Post-game: Brian Kelly
OPENING STATEMENT: Well, as I told our team, first and foremost, getting a win at home is always extremely satisfying in that we always want to defend our home stadium. This now puts us at I think 11-1 in our last 12 games, and that's something that is so important in developing a consistency in your program, is winning at home, and our seniors are so much a part of that in building that consistency at winning at home. And so I thank them for that. Certainly getting a win for them is important. We told them that, you'll get a chance to kiss your mom again. But you'll remember winning the game. That's the most important thing. So we really focused on understanding that it's an emotional day, but we needed to play Notre Dame football: Enthusiastic, and physical and I thought we did that today. We made some plays when we needed to. Q: You talked about along the line of scrimmage defensively, there was so much with Louis Nix being out and then Kona out. Jarron Jones seemed to really -- seven tackles, he blocked the kick. Is this a game where he just kicked it up, ratcheted it up more than you thought? KELLY: Opportunity, right. He got the opportunity, was the next-man-in situation. Kona tried to answer the bell, but as you saw, he could -- and I think I kind of alluded to the fact that when we talked on Thursday, that he could go as long as he could. But had a high ankle sprain and he gave us all he had. Jarron we felt like was coming on and he played exceedingly well and really happy for him. But we thought this was something that when we recruited him that he was capable of, and he showed that today. Q: And with the weather conditions today, was there a greater necessity to run more, or was it just the flow of the game dictated it? KELLY: No. You know, we felt like we could certainly run the football against BYU, but it was part of what we were certainly about offensively as we have defined more our offense. And what I was most pleased, again, was we talk about Jarron Jones, but Nick Martin went down with a hyperextended knee. Matt Hegarty played almost three quarters of the game at center, and you had, again, a lot of young players in there. As I told our guys, a lot of guys out there with very thin resumés and they built them up today. It was really good to see. Q: The red zone defense tonight, critical field goals; what went right for you guys down deep? KELLY: We made some plays. And if you look back on some of them, tackling, some individual plays on the quarterback, in particular we paid a great deal of attention on stopping the quarterback. Jalen, as you know, in the fourth quarter made a huge play, individual play, one-on-one on Hill, and then we gang-tackled. We did a very good job and I thought Coach Diaco hit some very good calls down in that short zone area where we were able to come up with some big stops. Q: Is this game closer or approximate to the way you want your team to play in November, as opposed to maybe how dissatisfied you were -- is this pretty close to the formula for you? KELLY: This is the way we've got to play football. This is Notre Dame football. This is the way we need to play. This is what we're capable of playing. It's a much more physical brand of football that we are capable of playing, and quite frankly, our team did that and they responded accordingly. Q: Why do you feel like it fell all into place today that you played Notre Dame football? KELLY: Because they are capable of playing that way. I think the Pittsburgh game was an anomaly for a number of reasons that I just can't get into right now, other than the fact it was behind us, and they had a chance to go out and show in their last home game the kind of football team that they really are. I thought they did that today against a very good opponent in BYU. Q: And how would you assess Tommy's day today? KELLY: I thought he played well. I mean, you never want to throw an interception down in the red zone. You know, he had an opportunity, obviously, to get the ball out quicker. But he did some good things for us today. Again, we are measuring Tommy's success based upon wins and losses. You know, you want to keep your critical errors down to a minimum. You know, I thought he had, you know -- didn't have, other than the one interception, he didn't have the critical errors that cost you football games. Q: Dan Fox, all over the stat sheet. Did he maybe play with a different energy, given it was the last home game for him? KELLY: I thought he was really locked in. We asked our guys to do something with this game. We asked a single-minded focus that they had not shown against Pittsburgh and an attention to detail. Q: What were your thoughts on Cam, the way he ran today and what made this a game where he was given the ball, where you wanted to give him the ball so much? KELLY: Well, it was hard to get to the perimeter. And the way they were playing, you know, our outside zone play, the field was a little bit slick. The ice out there started to develop on the field with the weather conditions and made it harder, and players were getting strung out. And Cam down is more of a downhill, inside the tackle, north and south player. So the game style fits his -- and I don't want to box him into a particular kind of runner. But he's a physical inside runner, and so him and Toryan got a lot of carries inside out. And George really helped us out a lot today, too, with some good, physical running, as well. But that was the way the running game was set up and that's how they were defending us. Q: You said about two months ago that your special teams would win you a game this year and they played very well today, especially Brindza kicking in the conditions. Could you comment on his play today? KELLY: Look, I think that last field goal was huge. Obviously puts us up by ten points, the wind swirling on the field and I don't know how it felt up there but that winds is swirling. It's a bit of a gamble at 51 yards and we are going to give them pretty good field position if we don't make it. But when you a kid like Kyle Brindza who is -- and believe me, he is on the sideline in my face wanting to kick the football. But when you've got a guy with that kind of confidence asking to kick the football, it makes it easier for me to make a decision to put him out there. So he's a great weapon for us. Q: That single-minded focus, when did you feel confident you were going to get that? Is that something you saw today in practice or today in warm-ups that you made that evaluation? When did it become clear that you were going to get what you wanted? KELLY: I think you always get what you demand, and we were demanding it from our guys in everything they did from the way the locker room looked to every meeting we went to. We went back to saying, look, you can't start winning until you stop losing. So you can't do the little things -- you've got to do them the right way all the time. And not that there was a major breakdown, but it was more of a focus on making sure that our guys were doing the little things the right way. And we had a great week of practice. I thought our Monday where we went ones versus ones and banged it around, I could just sense right there that we were going to play pretty good today. Q: Your pass defense tonight, you had a long gain of 15 yards, big receivers -- how do you feel like that group performed tonight? Did they attack you the way you thought they would? KELLY: Yeah, we gave up some things to hold up big plays. We bled a little bit into the boundary, as you know. We gave up some swings and some quick gain into the short field, which I was tempted to get into some real coverage in the boundary but it would have put us in a position where they could possibly get over the top. We weren't going to let them get over the top. We were double-zoning a lot to the field and trying to keep the ball in front of us. We rallied pretty good to some of their quick gain stuff, it was a game plan decision to give up some swing passes and spot routes into the short field to take away some big plays.
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