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November 5, 2017

Brian Kelly

South Bend, Indiana

Q. Could you give us an update on the injuries that occurred during yesterday's game and where they stand today after they checked in.
BRIAN KELLY: Let's see. Let's start with Brandon Wimbush has a bruised left hand. Checked in today. Ice pack on it. He's good to go.

Josh Adams, I want to make sure that everybody is clear on this, because I saw reports out there that he was in a concussion protocol. He was never - I repeat - never in the concussion protocol. He felt great today. He'll continue to practice and be ready for Miami.

Let's see. Khalid Kareem had a hyperextension of his knee. He's a little sore, but he won't be limited this week.

And who else do I have on my list? Alizé Mack will lift with the team and will be practicing on Tuesday. I think that covers everybody.

Q. It's funny how sometimes things come in full circle. '88 Notre Dame and Miami met for a national championship. Now they're meeting again with a possible national championship berth on the line. That wasn't expected by the so-called experts. Can you comment on that. Where were you in 1988? What do you know about the history of the series? What do you see in this Miami team?
BRIAN KELLY: Let's see. '88, I was a graduate assistant at Grand Valley State. Really was more worried about cutting up film and getting my job done than watching what was happening between Notre Dame and Miami.

Most of our guys, they know the history of the rivalry certainly. It really doesn't impact what they do in terms of their preparation.

Two programs that have great traditions, that have won national championships. You would think sooner or later they're going to meet again with something that's on the line. We're excited that we're back in that position for our university.

Other than that, we don't spend much time thinking about the past.

Q. How about this Miami team that won last night?
BRIAN KELLY: Oh, it's a heck of a football team. An experienced offensive line. The quarterback is extremely productive. Athletic defensively. All over the place. Lead the country in tackles for loss. Just a team that obviously is very confident. It's going to be a great matchup.

Q. In the second quarter around 14:05 you intercepted the ball, and the next series drove it and got a touchdown. How big was that momentum changer right there for you? Wake Forest was trying to get something together there.
BRIAN KELLY: Those are always huge, right? Julian Love has been key. Michigan State obviously he did that. Huge for us against North Carolina State. Obviously interceptions, being able to run them back, are key parts of a game. That definitely gave us a great deal of energy and momentum. It was a great play by him, as well.

Yeah, big play of the game. There were others, but clearly that was a big one.

Q. How great is Miami's defense? The last time you saw them last year, it was a great game. Came down to the wire. What do you see in the Miami defense this year that's better than last year?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, I think that was a younger group. Obviously another year under their belt. They know their jobs a lot better. You're talking about now the Sam, Mike and Will linebacker with Pinckney, Quarterman, McCloud, all back for another year. The safeties are back. It's just a much more veteran group.

The front seven is all intact from last year. Just more experience. Nine returning starters on that defense. That's a pretty experienced group.

Q. I'm sure in 1988 you were focused on your job at the time. This week as well, getting your team ready. More broadly, with Notre Dame having such a good season, getting so much national attention, since taking the job several years ago, have you come to appreciate even more than maybe from before the importance of Notre Dame in the larger college universe? When they're good, it has ripple effects for fans?
BRIAN KELLY: Yes, yes, I would agree with that statement. I think when you're here longer, you get a better sense of your place, your place in history as it relates to the tradition of Notre Dame football.

Obviously not living up to the standards of Notre Dame last year, you focused a lot more on wanting to make sure that you do so. That gives you a better perspective on the successes of Notre Dame football.

Yeah, I would say in your tenure, when it starts to reach the level it has for me, you become a lot more aware of the history, the tradition, the success, the rivalries from that perspective than maybe in your first two years. You've got your head down, you're really grinding.

Q. Dexter Williams, is he somebody that's maybe longer term injury? Do you think you might be able to get him back this week?
BRIAN KELLY: I don't know, to be quite honest with you. It's not his ankle. He's had a quad contusion. It's an old injury that has been one that has popped up here and there. As you saw in his long run, it affected him.

He's a day-to-day kind of guy. We were kidding, we're going to need our own medical temp on the sidelines for the runningbacks. It's a day-to-day thing. We'll just have to see how he responds on Tuesday.

