Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly is usually pretty clever in voicing his displeasure with the officiating without getting himself into financial trouble. But a day after a 23-17 victory over Pittsburgh, which bumped the Fighting Irish back up to .500, Kelly was clearly bothered by a number of calls.
Late in the fourth quarter, a Michael Floyd touchdown catch, which would have prevented another frantic finish for the Irish, was called back when receiver Theo Riddick was flagged for offensive interference.
"Just disagree fundamentally with the call," Kelly said during Sunday's teleconference. "I've watched it a number of times. We'll have a conversation with the [Big East] supervisor of referees. I've been running that play a long time. We've never had it called, because we run it the right way. That'll be a conversation we have to have and straighten that out."
With 1:37 left to play, the Panthers began their final drive at their own 7-yard line. Feeling heavy pressure from nose guard Ian Williams, Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri threw a dart into the ground for what appeared to be an obvious intentional grounding penalty. Kelly could only challenge in hopes that officials would find something else during the play in his favor.
"Incomplete pass," Kelly said. "I challenged. I was [looking] for a way to have a conversation about the call. But we got some information that it had possibly hit a lineman, which would be an illegal touch in end zone. But it was simply a call he made, a judgment call. We were looking at it a lot differently."
Tight end troubles
Notre Dame's offense might have quite a different look this Saturday at home against Western Michigan.
Junior tight end Kyle Rudolph continues to be limited by a hamstring injury that's slowed him since fall camp. Reserve Tyler Eifert is bothered by a shoulder injury and third-stringer Mike Ragone dropped a pass from Dayne Crist in the closing minutes that could have been a first down to slam the door shut on the Panthers.
"I think we all know [Rudolph's] struggling out there," Kelly said. "He's trying to play and help the football team and he's not 100 percent. He's a tough kid that wants to help in any way he can. Obviously, we want to see him get better, and if that means we have to shut him down, we'll shut him down."
Rudolph has caught just seven passes for 41 yards in the last three games, leaving the field twice at home to get treatment.
"We haven't made that decision yet," Kelly said about sitting Rudolph against Western Michigan. "That's something we'll decide during the week. He's clearly not at 100 percent."
Kelly, who doesn't appear to have much faith in Ragone, said Eifert must find a way to overcome pain this week.
"[Ragone] hasn't played a lot and it showed," Kelly said. "[Eifert's] been struggling with the shoulder. We gotta get him ready this week. It's one of those things where he's got to manage it a little better. Now, going into seven weeks, nobody is 100 percent. We have to get him out there."
Kelly on the BCS
The first BCS standings come out on Monday and Kelly cast his vote for the new No. 1 team. He gave the nod to Ohio State, followed by Oregon and Boise State.
"If Boise continues to win and Ohio State and Oregon win out, then Boise State could be in trouble there because of their schedule," Kelly said. "If somebody slips up and [Boise State’s] undefeated, they should play for the national championship."