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September 11, 2010

Brian Kelly

COACH KELLY: Any loss is a disappointing loss. This is certainly a disappointment, not to be able to hold Michigan out of the end zone at the end.
Hard-fought game. Again, I think more than anything else, from my perspective, we challenged our football team at halftime to make sure that everybody knew the kind of football that we were going to play and create our own identity and personality. And that was pretty clear. We battled down 21-7. Come back and get the lead there.
But, again, disappointing in the last drive that we weren't able to hold Michigan out.

Q. Could you just walk us through Dayne's situation today in terms of what was wrong with him and how you treated it, and what you saw once he came back?
COACH KELLY: The hit I did not see. It was more of his head hit the ground on a run. And he had some blurry vision. He was fairly lucid.
We didn't consider it to be a concussion at all or we wouldn't have brought him back in the game. He was not clear. When we were in the huddle to go back out for that next series, I could tell that he was not focused. So we thought it was best until he really got his bearings back, which obviously took until the third quarter, we weren't going to play him under those circumstances.

Q. Talk about him coming back, being able to work through the stuff, and a corollary to that, what did you want in that last play coming out of the timeout, were you looking for something else other than the jump ball into the end zone? You only had six seconds left.
COACH KELLY: No, we would have liked to have thrown it up and keep it in play. We felt with six seconds maybe we could have gotten a little bit closer if we threw a speed-out into the boundary or something like that.
But at that point, with six seconds, we felt like our best opportunity there was to throw Rudolph and Floyd into a shorter field. Just would have liked to have had a chance to at least bang it around in there.

Q. Seemed like when Dayne went out, that the defense let down a little bit, at least there were some mistakes in defense. Could you talk about that and them regathering themselves?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, you know, I don't know that I really felt that. I would have to watch the film to see if there were some things structurally that guys just weren't following through with their assignments.
But I think anytime your starting quarterback goes, there's always that first sense of: Oh, my gosh, our starting quarterback's out. Our defense really kept us in the ball game, even while we were mucking it around on offense there.
And other than the last drive, I thought our defense competed.

Q. Could you evaluate the two back-up quarterbacks, their games today?
COACH KELLY: I did a poor job preparing them.

Q. And Coach Elston wasn't here today. Could you let us know what's up with him?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he just has had a viral infection that he hasn't been able to kick. And we're hoping that we get some resolution here in the next 24, 48 hours for him.

Q. The end of the first half, the field goal roll through your mind, or did you say we really need a touchdown here with Montana at the 3, after the first down?
COACH KELLY: I thought where we were, score, two scores down, I thought that was an opportunity. We had the right look. We just read it out wrong.

Q. Was it the touchdown by Crist that he was injured on or was he, did he get injured --
COACH KELLY: No, it was a previous play where he ran -- I think he had 20-yard run something like that. And when he was hit, he was hit from the side. He struck his head on the ground.
And we think that that's what triggered some blurriness.

Q. You went with Rees to begin with, and then he threw the interception; you didn't go back to him, what was your thinking there?
COACH KELLY: You know, on the sideline you're just trying to assess body language, who is looking you in the eye, not that he wasn't. I just -- we were just trying to put something together.
I guess at the end of the day, Nate gives us a little more running than maybe Tom does. And I didn't want to throw it all over the yard with Tom given the circumstances of the game. I needed to eat some clock. And Nate gave us a better option where he could run the football, too.

Q. Can you or will you accelerate the development of the other two freshmen quarterbacks? Can you do that? Can you force that issue?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I gotta do a better job to put both those guys in there. We know who our back-up quarterbacks in terms of the candidacy, who they are. I just have to do a better job getting them ready.

Q. What could you have done differently to get them better prepared?
COACH KELLY: Maybe created a package that was just for them and had that been the case, maybe they could have managed the game a little bit better.