Q. I saw you tweeted out a picture of you and Kizer talking at practice. He was at the game Saturday. Did he and Brandon get to interact at all? What it was like having DeShone Kizer back on campus?
BRIAN KELLY: I don't know if he and Brandon got a chance to talk at all. I know there's been some well wishes, texting back and forth. They are certainly friends. Any time you sit in that room together, there's a close bond between players, in particular quarterbacks. But I don't know whether there was a face-to-face conversation.

It was a Friday. We're kind of in lockdown from that perspective. Our guys are heading to the hotel.

Was there another part to the question?

Q. Just what it was like having him back on campus again.
BRIAN KELLY: I love having our former players come back. They're always welcome. It was great to see Kyle Rudolph. It was great to see Harrison Smith. They haven't been here in a while. It was great to see them. Of course, James Onwualu from last year, Isaac Rochell, DeShone. It feels great as a head coach to see those guys come back and be part of it.

Q. Last time you played at that stadium in Miami Gardens, huge stage, you mentioned you learned a lot about that stage. As your team goes down that road again that you were going down 2012, what did you learn from that experience both leading up to that big stage and from actually being on it?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I don't know if they're the same. You're in season. You only got a few days to prepare. It's a bit different, I think. I don't know that I would parallel the two.

It's certainly a big game, but we've had big games before. Our team is built differently. I like the way this team is built for big games in terms of our physicality and our ability to take the ball away defensively. Kind of feel better about going into this game than maybe the national championship game.

Q. I think any time a defense plays one way, there's a blitz, people would say there's a blueprint out there. What do you take away from Saturday, teams will pick up on this, versus this is a one-off situation, Mike Elko's relationship, a quarterback who started 40 games, the fact that they ran 88 plays?
BRIAN KELLY: I think it starts with, from a coaching standpoint, if we had to do some things differently, we definitely would have done them differently. Maybe got too cute in terms of what we were trying to accomplish. Maybe trying to cover up some things that we thought they knew about us. Didn't do what we normally do. We'll take some of the blame for that in terms of coaching. I think that's part of it.

Then we got up 41-16. We didn't handle ourselves in a manner to close out the game the way we have all year. So a little bit of coaching there, a little bit of having a killer instinct on defense, and Wake Forest executing extremely well.

I think those would be the three bullet points I would put out to you.

Q. Could you revisit the recruitment of Deon McIntosh. Are you getting more than you thought you would out of him at this stage of his career or did you not know what he would be after his redshirt?
BRIAN KELLY: We weren't sure coming into the season. It started to show itself a little bit in pre-season camp when we had opportunities to run some of our younger players. He was really productive for us. We got a glimpse to that ability. It made it easier for us to say, All right, it's his turn, go ahead, let's let him get in the game.

I think he turned it on himself. His off-season workouts really amped things up, too, in terms of his physicality. We thought he was a little slight at times last year in terms of his physicality. He's changed that.

He did this on his own. Like anything else, right, he got an opportunity and made the best of it.

Q. Finer point on Nick Watkins. Is he healthy this week? Was that a new injury against Wake Forest?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, again, a little bit of misinformation there. He's had tendinitis. As you know, anybody that has tendinitis, it's something that flares up from time to time. This is not going to inhibit him from playing at a high level.

That was more of a coach's decision to play Troy a little bit more in the game. Nick is fine. We have a great deal of confidence in Nick. It was a situation where Nick and Troy were kind of splitting that position.

Q. You talked a bit about leaving Josh out even though he didn't go through a concussion protocol. Do you think about his individual hype or Heisman campaign in having to make a decision like that?
BRIAN KELLY: No, it never comes into it. It's health over all those things. When somebody doesn't feel quite right, whether it's concussion or otherwise, we're going to make sure we do the right thing for the student-athlete first.

Again, I think more than anything else our medical staff will make those decisions. The head coach and assistant coaches are out of that decision-making process. Here at Notre Dame, our staff is solely the ones that are the decision makers as to putting players back in the game.

Q. Te'von Coney had another big game. How important has he been these last few weeks for you?
BRIAN KELLY: He's an important player in what we do. The structure of our defense puts him at the center of what happens defensively in terms of run fits, the passing game. Te'von has been a very, very productive and important player for us, absolutely.

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