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September 21, 2016

Brian Kelly

Greensboro, North Carolina

COACH KELLY: Obviously playing a well-coached football team in Duke. Very aggressive defense. Think the freshman quarterback is doing a great job this year, coming in, very similar to what we had with Kizer with their offense. A team that's gone to four consecutive bowl games.

For us an opportunity to get back on the field after a disappointing loss to Michigan State where we've got to play better for four quarters and play much more consistent.

But it will be a great challenge. Certainly the next three weeks will be our run in the ACC with Duke, Syracuse and North Carolina State. Certainly looking forward to that.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Kelly.

Q. The issues that have come up with your defense so far this season, are those things that you privately in August had concerns about or things that popped up when the season began?
COACH KELLY: Well, there were a couple of factors. One, we dismissed a four-year starter at safety before the season started after we had finished camp. Then we lost arguably our best defensive back in Shaun Crawford to an Achilles tendon injury against Nevada. Those are significant losses for us. So we've had to regroup in the back end of the defense a little bit.

But overall, from us, we play well in spurts. You don't know that. I mean, you look at the collection of the guys that you have, and you feel like you've got some pretty good players. Our problem is we're just not playing consistently play in and play out. We play well for a quarter or two quarters. We just haven't put that complete game together.

I'm confident we can. You never go into the season going, I think this group is going to be inconsistent. You go into the season thinking, Wow, we've got some good players here, we should be a pretty good defense.

Q. I know it was before your time. Coach Cutcliffe was at Notre Dame five months before his heart attack. I wonder if you and he have crossed paths very much over the years, how well you know each other.
COACH KELLY: We haven't. We've gotten a chance to see each other at the AFC conventions when the head coaches get together. Other than that, I don't attend the ACC meetings, so I don't get a chance to spend any time with him during those opportunities.

Of course, our paths haven't crossed because of being head coaches, it's so difficult, unless you have somebody on your staff, it makes it difficult to obviously carve out that time together.

Just have a great deal of respect for him, what he's accomplished. In his short time here, he left a very positive impression on who he is as a person and as a coach.

Q. You went into the season with a two quarterback system, very quickly moved to DeShone Kizer as the main guy. Can you talk about that decision and how that worked out.
COACH KELLY: Well, DeShone played very well against Texas. I thought his efficiency and the way he moved our football team, the five touchdowns in a very short period of time, kind of broke a tie between two really good quarterbacks.

It was really difficult to make a choice between two really good players in camp when it's hard to really evaluate them unless it's a live situation. Just the way he played in the Texas game, the way he led our offense, how our football team was able to rally and go ahead late in the game. We decided it was in our best interest to go with one quarterback because of his play.

Q. Looking at the Duke offense, it's pretty young. They haven't been able to run the ball this year, but they've effectively thrown it. Is that anything you can attack, the fact that their running game has not been very good? Does it allow you to do anything against the passing game, which they have done effectively?
COACH KELLY: Well, I know Coach Cutcliffe feels the same way. Everybody's looking for balance. If you can't be balanced, it makes it harder to put points on the board.

You can move the ball up and down the field by throwing the football. They've done a great job of throwing the football, make no mistake about it. But I think at the end of the day when you're talking about putting points on the board, you're talking about balance. I think that's what they're still striving to find in their offense, the ability to gain the balance.

Q. Off the subject, but in at least three games last week, guys dropped the football going in for uncontested touchdowns before they got to the goal line. Where does that come from? Is that something you have to coach to avoid? Why are guys doing that?
COACH KELLY: Inexplicable to me why somebody would not cross the goal line. I can't get my arms around it either.

What we're dealing with with our team is that focus and concentration for four quarters. I'd have to be a sociology professor to delve into this.

They got to think about their team and stop thinking about anything else but handing that ball to the official. I don't think you could ask any head coach in the country and they could give you a good explanation. I guess that's my answer.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.

COACH KELLY: Thanks, I appreciate it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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