SOUTH BEND —
After a brief flirtation with the NFL this past offseason, it looks like Brian Kelly will be the head coach at Notre Dame for some time to come.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced at the end of Saturday’s 28-6 win over Temple that the school has reached an agreement with Kelly to extend his contract for another five years.
No other details of the contract extension were immediately announced.
Kelly said, “It’s about that we’re all together in this contract about moving the program forward. Do you know what I mean? That we’ve all decided that by signing this contract, we’re all in it together, and that’s what I was looking for. ”
The announcement coincided with Kelly’s 200th career win, and Kelly was quick to deflect much of the credit to the assistants who have been with him over the years.
“It’s pretty special that a lot of the guys that were here for the 200th have been along the way with me on a number of those wins,” Kelly said.
Also on hand for Kelly’s milestone victory was Jack Hall, Kelly’s first quarterback in his first head coaching job at Grand Valley State in Michigan.
How did Notre Dame senior quarterback Tommy Rees do in his return as the full-time starter?
Quite well, thank you very much.
On Saturday against Temple in the Irish’s 28-6 victory at Notre Dame Stadium, Rees was 11-for-16 for 268 yards and three TDs in the first half alone on Saturday. Rees spread those 11 catches among four receivers.
On the day, Rees finished with 368 yards – his third career 300-plus yard passing day.
Kelly said he saw good things from Rees and things to work on – chief among the good things being no turnovers and a number of big plays.
“His patience was better, and it will continue to get better,” Kelly said.
Spreading the wealth
On a warm, humid late summer day, the Irish displayed some of the depth on both sides of the ball that could pay dividends down the road: 17 non-starters saw action in the first quarter for Notre Dame.
Irish junior DE Stephon Tuitt picked up his first sack of 2013 and the 15th of career midway through the second quarter. Tuitt is tied for 10th in school history (or since 1982, when the stat became official.)
Jaylon Smith, a Fort Wayne Bishop Luers product, became the first true freshman to start an opener for the Irish since 1995. Smith won the 2012 Butkus Award as the nation’s top prep linebacker.
Kelly said Smith played like a freshman at times, which was pretty much what was expected.
“He had some great energy,” Kelly said. “But he has a lot to work on. I’m sure glad he’s on our football team.”
A big splash
Amir Carlisle’s first career carry in a Notre Dame uniform was a memorable one.
On first-and-15 from the Notre Dame 18, Carlisle – a junior transfer from USC who sat out last season due to injury – ripped off a 45-yard run that helped set up the Irish’s first TD of the day.
Carlisle ended his day with seven carries for 68 yards.
Daniels’ big day
Irish junior WR DeVaris Daniels had just three catches before calling it a day at halftime with a slight groin pull – but he made them count, with two going for TDs.
Daniels finished with 68 yards on the day and could have played in the second half, Kelly said, but coaches elected to hold him out in preparation for Michigan next week.
A Jones for the ball
Irish senior receiver and co-captain T.J. Jones expressed an interest on Media Day in being a go-to guy for Rees … and Rees seemed to take Jones to heart, as the pair connected six times for 138 yards on Saturday.
Kelly said he was pleased with the ball distribution from Rees on Saturday.
“I thought you saw what I was hoping for,” Kelly said. “You had Daniels catch a touchdown. You had T.J. Jones and obviously Chris Brown. You had Troy Niklas, you had the running backs catch footballs. You had Tarean Folston catching a nice ball coming out of the backfield. I think you’re going to see great distribution of the football across the board, and it’s going to be somebody new each week.”
Neither kicker set the world on fire on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium: Owl and Irish kickers were a combined 0-for-4 on field goals and Temple freshman kicker Jim Cooper tossed in a missed PAT for good measure, though the kick was blocked.