Kyle Brindza set a Michigan high school record with 19 field goals as a senior in 2010. He made 6-of-9 kicks from 50 yards or more. He hit a 47-yarder into the wind to lock up a playoff victory, and he won the regional championship with 38 seconds left in the game.
So Brian Kelly knows that Brindza has the mental toughness to handle being the placekicker at Notre Dame.
“I know Kyle Brindza,” Kelly said on Tuesday. “I’ve seen him kick in high school. I know what he’s made of. He’s won a state championship.
But following the Oklahoma game, Kelly said Brindza was “shaking my confidence” and that he told him “don’t do it again.” Brindza responded by missing a field goal for the third straight game in last Saturday’s 29-26 triple-overtime victory over Pittsburgh. More alarming was a missed extra point in the fourth quarter, with the Irish trying to erase a 14-point deficit. Brindza was bailed out by Everett Golson, who darted into the end zone for the game-tying two-point conversion with 3:03 to go in the fourth quarter.
Brindza rebounded by making a 37-yarder in the first overtime to send the game to another extra session. It was his third make of the game after two first-quarter field goals of 37 and 39 yards.
Kelly said he talks directly to Brindza after misses, rather than going through an assistant coach. He said he’s encouraged that Brindza’s misses are the product of poor mechanics, not mental weakness. Because mechanics are easier to fix.
“He’s going to move on,” Kelly said. “For him, consistency of mechanics. But (what) I always look for, is the game affecting a player? Are the circumstances affecting a player? That doesn’t affect him. It’s mechanical, and I’m going over there saying, ‘Hey, listen, get on the side, kick it again, we’re going to need you. How do you feel?’ ‘I feel good.’ That’s all I am looking for.”