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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 4, 2017
South Bend, Indiana
Notre Dame - 48, Wake Forest - 37
BRIAN KELLY: Just a quick statement. I was made aware of Tim Prister, and just our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. He's been on the beat here for 30 years, so Notre Dame football and obviously everybody associated with our program has got him and his family in our prayers. Tim is a battler, and we're with him.
Let's get to the game. You know, obviously we're pleased with the win. Winning is hard, especially in November, and anytime that you find a way to win football games when teams are executing at a high level which Wake Forest executed their offense extremely well today, you're very pleased.
Having said that, this game will humble you in a heartbeat if you take any of it for granted. I think it was a great reminder for our players that, you know, this game requires you to be 100% locked in at all times. Again, I think it comes at a great time with a win. I think our guys have been able to get a win against an offense that played extremely well this evening. I think Wolford was outstanding and, again, I think we take a lot from it with the win, with a dominating offensive performance, too.
I don't want to take anything away from Brandon Wimbush tonight. I think the narrative of him being able to throw the football should change dramatically. He had a couple of drops out there that he would have easily thrown for close to 300 yards, so hopefully that has been put to rest.
I loved his grit, his toughness, gets hit pretty hard, right before the half, and, you know, I try to keep him out of the game in the third quarter, but he had no thoughts of that. He wanted to get back in the game, so put a pad on his hand and went back in the game and showed great grit and great leadership.
Great game by Wimbush and, again, the ability to run for over 300 yards again, and obviously we're pleased that we were able to throw for over 300.
Again, hard to win. Great win in November. Our guys learned a lot tonight with the "W" and a lot of respect for what Wake Forest did tonight offensively. It was a very, very good performance by their quarterback, John Wolford and what they did offensively.
Q. Brian, what exactly was Wimbush's injury? What's the status of Josh Adams and could he have gone back in?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, we were just really cautious with Josh. Brandon had a pretty large contusion to his left hand. We got an x-ray, it was negative. Then it was just a matter of controlling the swelling. He was able to feel like he could get back in there. We did have one play under center that we would like to have taken back because it was difficult for him to grip the ball from under center but, again, Josh was really being conservative.
He was not ruled out of the game other than him not just feeling right. He had a busy week. He made all those hats by himself this week, stayed up late (Laughter.) No, he had a busy week with exams. He was a bit rundown this week. He wasn't feeling himself.
So we were really conservative with him in terms of not putting him in the game, but he wasn't in our concussion protocol. We didn't have to move him through with a head injury per se, so, you know, hopefully he's feeling better tomorrow with some rest.
Q. Where did he get nicked up? Was it his back?
BRIAN KELLY: No, I'm just saying he wasn't feeling right. He -- you know, he worked out on the sideline, he just -- he just didn't feel good and we're not going to put anybody in the game if they don't feel -- Dr. Leiszler is evaluating players not necessarily on head injuries or how they feel, but it's about balance, coordination, can they protect themselves the right way, and he just didn't feel 100%, and we're not going to put somebody in the game if he doesn't feel 100%. Sometimes it doesn't even have to do with head injury.
Q. Lots of points in this game. You had a school record yards until you kneeled down.
BRIAN KELLY: Those don't count. I don't know why you guys continuously add that. Can we just change that right now? Silly.
Q. But from a defensive standpoint, was this part of what you were talking about in terms of not being 100% focused? Do you feel like that's why their points were up?
BRIAN KELLY: I think what I'm saying is two things: Wake Forest executed their offense terrifically. They were really, really good tonight. And then, secondly, you saw missed tackles that you haven't seen all year. You saw some play that hadn't shown itself at times, and that's not who we are 75% through this season, so let's go back and look at how we can improve on that.
I think it's fair to say that Wake Forest played very well, and Notre Dame needs to, you know, obviously understand how hard this game is if you're not locked into all the traits necessary to play at a high level.
Q. The wide receivers, Chase Claypool obviously a break-out game for him. The wide receivers throughout the year have taken a lot of heat. Do you feel like, as a group now, they really are starting to evolve?
BRIAN KELLY: You know, there are still some areas of improvement there. I would like to see more consistency. Chase -- what I was pleased with Chase was after the drop he had when he was wide open down the sideline, he came back with nice catches after that. So he was able to refocus, which is something we talk a lot about, let that play go and refocus and I was proud of him, and that's his maturation and development as a receiver.
Then we've got to make more plays for Brandon, quite frankly. We've got to make a couple of catches that are catchable balls, so that's work in progress for us. But there's want to and desire to do it. We've got to do a better job in practice. I think we'll take a step back and look at being a little bit more demanding in terms of what we do in practice in terms of catching the football.
Q. Couple things that happened in this game, couple of situations. You saw Wake Forest take an early lead, offense responds with a touchdown. You fail on fourth down, they go score. You comeback with a touchdown, third quarter, they score, you comeback with a touchdown. What does it say about your team when -- and special teams as well, again, had another response to a score. What does it say about your team that they're able to pick each other up in that way?
BRIAN KELLY: We saw last week, too, right, with the blocked punt. We don't flinch in those situations. There is no real sense of panic at any time with this group. They were mad more than anything else, relative to some of the things that transpired, but there is a -- clearly a -- from an emotions standpoint, let's respond, than, okay, we're in trouble here.
You never sense that or feel that. It's more about let's respond, and we've seen that all year.
Q. I know it's not like something happens, and you've got to give a great speech, and they respond. How do you get to the point where your team is able to just go out and keep counter punching like that?
BRIAN KELLY: It's really been something that we've built since January and through some things that have occurred leading up to some of the transformations that we've gone through, is that these guys have some scars from some, you know, earlier things that have occurred in their time here.
So we've built on some things that they have experienced, and, you know, made them stronger through developing grit. Grit is sustained effort over a long period of time. Even though they've gone through some ups and downs, now they fight through it. That has been developed over a period of time.
Q. You look at 380 yards, 46 carries. I think you had three different running backs had long carries, two quarterbacks had long carries. What is it about your run game that allows you to have success? I'm not trying to disparage anybody that's back there, but it doesn't seem who your quarterback is or who your running back is, you're able to make things happen in the run game.
BRIAN KELLY: Our tempo was good, our perimeter game was good, we got the ball out quickly on the perimeter, we're able to stretch teams vertically. It was difficult to -- we had a lot of answers tonight. When Brandon is able to throw the ball and push the ball down the field, you have to think about playing a lot more two-safety looks, and we got those tonight, which opened up some things for us.
Q. Nick Watkins, did he get banged up early?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, he was dealing with -- nothing major but he wasn't moving and planting as well, so you saw a little bit more of Troy.
Q. I'm curious, the plays that your secondary logged today without much more of a rotation, how much of an impact do you think that had? I think Nick and Julian both maybe maxed out today.
BRIAN KELLY: You know, look, I think if you want my opinion right now, I think it's cumulative, I don't think it was just the secondary. I don't think there is one player that's going to stand in front of you and say, hey, that was my best game. I think we would look at the front, the linebackers, I think everybody, you know, really didn't play at the level that they want to play at. I think it's a little bit of everybody, safeties, corners, everybody.
Q. The Ian Book touchdown pass just before half-time, talk about that call. Most people assume you were going to hand it off there.
BRIAN KELLY: Brandon was not happy about that, I gotta tell you that. He had been repin' that play, and we knew they were going to jump into double eagle down there and we were going to get -- we had the wing -- the thunder formation, and we knew we were going to be pretty open on that play and Book knew he was getting a touchdown on that play.
So it was a pretty easy call. We had been working on it, and we knew if we got into that situation we wanted to score and get a nice touchdown right before the half.
Q. And game ball today?
BRIAN KELLY: It went to Wimbush.
Q. Couple of the next men in offensively, you mentioned Book just now and also Deon McIntosh, who you have talked a lot about recently, what did you see out of those two guys as far as people that can come in and put up the numbers they did?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I think I said this last week, before he we know it, Deon McIntosh is going to have 1,000 yards. He just keeps coming in and doing a nice job for us. I think Dexter you saw clearly he still can't fire the way we want him. He had a nice opportunity, and he just couldn't fire the way we wanted him to.
With Josh down, and we wanted to change the pace a little bit, and Deon offers us that. He did a great job coming in there. Ian, as we all know, has already won a power 5 game. We have confidence in him, so our offense moves pretty good when he's in there.
Q. Julian Love again with another interception, almost another pick six. I think it was three pass break-ups. How has he been able to maintain consistency almost every game?
BRIAN KELLY: First of all, physically he's head and shoulders above most of the defensive backs in terms of -- other than Drue Tranquill, if you count him as a defensive back, which I don't know if you do or not, but his physical strength and pretty amazing. He's up there with numbers that are hard to believe for a defensive back.
So his ability to change direction, exert force in the ground, break on balls, then play the double move, so he's physically a gifted player. Then he's smart. Put those two things together that gives you a pretty good chance to be successful. He takes care of his body, does all the little things the right way, as good players do?
Q. How happy have you been with his performance with that consistency?
BRIAN KELLY: I was really happy. I mean, I would like him to stop the inside slant off the RPO but nobody could stop anything really today so he was in a long line. He's a really, really good football player and a guy that, you know, obviously can make big plays for us.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, everybody.
