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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 10, 2016
South Bend, Indiana
Notre Dame - 39, Nevada - 10
COACH KELLY: I'll begin with just I'm really proud of the way our team had a will to prepare this week. Getting in at 5 a.m. on Monday after a double overtime loss requires a group to bounce back on very short notice. We had to come back in on Monday and begin our preparation for Nevada.
You don't accidentally win football games. It's hard to win. Just look around college football today. A number of teams struggling to win. They're pedigree programs. Our kids put in the time, they put in the effort. It wasn't lucky that they won the game today. They prepared to win.
So our winning was the residual of real good preparation. They prepared. They earned the win today. You get what you deserve in college football. They deserved to win today.
Individually, some young players got a chance to go out there and compete. A number of different receivers went out and made some plays.
I thought we defensively tackled better, played the ball better in the air. We just made the kind of improvement that I was looking for from week one to week two.
Game ball went to C.J. Sanders. He continues to be very impressive in our special teams game, as well as some key catches for us, as well.
I think overall I'm pleased with, as I said to them, even after their loss, they got a great resolve. Their will is very strong. So it's a good group.
I think, finally, we felt like from an offensive standpoint it was important to continue to run the football. Back-to-back weeks rushing over 200 yards. That's important to us. We'll continue to emphasize that with a high-percentage completion, again, from DeShone. That's kind of who we'll be most of the year, high-percentage completions, move the ball around to a number of receivers. There is not one guy that is going to end up with a hundred catches. You're going to see a lot of guys touch the ball.
Again, Adams, Williams, Folston, a number of guys that can run the ball effectively, including the quarterback.
With that we'll open it up to questions.
Q. Brian, they challenged your defense early with that fourth and a little less than a yard. You responded there. Can you evaluate that moment and your defense's kind of push after that moment.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, again, I think they came out and ran some triple option, some wildcat, a little bit of everything. I knew going in that their offense was going to be difficult, they were going to get some yardage. They're very creative on the offensive side of the ball. It was going to require a lot of discipline.
We needed some confidence, too. That fourth-down stop was definitely a confidence builder for our defense. I think that really gave us some momentum going into the next couple of drives.
Q. TV said Shaun Crawford's injury was a torn Achilles. Is that correct? How do you move forward without him?
COACH KELLY: Like we did. Coleman goes to corner. Julian Love is at the nickel. You saw Donte Vaughn out there. Julian Love will have to play a little bit, too. It's the next man up.
I thought Nick did some really good things. He was on body. He fell down on that one opportunity they had a big pass completion in the third quarter. But Nick played with much better technique, a lot better confidence. He's got to be that kind of player for us now with Shaun now lost for the season.
Q. You were back to your base defense this week. How do you think your front seven played against Nevada?
COACH KELLY: Well, again, I think it comes down to our ability to stop the run effectively, our base defense. If we can get into our base defense, we feel pretty confident our front four is really good.
We were better in our safety support. We were better in our linebacker play across the board. We obviously got caught into some personnel mismatches against the tempo of Texas. We made some adjustments there and feel pretty good that we'll continue to make the progress necessary to be a good front seven.
Q. First quarter, a couple things got in your way. Second quarter you scored 25 points, got rolling. Was it making some corrections to what you weren't doing? Adjustments to kind of get flowing in the second quarter?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think we had a couple of missed opportunities offensively. But you're still trying to feel out an opponent, what they're doing offensively. We're making some adjustments. We missed a couple of opportunities I think offensively more so.
I knew defensively they were going to move the ball a little bit. The wind was a bit of a factor in terms of some of our throws that were left out there.
Again, I don't know that we were terribly concerned. We felt like we were going to make the appropriate adjustments necessary to move the ball.
Q. With Torii Hunter out, you started the game with guys who entered the season with two career catches. Was there a concerted effort to get the young guys, new guys going, get them involved?
COACH KELLY: No, we wanted to get them involved early. We felt like it was important to get Corey and Stepherson and those kids some touches early, get them some confidence. If they got some confidence, they'd make some plays for us. Obviously getting Stepherson the touchdown catch was a big catch for him, getting some confidence there.
But, no, there was a concerted effort to get them the football.
Now, obviously there's a lot of confidence in Equanimeious. I think DeShone starts to look for him in certain situations, as well.
Q. With him and C.J., can you speak to what you've seen from them? These are guys that didn't play a whole lot offensively. They seemed to look pretty comfortable out there. What has allowed them to adjust so quickly?
COACH KELLY: That's really what we work on. When those kids were leaving the program, we had the spring and the summer to really spend time at developing. We knew that they had to be the next guys in. We had a lot of confidence that we were going to be able to turn over a very, very good group.
But they needed obviously to work together. So they got a lot of work in the spring, a lot of work in the summer. They'll get better as the season goes. We recruited what we feel are good players that will continue to grow and develop together.
Q. Brian, DeShone's game, he can be high-percentage. 15 of 18 today. What does that say about the way his game has evolved, the way he sees the field a little bit more than he did last year?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think he was a little bit more patient in certain areas. He slides in the pocket well. Especially, I think you can see this more than anything else, in the red zone, where now he's had two touchdowns in the red zone where he's been really patient, hit his third and fourth option down there. I think that's showing itself to a higher completion percentage down there.
