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October 4, 2014

Brian Kelly


COACH BRIAN KELLY:  Well, great football game.  Just proud of the way our guys continued to battle and found a way to win right at the very end.
We knew it was going to be this kind of back‑and‑forth game.  Certainly felt like we had some missed opportunities in the first half with some turnovers.  Felt like 7‑7 at the half could have been a lot different if we had taken care of the football.
Had some misqueues in the special teams.  But overall, you know, we did some pretty good things against, again, a very good football team.
You know, had a running game that allowed us to throw the football and a defense that limited their running game significantly.  So again a lot of positives to take from this game, especially winning the game late and finding a way when Everett certainly is a guy that never quits, just keeps playing and made a great throw in the corner of the end zone to win the football game.
So just a great win for Notre Dame, and let our kids enjoy it and we'll knit pick on all the other things we've got to get better at later.  But we're just going to enjoy the victory.

Q.  Take us through the last play of the call, how you felt that shook out?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  We got five out.  So if you bring pressure, we're going to have to get the ball out of our hands quickly.  They had shown that they were going to play zone down there.  It's a difficult route to defend, if we can get all five out.
We got all five of them out, flooded the zone.  Everett was just patient enough to get the ball out and make a big play.

Q.  During the week you felt like your offense was ready to deliver and play winning football against a top defense.  How significant is that you won the game on offense against the No. 1 ranked defense in the country?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, and I don't think we played our best.  I think we've got to play better.
But here's the one thing:  We did a really good job in the last drive of picking up some stunts and blitzes with our offensive line.  I was really pleased with that.
And we started to come together on our combinations and our run game, which is very, very important.  So we're getting there, because we saw the kind of defense that we're playing.  We're consistently playing at a high level.
We've got to get our offense there.  We're getting closer.  We left a lot of points out there tonight against a very good defense.  I think we're getting closer.

Q.  Sticking with the running game you mentioned was it something that you knew going in no matter what to keep them off balance?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  You have to.  You have to.  If you just abandon the running game, they're going to drop eight.  They're going to double out.  You got no chance.
So we have to keep their backers in the box.  We had to have a semblance, and I thought we did a pretty good job of being patient and hanging in there.
And obviously there were some mistakes made but we're getting better at some of the combination blockings we've been trying to get to with the new combination on the offensive line and tonight was a big step for us.

Q.  And he's not on the stat sheet, but Sheldon Day, the effort by the rush defense, seems every week to be the most consistent player?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  No question, he's separated himself as somebody that's one of the best in the country for us.

Q.  Can you talk about Jaylon Smith stepping up today and also your defense?  I don't think there's a whole lot of Notre Dame teams that have gone five games into the season allowing 17 points or less.
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, it's, first of all, we're getting great play from the front seven.  Joe Schmidt, Jaylon, James Onwualu.  I think if you look at the front seven, I think that's where you start.  And then we're getting aggressive cornerback play.  Two interceptions from Cole Luke.  We're playing without KeiVarae Russell who arguably was our best corner.
We're doing it with guys that are just stepping up and being aggressive on the outside.  We talked about the need to clamp down on the perimeter, if you're going to play great defense you have to clamp down.  I think that's where we've really made significant improvement over the course of the year.  We're really starting to clamp down on the outside.

Q.  David Shaw thought weather played a lot of havoc with the quarterbacks.  How about with special teams and the whole hold/snap field goal?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  For us it was the snapping was a little bit‑‑ I mean, we were‑‑ clearly the conditions played a role in it, to answer your question.
We've got to catch the snap.  We've got to understand that we've got to pace that ball back there a little bit.  But we found a revolutionary idea that will probably be now the biggest thing in college football.  We're going to put gloves on the holder and that seemed to be the way to accomplish greatness in this game.  Unbelievable.  I've been in this thing for 25 years and we're coming up with new things every day.
I said how about we try gloves on the holder, has anybody figured that one out?  They thought‑‑ we'll get into it later.  But special teams definitely we needed obviously to use the pooch kick.  We did that on the kickoff when we're kicking into the wind.
But other than that, I thought Kyle Brindza punted when we were backed up, he came through with a great punt.  So I thought we managed other than the two dropped snaps, I thought we managed the special teams very well.  We got our first blocked punt since 2010.  I thought we did pretty good things in special teams.  It gave us a chance to win today.

