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October 28, 2017

Brian Kelly

South Bend, Indiana

NC State - 14, Notre Dame - 35

BRIAN KELLY: That's a good football team, North Carolina State, and our guys were up to the task. You know, I think what's impressive to me is that they consistently come out with the energy and the mindset to get after their opponent, and that was evident again today.

I think that was most impressive for me, coaching for as long as I have, when you get a punt block, it has a tendency to really affect your football team. Our guys never flinched. It was as if nothing ever occurred other than let's get back out on the field and get back to work. That's hard to build. It took us a long way, a long time to get to that, and our guys just have that never-flinch, keep-playing, one play at a time, and the cumulative effect of that is what you saw today is that we could run the ball 15, 16 consecutive times at the end of the game against a very, very good North Carolina State football team.

So, you know, again, the superlatives individual Adams over 200 yards, Brandon Wimbush, efficient again. Did some really good things. His presence out there is calm. He just, you know, continues to lead our football team in a manner that makes us a very, very good football team.

So, again, a lot of respect for North Carolina State. That's a darn good football team, but our team was up to the task today. So with that, we'll open it up to questions.

Q. It's hard to single people out on your defense, but Julian Love, Te'von Coney had some big plays for you when the game was pretty tight. Can you expand on your defense?
BRIAN KELLY: They did. Yeah, I think that the defense, as a whole, was -- first of all, on body, pass break-ups, and then holding a team that is so efficient offensively to seven points, it's got to be one of our best performances in some time defensively against -- that's an outstanding quarterback. Even on the drive that they scored, he had to make three outstanding throws, and even the one they scored on.

So, Coney was, again, all over the field. He got the game ball from us, back-to-back games where he's just ascending, playing really, really good football. Julian Love comes up with the great pick six again, two times this year, so really kind of gave us some momentum swing there big in the game.

Q. You mentioned Brandon's efficient at seeing the passing game, do you feel like that's going to continue? Also, you didn't have a lot of plans runs for him today.
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I mean, I don't know that we go into the game with planned runs. A lot of them are off read option, and they gave us the opportunity not to -- they had somebody assigned to him, but it opens up other things.

Again, rushing against that defense to rush for 300 yards, what did we just say? I mean, that's pretty impressive. The you know, the match-up was going to be, I think, the number six ranked rush defense against our offense. I think we came out on top there.

Q. Coach, you're two-thirds of the way through the season now. I'm just curious what your assessment of your football team is as opposed to where they were in week one?
BRIAN KELLY: Oh, we've gotten better each and every week. We're physically stronger, so mentally we've established a mindset as to how we play. Then I think our kids are trusting the teaching. So, if you take the physical, the mental, and the teaching, it's a team that is getting better.

Q. And you mentioned Josh in your opening remarks, but another 200-plus performance with another touchdown that went for over 60 yards, as far as his Heisman candidacy goes --
BRIAN KELLY: It was 77 yards. I know, it was in front of me, so I wanted to make sure you were accurate.

Q. What do you think this game says about him in that regard?
BRIAN KELLY: I just think if you wait until the end of the year, a lot of the questions will get answered. If you don't vote -- if you hold your vote until the end of the year, that would be great.

I think he's a great back. There are other great players that are up for the Heisman, but he continues to play against top competition, and continues to excel on a very good football team. Again, there's plenty of really good football left in this season, and I think we should just let it play out.

Q. Going back to Brandon really quick, there were fewer designed run options for him, but also seemed to be fewer times where he took it out of the pocket. How much of that was North Carolina State having somebody assigned to him? And how much of that was his progress in going through his reads and maturing in that respect?
BRIAN KELLY: We ran one play in particular where he came back in the fourth quarter to his fourth progression to Stepherson on the curl. Started into the boundary to Smythe. Went to a boundary up read and worked all the way back. First time he's done it this year. I was pretty excited on the sideline myself. But, you know, there are little things that are coming.

The throw to Smythe where he does a great job getting his foot down, you know. I think he may have taken off last week or two weeks ago. So I think there is a fine balance there. I think he's confident and wants to throw the football and can throw the football. I think he'd like to have the throw back from Stepherson just overthrew to him a little bit. But there's a lot of really good growing that's happening each and every week with Brandon.

Q. You guys have said a lot of superlatives in the past couple weeks to talk about dominating and punishing the opponent. Is there a mindset among this group that they don't just expect to win but expect to win big?
BRIAN KELLY: We don't talk about winning. Winning is not even part of our vocabulary. We didn't talk about winning any games this year. It's about the mindset that we've created to dominate our opponent. So winning is not even part of the equation with this group.

