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


October 21, 2017

Brian Kelly

South Bend, Indiana

Notre Dame - 49, USC - 14

COACH KELLY: Well, I'm really proud of my players and coaches. We were prepared. We knew we needed to get off to a great start. And we certainly have a great deal of respect for USC. And this rivalry is one where our guys were excited about it.

We made them aware of the history and tradition of it. We actually spent a little bit more time on how important this game was. But never did we take away from our preparation and how important that is.

So it was important to get off to a great start, as I said. And I think the turnovers, obviously, were key for us in the first half. And being opportunistic which really has been what we've been all year, offensively, getting up 28-0 put us in such a great position in the second half.

Proud of guys like Kevin Stepherson, who has been in Siberia mostly this season and comes out and really impacts the game. And proud of guys like Khalid Kareem who has two sacks. Young players who impacted the game, really proud of them, because they were part of the challenge that we had last year after the USC game when we challenged our players to come back and get our program back to where it needed to be.

So all the credit goes to the players that were part of that team last year, and then those two in particular, young players that really impacted the game. So just really proud of our players and coaches, and a really good win for our football team.

Q. Are you amazed at the amount of points you've scored off of turnovers? Could you have fathomed the work you were getting with the defense on getting turnovers made this year?
COACH KELLY: Obviously the plan was in hiring Mike Elko that he's got a great reputation in taking the football away. Then it was the offense was going to have to be opportunistic and cash those in. And the plan has come together nicely, quite frankly.

Q. Fifth game out of seven that you've had over 300 yards rushing. Can you just talk about what you saw tonight from your run game, just in general?
COACH KELLY: Well, again, I challenged our football team. I said, look, we're going to stick with our process. Our preparation has been great. But this game will be won by who's more physical. I think when you run for 370-something yards and you hold them to 70, I think we know who the more physical football team was.

Again, it was a challenge that our players needed to win this game by being more physical, and they were more physical today.

Q. A lot of people tend to focus on Brandon's passing numbers, completion percentage week after week. On the 84-yard touchdown, you kind of saw the backside defense kind of peaking and waiting on him when Josh busts through. Could you talk about what it does to a defense when you have a quarterback that can do the things he can do with his legs?
COACH KELLY: He put up 49 points and you put your second team in with a lot of time to go in the fourth quarter, that's what it does. You can keep looking at his numbers all you want, but we self-scouted him last week. And his production numbers in terms of third down, legs, throwing it, converting in fourth-down situations, key decisions in our zone-read option game. He's a really effective quarterback for us.

Q. Defensively USC got a lot of their yards late, when you backed off, 4 of 13 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down. Did really well in the red zone. What was the key to the success you had with your defense?
COACH KELLY: Well, I will tell you that Sam Donald is an outstanding quarterback. They've got great receivers. They're very difficult to defend. We're swimming upstream in some situations trying to defend them. We just got into some good leverage situations in third down where you can't make them all.

We just got them into so many third down situations where they had to be almost flawless. And they made some plays in third down to keep the chains alive. But we were able to mix things up enough with some pressures and some drop-eights and some different looks that they were going to have to play so well because we got on to them so quickly with that 28-0 that again it made for such a difficult climb for them.

Q. Can you explain the challenge you talked about at the end of the season last year, how it was presented, maybe what you asked for from them and how they responded?
COACH KELLY: I just said the rebuild starts here right now. I mean, everything that we need to do is a commitment that you'll all have to make. So you've got a couple of weeks, make a decision, whether you want to be back here because it's going to be very difficult. You're going to have to make a 100 percent commitment to bringing this program back. And they did.

Those guys that were there in that locker room decided that what was most important was to bring Notre Dame football back to the standards that it needs to be at.

Q. No disrespect to some of the other teams you've played, but when you beat a team ranked 11th in the country and you do it convincingly, is there a different satisfaction or feeling that comes from a win like that?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, certainly it's our rival. We won the shillelagh back. That's an important thing. We like trophies. And so that's an important thing for our guys. But I will say this that we talked about it as a staff. We want to be unique. So unique means that this is not the crown jewel for us, if you will.

