Kelly Q&A: Post-Game

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly addressed the media following his team's 31-24 comeback win in West Lafayette.

Brian Kelly

Just a good college football game. Really proud of the way our kids battled tonight. Purdue played very well. It really got down to we made some plays tonight that we didn't make last week when we needed them.

Specifically, the game ball of course went to (quarterback) Tommy Rees. In the second half we thought he really settled down and ran our offense. Managed it extremely well, made some big plays for us. Made the throws when we needed to.

As a unit, defensively we came up with the big interception which gave us some separation. Now we've got some things we need to continue to work. We're not a finished product. We know that, but to go on the road after a tough game last week against a Big Ten opponent, it's a really good win for our football team.

QUESTION: Speaking of Tommy, he moved into fourth on the career touchdowns list. As a guy who hasn't been really accepted by the media or by fans--

"I really don't care what you guys think about Tommy Rees. Really, this is about our football team and Tommy Rees, you guys can have your own opinions about him."

Q: Well, I wanted to ask what his legacy to you would be?

"That's for you guys to write. He's one of our players. The guys love him. He's a college student. He goes to class. He's got pimples. He's a college kid. You guys are at 35,000 feet. He's a college kid. I'm really proud of the way he settled down in the second half and helped our football team win. That's really moronic I think when it comes to what I think about Tommy. I can't think about legacies and all those other things. I'm sorry."

Q: You wanted smarter and more-disciplined. Did you get it?

"We got better. To win on the road against a team that played very well tonight, you got to have some of those things. To win, again, you have to do some things well late in the game. In the second half we outscored our opponent 28-14. I think the lesser team wilts under the way they started. We didn't start very well, but we hung in there.

"We kept playing, kept fighting. I told our team we're still kind of defining who we are. We're still trying to find ourselves. Here's what we did. We played hard for four quarters and we fought our butts off. Then we found a way to make some plays, and we feel really good about our kids and the way they played."

Q: How'd you feel about (running back) Cam McDaniels tonight?

"He definitely impacted the game. No question. You saw how hard he ran. He had to come out on one drive and he got four stitches at halftime. He went back in and really was a huge part of what we did."

Q: Purdue was adjusting to Rees's checks at the lines. What was your adjustment to theirs?

"It was a cat-and-mouse game tonight. You saw that that's kind of how the game unfolded. They did not allow us to run the ball on 1st down. They wanted to get us off-schedule on first down. They were in bear or bear-zero. We saw every look imaginable on first down.

"They didn't want us to get into a manageable down-and-distance situation. So every pressure really came at us hard on 1st down. So we had to do some things when they checked and went zone, we came back with some runs. There was a lot of chess going on, and Tommy really did a nice job of having the pen last and getting us into some good looks."

Q: With Tommy, did you have to light a fire under him at halftime or did he kind of figure it out on his own?

"No, he's been here for four years. He knew he needed to just settle down a little bit. It was all in front of him. He just needed to settle down a little bit and he settled down nicely. I'm really proud of him."

Q: You gave Cam the ball eight times on that last drive I think. Why did you want him closing the game then?

"Well, we were trying to run out the game. We were in our four-minute offense, and he was the guy that we had decided was going to run the football at the end of the game. He was the hot hand at that time, and plays that we were running, as you know we were running A-gap and inside zone. We were just downhill, more hats than we could handle, and just trying to win a football game."

Q: What frustrated you most about that first half and what'd you do in the locker room?

"I don't know if it was frustration as much as there was a confidence that we were going to be okay. I was never worried in a sense that it was a panic. It was going to come out, I felt really confident that we were going to win the football game. We just needed to settle down a little bit."

Q: We saw (receiver) DaVaris Daniels come of age a bit in the second half of the Alabama game. Did he reach another level here tonight?

"Yeah. It was interesting because we got on him pretty good in the first half. He went out of bounds one time. He stepped up his game big-time in the second half. He played more physical. Obviously the first touchdown, it was a ball that he had to really take away from the defender. And then the run after the catch was just phenomenal. He's that kind of player.

"He's one of those guys once in awhile that you have to light a fire under. You don't have to do that to Tommy Rees, but he's just a talented young man. He's maturing everyday. He showed how good of a receiver he can be."

Q: You mentioned this team is still kind of finding itself a little bit. Did you think this was a team that was going to need a few games to figure out who it was? What its identity was?

"We have been really trying to get our hands around this thing. We know we've got good players and we've got good personnel. We're trying to figure out the parts and the pieces and where they go and I really like the way they fought and some of the things that came out tonight.

Tommy Rees settling in in the second half and showing his veteran leadership. The ability to run the ball late to close out a game against a very good front four. The ability to keep a team that wants to run the ball to, I don't know how many yards rushing, they had 38 yards rushing. Some of the old standards, if you will, that go to winning football games. It was a little cloudy, but it's starting to clear up a little bit. We've got more work to do.

"We're not a finished product by any means. But we're starting to kind of figure it out as well."

Q: Did Purdue surprise you?

"No. We knew they were going to play this well. We were alerted to the fact that whatever we saw on film, we knew, we told our kids that wasn't the team that was going to play here tonight. We've already experienced it. We experienced it last year. Purdue always plays us very well."

Q: Did the defense kind of make a statement after you guys fumble and they get a big stop?

"Yeah, I mean, again, stopping the run, the big turnover. We had (Purdue quarterback Rob) Henry running most of the day. I wish we could take back one play at the end of the game. We've got some things we have to clean up in the red zone. There's some things coming together defensively that we got a chance to talk about that we're starting to see come together."

Q: We can hear the locker room, just the excitement coming from it, is it 2-1 and feeling that momentum of how big this is?

"It's really big. To win on the road, again, after, we didn't get back until 3:30 in the morning and it was a long week for us and the kids obviously were disappointed. Then go back on the road and play a Big Ten team that is waiting for you, in-state. You have to play really, really hard.

They're very excited about this win, and now they get to go back home and get ready for Michigan State. It doesn't get any easier. But they're excited and they should be. They worked really hard for this win." Top Stories