Q.  When you got the ball the last time, I mean, how did you feel about Everett's mental toughness and where do you think that comes from?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  You know, he's a winner.  I mean, I don't know what his numbers are, but he's like‑‑ what is he 15 and‑‑ 15 and 1 as a starter.  And I don't know how many games he lost in high school but he didn't lose many in high school either.  So the kid's a winner and he keeps competing and he keeps playing.
And he has a bunch of winners around him.  So you never feel like you're out of it.  You just keep playing and keep giving it a shot, throwing the ball down the field.  I thought we did a really good job protecting.  I think that was really key for us in that last drive.  They knew we were throwing it.  And they were bringing their stunts and three‑man games and we did a pretty good job.

Q.  Two years ago, continuing on this thread, this is the type of game where Everett probably would have come out and put Tommy in.  Now you don't have Tommy but what difference have you seen in Everett in this exact situation?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  He's better.  There's no question.  It's the maturity and the development and he's the guy that's gotta do it.  We're not going to the bullpen.  Tommy Rees is not coming in.  He is our guy and he's got to come through.  When he gets in this situation, I think he's going to be even better than he was today.
I think he missed a couple of throws on that drive and he knows it.  He's going to be even better.  This was really his first‑‑ this is his first two‑minute drive, if you really look at it.  This was truly his first one.
And I think he's going to be better for it.

Q.  Going into this one, did you see a bit more of innate confidence because there was nobody behind him that he knew it had to be him?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  No, not necessarily.  This whole thing is his.  Right?  So there's nobody to turn to.  The whole game's his.  And obviously he was disappointed with the turnovers.  But he knew that he's got to come back and he can't let that affect him.  He's got to keep playing.

Q.  Aside from the revolutionary gloves did you say anything to Hunter going back out there for the third time?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  We had a conversation before he went out the third time.  And just said, you know, I didn't want to put Newsome out there and burn up his redshirt.  That's the last thing I wanted to do, really, in that situation and not know whether we were going to whip that thing through his hands, too, then I'm standing in front of you guys and it's not going to be pretty.
So we said let's try the gloves.  And we had him work on the sideline with them a little bit.  He was taking snaps.  And he's a pretty mature kid, you know?  And I looked at him and he didn't look like he was in the tank, if you know what I mean.  You know what I mean?
It seemed like he obviously was disappointed, but I didn't sense like, if I throw him out there, he's going to miss another one, to answer your question.

Q.  I know you say you don't get too wrapped up in the rankings, but there were some people around the country questioning the legitimacy of you guys being a top 10 team.  How big of a statement do you think it was for you guys today?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  I don't know.  I don't think we beat a top 10 team did we?  They'll come up with something next week, which is fine, you know.

Q.  You've been doing this for so long.  When you have a team that's this young, to have a win like this, 3‑point win right down to the last second, what does this do for the mentality of the team going forward, in terms of believing that they can pull this off?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  You know, I think they take their cue from me and the coaches and we all believe in them and there's nobody walking around feeling like we can't win every game we play.  It's going to be hard.  And we said this.
We're not perfect.  We've turned the ball over again today and we have a jump ball and two man where we should be picking the ball off.  That's ridiculous.  I mean, but that's who we are.  We're a little inexperienced in those things.
But we have great belief in our kids and they believe in us and we believe in them and we're going to go play every game and with the thought that we can win every game we play.

Q.  I don't know if breakthrough would be the right word but how would you describe the reaction for Ben Koyack to have that big play there at the end there.
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  It was huge.  It was huge.  We were struggling with some of his blocking assignments.  He's so central and critical to what we're doing in our read zone option stuff.
And he had a lot going on there today.  We made some mistakes.  And so it was great to see him get a big catch late.

Q.  Probably the last thing on your mind now but the last hearings were yesterday, did you hear anything in the last 24 hours about the five players?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  No, I did not.  I've talked to most of them.  I know they're over with, and we should know something next week.

Q.  Stanford's offense prides themselves on being so physical.  What does it mean for your defense, especially with so many young guys to match them and in some cases defeat them physically?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  We've developed our program.  We should be here in five years.  This is where you evaluate your program in five years where year one we got knocked around.  I mean, physically.  And so this is where you should be going into year five of your program where, even though you lose Tuitt and you loseNix and you lose Shembo and you lose Fox and Jackson, all these guys playing on NFL teams, you bring the next batch of guys in and they're physically able to compete with arguably one of the more physical teams in college football.  So that's where you want your program to be after five years.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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