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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 23, 2019
South Bend, Indiana
BRIAN KELLY: All right. Another tough match up this weekend for us with Virginia coming in. Top 25 team.
You know, I know Bronco very well from his time at BYU. We have had great games against them. They're known certainly, for their defense but, you know, again they're extremely talented.
They've got elite players on each level of their defense. Just love the way they play. They're aggressive. They're tough. Well coached. And, again, really familiar with Bronco from going against him when he was the head coach at BYU.
We know about Charles Snowden being the National Player of the Week. Obviously, but they're long and athletic on the edge. Jordon Mack at the inside, backer, one of the best inside backers we're going to see, instinctive.
You're talking about Snowden at the outside backer position. You're talking about Mack at linebacker. You know, they have great depth at the defensive line. They can play as many as five guys in there.
Certainly on the back end of the defense, you know, you have got Hall who has been a headliner for the last couple of years at the cornerback position, really physical as a run stopper, blitzer. He'll be a high pick in the NFL.
It is a really good defense. Nationally I think they're 14th in total defense. I mean, they're in the top 20, top 25 in all of the categories, and deserve to be. They're all over the field. Again, I just say schematically sound and cause a lot of issues. So we have got our hands full.
Offensively, again, I think it all runs through Perkins. You know, it goes through him in terms of his ability to make plays. He's explosive. He's extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands. He can throw the football at a pretty high percentage. Gets the ball out quickly, he's not going to sit back there and wait on things.
You know, Reid's a really good receiver as well and they move him around all over the place.
A great challenge for our football team. One where we'll have to play really well. If you look at the last couple of times now, they have been down in games, they have come back from deficits and won. So a confident team, a well coached team, one that you're going to have to beat them. They're not going to give you the game. So really good challenge, and one where we'll have to play extremely well.
With that, we'll get rolling with the questions.
Q. You cleaned up all the injury questions yesterday.
I'm curious with Michael Young coming back and Lindsay, as you get these guys back, how does your wide receiver rotation change, if at all? How do you keep guys like Javon McKinley still involved in that or do you skinny it down to the best guys?
BRIAN KELLY: I think we need them all. You know, there's going to be certain situations where we, you know, need them by play call and situations. No, it they're all going to be needed.
They all have to be able to help each other during the week in practice too, so volume is important. We keep them up. We keep them ready. And then there are certain situations in the game that, you know, we feel they match up for different times in the game and different play calls.
Q. On Saturday night, I think you were pretty clear that you wanted to send a message to your team about what their mindset and mood should be like on Monday. I'm curious what vibe you're getting from your team as to how they're able to process the Georgia game, and move forward?
BRIAN KELLY: I'll meet with them around 3:00. Our captains have already called a team meeting prior to that to want to meet with the team.
My sense and expectation is that they understand the importance of where we go from here after the Georgia game. For them to fulfill the goals and the mission that we have set forth for us, we have to play better football from here on out. So pretty confident that they understand that and what's needed from them moving forward.
Q. You gave a pretty good diagnosis of their defense. They're number one in sacks in the country. How do they maybe compare speed wise in their front 7 to Georgia?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, they're really long and athletic. You know, I think there's, you know, a 3 4 defense, some similarities there, some carryover there. They're different in that they run the 3 4 a lot differently.
So I wouldn't say that there's a lot of carryover in terms of personnel, other than, you know, Snowden is long and athletic. He's kind of like the kid they had a couple of years ago out there. Just, you know, a really good defense. The best comparison I can give you is 3 4 with really good players similar to Georgia. Another challenge for us.
Q. Coach, Saturday night you said that you think the defining moment for this team will come up this Saturday, not last Saturday in Athens.
BRIAN KELLY: I think our team will define who they are, you know, this week because they're coming off of a game where they were disappointed in their performance. So they have a chance to do something about it.
So this is an opportunity to kind of define, you know, who you are, and that was much more closer to what I was trying to articulate if I didn't do a good job with that.
