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Brian Kelly: 'I'm always about the player over the play'

As Notre Dame closed spring ball last month, Fighting Irish head coach held a town hall meeting, which just so happened to be broadcast nationally on Sirius/XM radio. Such is life as the Notre Dame head coach. But beyond that, Fighting Irish fans got a chance to pick the brain of their favorite head coach, and one fan asked Kelly how he balances coaching to his roster versus coaching from his playbook. 

"I'm always about the player over the play," Kelly said. "I've never been hung up on, 'Well I've got to run this play because I've always run this play.' If I've got Tim Brown, he's not going to go block the safety every down. I'm going to get him the ball."

Evidence of that can be seen in the way the Notre Dame offense changed with the insertion of sophomore quarterback Everett Golson into the starting lineup. Golson threw for 2,405 yards and 12 touchdowns and added 298 rushing yards and six scores, one of four rushers near or above the 300 yard mark, helping the Fighting Irish boost their rushing totals by more than 30 yards per game over last season. 

"To answer your question, I've got enough of a library and enough experience that we're always going to set the offense to those playmakers. I think that's important in college football. These guys graduate and they leave, you've got new guys and we're not going to do what we did with Tyler Eifert. We're going to do some different things that are going to feature some other players. You've got a sense of what you want to do offensively and it always starts with the quarterback, and then the featuring of particular players is more important to me than any one particular play."

As tight end Eifert and running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood prepare for life after South Bend, expect the 2013 incarnation of the Fighting Irish offense to look as different from last season as the 2012 group did from 2011. As Kelly noted, adjusting your play calls to your playmakers certainly becomes a bit easier when you've got nearly a quarter century of head coaching experience.