Q. With Josh, how much of this is him and how much is who is around him and the philosophy you guys have on offense to run the ball?
BRIAN KELLY: I think you've answered the question. It's really all three. He's an outstanding player. His physicality, his ability. Look, I don't know how many runs he's had outside the tackle box. They're up inside. It's not like you can't misfit them. I mean, they're there. Point he breaks through, and he's got the speed to extend the play like he has. He's a unique player in that regard. But we're really good up front, collectively. I think we keep the pace and tempo to a level where, if you misfit a play, it's a home run.

I think philosophically, we're sticking with it. I think in terms of runs, this is the most that he's had. He still didn't have a carry in the fourth quarter but he had 27. So philosophically, we're sticking with the run, so all three of those things are working together.

Q. Sticking with Josh, what were you able to take advantage of with him? What did you see?
BRIAN KELLY: You know, I think it's just accumulation of a lot of different things that we're trying to attack. The they're a really good defense. So you have to be in the running game, striking a little bit everywhere. You saw pin and pull, and try to get the ball outside, which helps our zone inside read game. We ran tackle pull, we ran guard pull, power, I mean, it's a diverse run game.

I think more than anything else, kind of like my last question-and-answer would be, we're just sticking with it, because we're physical up front, and we're going to break some through. It's just having that patience and keeping the chains moving and giving us that opportunity.

Q. You mentioned your team did not flinch after the blocked punt. This is the first time you've trailed since Boston College. How much did you want to see the response, and was that the response you expected?
BRIAN KELLY: I'm not surprised that we didn't flinch. We're prepared and trained for it. We've got grit and we've got all the things necessary if we find ourselves in that kind of game. But if we win by five touchdowns every game, I'd be fine with that too. It seems sometimes unreasonable to think in those terms, but I wouldn't short this group anything. They have a mindset about how they want to play the game. They've been really good at it. But they have all the other skills necessary to deal with whatever happens during the game. Like I said, they didn't flinch, and I don't expect them to flinch when they get into tight games as well.

Q. Bradley Chubb came out firing early on. Did you guys make some adjustment to him because he was pretty quiet there after.
BRIAN KELLY: You know, there are so many things that we have in our arsenal that if we feel like we're not going to be able to hold up one-on-one, we try to do a lot of things. So there was some chipping going on. There was extending him out with a tight end to his side. We flipped the formation a couple of times to extend him out. We read him a lot in option game to keep him out of the back field. He's a heck of a player. Then we ran the ball and tried to minimize his effectiveness in terms of the pass rush.

Q. How confident were you that you were going to give Finley his first interception. It looked like obviously Julian Love was jumping some of those quick throws?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, he's an outstanding quarterback. I really, really have a lot of respect for him in terms of some of the throws he made early on. We felt like we could be on their receivers, so we were very confident that we were going to be on body, and we were going to have some opportunities. Point.

Julian got a little, probably greedy, on the double move. It was the first down, second down. He should know you're going to get double moves on first and second down, especially after you have a ball deflection on a third down play. But he knew exactly what I was saying to him. So we were pretty confident that we could get on body with them.

Q. What did you feel you could do defensively once Hines left the game?
BRIAN KELLY: He's a great weapon. Point again, he impacted special teams, we felt. He was a big special teams piece for us, and we had plans for him. Then in the running fame, he was more of a home-run hitter. So we just had to be slower on the backside. I'll give you an example. First series, we overran a cutback to Samuel early on in that first series. He may be -- that might have turned into a bigger play. With a player like that, you have to stay behind him, and that was our plan with him.

Q. You talked about how efficient owe how efficient Finley was coming into this game. He played almost 77% of the passes. Besides coming up and sitting on those quick outs, was there anything specific you guys did to create some -- it didn't seem like he was as decisive and getting rid of the ball as quick?
BRIAN KELLY: We got him in a lot of third down situations. We leveraged them to so many third down situations that we could do a lot of things when we get into our dime and nickel situations. We can give them a lot of coverage looks. We were in cover two. The corners were rolled up. We're playing Seattle, and we're playing four. I mean, we might have been in six to eight different coverage variations and different looks that he had to kind of work himself through each time. So leveraging third down was key for us when we got into a lot of the third down situations.

Q. Last two weeks, you played high impact, explosive pass offenses. But you guys seemed to come out early and put a lot of emphasis on stopping the run. Today you gave up 50 yards to a team that had at least 242 in the last five games. They couldn't run on it. How important is it for you to come out early, establish the run defense and then kind of force the pass game to be more to take control?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I don't know. There's not necessarily a plan early as much as there is just the way we play our defense and we're attacking the line of scrimmage, we're doing a great job up front. Our defensive line is controlling the line of scrimmage, quite frankly. Our front seven is doing a great job.

If we make you one dimensional, we could do some things in the back end to keep you off balance.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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