home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


September 17, 2017

Brian Kelly

South Bend, Indiana

Q. I was watching the game yesterday. I was watching Wimbush. He did a great job rushing the football yesterday. Would you ever consider changing the offense to more of an option type offense for him to get to learn the playbook a little bit better?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, we've run a lot of options, so a lot of the offense has option principles in it for him. We'll continue to do that. I thought he had some great reads in the option, got the ball out on the perimeter, and I think that's what makes him very difficult to defend.

Q. And how big was that touchdown in the beginning of the second half when BC got that field goal to get within one?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I mean, it was huge. Obviously coming out in the third quarter, it was a tough grind there until our team was able to get on the board and then take control of the football game. But yeah, I think the third quarter for us was really just about being patient and fighting through it.

We turned the ball over, didn't panic, and kept fighting, and our guys were able to really, I think, grow as a football team there.

Q. Sean Crawford had a hand in all three of those turnovers last night. What more can you take away from his performance, and what do you expect from him moving forward, and do you think that this was kind of a springboard game for him?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, not having played in two years, I think he's starting to feel a lot more comfortable with his conditioning, his football conditioning, not conditioning from an athletic standpoint but just playing the game. One of the things that Sean has always had over other players on our team is, you know, a football sense and instinct, and he's always been around the ball. He's been a playmaker.

I think we're starting to see that with the performance that he had on Saturday. He's always around the ball. He's a guy that is in the center of it, and I think we're going to see that continue to kind of progress as he really gets all the rust off from not playing over the last two years.

Q. Surprised is probably the wrong word to use, but what was your reaction when you realized he was the one forcing all of these turnovers?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, I think when it comes to turnovers, as you know, there's more than just one particular element. I think one -- as he said, he was surprised that he got to thrown to him. Another one he was in really good coverage, and I think he listened to his teaching and got his eyes back for the ball and played his technique very well, so I think his discipline, trusting his teaching, put him in a good position. And the third one was Dexter Williams who actually got the strip, and he was in great position.

I go back to he is always around the ball. He's very alert. He's got a sense of the game, and it puts him always in good position.

Q. How did you come out of the game yesterday personnel wise, injury wise? Everything okay?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, pretty good. I think Tony Jones will be the only guy that we watch this week. He had an ankle sprain. X-rays came back negative, so with the running back, that will be a day-to-day kind of situation. Other than that, nothing that would put us in a situation where we'd have anybody questionable.

Q. You've gone head to head with Mark Dantonio's teams through the years. Is there a common thread or a common denominator of things when you're going up against his teams that you have to zero in on?
BRIAN KELLY: Oh, certainly. You know, a style of offense and defense that has been his hallmark, trademark, whatever you want to use, that is part of who he is as a coach. It's hard-nosed, physical football. You know, run the football, certainly feature a very physical defense, man-to-man on the back end of the defense.

When you see mark Dantonio's football team, you're not playing a finesse team. It's physical, hard-nosed, and our guys know what to expect when they play Michigan State.

Q. Looking at Michigan State in terms of what they've done with Brian Lewerke, how does that compare with what you guys have done with Wimbush, and how much different is Michigan State's offense with that guy at the quarterback spot?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, he does present some different options from what they have been in the past. Certainly he's their leading rusher, which is unusual for, as I just talked about, how Mark Dantonio is a run-first, play action-second, but featuring a quarterback that is your leading rusher is a little bit different, though. I don't know that that's going to be -- at the end of the year he'll be the leading rusher. I don't think most teams plan on it that way. But he is extremely agile, athletic, and somebody that you have to defend.

I think what they've done essentially in the first two games is taken advantage of what his strengths are and have kept it pretty simple like we have in terms of the passing game. But certainly know that they're going to have to complete some passes to win games, to win a Big Ten Championship, and for us the same way, for us to get to the playoffs, we're going to have to complete more passes, as well.

Q. With a guy like that and not necessarily just Lewerke, but do you have to put a spy on a guy like that?
BRIAN KELLY: I think there's definitely times within the down and distance that the quarterback is going to be somebody that is going to have somebody on him. They had somebody for Wimbush, and he either got too nosy on a run play or we beat him to the perimeter, and that will be the same thing with Lewerke. You have to have somebody that has him and is accounted for. If you don't, he'll hurt you.

Q. Your second six-for-six performance touchdown wise in the red zone in three games. Your overall impression of your red zone offense and the keys to the improvement?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, I think there's a couple of things. We've been in low red, which is a plus, in terms of scoring. Low red, we've been inside the 10-yard line on most of our possessions, which helps in that scoring efficiency. We've been run-1st down there, which was a commitment that we were going to make, and that has helped us down there. And I think more than anything else, with the rushing game down there, we've been able to really draw defenses into being pretty clear on what their intent is, and so it's helped us in our play calling.

I think maybe by our -- maybe the right word would be insistence, persistence of wanting to run the football down there, we've taken away a lot of the exotic looks that we've gotten in the past down there and have a pretty good idea of what we're going to get.

Q. Could you give an overview of what your plan was to neutralize (indiscernible)?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I mean, any time he was to McGlinchey's side, we were going to fan, so that was going to get a double team with both McGlinchey and Quenton. So we weren't too concerned about that. And then we were going to get inside help with a tight end or a back when he was away and let the tackles just worry about speed rush. They did not have to worry about any counter move inside. They were going to get protected inside-out with a tight end and a back, so they could just play his speed rush. So it allowed them to think fast and play only one move up field, and they were protected inside, and it helped us out.

