised him so far in spring practice.
“You mean positively?” he said. “Because we could go about 20 minutes with the negative.”
Kelly liked what he saw defensively for the most part, but that wasn’t enough to make up for the shortcomings of the offense.
“We stink right now,” he said. “We’re just so far from where we need to be as far as attention to detail. This was a step back for us today.”
The Irish are four practices into switching from the pro-style offense used the past five seasons under coach Charlie Weis, who was fired in December, to the spread offense Kelly used at Cincinnati. They also will have a new starting quarterback with Jimmy Clausen leaving a year early to enter the NFL draft.
Kelly was particularly critical of Dayne Crist, who is expected to replace Clausen. Crist, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Oct. 31, is sloppy with his fundamentals, Kelly said.
“His footwork’s got to get better, his read progression,” Kelly said.
Kelly said he may have installed too much of the offense too quickly and may have to scale it back when the Irish resume practice next week. But he said he doesn’t have time to be patient with the Irish learning the new system.
Kelly also was frustrated he had to get on the offense to pick up the pace during practice.
“You’re an 18-, 19-, 20-year old playing at Notre Dame and it’s 70 degrees out and I’ve got to motivate you?” he said. “That’s where we’re not on the same page.”
Kelly said he’s not depending on the team leaders to send the message to the rest of the team.
“That’s what they hired me for,” he said. “We’ve got to get it out of them. They don’t understand what I want from them yet. So I’ve got to go back and re-communicate the message and what the expectations are and how we practice and how we come to work every day.”
Defensively, Kelly said he was happy with the play of inside linebacker Anthony McDonald and safeties Dan McCarthy, Zeke Motta and Jamoris Slaughter.
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