While Notre Dame looks to rebound from an unexpected 4-8 campaign, head coach Brian Kelly took a moment to share his thoughts about 2017.
In a first-person essay for Yahoo Sports, Kelly explained what changes he’s focused on and the differences he sees in the program.
“There’s a renewed focus on process over production for Notre Dame football. And the point to my team is that we’re building those total preparation traits in you every day now — physical, technical, tactical and mental.”
“Everyone knows that we went 4-8 last season, but I have a great deal of optimism that things will be drastically different this year. There’s been a focus on total preparation, and we’re not there yet.”
Notre Dame begins the year with a home matchup against Temple before hosting Jacob Eason and No. 15 Georgia. The early season test figures to show the merit of both teams, though we expected the Irish to bounce back from September losses in 2016 and that didn’t really happen.
Kelly acknowledged that the improvement he sees doesn’t guarantee anything, which is especially true with a first-year quarterback. Brandon Wimbush, who arrived in South Bend as a prized recruit but has only played scattered snaps, will replace DeShone Kizer, now a starter for the Cleveland Browns.
The defense, meanwhile, must become disruptive. Only six units in the Football Bowl Subdivision had fewer sacks than Notre Dame’s 14 last season, and the defense managed just 14 takeaways. Increased pressure up front should lead to more fumbles and hurried throws.
Kelly is occupying a warming seat, so the eighth-year coach’s job security depends on whether he translates those words into execution on Saturdays.