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October 11, 2014

Brian Kelly

North Carolina – 43
Notre Dame– 50

COACH KELLY:  Lots of points, lots of penalties, lots of turnovers, lots of things to correct, but lots of resolve on Notre Dame's part.  Those kids keep playing.
Sometimes it's not perfect, but they know how to win.  So the one thing that's constant in that locker room is these guys know how to win football games.  We would like it to be a little bit cleaner, certainly, but, again, when you're dealing with an offense like North Carolina's, which we knew was going to be problematic for us.
We couldn't turn the football over and spot 'em 14 points.  You can't do that against anybody in the ACC, and any Power‑5 conference, you can just say here's 14 points and then go play from there.
But we managed to find a way, to battle back and get up on them.  Scored 14 consecutive points late in the game and get a win.
So there's many, many things that I could delve into, but I would say that the thing, the points up for me, is that our guys know how to win football games.  They found a way to win this one and that's the most satisfying.
With that I will open it up to questions.

Q.  Brian, I think you used the term it was going to be a "race for space."  Didn't they create even more space even than you had seen on tape?
COACH KELLY:  No, no, I was concerned.  This was not an ideal match‑up for us.  We just couldn't do what we did today and turn the football over and spot 'em points.
I felt like we were going to score points.  I felt like‑‑ and I made it pretty clear coming into the season that there were going to be some games that we needed to outscore some people, and I felt like on the schedule this was one of them.  We just spotted them some points.  I thought that was the difference.
Then they knew we were in a game once we gave them 14 points.

Q.  Obviously you have been emphasizing protecting the football with Everett, you've emphasized it now for a couple of weeks.  Where do you go now to get the point home?
COACH KELLY:  I think we will just continue to ask him to commit himself during the week.  I usually don't share a lot of what I say in the locker room outside of what they've produce for, you know, the general luncheons and things like that.  But when we talk about some specific things, one of the things I did mention to him is our kids really have to be on top of some of the fundamentals, and in particular tackling, today, was one thing that we're going to address this week, and ball security.  Those two things have to be better for us moving forward and that happens during the week of practice.

Q.  In the roughing‑the‑kicker call, did you see him get refused earlier in the game?
COACH KELLY:  Yes.  We had alerted the officials on what we thought were a couple of occasions of "overt" and made them aware of it.  Actually communicated to us that they had seen it as well, and if it happened again, they were prepared to make the call.

Q.  Tarean Folston today seemed to really just find the rhythm that he did last year late in the Navy game.  Obviously seems quite healed, and his performance in the fourth quarter seemed to carry the day.
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, and, again, that's what we're‑‑ as we work through the three‑running‑back situation, we got into a really good rhythm with him in there, tough yardage, breaking tackles, running through tackles, and that's what we've been asking the backs to do, is to run through tacklers.  They're physical, strong backs, and once we saw he was going to run in that kind of manner and demeanor, he was going to get more carries and he got the game ball today.

Q.  When you said North Carolina is a tough match‑up, similar to Florida State, which you got coming up?
COACH KELLY:  No, no.  Totally different animal.

Q.  Brian, any update on Austin, what happened to him?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, he had a dislocation, a shoulder dislocation.  So we'll get an MRI evaluated and see where we are once we get further medical diagnosis on him.

Q.  And Cody had, what was it, an ankle?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, he's fine.

Q.  Marquise had over 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing, what went wrong?
COACH KELLY:  What went wrong?

Q.  Defending him.
COACH KELLY:  Nothing went wrong, he's pretty good.  I think what went right with him is I think he's probably the guy that‑‑ if there was one guy in the game that probably took it over at times, it was him.
He's difficult to defend.  Great runner, threw the ball effectively, we couldn't tackle him.  We had him two or three times where we couldn't get him down, missed tackles.  Good player.

Q.  Coach, there was a time when Everett got hit after throwing a pass and got up pretty slow and Malik started throwing on the sidelines.  How close were you to going to Malik when the change of possession happened so quickly?
COACH KELLY:  We're always looking to see whether our quarterback is affected medically, and so we're immediately in communication with our medical staff, you know.  If he's at all not able to continue because of any kind of injury, we have to pull him.
That's not my call.  That's our medical team's.  So we're cognizant of that.  So Malik has to stay ready and be ready in case we have to put him in that situation.
He felt like he was fine, there was no issues, he was able to continue to play.  But Malik's keyed in on that, to be ready to go if he has to go in right away.

