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September 24, 2014

Brian Kelly

COACH KELLY:  Obviously we very much appreciate the opportunity to be part of this ACC conference.  The challenges that we'll have each and every week playing in such a great conference, Syracuse is going to be another challenge for us, coming off a great offensive performance led by Terrel Hunt.  Coach Shafer has done a great job of bringing this program along in a short period of time.  For us it's going to be a battle.
Playing at MetLife Stadium on national television will get everybody's attention, and looking forward to a great college football game.
We know what's in front of us as we play in an ACC conference.  From top to bottom, you're going to have to be ready to play each and every week.  Excited about it.  Excited about our relationship with the ACC.  Really ready to get going.

Q.  What are some of the biggest challenges that you believe you'll have with Syracuse from what you've seen on film?
COACH KELLY:  I think any team that runs the ball effectively and as efficiently as they have, you have time of possession, field position, those things obviously play a huge role in the outcome of football games.  It certainly didn't this past week.  But it's really an anomaly for somebody to really control statistically the game and not win it.  I think that's the first challenge.
Then defensively Coach Shafer does a great job, along with Coach Bullough of bringing pressure and taking the football away.  Their scheme obviously, Hunt, the quarterback, then defensively the pressures they bring you, you have to stay out of third down or you're going to have your hands full.  I think those two things pose a great challenge.

Q.  As far as Terrel Hunt, what can you say about his talent and how your defense needs to prepare for him?
COACH KELLY:¬† Anytime you're facing a quarterback, it's difficult because of the scheme.¬† When the quarterback runs the football, you have to commit an extra player in there and that creates great opportunities for play‑action pass and one‑on‑one throws.¬† That's the bind you put our defense in, when you have a dual‑threat quarterback.¬† Terrel gives you that concern when he steps onto the field.¬† Not only do you have to defend him as a runner, his size makes it a big concern.¬† He's obviously going to get some great one‑on‑one opportunities, as well.

Q.  Is this team better than you thought it was going to be in any certain area, your own team?
COACH KELLY:  We knew that this was a year where we had some young, athletic players going in.  I think what we've been able to do, I don't know if 'surprised' would be the word, but one where we're pleased, is that we have taken care of the football.  Our turnover/take away is outstanding.  That is a huge predictor in success.
With a young, athletic football team, which we knew we had, we knew we had to play mistake‑free to be successful.¬† We've done that very well.¬† We have taken care of the football.¬† We've taken away the football.
If there's one area with a young, athletic football team that you hope and you would be pleased early on in your first three games, it would be that turnover/take away that stands out to me.

Q.  Is there one area that you're still kind of seeking a little more consistency on three games in?
COACH KELLY:  I think from a defensive standpoint, very thin in the back end of our defense, the safety play is one where we're still evolving there.  I think from an offensive line standpoint, there’s still room for growth.  We think we've got some good players there, but development and growth on the offensive line and at safety.

Q.  Coach, two years ago you found plenty of success against some of the current ACC teams with Everett under center.  How has he grown as a player and how are you a different team when he's playing well?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, I think knowledge of the offense.¬† We really kept it very simple for him and played to the strength of our defense two years ago.¬† We really tried to find ways not to put him in difficult situations offensively.¬† We controlled the game by running the football, play‑action shots down the field, punting the football.¬† That was probably the extent of our offense.¬† Playing to the strength of a very good defense.
This year we've got to score points.¬† So Everett now has to be a play‑maker for us.¬† We didn't ask him to be a play‑maker really two years ago.
So maturity, understanding of the offense, and really putting him in that role of being the play‑maker is the difference from two years ago.

Q.  Talk about playing a game around the NewYork City area.
COACH KELLY:  We love being back in New York.  It's such a great area.  We have so many subway alums.  Our brand is very strong in the New York area.  We were there for the Pinstripe Bowl, well received.  First time a college game had been played in the New York Yankee Stadium when we played Army there.  It's always been a great area for us.  We have a great following there.
Certainly it's a home game for Syracuse.  We respect that they'll have a great crowd there.  But we think we'll have a lot of Notre Dame fans there.
We relish the opportunity to be back on the East Coast and in New York, to play in MetLife Stadium, it's a great atmosphere for these kids to play in.  To play in a nationally televised game, it just adds to the excitement.

Q.  You've been off for a week.  What have you been working on?
COACH KELLY:  The first thing is when you look at a bye week this early in the season, sometimes you don't want to lose momentum in your season.  For us, we needed to get some guys healthy, number one.
Number two, we needed to look internally at some things we were doing with our offensive line.
Finally, we really early on, it was an opportunity for us here at Notre Dame to really make sure we're on top of things academically.
Those are the three things we try to focus on.  We practiced for a couple days, gave our kids an opportunity to really focus on their schoolwork, too.  We try to hit all those three things over the bye week.

Q.  The fact that Notre Dame is affiliated with the ACC, not a member, I wonder if it impacts your recruiting at all?  Do you change at all to take advantage of the relationship with the ACC?
COACH KELLY:  We think so.  I think from my perspective, one of the things when Jack Swarbrick was looking for the right fit for the athletic department, our football program, the ACC gave us a footprint from a recruiting standpoint which was extremely appealing to us.
Now, we still have a strong recruiting alliance on the West Coast, certainly the Midwest is one that we'll always recruit.  We really were excited about opening up a foothold or at least an opportunity to recruit in the Carolinas and recruit that East Coast seaboard from areas where we've been before, but adding Virginia, the Carolinas, all the way down to Florida, which for us, we thought it was a great opportunity.
We think that the recruiting footprint for the ACC was the best situation for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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