I think the other thing is he's taking what's available to him instead of trying to do too much. He was late on the throw to Stepherson on the pick. Like to have that one back. But other than that, I think what you're seeing from him really is taking what the defense gives you.
Q. Is it hard not to look at Josh Adams as a true number one back right now?
COACH KELLY: He's good. You can call him whatever you want. Number one, number 101. You know, it's one of those things where Folston had 10 carries, Adams had 10 carries, Williams had 10 carries. You can make the argument should he get 20. Folston is a pretty sharp guy, too. Dexter is explosive.
I think we'll keep it balanced in there. Adams looked good today.
Q. How quickly do you turn your attention to Michigan State?
COACH KELLY: We get 24 hours after we walk into this locker room. We'll be back at it as coaches a little bit sooner than 24 hours. The players get 24 hours. We'll get in tomorrow around 10 a.m. We'll finish up the film. By noontime we'll be thinking about the physicality of Michigan State and the rivalry that we have, know that that's going to be a great game.
Q. It almost seems a little unfair. They've only played one game against an FCS team. You guys have played two. How do you feel about that issue?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we know what they're going to do. We know what Mark's offense is about and what they do defensively. Even though there's only one game on film, we clearly know what their identity is.
Q. I know this was a rinse-and-wash game in terms of get through extenuating circumstances with a short week. How far is this team right now from being at that Michigan State level?
COACH KELLY: I don't know. I mean, here is what I know. We're going to get better each and every week. We're a younger football team in certain areas. But we've got enough guys that have played enough football that they know what it's like to play a Michigan State, too. It's not like we've got a bunch of guys that don't know what it's like to go up against a physical, Big Ten opponent like Michigan State.
But there's other guys that don't know what it is to get punched in the mouth by a big, physical team like Michigan State, too. So there's still growth that's going to happen with this football team as we evolve.
I like its will to prepare. I like its resiliency. Got a really good quarterback. It's always good to have one of those. I don't know if you guys know that. It's a good thing to have when you go into a game like Michigan State.
As long as we continue to evolve defensively and get better there, I think we got a fighting shot against anybody we play.
Q. Brian, you mentioned the short week, the solid week of preparation. For the defense, coming off the Texas game, Isaac said it wasn't really rocket science what they had to do differently from Sunday to today. What sort of did you see in their preparation this week that led to what we saw today?
COACH KELLY: Well, they were really sore. They were physically sore. There was a concerted effort on everybody's part, players, coaches, athletic training staff, nutritionists, strength and conditioning staff. This was a collaborative effort from everybody within the program to prepare the football team in a manner that we would still get enough work for Nevada but also make sure they had the ability to recuperate from a very physical game on a short week.
That's really what was the key to us being able to play and feel like we weren't lethargic or we weren't heavy-legged, couldn't get off to the kind of start, the half being up 25-0.
I credit our players and the way they handled themselves, took care of themselves. They had the will to prepare. That's why we were able to win today.
Q. What did Te'von bring to the Will position today?
COACH KELLY: I'll have to watch the film. Te'von, he's a young player that's still learning. I thought when Greer got in there, he played a lot more football than we thought he was going to play. It was good to see him in there. I thought he played physical. Not that he doesn't play physical, but he was a physical presence in there.
I liked the combination of Coney, Martini, Bilal, seeing more guys in the game. I think it makes us a better defense. I think moving forward you're going to see a combination of more guys instead of maybe just one or two guys in that rotation, other than maybe the middle linebacker in Nyles Morgan.
Q. Did you know that Jarron Jones had hands like that?
COACH KELLY: He came up to me, now he wants to play tight end. I knew it was going to happen immediately (laughter).
I didn't even listen to your question, once I heard 'Jarron Jones' and 'hands'.
Q. What do you think it means for him to get a play like that?
COACH KELLY: He really has pretty good instincts. What do they say in baseball? Don't throw weak stuff to a weak hitter. Don't throw a screen to a guy that's not pass-rushing.
Jarron, when we go against Jarron Jones, we do not run any screens. He sniffs out screens really well. He knows when a lineman is setting for a screen, is setting for a pass. He's got really good instincts. You do not want to mess with that guy with a middle screen. He just has a knack and a sense, like he does on blocking extra points. We never run screens when Jones is in. We never run our middle screen. He just has a really good sense for it.
Q. Easy win, but were you frustrated by the mental mistakes, two offensive pass interference calls, missed point?
COACH KELLY: I was a little more upset with Durham Smythe than C.J. Sanders because I had just gone over with him what I wanted him to do. We don't coach running into guys on those routes. He kind of ran into the defender. That's not what we do, that's not what we coach. I was a little miffed at him on the play.
Kareem's late hit was just an inexperienced kid. Those are frustrating. We worked through those.
I thought a couple of the penalties defensively were big gains for them, that they hadn't done much offensively, gave them some pretty good field position. I think a couple of those penalties were frustrating in that's not what we teach. We made it known to them that they got to clean that stuff up.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports