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September 16, 2017

Brian Kelly

Boston, Massachusetts

Notre Dame - 49, Boston College - 20

BRIAN KELLY: Great second half, you know, for Notre Dame certainly. We didn't make a lot of plays in the first half, and we came in at halftime and went up to the offensive line and said, look, we need you to take over this football game, you're our veteran group, and they really responded. Really proud of the way they controlled the line of scrimmage in the second half and gave us the opportunity to come up with a road win against a Power Five team, and any time you can do that, that's something to feel good about.

Played well in the second half, were physical, made plays. Our defense really ignited us with a fourth down stop, got some energy, and I think when you make plays, obviously that creates an energy, and we were able to score. I thought that was a pretty big turning point in the second half.

But I think it all started with our offensive line in terms of being able to run the football.

Q. How much was your field position an issue in that first half?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, it certainly was. Both their kickers are outstanding. I mean, they're as good as I've seen. Their punter, their kicker, we were up against it in terms of field position in the entire first half. We were trying to grind out and be very careful, as well, at the same time. Clearly that was part of some of the play calling and being very careful with the football. We tried to be very careful right before the half, and certainly unfortunately it led to a turnover, but our defense stood strong there and we got out of the half there.

Q. And did you see something during the week that you thought the trap play to Adams would work?
BRIAN KELLY: Very aggressive group, downhill linebackers, and we wanted to create a little bit of misdirection and pull. That's a play that we use against certain defenses that have that very aggressive to the line of scrimmage.

Q. How would you evaluate Brandon Wimbush's game, tremendous running, a little bit up and down in the passing game?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, and I think that's probably going to be the case most of the year as he continues to grow, but we've got a fantastic competitor, kid with terrific grit and toughness, and so I think as we move into the season now, we're starting to develop a little bit more of who we are offensively and what he can do and what his skill set is. He's going to develop in the passing game. That's just a matter of time. But we know that he's a great competitor, and you know, even through some adversity, he's going to keep fighting, and our guys love that. It really creates a positive feeling on the sideline when they know they've got a guy who's never, ever going to back down.

Q. Have you seen some of that inaccuracy in practice or has that showed itself more in his first road start, in his first games?
BRIAN KELLY: I think that there's a little bit of growing with the offense. I think there's a couple of catches out there that some of those guys need to make for him. I think there's a little bit of inaccuracy there, you know, where he's a little rushed at times, where he's just got to settle into the game, and then he makes a beautiful throw to Durham Smythe in the third quarter on a corner route, and when he settled into the game, I thought he threw the ball much better.

Look, I feel like we can craft things. We should be smart enough as coaches to figure out what his strengths are at this point and where he's going to develop moving forward.

Q. Any early word on Tony Jones, Jr.?
BRIAN KELLY: Yes, he had an ankle X-ray and it came back clean, negative.

Q. Talk a little bit about what it's like to come back to where you grew up.
BRIAN KELLY: I always enjoy coming back here. It's always a tough game it seems. Playing Boston College is always a challenge for us at Notre Dame. It's always one that we expect their very, very best, and we get it. We got it again today, but we were just -- our endurance, mental and physical endurance, was just a little bit better than theirs today, and we were able to break them, and it's hard to do. Steve does a really good job. Coach Reid is a good defensive coordinator. They do a lot of really good things. They've got good players. But we were able to exert ourselves today longer and come up with some big plays.

Q. Last year you guys were just under 40 percent on 3rd down defense. So far through three games this year, all three of your opponents have been under 30 percent. What would you say accounts for the success you've had through three games on 3rd down defense?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, there's a lot of different things that I could point to. I think that our kids are communicating so much better. They really are tuned into what we're doing defensively, and we're getting better at the packages that we're running. We're not running a lot of things. I would probably equate it to Mike's teaching not a lot of things, but what we are doing, we're doing very, very well. Just executing a lot better.

You know, look, 3rd down is an interesting down, right; it's all locked into different downs and distances. One of the areas that we've been really good is that we've been able to get some pressure on the quarterback in 3rd down, and they've been forced to get the ball up quick. I think our pass rush is better, and we've tackles better on 3rd down.

Q. Do you think you need to pass the ball better, more accurately, to achieve your goals this season?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I think our passing game will have to be better, and I think that that means not necessarily just from the quarterback position. I think we're going to have to make some catches that are contested. I think that we're going to have to step up and make some big plays at the receiver position and assisting our quarterback. I don't think it all falls on our quarterback. I think we've got to get a unit that has to really play at a higher level, as well.

Q. You called some pass plays for Ian Book; did you just want to evaluate him?
BRIAN KELLY: Yes, I thought it was important that we got him in, regardless -- I looked at the score as zero-zero and an opportunity for him to get in and really get a look at what he's capable of doing in a game situation.

Q. What did you think of Sean Crawford considering what he's come back from at this point?
BRIAN KELLY: You know, he's on body on the touchdown, they make a nice catch, it's reviewed, and it's upheld. You know, we really love the way he competes, even at his size. He puts himself in really good positions to attack the football.

Q. With the identity of this team starting to come out a little bit more, how is it maybe similar to what you expected and how is it maybe different than what you expected when you came back at the beginning of August?
BRIAN KELLY: It's what I was hoping for relative to having a fight, and we exhibited that fight in the second half, you know, in terms of the way we battled and took over the second half of this football game. There weren't a lot of those occasions as you know last year. That's what I was hoping for. I really didn't know how this offense was going to be from the quarterback position in terms of where Brandon was going to take it until we actually got into a few games. Now I think we know what part of the library we need to kind of move towards, and we've got plenty of offense. Now I think we can start to really focus in on the things that he does really well, and that's where this offense will continue to grow and develop.

Q. It looked like Cam Smith after the game was limping around --
BRIAN KELLY: He rolled an ankle pretty bad, and he did not practice much this week.

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