Joe Raymond / IrishIllustrated.com

Kelly: Irish Focusing On Dayes, Louis

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly fielded questions from the media on the ACC's weekly teleconference.

Opening Statement:
Yeah, obviously got a much-needed win last week against a difficult team to prepare for after the changes that we made on defense. Coach Babers and their Syracuse offense is a difficult one to defend. But I thought our kids had a great second half and we put some points on the board.

So certainly something to build on. We've got to continue to develop. We played 11 true freshmen, and you're going to get some anxious times there. But they're talented players and we'll continue to develop those players to the point where we'll feel like they're going to be really good players for us in the future.

Now we take on an NC State team that is a veteran team, one that has great versatility. Finley at quarterback, I think Dayes is a game-breaker at the running back position. Louis at wide receiver. They've got great versatility on defense. Their front is a veteran front. Well-coached in all areas. So it will be a great challenge for us going down to North Carolina.

I'm curious if there is any update or contingency plans on your part for this weekend with the hurricane?
Yeah, we've made contingencies to play through one o'clock on Sunday, so planes, trains, automobiles, all the logistics have been taken care of. We're preparing for wet weather. About a year ago at this time, we played down in Clemson in some nasty weather. So I hear the field is going to be in pretty good shape, and we'll deal with the elements, just like North Carolina State will. We've made the appropriate contingencies if the game needs to be changed.

It's business as usual until then, until further notice?
Yeah, we're on a holding pattern until tomorrow. But, again, we'll still go down on Friday, but there won't be any changes in terms of how we prepare.

At this point, five games into the season, what have you learned from the offensive identity of this year's team?
Scoring 40 points a game and 500 yards in total offense. We've turned over a lot of really good players on offense. A No. 1 draft pick at left tackle, a No. 2 draft pick at center. A No. 1 draft pick that's got a chance to be the Rookie of the Year at wide receiver in the NFL. A No. 2 draft pick at running back.

So we've turned over a lot of really good players on offense, and still doing some really good things on offense. So I'm pleased that there hasn't been a huge drop-off. But we have to be more consistent in a number of areas. I think it's more about just experience and attention to some of the detail things. That's really where we continue to work every day with some of the younger players that are now playing for us in prominent roles.

I wanted to ask you about the defensive changes and how they worked out. It looked like you struggled a little bit still in the first half, but it seemed to click in the second half defensively, I mean. Is that a fair assessment? If so, what changed or improved in the second half?
Playing Syracuse is like playing an option team. They play so fast and you have to make some adjustments. So once our kids settled in, saw the formations, knew what was going on, it's easy to adapt to it. As you get more comfortable. We made some mistakes early on in terms of formation recognition which opened up some things in the passing game for them.

But, again, once we were able to get them on the sideline -- because it's hard to get them on the sideline. They don't allow you to make those adjustments in game. We made some quick adjustments. They did some good things in terms of formations that they haven't really worked out of before, and got some points on the board. We made some mistakes in the special teams that set up some points as well. But tightened those things up at halftime, and I thought they executed very well in the second half.

Looking at NC State, they have a very unique player in Samuels, lines up to the tight end, a fullback, they use him as a receiver, as a runner. Can you talk about him and the problems that he creates?
Well, it's really you have to really look at him as a wide receiver. Even though he's 223 pounds and he provides -- I think on the depth chart he's listed as a fullback. You really have to treat him as a wide receiver because of his ability to catch the football. He creates match-up problems with your personnel groupings.

So that's what the issues are more than anything else. He's a really good player but creates some mismatch issues that you have to deal with with your personnel as you put it on the field.

Talking about this weather coming up and this hurricane. I know you went to Clemson last year. Is it good to play in that massive rainstorm last year to get your players ready for another massive rainstorm coming this weekend?
I don't know if it's ever good. But they know that the elements are what they are. Being up here in the Midwest, we're used to playing in all kinds of weather. So the guys will acclimate. We practice in wet-ball conditions and obviously are prepared for whatever the circumstances.

And the most important thing: Don't make excuses. Just go out and play.

Talk about what are the three keys to you guys to pull out a win in a place you haven't ever played before in NC State?
Well, obviously they've got a really diversified offensive scheme. I think, number one, you can't give up big play runs. I think Matt Dayes is a game breaker. I think he can definitely be a difference maker in this game.

And I think you've got to tackle Stephen Louis. The ball's going to come out to Louis, but he breaks a lot of tackles.

I think those two guys are really key to their offense. Finley is very smart and a very good quarterback. But Dayes and Louis are the guys that we have to focus on.

Defensively, it's our ability to attack a very sound and fundamental defense that doesn't give up a lot of big plays. So we've got to make some on our side of the ball in terms of getting the ball and getting some big chunk plays.


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