We want more. This was a great victory. We're excited about the win, beating a very good USC team. But our guys want to be unique. So there's more out there for them.

I kind of use the analogy of let's enjoy this but let's act like we've been there before, kind of like scoring a touchdown -- hand the ball to the referee and let's move on. Let's enjoy the victory, but let's act like you've been there before. And you have been, and let's get back at it next week against a great team like North Carolina State coming in here.

Q. Do you think Josh Adams is maybe a little underappreciated nationally, and should he be in the Heisman discussion?
COACH KELLY: You know, for me it's so hard from where I stand because obviously I think he's the best back in the country because he plays for me. But if you really look at his production for a team that is doing what we're doing right now, he's one of the best players in the country.

I'll let others make that decision. Here's what I know. We're going to play some really good football teams the rest of the year. Maybe everyone should just wait until the end of the year and vote for the Heisman.

Q. At the risk of making it too big, is this as satisfying or as complete of a performance as you think you've had given the circumstances and the opponent here in eight years here just from all three phases of the game?
COACH KELLY: I really can't judge that in the sense of watching -- I'd have to watch the film. Coaches are a little off in terms of how they assess things. What I was really pleased with was the mental performance of this football team. That was the best mental performance that we've had, where we went out and had, just from a mental standpoint we wanted to dominate our opponent tonight.

And they came out with that kind of mindset. And that's the best I've been around a group. They were around the sideline, like, Coach, we don't want to come out of the game. That was as good as I've seen not just here, not just here, anywhere I've been as it relates to their mental preparation and how they handled themselves in the game.

Q. How hard or easy is it to make that happen again next week when another ranked team comes here and --
COACH KELLY: We don't know any other way. I don't know that they know any other way to do it. That's the way they've played all year. We're going to continue to do what we've done, keep preparing the same way, same messaging.

So my expectations are we're going to continue to do this. The difference is you have to execute on Saturdays. You still have to play the game. But mindset wise, I think we're in a good place.

Q. Is there any big-picture talk that you're doing now with the players, now 6-1, big win over a rival? There's a lot of talk nationally about what might happen. Are you diving into any of that with your players?
COACH KELLY: We just want to be aware so we can enhance where we are, just be aware of your situation, and that means you've gotten here because you have really stuck to what we've asked you to do. And that is their mental preparation, their physical preparation -- they're getting stronger in the weight room. Their technical work every day in practice -- Mike Elko works a ball-disruption circuit every single day and they're bought into that.

Try to get 300-pound defensive linemen to bend down and pick up footballs for 15 minutes. They don't like doing that. But they're bought into those things.

So my point being that the big-picture stuff, they're aware of it. But they know how they got here and they like where they're at. I don't see them changing anything.

Q. You mentioned the turnovers, but what element of Mike's scheme has this group picked up the fastest to this point in the season?
COACH KELLY: The fundamentals of football is where we've made our biggest adjustment. Fundamentally we cup the football better, we're in better run support fits. And we're tackling and getting in a position to strip it. And then we're getting pressure on the quarterback. Flat out. We're getting pressure in four-man rush.

And so for those that watched us last year compared to this year, we didn't trade for anybody. There was nobody on the waiver wire. These are guys that have developed within the program that are getting pressure on the quarterback and it's making a big difference.

Q. I know you're not surprised by something, but is there anything about tonight that surprises you?
COACH KELLY: I wrote on my card tonight in my locker room, and I said if we didn't win really big, I would be disappointed. And I did that because I would then reevaluate some of the things that maybe we did relative to our preparation.

I thought we would do well tonight. And our kids performed extremely well and to the level that I thought this he would play at.

And next week brings another challenge. But I thought that they were prepared. They were ready. We gave them a great bye-week schedule that I thought we handled well. And I thought our schedule was excellent this week. So I was very confident in our preparation going into the game.

Q. When was the last time you got a Gatorade bath?
COACH KELLY: The last time, the USC game when we went undefeated. It was ice water.


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