Q. You saw a tape of Denard this week. Was there something different seeing him in person? Did you see anything you didn't expect out of him?
COACH KELLY: No, I think he's a tough kid. I think that's one thing that stands out. He's obviously a very explosive player. Throws it as well as -- I think I talked about it in the press conference, but he's a tough kid.
When you run a quarterback 25 times, you've got to have toughness. I'll let Coach figure out whether that's the case for 10 games. Coach Rodriguez knows his team better than I do. But we hit him pretty hard today. He's a good, tough kid.

Q. Talked about running the clock when Dayne got injured, was it a thing of let's get to the half, see if we can get Dayne back, or were you trying to shorten the game?
COACH KELLY: There might have been a little bit of that in there. I wasn't anxious to put our defense back on the field with a guy that had just gone 80 something yards.
So clearly there's a little bit of that. But you can't just sit there and not try to score points either. So we were trying to find some ways to move the football and give ourselves a chance to put some points on the ball because we got behind 21-7.
I thought we did that from the point we got it down to a position and we just couldn't handle being in that formation with the different things that could occur. That's really -- it's not the kids as much as I just gotta get them into a better play.

Q. You talked last week about you had a conversation with Dayne about telling him you don't need to go out and win the Heisman today. Going in there two scores down to start the second half, what was that conversation like today knowing that maybe you would need a little bit more out of him than just --
COACH KELLY: I didn't try to force anything on Dayne. He's learning on the job. This is all on-the-job training for him. Being injured, coming back. It's the first time he got nicked up obviously, other than the knee that put him out for the year. These are the battle scars of a quarterback. And he's learning every day. He showed some signs of being a very good quarterback. And there's some things that we've got some things to work on with him.
But he's a great kid to coach. And we just gotta continue in the evolution of a starting quarterback at the University of Notre Dame.

Q. Your defense again on the field a lot today, can you assess how much gas they had there in the tank at the end of the game?
COACH KELLY: Obviously they didn't have much left. That had a lot to do with the way we played offensively. You know, we obviously would have liked to have tackled better in that last drive.
We had some missed assignments that we had not had. So we obviously were fatigued and it might have been just being on the field a little bit too long. That's a great excuse. We didn't give them that excuse in the locker room. We told them we've got to blow up in those situations and we've got to make a play.

Q. Earlier in the week you said blitzing would not be the best way to attack Michigan and their offense. Today, did the fatigue or any situation that could change that later in the game?
COACH KELLY: Well, we brought some edge pressures and felt like the bubble slant combination zone is a tough play to defend, when it happens so far out on the perimeter, because the safety's engaged.
So we had to play a little bit more man-to-man to take away really the passing game, to be quite honest with you. So it really had less to do with adding another hat relative to the run game, is that we needed to get body-on-body in the pass game.

Q. Dayne last week had three overthrows, two to Floyd one to Rudolph in the end zone. And then obviously today he had the last overthrow. Is that something that's been a problem all through training camp, and what can you do to rectify that?
COACH KELLY: Again, I think you're seeing and you're all going to be part of this, if you follow Notre Dame every week, you're going to see the development of a quarterback. Yeah, he missed some throws. He made some great throws.
The great part about it is that he's going to get better and better as he gets more time. So, no, there's nothing systemic wrong with his ability to throw the football. I don't have to work on anything other than repetition, repetition and just continue the growth process.
He almost did enough today being hurt, missing a couple of throws, put our football team in a great position to come back with a great victory that obviously we didn't have. So he's not that far from where we need him to be.

Q. Two fairly easy ones on the team to set up a touchdown and similar play last week down the post. Is it blown coverage in those situations, or is it just Robinson put a lot of pressure up front?
COACH KELLY: I can give you the specifics if you really want to know. I think I'll bore everybody in this room. But the safety is in a position where he's coming off the hash. And he's trying to fill that voided area because we're dropping a player down to leverage Denard Robinson.
So this is still about an individual who you're trying to defend and forcing a safety now to be in a can't-miss situation. If he's a second off, if he's not on his key, they're going to hit it.
So that's why, as the question was asked earlier, we had to play a little bit more man, not necessarily for the run game, but because of those kinds of quick strikes that we couldn't give up anymore. We just couldn't put ourselves in a position where they could get a quick strike like that.

End of FastScripts

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