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November 30, 2019

Brian Kelly

Stanford, California

Notre Dame - 45, Stanford - 24

BRIAN KELLY: Well, it's obviously a great way to finish November with our fifth win in the month. It's hard to do that. And just, there's so many things that we did today that I'm really excited about. But the thing that stands out is special teams today. We needed a big day from our special teams unit and we got it. It started with the punt block and from there we got some momentum and started to settle down a little bit offensively. We were kind of, we had a great first drive and then a couple of penalties here and there. But the special teams was outstanding today, and, when we get the fumble recovery off the punt, obviously, did a lot of really good things.

So been coaching a long time. I don't remember special teams really impacting a game so significantly in the way it did today. So great win. Great to get to that 10-win plateau for the third time, pretty significant and our guys are really excited about holding onto the Legends Cup, which is the rivalry trophy that we play for that now we have all six back again. So pretty excited about that.

Q. Looking at Stanford struggling, you know you're supposed to win by a lot, but you're playing a rival. Is that the kind of effort you expect when you're playing against a rival especially?
BRIAN KELLY: I told our team they were going to play extremely well and to expect it. They have a lot of pride and character. We know their locker room is filled with great character, whether it was in -- they weren't going to mail it in. They just had too much integrity. So we knew that they were going to play very well today, and they did. They came out and played extremely well. We weren't surprised by it, but we weren't panicked at all. We knew that we were going to have to play well today.

Q. Both sides of the ball kind of start slowly but then that momentum changed. What did you do on each side of the ball on defense and special teams to reverse the trend?
BRIAN KELLY: We got the ball to Chase. And Kmet was big for us. We really didn't establish much of a running game until the second half, but we started to get the ball on the ground and started to exert ourselves. They tired a little bit and we were able to start to control line of scrimmage. That obviously turned the tables for us.

Defensively, I think what happened for us more than anything else, they were into some spot passing game and we had to really make some adjustments at halftime, which we did, and kept the ball in front of us. We went into some more drop 8, and I think that was pretty effective for us in the second half.

Q. (No microphone.)
BRIAN KELLY: It helped. It definitely helped. There's no doubt.

Q. To get that 10th win where you haven't won since you've been here, but since 2007's program, what does that mean to you?
BRIAN KELLY: It's just checking off the list so we can, so we don't have to talk about it anymore, so you guys won't bring it up. So we can talk about other things.

Yeah, we have been here, I just, it's nice to be able to just move past this now. We have been here twice in the last, but for me, the last two times that we were here felt like we had teams that we could win. And maybe earlier when I was here with teams, maybe we didn't have enough firepower to win some of those games. But the last couple, 2015 in particular, they kicked the field goal late, felt like our team should have won those games or were very capable of winning those games. So these are kind of a bitter taste and so we now we can move on and just say, all right, just prepare your football team and when you come here you can win football games.

Q. Chris Finke. His status?
BRIAN KELLY: He pulled a hamstring on Tuesday and he just wasn't a hundred percent and didn't want to put him in a situation. We felt like he could handle the football for us back there as a punt returner, but with Keys and Avery at a hundred percent, it just didn't make any sense to put Chris in there at 75.

Q. 12 games into the season, your offensive identity is what? How would you describe that?
BRIAN KELLY: I think it is what it is. We have the ability to run the football when needed. As you saw today, we rushed for close to 200 yards when we needed to. And the ability to make big plays. I think this year, each year an offense, I think, takes its shape based upon who the players are that step up. We're big play offense with Chase Claypool, obviously, making those big plays. And younger players have kind of emerged through the season and, obviously, in the last five games it's been Braden Lenzy and he showed that again today. So I think big-play capabilities, a tight end that can manage the chains for you, and a capable running game when needed and to be called upon. And I think that that's how this offense has managed itself over the last probably month or so.

Q. In every win Clark Lea's defense has gone a stretch where it's either a half or three quarters where they just dominate and force three and outs and punts. What is his teaching ability after, to get these guys, after a slow start, to pick up where they seemingly left off during the month?
BRIAN KELLY: I think what he really does well is adapt in game to situations. There's a lot of good teaching that goes on, really good communication. And so I think that that is one of his strengths in, as I listen to the communication, I think it's clear and concise and can be replicated back to the young men. There's not a lot of yelling and screaming. There's a lot of clear communication that can be brought down to the sideline and kids can make those adjustments when necessary and that's the mark of a really good leader.

Q. This was, Ian Book had like 107 people here, so it was sort of a homecoming for him. What was your message to him, because I know when he played in the Coliseum last year, not that it's the same thing, but there were some nerves involved. Were you concerned at all?
BRIAN KELLY: No. He's a different person now. He was really in a great place. He found a stillness to him that he's never had before. And he plays the game differently now. His calmness is really about his confidence now and what he can do. I thought the big play was the one out of the end zone where he finds Braden Lenzy. I think that's a big turning point in the game. And they dropped eight but he showed patience in the pocket. We wouldn't have saw that earlier in the year. But I think it just goes to his mindset, his stillness that he has found, and the way he plays the game now. And it's really fun to watch his growth throughout the year.

Q. Had Foskey flashed on special teams well in practice or in the previous three games for you?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, we weren't using him at all. But if we're going to use him up in the fourth game, we were going to use him everywhere we could. And there was, we felt like there was some areas in their special teams. Their punter is a new punter and his ops time were, we felt, a little off that we could get there. We actually had another one where we went right past the punter and could have had another one. But he's so long and we felt like we could get one with him in, and that's why we had him on punt.

Q. Where is he strength-wise?
BRIAN KELLY: No, he's weak. He's going on really good hands, hand placement is good, he can leverage really well, he bends well he's going to be a really, really fine football player. He's just not strong enough yet.

Q. Have you ever used stillness as compliment to a quarterback before?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, I meant in terms of his ability to just get all of the chatter and all of the outside noise away from him where he can be present without having to think about anything else. And I think it's a great quality for all great athletes to have that where they can be present and not have all this distraction. And he's kind of found that.

Q. Did you guys bring Pendleton into the box more than you expected?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, we were dropping him down on the tight end. We wanted to get -- we wanted to keep the space minimal for the tight end. If you give him any space to work with you saw, they will, they're very tough to defend because they like to run a lot of stick, stick option routes with him and they can keep you on -- you saw they had the ball for almost 12 minutes in the first quarter, and a lot of it with, like, stick-passing game, and we needed to close space. And so it might have looked like he was in the box more, but we were just dropping down to take space away from him.

Q. Is Connor going to be able to stay long-term at safety or could he outgrow that position?
BRIAN KELLY: No, his, other than slipping and falling on the field today, no, his ability to cover, we didn't do it today, but he was actually going to play some corner in the red zone today in matchup situations. He did quite well in practice. So, no, he has got the ability to stay back there and play safety for us.

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