Post-game comments: Brian Kelly

Following Notre Dame's 43-40 overtime loss to Northwestern, Irish head coach Brian Kelly met with the media to discuss his team's performance.

- On the decision to start Drue Tranquill over Max Redfield at safety:

KELLY: "It's what we saw last week, couple of weeks leading up to it. Just looking to get more, we wanted to get more production at that position."

- On going for the two-point conversion (that would have given Notre Dame a 13-point lead instead of a 12-point lead with 10:34 remaining in the 4th quarter)

KELLY: "Going for two. At that point, it was a coin toss of one or two. So we decided to go for two."

- On injuries suffered by Sheldon Day, Daniel Cage and Everett Golson:

KELLY: "I don't have an update right now. They'll be seen by doctors and then we'll follow-up with, you know, normal x-rays, MRIs, things of that nature. We'll have more information probably tomorrow."

- On if the loss to Arizona State effected the way Notre Dame played vs. Northwestern:

KELLY: "No, absolutely not. Arizona State had nothing to do with the way these guys played today. I didn't feel like they were flat or didn't play with effort. Again, it's the critical errors through the game. I mean we just don't play clean enough, you know, as a football team, and those are the things that prevent us from winning."

- On his emotions following the game:

KELLY: "Well, I mean, you know, so many, so many things happened in that game that it's hard to put them all in perspective as I'm standing here right now. I think the thing that stands out is we have the game pretty much in our hands and we turn the ball over. Seems to be, you know, probably the thing that sticks out the most as well as is our inability to kick the football and take care of the football. Those are the things that stand out. We've had too many opportunities to score points that, you know, fumbled it on the goal line, fumble it on the seven-yard line, turn it over when you're trying to close out the game. Those are critical errors. So that's what I'm feeling."

- On the "conventional wisdom" that convinced him to go for two:

KELLY: "Our chart tells us in that situation to go for one, but we were up I think 11 at the time and we felt like given the circumstances, our kicking game situation, that we were going to try to extend it with a two-point play."

- On if was trying to avoid kicking the ball completely:

KELLY: "I wouldn't say I was looking to avoid but, you know, you know, I didn't like the way the mental approach, you know, of our kicker was and, you know, obviously we were going to be in a close game. We were trying to get him to, you know, get his confidence back. It was a rough day for the kicking game. He's (Kyle Brindza) got a new battery in there. Probably thinking a little too much. Trying to get him not to think about the hold and he starts thinking about the hold and then you get into rushing your mechanics and it hurt us today."

- On if Malik Zaire ever received consideration to enter the game:

KELLY: "No. I mean you know, obviously there's always room for improvement. The quarterback back position, you know, look, I mean, still put up a lot of points. If we don't turn the football over I don't think we're having this conversation right now, but we turned the football over and we would have plenty of points on the board.I think the thing for me is if we take care of the football -- you know, probably wasn't his sharpest throwing game of the year but, you know, it's not anywhere near where you think about pulling him out of the game other than his shoulder, he got banged up. That would have been my only thought in moving him out of the game would be because of his shoulder."

- On if he considered taking a knee after Northwestern used their final timeout:

KELLY: "No, I did not. I don't know that I've ever in my college career taken a knee and then punted the football. We would have run the ball once at least and then considered our options from there. So, it just never entered into my mind to think in those terms."

- On why Cam McDaniel was the running back in the game near the end:

KELLY: "Cam has generally been in the game. He's our senior. Always been in late for us. We counted on him to be the guy that gets us our tough yardage late in the game and sure handed and tough and physical and just didn't work out that way today."

- On the defense giving up 540 yards:

KELLY: "There's a lot to it. I mean, you know, we're obviously playing a lot of young guys that, you know, that are struggling and they're doing their best but, you know, too many young guys on the field. That's probably the biggest issue right now that we're just trying to fight through and we can still win games if we weren't as sloppy as we are offensively. That's my feeling."

On if the correct emotions were in place to play this week following last week's loss:

KELLY: "Yeah. You can't start winning until you stop losing. Two 15-yard penalties on key drives, those hurt. Fumbling on the goal line hurts. Fumbling it on the seven-yard line hurts. Those things are critical errors. We're not making small errors, we're making critical errors and on defense giving them 15 yards to hold on to drives and then, heck, one key third down we had ten guys on the field. We had ten guys. We have a guy that's a veteran that didn't know he was supposed to be on the field. That's unacceptable. So, to answer your question, you know, we got to coach better, we got to play better and we're going to look to regroup and do that on Monday."

On Northwestern's run game:

KELLY: "Trevor Siemian coming up with a couple big yards. We were concerned about covering them so we gave them some very good looks in the box and I thought they did a good job of taking advantage of it. We were supposed to be on the quarterback twice and our safety for some reason didn't pick up the quarterback on a couple of zone reads and then, you know, again, we were in a mixed call where we're supposed to be taking care of quarterback draw and we flush out of it. Just a lot of misses. No question. They took advantage of some of the looser box looks that we gave them. We were definitely trying to cover down and they took advantage of some of those opportunities and ran the ball effectively."

- On Nyles Morgan's performance:

KELLY: "I didn't like the 15-yard penalty. That stands outs. Probably played a little bit better today than did he in the first week. I'll have to watch the film. But, you know, again, I think it's a process. I thought he was a little bit more comfortable out there today, no question."

- On if the mistakes during the game show themselves during the week:

KELLY: "No. I mean Cam McDaniel doesn't fumble the football, especially when we're closing out games. Everett on his own read play, you know, we thought we were in a good position with him with zone read that we could run it with him this week. As you saw, he got some good looks on it so we went back to it. We put the ball on the ground, you know. So, some of it is we felt comfortable that we could run zone read and you know what, we put the ball on the ground. I think I have to think about whether that's poor coaching, right, putting somebody in a position where he can't do it but when you have a guy like that that can run, how can you not run zone read with him? I really have to do more thinking about those kinds of situations."

- On Will Fuller's performance:

KELLY: "I wanted him to be the guy that makes the big play. He obviously made a huge catch in the end zone when we were kind of mucking it around there. We needed somebody to step up and make a big play and he went up in traffic and made a huge play for us. So I wanted him to practice better, which he did, and take his craft to the next level. I think he's done that."

- On the advantages of going up 13 as opposed to 12 in regards to two-point conversion attempt:

KELLY: "In retrospect, there's no advantage in retrospect. We felt at the time with the struggles in the kicking game that we would have a good opportunity in the two-point play that we picked and we felt very confident that we would be successful. If it pans out the way it does, no, there's very little that I can use percentage-wise that it's a higher percentage (play)."


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