Q.  You talked about how this team might not have a No. 1 receiver.  Do you think Will Fuller has emerged into that spot or in the process of doing that?
COACH KELLY:  I think right now he's kind of emerging as that "big play" guy.  I think we're looking toward him a lot more.  But we have‑‑ we have other pieces that really complement him as well.  I don't think he can stand out there by himself, you know what I mean?  I don't think you could say that's just one guy, but he definitely possesses the skills that have put him in the position that he is right now.
But he needs complimentary receivers around him.  He can't take over the game by himself.

Q.  With Fulston last week, you mentioned his pass blocking, and today he got a big reception and the guy to go to in the fourth quarter on the ground.  What have you seen with him becoming a complete running back?
COACH KELLY:  We've always liked him.  He played really well today.  We love the kid.  We love all our guys.  Today he did what he was asked to do, we ask all of our backs to do.  They've got to block and catch the ball out of the backfield and run hard.
The one question that was posed that was the difference today in what we have been asking our backs to do is run through the darn tacklers.  They are physical backs.  And Farley did that today.  He ran through the tacklers.  He therefore got the bulk of the carries, not that the other guys didn't do that, but when he got the ball he was running through the tacklers and that's why he got the carries late there.

Q.  Does an athletic quarterback like Williams maybe help you guys, film‑wise, prepare for Jameis Winston next Saturday?
COACH KELLY:  Not really, because the offense is a totally different situation for us in terms of defending it.  And a lot of their offense, North Carolina's is predicated about him running the football.  We tackled poorly.  We executed poorly.  We got to coach better.  We just got to do a better job all the way around.

Q.  Brian, you said you can't give up 14 points right off the bat to a Power‑5 school.  That happened a year ago and the answer wasn't the same.  The easy answer is a more explosive offense.  But what is the difference that this team was able to come back from that?
COACH KELLY:  We scored more point.  We are better offensively.  We can score more points.  We have more weapons.  We have the ability to come back in those situations.
North Carolina is a good football team, but it's not Oklahoma.  I respect what they're doing at North Carolina.  They're going to be a really good team, but it's not Oklahoma.

Q.  The early turnovers, with Everett, how much do you think that tested his composure and how quickly do you think he sort of got it back together?
COACH KELLY:  It tested him, because I tested him a little bit.  I got in his face a little bit about the first interception.  He's above that interception.  That's a stick route that he's seen a million times.
But I thought he handled it well.  He bounced back and obviously put the ball on the ground again, which we weren't too thrilled about.  But he bounced back, threw the ball with authority and he was decisive, made some good decisions.  But he's learning.
I mean, he's getting through his progress a little bit.  I think some of the things that he did out there that helps me feel better about the day itself for him was the check down to the back.  That was his fourth read.  Early in the game, he stayed on his front side receivers and didn't get through his progress.
So there were some things there that I feel much better about that he did later in the game and got through his progressions.  So to answer your question, that whole game we saw a progression and process, and that's a good thing.  That could shut some quarterbacks down.  He took the adversity and got better as the game went on.

Q.  Your defense, this is the first time they've been on their heels all season.

Q.  What did you want them to take away from that and the initial response?
COACH KELLY:  Our experience is still there.  You know, we lost Collinsworth unfortunately early on, and we started him for a reason, because we knew we needed a great communicator back there.  So we were left back there with two guys that, you know, struggle sometimes communicating effectively.
Couple of occasions they were both spinning down on the same play.  When one is supposed to be spinning to the high hole, both of them were spinning down on several occasions.  So those are real issues that we have to continue to work on.
Communication is still there.  Some young guys, playing in space, Jaylon Smith trying to figure out where the hook and curl is when the formation flips so quickly that he doesn't know whether it's 3‑by‑1 or 2‑by‑2, and it's happening quickly.  The game is moving quickly for these guys.
When it's settled down a little bit and these guys can get their eyes on what the formation looks like, they're okay.  We got to get better at that.  But that's an inexperienced group that you saw out there today and they've got to get better.

Q.  You mentioned the tackling, the turnovers.  Do you feel with the young group, the confidence of this team is hurt at all going into a marquis match‑up next week?
COACH KELLY:  No.  Look, last week, and I told them, you're going to have some of these games.  You shake it off.  You go back to practice, they've done some great things this year.  They will be ready to play their very best against Florida State.
But the nice part about it is we got great film and great teaching off of another win, that's the best thing about it.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, Coach. 

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