Kelly questions two calls against USC
It was a memorable hit, even if Jamoris Slaughter was penalized for targeting an opponent above the shoulder. The Notre Dame safety belted USC flanker Brandon Carswell on a bang-bang play in the second quarter of Saturday night's 31-17 loss to USC at Notre Dame Stadium.
It was one of two personal fouls penalties called against the Irish on the drive and one of several controversial calls in the game.
"They said he led with his helmet, which we disagree with," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "We'll send that clip in. We've looked at it a number of times. We think actually he was pulling off. But that's an interpretation call, so sometimes you're left up to the interpretation of one individual."
Kelly also said a false start called on junior guard Chris Watt on third-and-3 late in the second quarter was the result of a USC defender lining up in the neutral zone, but it was the backward pass to Cierre Wood that seemed to bother the Notre Dame coach most.
"The ones that I'm most concerned with are the ones that led to points, and the unsportsmanlike penalty [in the] fourth-down situation that we're off the field and we put them back on the field that consequently leads to points, those are the ones that I focus more on than maybe an interpretive call.
"The same one would be on the lateral. That's a play that everybody runs in college football, and it's pretty clear that the call could go either way on that. But that's the other one that bothers me because obviously that turned into points, as well. I look at the penalties that turn into catastrophic plays."
Of course, Kelly was talking about the backward pass quarterback Tommy Rees threw that went through running back Cierre Wood's hands before being recovered by USC with 8:46 left. Wood has been as consistent as any Notre Dame player this year before gaining 14 yards on five carries against USC.
"He didn't live up to the expectations that we have for our players at Notre Dame," Kelly said. "He's got to find himself and put himself in a position where he can be his best when his best is needed."
Kelly when asked if he needed to concern himself with the mental state of backup quarterback Dayne Crist, who fumbled a snap on the USC 1 that was returned for a touchdown.
Kelly said Rees' hyperextended knee was not a bigger concern Sunday than it was on Saturday night when Rees returned to the game after injuring it.
"He'll have some soreness there, but it shouldn't prevent him from practicing on Tuesday," Kelly said.
Barring a miracle, the loss drops Notre Dame out of BCS bowl contention, which means they won't achieve their top goal this season. But Kelly said that doesn't mean he will start running his team with an eye on 2012.
"You guys have more of a global view of everything," he said. "We just don't operate that way. We're dealing with a day-to-day process. We're looking at how we can improve, how we can stop Navy. We really don't get into that. That's good talk for the radio shows and the pundits; they can talk about that stuff. We just don't get into those kinds of conversations. We keep it really focused on the day to day."
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