Q. You said on Thursday you were going to shuffle things a little bit at wide receiver. The wide outs only caught through passes, but Wimbush had some accuracy issues. I assume that Cam Smith would have been part of that had he been healthy --
BRIAN KELLY: Oh, yeah.

Q. Were you pleased with the change and will you stay with those?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I think we will. We have to get more efficient in throwing the football, catching the football. I thought our protection, as you mentioned and alluded to, was excellent. Our quarterback had time. We just have to be more accurate, and we have to coach it better. So if you add all those elements, we've got to coach it better. We've got to catch better, and we've got to be more accurate. All those three things have to come together this week because we're going to have to be more efficient in the passing game. We don't have to throw for 300 yards, but we've got to hit receivers. Receivers have got to make some tough catches, and we've got to put Brandon in a position where we're featuring the things that he does well.

Q. Can you elaborate maybe what Chase Claypool brings to the mix, and when Freddy comes back, does that mean Chase kind of recedes, or is he going to be heavily into your mix moving forward?
BRIAN KELLY: Freddy is going to have surgery on Tuesday for a torn labrum, so he is out for the year. In terms of Chase, Chase is going to continue to play out at that position X. We may move him inside a little bit to the Z, but he's big, he's physical, he's got speed. We just think that he needs to continue to grow at that position. We just like that he blocked very well for us. He was assignment correct. We saw him really grow in the areas that we wanted him to grow in, and I think in terms of all the receivers, they just have to make more plays for us, contested catches, and they will. Hasn't got off to the kind of start we want, but it's a long season, and I have a great deal of confidence in them.

Q. I know you've got a lot of confidence in Brandon and he's got a history of being a guy that learns really well, both on the high school level and the college level, but I'm curious where he is through three games as a starter; is his challenge more what he's seeing or is it more kind of syncing up with everybody around him?
BRIAN KELLY: I think they're one and the same. I think he's seeing it maybe a little late, and then communicating it a little bit late, so I think it's just the processing has just got to be a little bit quicker, which effectively moves everybody in unison. So it's kind of a little bit of both of those things. He's seeing it, but it's a little bit late, and consequently that's a little bit of his passing game, too, which forces him to rush things and overthrow a little bit, more recognition. I'll give you an example. He threw a beautiful corner route to Durham Smythe because he loves that route, so it came out of his hand beautifully. He was positioned great in the pocket. And so when he sees things and he's confident and he knows them, he's synced up and he syncs up our offense wonderfully. We've just got to get him to that, and when we do, I think we've got great balance.

Q. I was curious when you watched the tape of your defense how you felt like they held up structurally?
BRIAN KELLY: You know, I think in terms of what they wanted to do and running the football, you know, you see -- look, this is still about going from not a particularly solid run defense to one where we want to be a really good run defense, and it still comes to fundamentals. We were a little loose in some of those fundamentals at times, and so tackles show up on the sheet, but fundamentals show up on film, and we were a little bit loose in some of the fundamentals on Saturday. I think in my meeting with Mike this afternoon, I think we just -- we would like to have played a little bit better in our fits and a little bit stronger fundamentally, and that will be the message moving forward. If we want to be a really good defense, we'll have to be fundamentally better than we were on Saturday.

Q. On personnel, Javon McKinley, do you hope to save a year for him, or where do you see his role maybe moving forward?
BRIAN KELLY: You know, the plan is to save a year for him. We didn't get enough out of his year last year, so I try to save a year under those circumstances for those guys. Unless their traits are outstanding in the second year, you know -- if they're still growing, still learning, I don't want to accelerate them through the program unless they are squared away in terms of all of your traits. Right now it looks like that's leaning towards the potential for a redshirt year.

Q. You alluded to it a little earlier, but turnovers gained, that's been one of those stats that's stood out a lot in Mike Elko's bio. Overall what do you think have been some of the reasons for the early success in that department for the team?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, I mean, we work on it every day. I think it starts with you get what you demand, and Mike demands that in our practice, so when we come into practice every single day, you would get bored watching our defense because we work on stripping, we work on fumble recoveries, we work on trying to get the ball out, and so it's a systematic kind of development of that mindset within our defense to take the football away, and he does a great job with it. He's been successful at every stop of the way in terms of taking the football away, and you build it through repetition, and we do it in our practice, and that's how we've already been able to get the six turnovers in a very short period of time.

Q. And you converted all three of the turnovers yesterday into points. Overall how would you evaluate the team's growth from that standpoint, as well?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I think if you look at probably the biggest growth that we've had maybe in over a year as a football team occurred after the interception right before the half. We get an interception, then we get a stop, and then we fumble in minus territory, and we're still up 14-13. We get another great stop defensively, and then we reel off 21 unanswered points, and that hasn't been around here in quite some time. That's incredible growth for this football team. It's the mindset that we've been trying to grow here, and we saw it come to fruition yesterday.

Q. Playing Michigan State next week going on the road in that hostile environment in Spartan Stadium, what do you have to do to help Wimbush get better for that hostile environment?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, we'll do our best to turn up the intensity here in practice, but again, he's going to have to be emotionally in the right place. He's got the skills and the strategy necessary to keep those distractions out, and we're pretty confident he'll be able to do that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297