Kelly Post-Game

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly spoke to the media following his team's 41-30 defeat in Ann Arbor.

Brian Kelly Post-Game

"Well, a game from our end that we felt, I felt that we missed some opportunities offensively that could have given us the opportunity to win this football game. Take everything that happened. All the situations you can analyze, over-analyze. Pick through it. I felt like we had two opportunities to score. We've got to make those plays.

"And we've got, this was one of those games that our offense needed to carry the day for us. We just came up short on a couple of key plays for us. One of those games you got to win, and we weren't able to come up with the key plays offensively.

"Give Michigan credit. Give, obviously (Michigan quarterback) Devin Gardner played outstanding. They were the better football team today. Again, from my perspective, we needed to make a couple more plays offensively."

Question: Brian, how would you assess the defense, and maybe where Gardner mostly hurt you guys?

"Well, I'll tell you overall we want to be smarter and more disciplined. I'm not going to get into the specifics, but I want my football teams to play smarter and more disciplined. That's what we need to get to."

Question: Coach, what did you see in the second half that made the tight ends so active on the offensive end? In the first half, you didn't use (tight end Troy) Niklas a lot. In the second half, he was really active.

"He was open. I mean, he's part of our read, and just, you know, if you're going to take away (receiver) T.J. Jones, then tight end gets open. It's just part of our progression."

Question: It looked like you started calling plays at some point. I don't know if it was in the first half or the second. What went into that decision? Did it have to do with the opportunities you said you missed on?

"No no no. (Offensive coordinator) Chuck Martin is calling plays. He will continue to call plays. He called every single play. That hasn't changed."

Question:On your last drive, the pass interference penalty on the safety, do you give any credence to that?

"You got to be smarter and more disciplined as a defense. We don't coach penalties. We want to coach guys to be smarter and more disciplined on a day-to-day basis. That falls on me. I don't want my football team to be in a position where games have to be decided in that regard. We have to be smarter and more disciplined as a football team."

Question:(Quarterback Tommy) Rees's performance. How do you evaluate that?

"I mean, Tommy, obviously, we'd like to have the one throw before the half back. But he did some really good things. Feels like there were just one or two throws there that could have put 44 points on the board. Really, really close. Not good enough. Not good enough. Close, but not good enough. You just, he needed to make a couple more plays."

Question:With the defense struggling a little bit, coming into the night did you feel like this was a game the offense was going to have to carry you or was that something that you kind of came to terms with as the game unfolded?

"Well, we knew that Gardner is certainly a very difficult quarterback to defend. We also knew that offensively that we were in a position that we need to score more points. I didn't think this was going to be like last year. I thought that this was going to be something of a higher-scoring football game, and I think that's going to be the case.

"In the games where you're going to have two really good football teams, we're going to have to score more points than we have in the past. That doesn't mean our defense is not as good. It's just we went up a really good quarterback tonight, and he made a lot of plays. He's difficult to defend. He can run it. He threw it with efficiency. They keep their option principles involved. Within their structure, they're difficult to defend."

Question: Real quickly, with (kicker Kyle) Brindza, what did you see during the week that he was the guy you went through and how'd you think he performed tonight?

"I thought he performed extremely well. Punted effectively, with great hang time. Kicked the ball off extremely well, and I don't know what his numbers were but he clearly impacted the game. We were able to get some punt returns that were very important to field position. I think if there was one area that we needed to do quite better in it was our kickoff coverage. Made a slight adjustment there, and did a nice job in the second half."

Question: The need to score more points, is that why you went with a touchdown early in the fourth quarter? You didn't kick a field goal in the red zone, you went for it on fourth quarter. I mean, it ended up working out because of (defensive end Stephon) Tuitt's touchdown.

"I think we were down two scores at the time. I can't remember exactly, but it felt like at that time that we needed to score a touchdown. Kicking three at that time was laying up when you needed a birdie, you know, if I can use that analogy. Just felt like we needed to go for it. The sense and feel for the game at the time."

Question: Did Amir Carlisle kind of separate himself a little bit tonight of the running backs?

"No, we'll evaluate that on Tuesday. I thought that he did some good things, but we're still a work-in-progress. We made way too many mistakes in the passing game tonight that were critical at times. But we ran hard. I think all the backs did that got in. I think just the two played. We haven't made that decision yet."

Question: Coach, right now do you feel like the offense is the side of the ball where so much was lost tonight, as opposed to the defense?

"I just think we missed opportunities to score in the red zone that were real opportunities. These weren't made up. These were real opportunities that we had the right plays on that we had to execute better. If we execute those plays when they were called upon, we put two more scores on the board and this game is over. We didn't, and I just feel like all the circumstances of the game, this is an easier press conference to have if we execute a couple more plays in the red zone."

Question: Coach, this is your first regular season loss in quite some time obviously, since 2011. Where do you guys go from here?

"We have to be smarter, more disciplined. I told our football team, we're not going to get into all the specifics right now. Losing is losing. But, we're going to go back to work on Tuesday with the emphasis in practice on a more-disciplined approach to everything. We've got to tighten up everything. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day. They understand what I mean."

Question: Coach, with the red zone plays you are referring to, is it more of a pre-snap read situation or just the way that the play developed that led to the breakdown?

"No, if you look at a couple of plays, we got a mixture of pressure and zone. On one of the fourth downs they brought overloaded pressure. If we're not running a post corner route but maybe a quick slant, we're in a better position there to pitch-and-catch.

"Our coverage, the next time we're trying to throw the dig route when the little linebacker is 15 yards deep, and we just hit the drive that's underneath it, don't force it. Pick up a first down. So we're close. It's just frustrating. Tommy played well. I'm not putting it, this show, that it's all on the offense. But quite frankly, we had a chance there to put some more points on the board and we didn't."


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