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November 19, 2016

Brian Kelly

South Bend, Indiana

Virginia Tech - 34, Notre Dame - 31

COACH KELLY: Questions. Get going here.

Q. Brian, on the final play with Malik, did you want him throwing into the end zone? Spiking it?
COACH KELLY: No. We had a play that was called. Just wasn't aware of the situation as well. Obviously didn't coach it well enough.

Q. When you decided to punt late in the fourth quarter, was it a tough decision? No decision?
COACH KELLY: Ended up being the right decision in this situation. We were backed up so much we were giving up points if we didn't. We don't want to give up points away. We would've gave up points if we didn't punt the ball there.

Q. With Kizer, the first time he got hit in the head did you have to run him through concussion protocol? What's his status at this point?
COACH KELLY: He's clear. Just talked to our medical personnel. I don't know. That doesn't fall under my purview. We have a medical spotter and observer as well as a medical team that observes anything relative to concussions.

I mean, we're talking about protecting the quarterback. I've been on the wrong end of that play now this year at Syracuse and here against Virginia Tech. That was clearly a quarterback that gave himself up and then was hit.

So we're either going to protect the quarterback or we're not. So I don't quite understand what the rule is, because it's being officiated clearly differently.

But going back to your question, we have a medical team that evaluates all that.

Q. Just to be clear: after the second hit that took him out of the game, he's fine in the locker room?
COACH KELLY: Yes, he's fine. He's clear. He has no symptoms.

Q. You had 299 yards total offense first half; 118 second half, and 67 came on one run. In layman's terms, what did Bud Foster's defense do in the second half to take your effectiveness away?
COACH KELLY: I mean, I couldn't tell you until I watch the film specifically. We missed some -- we had some balls that were catchable that we didn't catch.

You know, I just don't think we executed quite as well offensively. I would have to really watch it specifically to tell you. I thought we weren't as sharp in the second half as we were in the first half.

Q. When you strung several three-and-outs back to back, when that's happening, and I know you have three people making decisions or contributing to the decision making, do you take over a little bit more in that situation? Just kind of throwing ideas how to spark something?
COACH KELLY: You know, too many cooks at that point really creates problems. So I'm trying the best I can to offer some solutions, but you really have to trust in the play calling. And the execution, quite frankly is part of that.

So play calling, execution. We had some opportunities we didn't convert. You know, really a tale of two paths. You're right. Obviously offensively we got it going very well in the first half; in the second half we weren't as sharp.

Again, I need to kind of watch the film to find out exactly what that was.

Q. Coach, didn't seem like there was much of a pass rush. Was it the fact he was getting the ball off fast or...
COACH KELLY: I think when he had, you know, down-the-field routes, we were forcing the ball. We were giving him some pressure.

When he got into his five wides the ball was coming up too quick. We weren't going to be able to get to him. It was catch and release.

You know, then there were some matchups which we didn't quite like. The fullback, when he's in the game, you know, you have to be careful with your personnel. You can't take out and go -- so you get some favorable matchups, and they were able to exploit that a couple times.

So, again, in answering your question, they have some personnel matchups that make it difficult sometimes to get the right guys on the field.

Q. DeShone obviously wasn't as accurate. First half I think I think he was 3 of 18; second half I think 3 of 15. Was he doing anything or was it the defense?
COACH KELLY: You know, I think there was a little bit of both. I mean, we had some opportunities that we missed in terms of throws. We had some opportunities that we missed in terms of throws. We had some catches that we didn't make.

I don't know that there is one thing. When I caution you about watching the film, I think there are a lot of different things. I don't think it's just one thing. Maybe a couple protection issues. Couple routes that weren't run properly.

I think maybe couple things that we could have done better in terms of play calls. A little bit of everything. I don't think there was one specific thing I can put my finger on.

Q. (Regarding call. )

Q. Thoughts on that?
COACH KELLY: You know, I mean, listen, Virginia Tech won the game. It's not one play. We teach that. I told them that he did exactly what we asked him to do. That's force the defender up the sideline. So he executed the technique that I've been told over and over again when we have officials that come to you are practices and tell us that that technique is acceptable.

It was not an acceptable technique tonight.

Q. You've bounced back from difficult losses before in terms of effort. Is this one any more difficult to come back from just with Senior Day? You see players on the field, tears coming down.
COACH KELLY: These kids are wonderful kids. I mean, I'm at loss for words really as to what to tell them, you know. It's just been a difficult year.

They work so hard. They play so hard. They have been ahead in so many of these games and been so close in the four quarter. Unfortunately, it's just one of those years where -- I haven't had one like this in my 25, 26 years of being a head coach, where it hasn't gone their way.

It's not just one thing. It's a jump off side here. It's I have the quarterback -- I didn't pick up the quarterback in zone read. You know, it's just a little bit of everything unfortunately.

Q. Do you wonder if this team will have it next week, that they can withstand this after the rest of the season?
COACH KELLY: I have no doubts that they will have the effort, the intensity, all those things necessary.

But they're going to have to battle again late in the game and find a way to win the football game. We have not been able to shake the little things that keep cropping up.

Now, it would be nice if we could figure out how to protect the quarterback with officiating and things of that nature. That would help us out a little bit, too.

Q. Kind of a follow up. This is Game 11. Just like déjà vu all over. 24-7 lead, have all the momentum going your way and it's just like the balloon pops. Never been through this before. Can you try to put it into words?
COACH KELLY: I just love our kids. I love the way they battle. You know, we're going to wake up from this nightmare and we're going to be 11-0 I think. Maybe not. I just don't -- they work hard. They did everything I wanted them to do. There are some things we're going to have to do in the off-season to address it.

There are a lot of inexperienced players that are going to benefit from this. I'm not benefitting at all being in front of you losing this football game. It's not helping me any. It's going to help those guys that have gone through it.

So we'll bank on that.

Q. Just quickly, you mentioned how you need to get the officiating right on DeShone. Because he's a bigger quarterback and also a mobile guy, do you feel that the refs kind of officiate him differently than they would a smaller guy or pocket passer?
COACH KELLY: I'm going to ask them to go see Roger Goodell. That may be the way to do it. Maybe he could do something about it.

I think Cam Newton feels the same way in the NFL. It's just not right. We're either going to protect the quarterback or we're not going to protect the quarterback. I've had this go against me, the same exact play. We lost a kid for the game.

Just have to figure out what they want to do with this. The supervisor of officials has got to make a clear edict as to how they want this officiated. He clearly has not made it clear enough how this is going to go.

So that's all I'm going to say on it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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