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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 9, 2017
South Bend, Indiana
Georgia - 20, Notre Dame - 19
COACH KELLY: Well, certainly, you know, disappointed for my guys. They battled. Played hard. Proud of their effort. I mean, they continue to do exactly what I ask them to do. The credit should go to Georgia today. They made the plays in critical times; when they needed the big plays, they came up with them.
In a one-point game, there's going to be a play or two that decides the game, and credit goes to Kirby Smart and the Georgia football team for making the critical plays when they were needed.
Nevertheless, I'm proud of my football team and the way they competed. They are going to learn from this game and they are going to grow from it, and they are going to be better because of it. Still, the loss hurts. It stings. But like I said, we'll grow from it and be better as a football team because of it.
Q. Did you feel like Georgia may be the quickest defense you've faced in a long time?
COACH KELLY: Quickness wasn't an issue for us today. You know, they were -- you know, I knew coming in, they had great depth, and you know, at times we struggled with controlling any kind of continuity with the line of scrimmage. They are physical up front.
You know, we felt like if we could get the ball into the second level and into the secondary, we could have some success but we didn't have at times the chance to do that.
Q. Was there any reason why Dexter Williams did not play on offense?
COACH KELLY: No. There's no particular reason other than coach's decision.
Q. Other than liking effort, what did you learn from your team in this game?
COACH KELLY: Well, they are a team that battles. I thought that, first of all, our defense, other than a couple of missed hits on plays, was, you know, the type of defense that can continue to go out there week-after-week and give you the kind of effort necessary to win football games.
You know, I think that we were able to, from an offensive standpoint -- you know, 19 points wasn't enough tonight. We put ourselves in some tough situations but I just liked their grit and resolve and going out there and competing for four quarters and having the chance to win a football game against a quality opponent in University of Georgia.
Q. Georgia's defense against you guys on first down, you're second and long pretty much all night. Was that just a matter of they are that talented, or they were doing something in particular that threw you off?
COACH KELLY: No, they deserve the credit for getting us in the second-and-long. You know, we're going through some -- you know, we're learning. Our quarterback is learning the tools of the trade. He's getting, you know, different looks and different reads. It was three down and they brought a lot of pressure. They didn't want to get him out on the edge. I thought he learned a lot tonight. This is a great game for him to grow from.
But they did a really good job up front. I mean, I've got to give them credit. They made it hard for us to establish a good rhythm offensively on first down and got us behind the chains. So I give them more of the credit.
Q. I know Brandon's been here for a long time, but hasn't played a lot. Just the inexperience tonight, did that sort of show itself; just a reality you had to deal with?
COACH KELLY: You know, again, I love the way he goes out there and competes, but there are things happening for the first time that he's getting a chance to grow with.
I'm glad he's on my team. We're living through a couple things here and there, but man, when it all comes together, these press conferences will be a little different.
Q. And just tackling for your defense, how did you feel like that improved?
COACH KELLY: Much better. You know, we had a couple of misfits on a jet sweep, and we didn't get off a block here or there. But we played well enough defensively for us to go into a game like this and say, look, we've put our defense now in a better position that we can go and play with anyone.
We had three possessions with eight minutes and 30 seconds to go. We had our chances to win the game. Georgia was better than us up front. They deserve the credit. They made the plays when they needed to.
Q. Given the experience of your offensive line, were you surprised they were that much better than up front?
COACH KELLY: It wasn't necessarily, you know, one particular area. It was recognizing where the protections needed to be slated. It was recognizing -- you know, we had a little problem -- in totality, it wasn't necessarily a matchup one guy versus another. It was a little bit of everything.
So I wouldn't necessarily say it was a physical mismatch as much as we struggled a little bit with the management of their front seven.
Q. That play in the third quarter where Brom got hit out-of-bounds, or that's what they said --
COACH KELLY: One play obviously in the game --
Q. Could you explain what was explained to you through the whole thing? It seemed to take a little bit of momentum that you might have had --
COACH KELLY: Well, we were off the field and subsequently they scored. Those are the things that when it's a one-point game, you'll go back, and we'll learn a painful lesson from that, right. You hate to learn lessons in losses but you know, sometimes you have to learn some painful lessons, and you know, that will be a painful lesson that we had to learn.
They were seeing whether the receiver had stepped out of bounds on the catch, which would have changed where they spotted the ball. They said that the video was inconclusive; they couldn't tell.
Q. Your first three scoring drives have plays of 29 yards or more, did it become apparent that maybe nickel-and-diming them down the field was going to be a tall task against this defense, and how did that affect into play calling?
COACH KELLY: I don't think we ever went into the game thinking that's the kind of offense we were thinking we were going to be. I don't think that's the kind of offense that we've purported to be.
We want to run the football. We want to be able to get Brandon out, out of the pocket a little bit, and we want to take shots down the field.
When we got them out, we didn't protect as well as we'd like. We didn't throw it as well as we'd like. We didn't coach it as well as I would like.
So I mean, look, when you lose by a point in a really, really good game, a lot of great things happened tonight but a lot of great things didn't happen for us when we needed them.
So we need to coach them better. I love the spirit of our football team. I love what they are sacrificing for us. And you know, we'll bounce back and be ready for Boston College.
Q. Last week, you defended Justin, even after missing a couple kicks. Could you comment on his performance tonight?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I thought he was really solid in the kicking game.
You know, I felt like the adjustments weren't going to be major. I think that's where maybe I stepped out on the limb a little bit with him. We made some slight corrections during the week and he was hitting the ball really well.
But leading into it he was striking it well, so I didn't think it was going to require a big adjustment for him. So I felt confident that that was going to be the case.
Q. Obviously Brandon Wimbush, a young quarterback, but did you not think you could lean on your offensive line a little bit more under the circumstances?
COACH KELLY: I thought we did. I don't know how we didn't.
I mean, you've got to lean on them --
Q. Count on them to be successful, is what I mean.
COACH KELLY: Well, listen, I was just like you. I was hoping we'd score on the last drive. So I was hoping that they would be successful, too. But Georgia's pretty good and they made a play.
We'll go back and we'll coach -- our guys are pretty good and their guys were pretty good. When it got right down to it, they made a couple more plays late. It's splitting hairs. I mean, there are a couple things that happened that, you know, we're going to learn from and we'll get better from.
Q. Was there anything that surprised you that you guys didn't see on tape that Georgia did tonight at all?
COACH KELLY: Probably a little bit more field pressure and some cover two behind it. They trapped a couple of the throws.
But not a lot. It was kind of what we thought. They didn't want the quarterback out on the perimeter, which they did a pretty good job of. But you know, we knew they were going to be physical up front. You know, I went in with a belief that they were going to have their, you know, successes and then we would have ours.
I think if I'm standing here and we found a way to score one more touchdown, you know, and put 26 points on the board, maybe the narrative is just a little bit different; we didn't and we lost the football game.
We're really close to being the kind of football team that can play with anybody. We're short on a couple things today. We'll shore them up and we'll get back at it next week, and I like my football team.
Q. Obviously you made a ton of changes, changed the culture, everything. But obviously, you lost and at the very end, kind of like last year, seven of eight losses, how do you --
COACH KELLY: What's the question?
Q. I'm getting to it.
COACH KELLY: Well, get to the question.
Q. How do you keep this from snowballing?
COACH KELLY: It's not going to snowball. Next question.
Q. Well, what exactly will be different, I guess.
COACH KELLY: There's nothing different. I go to work every day, and I coach my football team.
COACH KELLY: Is that -- is that good enough for you?
Q. Yeah, I was just asking about how it was different from last year's losing by one possession.
COACH KELLY: Okay.
Q. Tonight was also like that, so I was just wondering.
COACH KELLY: Losing by one possession?
COACH KELLY: No, it was one point.
COACH KELLY: Okay. Thanks.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports