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November 14, 2015

Brian Kelly

South Bend, Indiana

Notre Dame - 28, Wake Forest - 7

BRIAN KELLY: Well, it's always great to get a win for your seniors in their last home game. They certainly have left a great legacy here at Notre Dame, you know, with 21 wins over I believe that's a four-year period. No senior class has ever won more games at home. A great legacy to leave here. Very proud of them. Very proud of what they've accomplished in their four years here, and certainly as a team very pleased with the win. I thought Wake Forest played very well today, and we're pleased with the outcome.

With that, we'll open it up to questions.

Q. Coming into the season, Romeo had in his entire career seven and a half tackles for loss. I think he's gotten up to nine in the last five games and also has eight sacks in the last five games. Can you talk about why his game has taken such a huge jump?
BRIAN KELLY: It's one of those things where he came onto campus as a 17-year-old that just really was a raw player, raw football player, and has, you know, grown in a very short period of time this year into the kind of football player that I think has, you know, a huge growth potential in front of him, as well. We're just seeing that maturation process kind of come together. Long, athletic, starting to really understand the game of football, and I think that's what we're seeing in front of us.

Q. Have you guys done anything over the last couple games to really put him in more of a play-making position or is it about him just finishing more plays off?
BRIAN KELLY: He's certainly in a position to affect the quarterback more in a pass rushing situation. But again, you know, we're much more of a four-down team, where he was a bit of a drop player, so I think that contributes a little bit. But I would tell you that it's much more about his skill development at that position that we're seeing come together.

Q. Can you just talk a little bit about Josh Adams' performance today in his first start?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, it was -- obviously the run was one of the highlight reel: Physical, explosive, sheds off a tackler. Obviously a big part of the game where we're backed up, and just a terrific run.

But he is a young man that, you know, runs tough, physical, between the tackles, and has size, strength and speed. He's got all those things, and he's only going to get better. It's nice to see a true freshman out there competing at that level.

Q. What happened with Cage, and can you talk about your defensive line shuffle and how you felt like that played out?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, we had to shuffle it around a little bit. You know, Cage was not feeling well from the Pittsburgh game, and you know, we really felt like it was best to keep him out this week. So we were moving some pieces around up front, and you know, I thought with 14 tackles for loss, we did some really, really good things, in particular the pressures that we got on the quarterback.

There's some run fits that weren't quite as efficient as they have been. We'll have to take a look at the film, whether it was -- I thought we were a little soft on some of our releases. But all in all, we had to move some players around to get the front the way we wanted it.

Q. When you say, "wasn't feeling well," you mean illness or an injury?
BRIAN KELLY: No, he had an injury. He had an injury.

Q. And then you didn't have a lot of offensive plays. They played keep-away pretty well.
BRIAN KELLY: They did a very good job.

Q. I wondered how you thought Kizer managed that situation in the game today.
BRIAN KELLY: I thought he did okay. The one thing that DeShone does is when the moment is big, he rises to it. We needed that drive in the fourth quarter. I thought he did a very, very good job of making the plays necessary in getting that 20th, 28th point on the board. He did a very good job. We saw a lot of different things today, a lot of different coverages, a lot of different variations. Wake Forest did a very good job using the bye week to really change things up and did a very good job, I thought. So I would credit them a lot in terms of what they did defensively, but I think it'll be a great learning experience for DeShone that he can take away and really build off of this game.

Q. What's the latest on CJ Prosise? Could he have played today? Would he have played today? What's the situation there?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah. You know, I think he could have. We were going to be prudent all the way through this. We weren't going to give out too much information. We were going to obviously try to give you as much as we could, but we weren't going to really push him in a position that we didn't think we needed to. But he worked out before the game, and he really felt good. But we weren't going to push it.

So yeah, we feel like we would have him for next week.

Q. The one part of the game that Wake did control a little bit was time of possession?
BRIAN KELLY: They did.

Q. A couple 3rd downs, defense couldn't necessarily get off the field. Is that something you want to see more balance of and clean up as you move forward?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I think Wake Forest did a very good job of controlling the football. There were a couple 3rd down situations -- one there was a 3rd and 12 where Shumate has got to play a little bit tighter man coverage. We gave up a couple of throws where we just have to be tighter in our man coverage situations.

But you know, we were pretty stingy in 4th down, so we made up for it in 4th down situations.

Q. What's the diagnosis with James Onwualu?
BRIAN KELLY: He's got an MCL sprain. We'll get an MRI tomorrow and then find out what the severity of the MCL sprain is.

Q. I know Equanimeous didn't play. Did you get any results from the MRI or find out what his status is moving forward?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, he had an MRI, and it's a definite shoulder sprain that's going to be significant in terms of time loss. I couldn't tell you exactly, but it's going to be significant.

Q. Did you get any explanation on that penalty that got taken back on the late hit?
BRIAN KELLY: I think he was safe, then he was out, then he was safe, then he was out. It's just unfortunate, and you know, I didn't get the explanation that I would want to share with anybody here.

Q. Red zone defense doesn't get talked about a lot, but talk about how important that was to the overall outcome today.
BRIAN KELLY: Well, I thought it was very important. Certainly they had a missed field goal and then a few opportunities. Certainly they were very aggressive in going for it on 4th down situations where maybe in other situations that you would see during the game maybe you don't. But some of their 4th downs were difficult. Other than the 4th and goal, they had some long 4th down situations to try to convert, as well.

But you know, a couple things happened in our favor. We got them behind the chains in those short areas, and then we played -- we were able to play some zone coverage behind and not be exposed. I thought we did some really good things in mixing some things up in terms of pressures and then not bringing pressures, so I thought Brian did a very good job of calling the game in that short field. That's really important, too. You have to call a good game. You have to be diversified down in the red zone, and I thought we were.

Q. Just doubling back on DeShone, with the possessions in between kind of the first one in the first quarter where it was kind of like 10 plays, 67, and then the one where you got 28, was there anything differently he maybe could have done just surface level picking out easier throws, or is this kind of a learning experience?
BRIAN KELLY: No, I wouldn't put too much on DeShone. We've got to put him in a better position. You know, we tried to get the ball outside. They changed up how they were defending some of our outside run plays, and then we had some -- we had a couple breakdowns in protections. You know, there was probably a play or two that we could critique him on, but by and large, he's on it. You know, I think he saw a lot of different variety of coverages and drops and things of that nature that I think he'll benefit from that he hasn't seen, but again, I would say that there were other things going on there from an offensive standpoint more so than DeShone not clicking or not playing well.

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