Q. I guess are you curious to see how they function in a bounce back type of situation?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah. I think it defines who you are.
I mean, clearly they know what's at stake for them this weekend, they're playing a really good football team that's nationally ranked, I think it is the first time they have been ranked for three weeks in a long time. They feel really good about themselves. They'll come in expecting to win. They're going to be challenged and they're going to have to respond. Yeah. You want to find those things out.
I have a good feeling that they're going to respond in the right way. Again, its closer to defining who you are after coming back from a loss than it is any time after a win.
Q. How much do you think it helps kind of focus them, the fact that they have another top 20 opponent right there for them?
BRIAN KELLY: Virginia has their attention, there's no doubt about that. So they know they have to pay attention to their detail and, you know, play well against a quality opponent. There's no question when you play a team of this caliber they recognize how important it is to go back to work.
Q. Brian, I don't think anyone around here was surprised by Cole Kmet's performance against Georgia, but you hadn't necessarily before this past Saturday. What's that do for how defense will have to account for him going forward, and what's it do for you offensively in opening up other options?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah. It certainly allows us to do things schematically that provides openings, you know, on the field for other players.
So, you know, look, I guess you guys can all, you know, follow the game pretty good. When you have a tight end that can push the middle of the field it creates some problems.
If you want to play 2 deep zone, whose got that guy? Does the safety have him? Does the linebacker have him? So he creates a match up problems that can spread the field, if you will, for other receivers to get some favorable match ups. Yeah, he's a big piece to what we're doing.
Q. And Jeremiah Owuso-Koramoah has been challenged a bit with having to play in space against first opponents here. How do you feel he's handled those challenges?
BRIAN KELLY: I think it's been one where he's had coming into the Georgia game, you know, two games to really kind of build a resume. So it is not much, you know, of a resume at this point. I thought he showed some flashes, and did some good things against Georgia. He made the kind of progress that we were looking for against Georgia. I guess the best way to put it is that the arrow is up after the Georgia game with Jeremiah.
Q. In terms of coming back from Georgia, you have talked a little bit about the sort of mental meeting and sort of refocusing. The physical aspect of it though, when will you know whether they bounce back from that? Do you have to sort of wait for Tuesday's practice to come and go to sort of assess where you guys are physically?
BRIAN KELLY: I get a good sense of that on Sunday. All of our guys are required to check in by noon. And, you know, we have a pretty extensive check in with massage therapy, chiropractic care. I make myself down there to get a pulse of the team. I feel like we're in a pretty good spot, you know, physically.
You get a good sense of where you are. You know, we're only three weeks in the season, we had a bye week. It is not like we're begging for a week off. We came out of it pretty good. I think our guys are ready for more was the sense I got.
Q. After practice Tuesday when you check the GPS numbers, you're expecting more to confirm what you believe now as opposed to, okay, I need to learn about where we actually are?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah. Yeah. No doubt.
I think what I would be expecting is let's go. You know, we expect physical and demanding practices this week, load them on. It is the grind time. Let's get after it.
Q. Why is Clark Lea a good teacher or how is he adapting the teaching style from maybe a 400 level last year with Drew and Te'von to a 1 or 200 level this year with the newer group of linebackers?
BRIAN KELLY: I think consistency and approach.
He doesn't vary much from what he's said from day one. He's not changing the drill work up each day. I think they know what they're getting every day. He doesn't throw a curveball at them. He has an expectation for what those players need to do and what they master and what they need to master. Each day they close in on becoming better and better at it. I think that that's what he's done a really good job at regardless if it's a player with a lot of experience or a little experience. His consistency and his teaching approach has been really one where I think all levels have been able to adapt to it.
Q. Lastly, I think right before the game started you talked to the sideline reporter about Ian and staying in the pocket a little bit more. Why is that important for him? Did you see what you wanted? I would think that sort of mobility behind the line of scrimmage is a strength, where getting out of the pocket could be a positive. How do you assess that part of his game right now?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah.
