There is something to be said about writing a preview pool side of a bowl game. After a debacle of getting to the hotel Thursday evening, it was an early riser for the pre-game press conference. Both Coach Kelly and Coach Campbell have deep respect for each other. After a season 10-2 season, the question from the Irish nation all week has been, which Irish team will show up? Clearly 10-2 is not a failure by any means. When the goal every year is to win a National Championship, and you fall short it, it’s hard to digest. Though the 2019 campaign was not the result the team wanted, the coaching staff appears to be digging deeper.
Pre-Game Press Conference
” Yeah. Really simple from my end. This has been a phenomenal week. I just want to thank the bowl, everybody in charge with it, and also all the volunteers, for their time [and]their effort with our football program and our team. We’ve had an incredible week. Obviously, we play a tremendous opponent, have the utmost respect for Coach Kelly, what he’s done and certainly the University of Notre Dame. So with that said, I’ll turn it over to Coach “
“Been a great week for our football team to come down to Orlando. Florida Citrus Sports, the Camping World [Bowl] couldn’t have been better in terms of the events for our kids to be a part of. Obviously, the volunteers that put this together give our kids an opportunity to be part of the community and, obviously, the opportunity to prepare to play a great Iowa State football team. Matt’s done an incredible job of putting a football team together that many people don’t know how good this football team is, but I can tell you, [with] my 30 years of coaching football, I know how good it is. It’s going to be a great football game. We look forward to the challenge and should be exciting for everybody to watch.”
Media Question: “Really kind of a question for both of you guys but we’ll start with you, Coach Kelly. You mentioned how good this team is when you look at it. When you go through all the preparation and all that, what was the first thing that kind of jumped off the screen when you were looking at the film?”
Coach Kelly: “Well, I think when you look at it offensively, the size of tight ends creates match-up problems. Purdy as a quarterback is such a great competitor. You know, obviously the freshman running back has gotten better and better. I just think the balance on the offensive side of the ball, they have been able to score lots of points against really good football teams. And then defensively, they create problems because of the uniqueness of the scheme. You’re not really sure exactly what it is at times. And maybe that’s part of the whole thing, because they do such a really good job of, you know, creating a different look against different teams but a unique structure defensively. But I think what I think when you talk about Iowa State, it’s a team that plays hard for four quarters. And, you know, you can see some teams on film that, you know, in the second half, they start to wear down. This football team plays stronger in the second half.”
Media Question: Notre Dame obviously a prestigious program. What jumps off the film when you look at this year’s version of it?”
Coach Campbell: “I think watching Coach Kelly’s teams, no matter where he’s been, I think they’ve always had a very common denominator, and that’s great fundamentals, great detail. And then you look at this year’s Notre Dame team and the size, you know, defensively, the size and discipline across the board, the ability to create turnovers with that defensive front and the ability to, you know, have length in the secondary to be able to close the passing windows is really impressive on the offensive side of it. Again, the size of the offensive lines, the wide receivers, the tight ends, certainly I think the great understanding of the offense at the quarterback position and the detail that he plays with and the ability to make things happen with not only his feet but his arm. It’s really impressive.So I think all those things combined and then you throw in special teams, it’s just a really well coached football team that never beats itself.”
Media Question: “Matt, this question is for you. What do you see when you look at a guy like Ian Book?”
Coach Campbell: “Playing some really great quarterbacks over our time in the Big 12, I think great quarterbacks have a unique trait to own the offense. And one of the things I think Ian does such a great job of is you always see him put their offense in a really good position. And whether it’s the ability to use his feet to make something happen when a play breaks down, he seems to always know when where the football’s going and he’s decisive. And I think great quarterbacks own the offense and that’s what I see from him. It’s been really impressive to watch him play. And, again, you’re talking about a young man that’s just continued to grow in that role at the quarterback position but it’s been real fun to watch him.”
Media Question: “Coach Kelly, when you look at Iowa State’s record, 7-5, is that a bit deceiving maybe to those outside of your walls when they look at this match-up?”
Coach Kelly: “Yeah. I think nationally they haven’t certainly gotten the credit that they deserve, but I think those that watch football and understand the game know this is a team that has a number of traits that you don’t put down on paper.As I mentioned, they play physical for four quarters. They play with confidence. They play with a belief that they’re going to find a way to win, and they play with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. And maybe that’s because of the conference that they’re in, that they don’t feel like at times they get the kind of notoriety that that they deserve. But you can just see the way they play with the disdain of, ‘We don’t care what you think about us.’ And I think they’re back in that same position. That’s why it’s a very difficult team to play because they play so hard with that kind of demeanor. So their traits really trump talent in that sense and make for a very dangerous football team week in and week out.”
Keys To Victory
Based upon the press conference and all the practice week discussion the Irish offensive line is going to have it’s hands full. Coach Kelly stated “so their traits really trump talent in that sense and make for a very dangerous football team week in and week out.” With that said, the offensive line will need to be on their “A” game. Get the holes for Tony Jones Jr, push the defense back so that Book can go through his progressions, and protect Book’s blindside.
The defensive line needs to dictate the pace of the game. They need to get to Brock Purdy and make their presence known. Purdy ranks fifth in total offense, fifth in passing yards, fourth in completions, twelve in points responsible. That’s a handful for any defense.
Special Teams finished up strong in the last stretch of the season. But, managing the Cyclones field position, is the responsibility of one player, Jay Bramblett. He is going to play a major role in the game when the Irish have to punt. Pinning the Cyclones deep will be off of his foot. As a true Freshman Bramblett has handled this role well all season.
We have a special this week. Nick Saraceni a friend of mine (his wife is one of our great photographers) is going to sit in for Jimmy this week as I did some poor planning.
Nick is going with ND 35-28
ND is going to have their hands full offensively and defensively in this match-up. Coach Campbell mentioned in the press conference “And I think the biggest thing for this year’s football team in 2019 is this has been a really interesting mix of football players. It’s got a veteran-ness of 20 seniors who have been through a lot in our program. They went through a coaching staff change and kind of stayed the course with us. And yet it’s also got a mix of some really young players and some guys that have just continued to grow as this season’s gone.”
ND will get their points but this is going to an old fashioned battle back and forth and as Captain Obvious says “the team with the most points will win.”
George picks ND 42-38
Saturday, December 28 Noon ET Camping World Stadium (artificial) Orlando, FL
📺 ABC/ESPN app : Bob Wischusen (play-by-play) Dan Orlovsky (color) Allison Williams (sideline)
📻 Notre Dame Radio Network SiriusXM (Channel 129) 96.1 FM, 101.5 FM & 960 AM (South Bend) Paul Burmeister (play-by-play) Ryan Harris (analysis) Jack Nolan (sideline)