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November 25, 2017

Brian Kelly

Stanford, California

Stanford - 38, Notre Dame - 20

BRIAN KELLY: I'll tell you what I told our team: We lost the football game. Stanford made more plays than we did. We turned the football over late in the game. Each game that we've lost this year, we've turned the football over against quality opposition, against good football teams. Stanford is clearly a good football team. Did that against Miami, did that against Georgia. You can't turn the football over against really good football teams. Then you got to make some plays. We got to coach better. Got to play better, got to coach better. Stanford made the plays when they needed to.

So proud of my football team. They played a tough schedule this year. They played hard. Our seniors did a great job of putting our football program back to where it needs to be. But I would call it just the first coat of paint for where we are. There's another level for us. We'll certainly look at this season and feel it was a good foundation for us to look to be one step higher next year, to reach higher, for more. I got to thank our seniors for giving us that opportunity.

Now, you know, we'll give them some time to weight train and condition. The goal is to get a 10th win. We've got one more game together. That's an important milestone for us. So that will be our focus now over the next month.

With that, I'll open it up to questions.

Q. How healthy was Josh Adams tonight? Could you talk us through how you used him with the 20 carries.
BRIAN KELLY: No, he had no issues in terms of his health. He was 100%.

Q. And Brandon tonight, where did things get away from him? Talk us through the first pick.
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I mean, he knows in those kinds of situations where he's working the ball into the short field that he's got a progression. He's got to take care of the football. He knows where he needs to be with the football in those situations.

Q. Overall your defense tonight, specifically how you defended Bryce Love.
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I don't think that was an issue tonight. We needed to make some plays on the ball in the air. I think if you were to, like, break down the defense, we've got to make some plays on the ball in the air, and we can't put the defense on the short field like we did twice.

I thought by and large the plan was good. The kids came out, were in a great mindset. We turned a good game into a not-so-good game by turning the football over late.

Q. Some uncharacteristic struggles on short yardage for your offense. What did they do to slow you guys down?
BRIAN KELLY: You know, I think it was just a tough, physical game. We had our share of wins. They had some wins. Again, I think it was just, you know, it was going to go down to the last possession if we don't hand them two touchdowns. Again, they have to get it in the end zone. I don't want to take anything away from Stanford, right?

But, yeah, you know, I don't think there was anything in terms of struggles. They made some plays. We got to coach better. Got to get our kids into great plays. We got to execute a little better.

Q. What was Brandon's reaction in the locker room? How do you coach him going forward?
BRIAN KELLY: Brandon is a competitor. He'll bounce back. He is who he is. He wants to win as bad as anybody. He'll go back to work and work on his craft. He's our starting quarterback. He'll be starting in the bowl game.

Q. Seemed like Bryce Love kind of piled some yards on at the end. Up through the really first three quarters, it seemed like in the front seven you did a good job of attacking. Assess the play of your line, your linebackers.
BRIAN KELLY: I thought Mike had a great plan. We matched personnel groupings. Had a pretty good sense of what they were going to do. Look, it's power football. You got to win the line of scrimmage. It's not fancy. I mean, they've been really good all year of popping some plays.

I think our kids were consistent. They played physical. But they also throw the ball well. They made some plays. I think that was really the difference.

I think it's what we thought it would be. We thought the game would get into the fourth quarter and we'd have a chance to win it. We didn't expect to turn the football over a couple of times.

I liked our plan. I liked what we were doing. We're changing personnel groupings. We moved drew back to safety in some groupings, brought Asmar in to get a little bit bigger. I thought we maxed up to some of their personnel groupings to help to that end of trying to slow down Bryce Love.

Q. Specifically, seemed like they were at or behind the line.
BRIAN KELLY: We were tracking downhill, overloading gaps, really forcing them to do some things in the passing game. It was really to try to take away any continuity that they could get in the running game.

I think at one time they might have been 0-6 or 7 in third-down conversions. We were doing a pretty good job of forcing them to throw the ball in third-down situations. Again, they made some plays.

Again, I think the plan going in was to attack the line of scrimmage. Those backers were free to do it. We needed to get some help on the back end.

Q. Talk about the play of Kevin Stepherson and Equanimeous.
BRIAN KELLY: Played well, both of them. Played fast. That's the way we've got to have them play. They're both guys that can be game changers.

Q. Did you feel like there was more out there for them in this game?
BRIAN KELLY: We got to coach better and we got to play better.

Q. The momentum swing after the long punt return, the two penalties, did you feel like the game started to change after that?
BRIAN KELLY: I didn't think it changed, but I thought it was a key time in the game where we do a great job defensively. First of all, we do a great job with the punt. Down it on the one. Great defensive transition. Got a great punt return. Then two silly mistakes with the procedure personalities. Then settle for a field goal. We've been really good all year about taking those possessions and turning them into touchdowns.

Just felt like we left some points out there. I didn't feel like it was slipping away in that sense, but I felt like we left some points out there.

Q. You obviously seemed like you were really rolling up until maybe halftime of the Wake Forest game. Did you notice if something changed that moment, and if so what it was?
BRIAN KELLY: No, not really. I mean, I love the way the kids play. Their mindset is good. They played hard today. It's really kind of what I talked about. The issues that we've had against really good football teams, Miami, Georgia, and this Stanford team a good football team, is turning the football over, if we turn the football over against good teams.

We didn't play bad football teams and turn it over, we played really good football teams and turned it over. If you're going to do that, you're going to put yourself in a bad situation. There's not that guys were tired, not mentally sharp, they didn't come ready to play. They came ready to play. They were ready to win today. Got to hold onto the football. Can't turn it over.

Q. You beat USC pretty handily, now lost to Stanford. How do you think those two teams will match up on Friday night?
BRIAN KELLY: You know, each week is so different from week to week. Both of them are different styles. The physicality of Stanford versus the athleticism of USC. Two different styles. We didn't turn the ball over against USC. We won the game. We turned it over against Stanford.

Both of them are fine football teams. I think it will be a great match. But it's a match of different styles offensively. I would venture to guess it will be the team that takes care of the football. The team that takes care of the football is probably going to win that game. I think I went out on a limb there.

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