Post-game: Brian Kelly
Opening Statement: "We played the last two games here in different styles. USC-Notre Dame was a defensive effort that certainly we could talk about it all year in terms of the way our defense played, and then today we had to be flawless in the second half offensively. That's the way you win football games, as a team. You don't win them on one side of the ball or the other. We were able to come up with a couple of key stops in the second half against Navy today that allowed us to put more points on the board than the Midshipmen. They executed flawlessly today. Hats off to them. They controlled the clock, made possessions difficult relative to time of possession. So just, again, shortened the game, no penalties, no turnovers, and really played a great game and really took us in a position -- put us in a position that we had to play great in the second half. I'm really, really proud of our team. They took the lead in the second half -- or in the fourth quarter and held on in another very close football game. So great win for Notre Dame. Question: You called it a great win. When you look at it, are you happy to get the win, or are you concerned that they put as many yards up as they did and points as they did? COACH KELLY: No. I mean, if you look out at option teams, especially Navy, I'm ecstatic about getting out of here with a win in terms of the way they played today. I mean, they were flawless in terms of their execution. When they're on and they're playing well, you're just really excited. Now, we had -- you know, we slipped and fell on a pass where we could have put ourselves in a two-score situation. We had a holding penalty, which really could have changed things early on. So there's some circumstances there that played in. But very difficult to play. We haven't made any excuses about guys being out of the lineup. We just went out and battled the best we could. Yeah, there are no asterisks next to this one. This is a W, and we're excited about it. We're going to have our 24-hour rule. We're going to take all 24 hours on this one. Question: One call that was a little confusing to me was where they first called targeting, and then they said it was on Justin Utupo. Is that correct? What happened there? COACH KELLY: I am absolutely -- I can't come up with the right word to figure this one out. I asked for three explanations. Three times I asked for an explanation on it, and I couldn't get a clear explanation other than it was not a targeting penalty because it was a run play. Of course, that wasn't my question. My question was why was it a personal foul? And it was never answered. Question: Who was it on? COACH KELLY: It was on Justin Utupo, which we had a different video of what happened over there, so we're very confused as to what exactly happened. So there must have been a number of people over on the sideline. We'll ask for some clarification, but you can't give option teams 15 yards. It was a crucial play. It was fourth down. It was a big play. Question: Tarean going for 18, 140. Did he just get into a rhythm, and you just kept on rolling with him? COACH KELLY: Yeah, exactly. He was running well, and just felt like we'd stick with him in terms of the way he was running. And they were blocking very well up front for him. Question: For a freshman to do that when the game's on the line, how does that speak to maybe his mental toughness? COACH KELLY: I think he's conditioned better. I don't know that he would have made that many carries early in the year. He wasn't conditioned well enough to be in there. I think it's more physical. He always had the mental makeup. We felt that from the very beginning, that he had that. I think this is more about his physical conditioning and really just having a hot hand. Question: Offensively with Navy, were they doing anything differently than what they had shown? Did you feel like they were holding anything back, or was this just an execution game for them? COACH KELLY: No, they ran a couple of unbalanced plays where we had some pressures on or some looks that make it a little bit more difficult, but, no, this was still centered around the quarterback. And at times not getting -- not whipping the guy over us. You know what I mean? Sometimes you've just got to whip the guy that's over you, and sometimes we weren't able to defeat some of those one-on-one blocks, but nothing that they schemed up and had a different look for us. Question: Could you just talk about your vantage point on their last play, how you saw that develop and the way you stopped it. COACH KELLY: It did not look like true triple coming. It looked like single option or -- which it looked different right away. So I thought it was going to be option pass, and then obviously the reverse. I was happy it was a reverse because I felt like there was enough speed on the field that we were going to be able to track it down. Question: Before Kona got hurt, he was having a heck of a day. Your thoughts on what he was doing out there. COACH KELLY: He was playing well. He was playing a lot of snaps certainly. Sheldon Day went down. Jarron is still an inexperienced player in there. We're really thin. So he had a lot of work, a lot of time that he had spent on the field, and then he went down with an ankle too. No, he was battling his butt off in there. Question: Coach, with Tarean having his big day and Jaylon Smith making that big tackle and a lot of young guys playing, what does that say about the future of your program? COACH KELLY: That we've got more young guys that are developing. It's always a blend, you know. It's a mixture of guys like Eilar Hardy, who had to come in for Austin Collinsworth, who is out of the game. I don't think it's -- unless you're playing, you know, 10, 15 freshmen, which you never want that to happen because you're rebuilding. We're not in a rebuilding mode here. I think it's always about blending in some true freshmen, but it's really nice to see some of those young players because they're extremely skilled. It gives you a glimpse of those guys that are going to be here for the next 3 1/2 years. Question: You talked about Folston a little bit today. Your thoughts on how you thought he ran. It wasn't just good numbers overall, but it seemed like every carry he was productive. COACH KELLY: That's a good question. I think -- I would say, generally speaking, there was only one run that I did not like, where he did not go north and south, bounced one out on the left side, and got the first down, but we want to keep it going north and south, and I thought he did that very well, saw the holes very well. And we're looking for guys to go north and south and make people miss, and I think if you look at all his runs, he by and large did that. If you look at George's touchdown run, that was a heck of a run. That was a north and south run. He supplied the power to the power, all the things that we've been asking him to do. So there were some good runs out there. Question: How close were the injuries you have in the front seven of the defense you pushing that limit of the depth you have up there? COACH KELLY: We reached it and surpassed it. We're past it. We're -- you know, I'm reminded of that scene in -- I think it was Apollo 12 (13), where there's a scene in the movie where they're having troubles in the capsule because there's CO2, and they have to figure out a way to bring that level of CO2 down. I showed a clip of it. They throw all this stuff on the table to all of these guys in mission control, and they say, you guys have got to figure out with all this stuff here, how to get this done. That's what we did this week. We threw it all on the table, and we figured out how to get it done. That's why I'm proud of the guys. We didn't complain about it. It's part of the game. Injuries happen. You've just got to find a way to get it done, and they did. We'll find a way to get it done. Jaylon, we'll be done in a second. I know it's your press conference, but I'll be done in a second, and we'll let you get going. Is that all right? And that's my answer to the question is we've got a lot of moving parts here with guys playing different locales. We had Ben Councell with his hand on the ground. And Romeo Okwara playing a five back deep for the first time. So we were figuring it out as we went. Question: I know this is your favorite topic, but T.J. slipping, other guys slipping and falling today. What was the condition of the field in your opinion? COACH KELLY: The conditions weren't great. I will say this, that our field people work their butts off, though, to try to get it the best they could. This is a long -- this is not a this is the first day of this problem and the rain today. This is something that has been inherited in a large degree over a long period of time. So it's a lot more of a complex problem than, you know, just a couple of years here. It's going to be resolved. It will be handled. Jack Swarbrick will take care of it. It will be handled. It's not an easy fix. This is not just roll out some grass and tamp it down. So it will be something that will have to be worked on in the off-season, looked at extensively, and we'll come up with a solution.
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