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October 8, 2014

Brian Kelly

BRIAN KELLY:  Well, we're coming off an exciting last‑minute victory against a very good Stanford team.  We employed the 24‑hour rule, enjoyed it for 24 hours, and then got back to work on a very athletic team in North Carolina.
We have a lot of respect for Larry Fedora and the work he's done.  I've followed his career as he's ascended through the ranks at Southern Mississippi and know the kind of offense that he runs.  We've been busy preparing for their fast‑tempoed offense and aggressive defensive style.  I think it starts with our ability to play in space.  It's a race for space on offense, and obviously from a defensive standpoint, one thing that concerns you is that they take the ball away.
As I said, coming off of a win against Stanford, it was important that we got right back to work against a very athletic and young, aggressive team in North Carolina.

Q.  Any update on the five suspended guys in the last 24 hours?
BRIAN KELLY:  No, there has been no change in the status.  My practice roster is still the same, same players out there, so no change as I sit here on this teleconference.

Q.  What are some of the challenges for your defense facing an offense that switches quarterbacks so often the way UNC does?
BRIAN KELLY:  Well, their system is really the same, whether it's Marquise or Mitch.  They're running the same offense.  The tempo I think is probably the biggest thing, and obviously substitution, it's hard to get your different sub groups into the game.  That's really the biggest challenge, more so than the two quarterbacks.  They're both very good quarterbacks.  Marquise obviously is a better runner, and obviously a threat that you have to be aware of.  I think Virginia Tech found that out.
But I think it's more about the tempo and the inability to get your personnel on the field.

Q.  You have obviously a lot of new players on defense.  Are you particularly surprised with the rush defense and how well they've played in the first five games?
BRIAN KELLY:  Well, you know, I think surprised isn't a word that we use too much in coaching.  I think we had hopes that we would develop in time.  I think we've developed a little bit quicker.  I think that some of our young players have really stepped up and played very good defense early on.  I think Jarron Jones, Isaac Rochell, Andrew Trumbetti, those guys, young players, have played at a high level earlier than maybe we would have imagined.  But we felt like we were capable.  I think they have really played well early on, and I think that's really been key for us defensively.

Q.  Everett Golson, obviously 13 touchdowns, three interceptions, he's thrown interceptions in the last two games.  What have you seen from him and with some of these mistakes that have come more recently, how is he kind of making up for that or trying to better those mistakes that he's making now that he didn't make in the past?
BRIAN KELLY:  I think they're more experiential mistakes than they are being less focused or sloppy or not tuned in.  When I say experiential, I mean he doesn't have a whole lot of starts.  He's really, truly a sophomore quarterback out there in terms of two years of playing.
For example, this was his first two‑minute drive that he had last week.  He's experienced some new things, throw the ball away in the red zone, settle for three.  Those are some of the things that he's experiencing for the first time, and I think that what I've seen is every time he's had a new opportunity, he's come back to practice wanting to get better at it.

Q.  And then as far as the North Carolina secondary, what can you say about them going into this game, and how much you've studied them and assessed the situation with whatever Golson is going to be seeing from them?  I know you talked about Larry and what he's done with that team.  What can you say about the secondary?
BRIAN KELLY:  Well, opportunistic.  You've got some really good athletes back there.  Scott and Walker in particular are guys that concern you.  I mean, Walker has got three interceptions.  They do some really good things with him, put him in a position where he can rob some throws.
I think by and large, this is a very athletic football team on the defensive side of the ball.  I think that there's been some times where, from a coverage standpoint, that they have cut some people loose, but if they put it all together, this is an athletic football team.  It could be one of the more athletic defenses that we have seen.  But again, it's like anything else; there has to be an attention to detail, and I think they would probably say there have been times where they would say that the attention to detail hasn't been there.  But we respect the fact that those four guys back there are really good athletes, extremely athletic and can match up with you, and they like to play some man‑to‑man coverage and they're not afraid to get in you and get on you, and we're going to have to do a good job of beating some one‑on‑one coverage.

Q.  I just wonder about the mentality.  You're coming off a huge win against a ranked team.  Next week you go to Florida State against the No.1 team.  Is it difficult or dangerous this week for a talented team that doesn't have the great record, isn't ranked?
BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, it is, and we face this quite a bit at Notre Dame where our schedule is such that we have to address this every year before we get into the season.  If you're just trying to address it from week to week, you probably can run into some major problems relative to your schedule and your opponent.  We have a great deal of respect for all of our opponents because they're going to play great football coming in here to Notre Dame, and we know that by virtue of the teams that we've played over the past five years.
These are conversations that we have prior to the season in the sense that you can't play up to your competition.  I mean, you really have to focus on your preparation from week to week.  That's just something that we lay down as a foundation coming into the season so we don't have to worry about how we're going to respond from week to week because we get these situations quite regularly.

Q.  How important are team leaders in terms of avoiding the ups and downs based on who you're playing?
BRIAN KELLY:  Well, having experienced players that have been through this before just two years ago, we were undefeated, so having guys on your roster that have been through this before in similar situations obviously is key.  But I think we've got a good mix of those leaders and then a good mix of young guys that really just don't know and just go play.  I think we've got a healthy mix on our football team of guys that have been through it and understand how important it is to prepare from week to week and then a bunch of young guys who just want to go play football.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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