For the second consecutive season, Notre Dame took another tough early-season loss that knocked the Fighting Irish back on their heels and turned up the heat under coach Brian Kelly’s seat. Saturday night, Notre Dame lost at home to Georgia, 20-19, due in large part to managing only 55 rushing yards against the Bulldogs.
The loss was the 10th one-possession loss that the Irish have suffered in their past 12 defeats. (The exceptions were last season’s 45-27 loss to USC and a 44-28 defeat to Ohio State in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.) That’s presumably what reporter Laken Litman of the Indianapolis Star was leading toward with her question to Kelly toward the end of his postgame press conference. But a cranky Kelly didn’t give her a chance to finish asking her question.
Here is the exchange with transcribed remarks:
To be fair, Litman did take a while to get to her question and it wasn’t exactly clear where she was going with it. Were there really immediate comparisons to be drawn between last season’s loss to Texas and this defeat to Georgia? Yes, both were one-possession losses early in the season to tough competition. But one was on the road, one was at home.
Maybe there were some similarities or tendencies to highlight with the two games, but Kelly didn’t seem in the frame of mind for that kind of answer. Maybe it would’ve been better for his Tuesday press conference after he and the staff have looked over the film.
Kelly mixed in some condescension with his grouchiness, attempting to correct Litman by saying Notre Dame suffered a one-point loss to Georgia, not a one-possession loss. Obviously, a one-point loss is actually a one-possession loss, but it probably wouldn’t have helped Litman’s cause to be equally condescending to the coach in response. As it is, Kelly walked off the podium immediately after the exchange.
Questions about the Irish’s inability to win close games and Kelly’s tenuous job status aren’t going to be silenced when the coach demonstrates that the pressure is getting to him. Notre Dame’s postgame pressers could become increasingly tense (or must-watch TV) if Kelly continues getting annoyed and adversarial with the press.
If you’re interested, here is the entire Kelly postgame press conference and the story Litman filed after Saturday’s game.