You know, some of it is tactical. You know, when you're in a 3 down, there are two bubbles inside and you're going to get double teams inside that create a better pocket from the inside out.
You know, Ian is 6 foot. He likes to slide a little bit to see. His better vision point would be inside versus a 3 4 defense. Sometimes you like to slide out to see a little bit better. Vision was going to be better for him this week inside the pocket. He did a nice job with that.
Q. Brian, I wonder touching on what Tyler talked about with Cole. Could you talk a little bit about the skill sets that Cole brings to the tight end position as compared to some of the tight ends you have had here in the past.
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah. I think he's a cross between maybe a Troy Niklas and Tyler Rochford. He brings that physicality and big body type tight end where he's imposing, but still has the ability to catch and run. So, you know, you're getting kind of a combination there.
You know, he's still young, you know, at the position, still emerging, you know. We were just talking about, you know, how sometimes we're asked about the development of our players. Ian Book has had 13 games as a starter, you know, that's one year; tommy Reyes had 31; brady Quinn had close to 50. You know, sometimes you try to equate Ian Book to where Brady Quinn was. Well, tell me when Ian Book gets up to 50 games, you know, I'll let you know where he is.
Cole has only had six real starts. You know, he's emerging, you know, getting better. He hasn't had a ton of playing time. You know, he's gaining a better sense of where to be, how to find the soft spots in zones, and things of that nature. He's certainly not, you know, a Tyler Rochford in terms of the savviness he got, you know, after three years of experience, but he's making good progress in a very short period of time.
Q. You would have expected if he didn't have the injury last year that he probably would be beyond that point right now.
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah.
There is no substitute for game experience. You know, obviously, you know, you count the Georgia game, and the experience he got from there, not only in playing in the game but the confidence that he gained from that. You know, expedientially you can't put a number on that. He'll come in with a lot of confidence this week.
Obviously he'll feel real good about not being injured too. I'm sure our doctors were cringing the first time we threw the ball to him. We didn't take it easy on him.
Q. You didn't wait too long.
BRIAN KELLY: We didn't wait too long. We put him right in the frying pan.
I think he's got a lot of positive feelings about what he can do and how he can impact the offense.
Q. Of course you're home this week. The crowd noise the atmosphere, the environment is not going to be a problem hopefully. What do you take from the things that you did last week, the problems you had down there with the count and as you're moving forward this season, do you work on those things in practice knowing that somewhere down the line you're going to use or need to add that?
BRIAN KELLY: I mean, I'm sick about it. I have been a head coach for 29 years. I know better to be quite honest with you.
We didn't spend enough time, obviously. I thought I did.
I made a terrible miscalculation in that I felt like our quarterback was prepared, but he wasn't. That falls on me. Consequently, we had three critical, you know, cadence, you know, issues that who knows where they could have led to, you know. That falls on my shoulders. I have to do a better job.
We'll make sure that never happens again.
Q. Coach, on the CBS broadcast Gary Danielson accused your program and Jeremiah Owuso Koramoah faking an injury. I wanted to see if you could give us your take on what happened there, and your reaction to that.
BRIAN KELLY: Well, I don't know where that really comes from.
You know, our protocol is if any player has suffered an injury and they're not feeling right, we want them to go down. We want them to get medical attention.
We have a medical spotter that is communicating with our trainers, and we don't want to risk anybody that's not feeling right. So I'm proud of our guys that they have, you know, made sure that that procedure is followed correctly.
We're not going to fake injuries. We're a tempo team. We're going to make sure that protocol is followed based upon what our training staff wants under those conditions.
Q. The one thing in that is that Shaun Crawford appeared that he was going to go down also. I don't know if you guys were saying
BRIAN KELLY: Say that again.
Q. Shaun Crawford appeared like he was ready to go to the ground also on the same play. I don't know if you went back and saw that, or why that would be the case if maybe somebody from the sideline was saying get down to Jeremiah and Shaun decided he was going to for a second?
BRIAN KELLY: Don't know. I don't know about that.