Q. Brandon, when you took that knock before halftime, what was going through your head and how scary was that?
BRANDON WIMBUSH: It was pretty scary just to get banged up right before half and know that I couldn't finish the job, and obviously Ian Book came in and took care of business and did his job, so I knew we were in good hands when he came in.
Q. How would you assess your game today both in the passing game and the running?
BRANDON WIMBUSH: I think I made the plays obviously necessary to win the game, and I think I left a lot of plays out there that when we face an opponent who takes advantage of me not making those plays, it will cost us.
So I do think that obviously there is always room to improve.
Q. Brandon, you have 380 rushing yards and Josh doesn't play most of the time. How much faith do you have in this rushing attack regardless of who is back there?
BRANDON WIMBUSH: You could put a lot of running backs behind that offensive line and anybody will peruse. The rest of the backs did a great job of preparing throughout the week, and when they have the opportunity they are able to take advantage of it, and obviously it's a testament to up front continuing their dominance and opening up those holes for the guys.
Q. Brandon, if last week's game was sort of a one to see your progress where you had to look closely at tape was today more obvious to everyone? Did you feel like you put on a performance that showed your growth as a quarterback today?
BRANDON WIMBUSH: Um, I didn't -- I thought I -- I thought I played within the expectations of the offense and obviously without Josh, and the rest of the guys came in and did a great job, and I thought I took more responsibility on myself to make those plays. I think I've done a great job of going through the week and preparing myself to come out here and execute a little bit more each week on Saturdays. I think the progression is heading the right way for the entire offense.
Q. You look at the receiver position right now, the drops today, is that something that you look at and think, wow, there is so much more we still can do?
BRANDON WIMBUSH: Yeah, I think there is a lot of points that we left up on the board, and it's scary and I say that every week, but I think one of these weeks we will connect and everything will be clicking, but I'm not worried about those guys dropping balls. I've got to continue to give them opportunities to go make plays because those guys are playmakers.
Q. You guys came out, it looked like you were attacking them a little bit more with the pass game not just the RPOs earlier but stretching the field a little bit. What did you see from Wake Forest on film that made you think you could get it over the top of them early?
BRIAN KELLY: They didn't change up their defense much from when Coach Elko left, so we felt comfortable going into this week having seen this defense from, you know, January, so we knew what they were going to try to do, and we knew the areas that we were able to exploit, and I think we did a good job of taking advantage of what they gave us. Like I said, those the receivers made good plays and obviously there was a couple of drops. I know they will clean that up for the rest of the guys next week.
Q. On the long touchdown run was that a called draw or was that something where you had to count the box and throw it outside or run?
BRANDON WIMBUSH: It was a run/pass option for myself and it was a 4-1 box and dropped back and the backer widened out, and then I hit it up the middle and the guys did a great job of -- I mean, anybody could have run through that hole, man, that was huge.
Q. Fourth and 2 middle of the third quarter and the game ended up getting closer where you got hit in the backfield and powered through for a 3-yard gain. Talk about that play and what it meant.
BRANDON WIMBUSH: It's just the extra strength that the guys have built, and it's just the power and the will power to pick up that first down, because it was a huge situation there. It was the right read but just gotta power through like I did.
Q. People talked about you gain more confidence as a passer as the season goes on. Have you gained that as a runner? Do you feel you run with more abandon?
BRANDON WIMBUSH: I think I'm smarter running now, and in the Temple League, I wanted to get hit, and now I'm away from that and I want to slide a little bit more, but when the first downs need to be picked up I will lower my shoulder and do what's necessary to get that.
Q. Brandon, how is your hand feeling now?
BRANDON WIMBUSH: It's feeling good. Yeah, it's feeling good. (Laughter.)
Q. Did it bother you at all during the game? Obviously it's your nonthrowing hand, but how did it affect you when you went back in?
BRANDON WIMBUSH: Just being able to push the ball from where I'm supposed to go throwing it from and taking it from under center, but we don't do that too much and we were able to do the things we do under center out of the gun or out of the pistol, so it didn't affect much in terms of the throwing game but maybe handing it off as well but everything is good and I'll be good to go next week.
Q. Did this just turn into a game that you guys are just happy no matter what just to get the victory despite, you know, the final score and everything like that?
BRANDON WIMBUSH: No, I don't think any game turns into that. Coach talks about a mind-set of dominating our opponents and not just winning games, and I think that's what we've built for the past eight months.
Obviously with the score we had today we didn't dominate our opponent, and we will go back and evaluate the film and next week when we head down to Miami it will be the same outcome with a "W" but done in a more convincing way.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports