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September 6, 2014

Brian Kelly


THE MODERATOR:  We'll start with an opening statement from Coach Kelly.
BRIAN KELLY:  As you can imagine, we're pleased with the victory.  Obviously, shutting out any opponent in college football is an enormous task with offenses today.
A great performance by our defense.  Great performance by our coaches.  The preparation was outstanding.  And then we were opportunistic offensively.
I thought we had a plan that we capitalized on and really made the best of a very aggressive defense that Michigan has and were able to get some one‑on‑one matchups, and really had some guys step up for us today.  I was really pleased to see some individuals play extremely well.
But this is a team effort.  Special teams were solid.  The defense was outstanding.  Offensively, putting 31 points on the board, and again, second consecutive week without turnovers and as you know, in games like this, where the competition is really good, you take care of the football, you got a great chance to be successful.
So, again, really proud of the way 19 first‑year players went out in a very electric atmosphere and handled themselves in a manner that allowed them to beat Michigan in the manner that they did.  So with that, I'll open it up to questions.

Q.  Shumate and Redfield both seemed to have pretty good games.  When did you start to see the communication in their success turn in practice this week?
BRIAN KELLY:  They first of all, they knew that it was their time to step up and lead back there.  They were put in that position by virtue of an injury, and the circumstances, and they were not going to let their teammates down.  It's a very close group of guys.
That, in itself, motivates this group to do things that is really outside their comfort zone.  They're not great communicators as it is.  They're very quiet kids, but they did a nice job on Saturday.

Q.  For Everett, to do what he did without much of a running attack going, how impressive was that for him?
BRIAN KELLY:  It was good.  The way they decided to play the game, there was six, seven guys, it was just ‑‑ how they decided that they wanted to take those opportunities away from us, and we were gladly to oblige them and throw the football.
So, if somebody is going to play the game so one‑sided defensively, we're going to throw the football.  And we probably missed a number of opportunities that we would like to have back, but we think 31 points against Michigan is still not bad.

Q.  The cliche is, every opponent you want to beat them, but I know it's got to be pretty special to beat Michigan in what could be the last one.  What's the feeling after getting this win against such a big rival?
BRIAN KELLY:  Well, yeah, it feels great to beat Michigan.  It feels great that we're the first team in the history of Notre Dame football to shut out a Michigan team.
So, our kids can take that with them.  It's something that they're very proud of.  So, we clearly feel great about that.
But, we temper it by knowing that we got a long season ahead of us and it counts as one, it doesn't count as two.  If it counted as two, we would probably be a little bit happier, but it counts as one.
But there's no question, I would be lying if to tell you that it doesn't feel great to shut out Michigan 31‑0.

Q.  The feel that Everett has for the game now, as compared to two years ago.  How do you characterize just his understanding of situations and when to take shots?
BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, he's just really has a better sense and feel for the offense that we're running.  Clearly, has more of a spread attack to it.
I think it all started when he really got an opportunity to learn how to protect himself and protections really, for me, is the catapult for quarterbacks in their development.
I think once that clicked for him, now ‑‑ when you know you're protected, and you know your protections, your eyes now, you can get into progressions, and see routes, and see their development.  And I think that's really‑‑ when he felt comfortable there and protecting himself, that's when he's really started to grow and develop as a quarterback.

Q.  The accuracy, is that just the reps he's had over time, or is there something else that goes into him putting the ball in the right spots most of the time?
BRIAN KELLY:  I think that in our recruitment, one of the things for me, has always been a very accurate passer.  So, it was something that in the recruiting process for me is always at the top of the list.
Certainly, there are a number of other things relative to the position, but accuracy has to be part of it.  It's not just about a strong arm.  So, that was there.  And I think he's developed that, obviously, in his time here.
Then, I really think that the offense, and him really understanding the offense, helps in that accuracy, as well.

Q.  Two quick questions.  You guys seemed to really dominate the interior of the defensive line today.  Can you talk about how important that was to really keep Michigan off balance?
BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, I think it was the key to success today.  Our ability to really hold their running game in check allowed us ‑‑ now we had a little bit of a problem early on getting into third down.  They made a couple of plays, and we were in a bad defense one time.
But, once we were able to really get a hold of the run game and getting it to third down, we felt like we were going to be in pretty good shape, because we were able to do a lot of things to confuse what they were seeing.  They weren't getting the same looks.  I think that had a lot to do with our success.
So, stopping the running game and having a good control over the running game really set up a lot of things for us tonight.

Q.  Second question, you guys are in two weeks now 10‑10 in the red zone with eight touchdowns.  Can you talk about just how important that is to your team getting off to a pretty good start the first two games.
BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, I think we talked about this a lot.  We have to be better.  We have to score down there.  It's something that, for me as somebody involved in the offensive play calling, we spent a lot of time on it.
We have missed some opportunities that we would like back, but it's very important stat for us that when we cross the 40 yard line, we have got to be in a position that allows us to win games, and that's scoring touchdowns down there.

Q.  We have talked about the development of Everett.  Amir Carlisle, just his hands, several grabs using just his hands and in his routes and everything, can you speak to his improvement in that area?
BRIAN KELLY:  I was impressed with him tonight.  We have been‑‑ that's one area, the slot receiver position has been an area that has been a bit of a concern for me.
We finally got a guy that can matchup inside out.  And that inside out position puts him on safeties, linebackers, and we can do a lot of really good things there.
I thought he made some outstanding catches in traffic.  Held on to the football, toe tapped one on the sideline, showed a really good skill set at that position in particular.
So, I thought he was big today.  I thought this was a statement game for him.

Q.  Talk about how last year your field position was horrific.  Michigan actually had more total yards, but it seemed the field position you were constantly pinning them back?
BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, we had great starting field position.  I think our special teams had something to do with it.  Again, I don't know what the exact numbers were.  But, I think when we crunch the numbers, we're going to like our starting field position.
And I think our defense was able to pin them back a couple of times, and then our punt returns were solid again tonight.

Q.  This feels like a long time ago, but when this was still a one possession game, your offense burned through three timeouts pretty quickly.  What were the miscues that prompted those?
BRIAN KELLY:  We just were a little slow tempo‑wise.  I think the moment was a little big for us.  I will use those timeouts if I don't think I've got the right start to the game, because they really don't mean much to me in the first half.
I think I can manage the offense in the first half.  Now, they're very important in the second half.
But, I'm more interested in getting it right early on and getting off to a good start.  So, if I got to use a timeout and communicate with Everett, on some things, I was okay using them up.  Because we weren't moving in the right tempo, we were ‑‑ we just needed to polish up some things early on, and we cleared them up.  And then, I think after we used that third timeout, we got our tempo right.  We were able to pick things up a lot better and start to move the football.

Q.  I know you talked a lot about how great Everett's played.  Do you feel like through two games that‑‑
BRIAN KELLY:  Did I say he played great tonight?  I don't think I did, yet.

Q.  I know this is super early in the season, but do you feel like he's entered his name into the Heisman candidacy, or at least talks?
BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, let's put him up for it.  Sure.  Throw him in there.  I saw one list.  Somebody had him ‑‑ he wasn't even in the Top‑10 quarterbacks in the country.  So, you know, I think that it still is really early.  He's got a lot of, a lot more development to take place, he's getting better.  And we're two weeks into this thing.  So whatever list you got, throw him on.

Q.  What do you think says more about the type of team you'll be this season, the way you're defense dominated or the way Golson looked, as polished as he did?
BRIAN KELLY:  I think it's probably a bit cliche to say that we're driven by the quarterback position, because everybody says that the quarterback drives it.
But, this team is probably‑‑ its success is really in its youth.  There's young guys out there that are playing for this football team, and we have embraced that.
So, to answer your question, it's probably a little bit of both and that they just‑‑ it's a group of kids that has bonded really well together on both sides of the ball.
So, it's not really just one side.  It's not just the defense.  It's not just the offense.  When we won 12 games, it was definitely a defensive group that kind of led that.  This, they feed off of each other one both sides of the ball.

Q.  At one point in the second quarter, it was just 7‑0 and you decide to go for a fourth and three.  Did you feel you needed to seize the moment the way the game was going, or was it confidence on both sides of the ball at that point?
BRIAN KELLY:  I just liked the matchups we had on the outside.  We can't run the ball.  There's just so many guys in there.  They had seven guys standing down the line of scrimmage.
So, I liked our one‑on‑one matchups.  Everett throws the ball well on the outside.  We work that ‑‑ when you have a good play call on fourth down, I'm all for using it.  So, we used it.

Q.  You mentioned they were kind of loading the box a little bit.  You continued to try to run into it.  How important was that in sort of keeping a balance, and then ultimately, that was what opened things up for Everett?
BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, well we ran it over 30 times into some really difficult looks.
You have to‑‑ you got to keep pounding it in there.  We're on the goal line and there's nine guys on the line of scrimmage, and we found a way to get it into the end zone.
So, we'll continue to run it, even in a loaded box, because I think our backs are gifted enough that they can make some people miss in there.
But, we were able to hit some quick slants off some play action.  We were able to hit a Z climb a couple of times off of some play action.  So, we'll continue to run it even if the numbers are not there.  So, it's very important that we continue to run it.

Q.  And the defensive game plan tonight, is that, did you see something like this coming during the week?
BRIAN KELLY:  Oh, yeah, I mean, we obviously have a good idea of what we want to do, and we felt like, get this quarterback into third down and give him a lot of different looks.
We needed to get him to third down situations.  If we couldn't stop the run, it was going to be difficult to get him to the third down situation.  So this really was predicated on our ability to stop the run.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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