If he was told to get down, it was probably for Jeremiah. Maybe Shaun misunderstand what was going on under those circumstances, yes.
Q. Just wanted to follow up a little bit on Pete's question with Clark.
I think we have always kind of described him as professorial in the manner in which he presents himself, and so many times there's this impression of a defensive coordinator needing to breathe fire and awe. Is that something that you see behind closed doors that we don't, or how is it that the team seems to respond so well to his teachings?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, he has a very clear messaging from the very beginning of the week, as I said, to Pete and his questioning relative to technique.
For the entire unit, when I sit in the meetings, which will be today, you know, we layout a clear message as to what our expectations are from a defensive standpoint. I don't think there is one player that doesn't know what to expect from Clark and the staff and where they fit, you know, in that big picture. So I just think there's, you know, a sense of everybody knows what their expectations are, and he's able to get the best out of them.
He builds really good relationships with the players. And he demands in practice the kind of defensive demeanor that's necessary to play with a physicality, but with the right emotional control. So if you're on our practice field, no, I don't know that there is a lot of yelling or screaming, but there's straight talk. Straight talk will get the job done as well.
Q. I wanted to ask about Ade Ojundeji. He's been overshaded from the moment he came. He came in with Daelin and Kyren, those two who originally committed to USC and Alabama. Wow. Those are steals. Where he had committed to Western Michigan, and it is a reaction of what's Notre Dame doing recruiting a MAC player level. Can you talk about his progress and where he's gotten to where he's at now?
BRIAN KELLY: He's playing great football for us.
He's worked so hard to get himself to where he is today.
Mike Elston does a terrific job of rewarding those players that have warranted the playing time as well, and he has.
The credit goes to him and Coach Balis, our nutrition staff has done a great job, he has as well in putting on the weight and doing it in the right way.
This is total of player development within the program, and a great indication of that. That you can be somebody that develops within the program and not ready made and still be an impact player.
Do you want 20 of them? Probably not, because you're probably not going to get all 20 to end up to where Ade is, but there are certain instances where you can bring in a player like this that is so hungry and so motivated that you get the end result with Ade.
Q. What did you see in Ade that
BRIAN KELLY: We saw that kind of personality that he wanted to be great. Everything that he wanted to do was to be successful in the classroom, to be successful on the football field, to be successful in life. So we saw that passion in him that we thought would translate well.
Q. Brian, yesterday you said about the running game that I want to make sure I get it right from the transcript here it is going to take some time until you get all the assets back in place. Should I read from that that once Jafar and Jahmir is healthy you feel confident about the job that your offensive line is doing now that the running game will click?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah. We'll find ways to move the football.
Look, I mean, I think in the vacuum everybody would love to be, you know, 300 yards rushing, 300 yards passing. Until we get up to the strength that we need to at the running back position, we're going to find ways to put points on the board and win football games.
It looks good that we're going to get Jahmir back this week. We'll see how things go in practice the next couple of days.
We have got to rely on Avery and C'Bo Flemister more than we did. We were, obviously, a little resident to put them out in the atmosphere at Georgia. We have to rely on those guys. I thought that the offensive line did a really good job against a very difficult defense to handle in terms of pass protection. But we have to find a way to run the football too, and we're going to have that challenge against Virginia.
Q. Then on special teams, what were the explanations for the procedural penalties that were called?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, we had one illegal formation. We had one false start. Then we had one double team that was interpreted as a double teams are no longer allowed, and one holding penalty.
We disagree with the double team. The double team was taken off because it was any time the ball is kicked out of the end of the endzone as a touchback those penalties are taken off.
The procedure penalty, we felt like we warranted a warning on that, which we generally get to move the player up. We didn't get that. It is what it is.
So we got to clean those up. Those are on us. That's our responsibility to make sure you know, I look at penalties. We had 12 of them. That's way too many. I think 10 of them were foolish penalties, and that falls on the staff and me in particular to clean up foolish penalties. A couple of those are penalties that we have to fix.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports