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September 25, 2010

Brian Kelly

Stanford – 37
Notre Dame - 14

COACH KELLY: Begin by tipping my hat to Stanford, coach Harbaugh. Well-coached football team. They were well-prepared. It's a fine football team. They deserved to win today.
As it relates to our kids, you know, as I told them after the game, if you break it down, it's 19-6, fourth down and foot and a half from midfield and we can't convert. Then third-and-eight we have a missed assignment where they pick up a first down. Really, you know, in a hard-fought game, those are the key plays that turned the game eventually to where it finished.
I think I would point out our defense battled. We had two interceptions. Not making any excuses for our kids, but we played three, four really good football teams, physical teams, and our kids have battled each and every week. We came up short this week.
But they're not going anywhere. They're going to be back next week and they're going to strap it back up and they're going to fight and play as hard as they can. We're going to build this program to where it needs to be.
So I think it's important to point out that, you know, Stanford deserved today's win, and that is a fine football team.
With that I'll open it up to any questions.

Q. Not to take anything away from Stanford at all, but did you feel like watching the game there was a hangover effect from Michigan State last week?
COACH KELLY: No. I thought our defense battled very well. Offensively we had a hard time fitting the ball into tight seams. You know, it was a lot of three down, drop eight. Then their drop eight, you've got to make some accurate throws. You got to put the ball in a great position. Then we really struggled in some of our run game stuff that we've had some success with, quite frankly.
You never pin it on one side of the ball or the other. But I think the thing that I take away is that drop eight, three down, drop eight, we got to do a better job of getting the ball into tight windows.

Q. As you move into this week, prepping for the next game, how do you pick up the pieces? Are there pieces to pick up with these guys?
COACH KELLY: I think that's a great question. That's the first thing that you ask your football team. There's going to be a lot of 1-3 football teams across the country. Some are going to finish 1-11, some of going to be 8 or 9-3. It's what you decide to do from here on out.
I know where I'm going and the way I'm going to work every day, as well as our coaches and players. We play a tough schedule. Make no bones about it. Our kids have battled. There's going to be success down the road for them if they stay with it, and I'm certain that they will.

Q. When you called the timeout at the end, did you make a point with your team, did you want to score, did you talk about anything?
COACH KELLY: We took the timeout just so, again, as we develop our football team, in particular our quarterback, that we're always going to play right down to the very end of the game. That wasn't for any other reason. We tried onside kicks. We tried everything to try to keep the game in a competitive situation. But clearly once the last field goal was kicked, we threw a little screen pass to the flat, picked up a big gainer. At that point you're trying to put another score on the board.

Q. Manti had 21 tackles today. Do you feel like you're getting to the point where his play may bleed into the rest of your defense?
COACH KELLY: He played with a will today. He had a look on his face, a toughness to him that he hasn't displayed since he's been a player here at Notre Dame. Today is one of those watershed moments for a defensive player that we can model.

Q. You talked about the tight windows when they dropped eight. They also were able to get some pressure on you early, sometimes as a runningback, sometimes offensive linemen. Were those missed assignments? Did they do something to confuse you?
COACH KELLY: I could give you each one of them, but we'd be here for a while. They blitzed the will linebacker, our back did not step up to meet him. He got driven back into the quarterback. Another time they fired the same linebacker and we missed a hot throw by the quarterback. Then the other one was a third-and-long where we were looking for a dig to come open. It was just a three-down rush where the time element was -- probably the sack was more about a coverage sack than it was an individual.
Those were really the three that stand out to me.

Q. You talked about your message to the players. Is there going to be a time where the leaders of the team have to take ownership of it, aside from you?
COACH KELLY: They've taken ownership. This group, they want to be remembered for something. They want to be remembered for being the team that turns this program in the direction that we all want it to go. They want to be part of that.
They've already bought into that.

Q. Brian, how difficult is it to go through a week, actually three weeks now, without a reward at the end, get the reward for the kids?
COACH KELLY: Well, you know, we all want to win. They want to win football games. We all want to be judged on successful ventures into playing the game. But they know what they're doing is making a difference. They're getting better. They're getting to the point where they can compete and think that they can win every game they play.
They have to take solace in that right now, because I have to. I have to do the same thing. We're all in this together as players and coaches. Nobody wants to walk away at the end of the day without that gratification.
But I think what we get is that we know that we're making internal, in our own room, behind the walls, we know what we're doing, and I think that keeps us moving forward.

Q. Small picture. Kyle Rudolph, was he a little gimpy at all?
COACH KELLY: You know, I'll have to watch the film. I know they paid special attention. He had a hard time sometimes getting a release. I know we were looking for him a couple of times. We just ran out of time. That's why sometimes the ball got bounced back out to Michael, but it was late.
When you're off rhythm and off timing from our passing game, from not being able to get it inside out, some of it has to do with how they played Kyle coming off the ball.

Q. You mentioned not necessarily knowing what they were going to do on defense based on those first three games. I don't want to say confusion, but were you trying to figure stuff out as the game was going on?
COACH KELLY: A couple things happened. First of all, they were able not to change personnel from three down to four down. They had shown always their ability to change personnel. We figured that out pretty early on, which was not an issue at all.
It really came down to their drop eight, rushing three and dropping eight, really not being able to execute on our end of things from that standpoint.

Q. How do you assess Dayne's day in the big picture?
COACH KELLY: You know, every day he's growing. There's new things he's confronted with. He's learning.
But it is a process. This is the maturation of a quarterback right before your eyes. We're going to have some growing pains along the way. But he's delightful to coach. He's a kid that wants to get better. So from my perspective, you probably saw a little bit of the growing pains that a lot of our players are going through.

Q. After he threw the interception, went for a touchdown, looked like you pulled him aside. What are you talking to him about?
COACH KELLY: You know, I don't want to get into the specifics of that. But, you know, those are times that the quarterback and the head coach get an opportunity to talk. Sometimes they're not things that I want to repeat.

Q. Brian, just talk about the battle on both lines today.
COACH KELLY: I didn't like the way we ran the football. But again, I thought we competed defensively against a very good rushing team. Again, I would have liked to see us have a little bit more success. We came out with two tight ends to start the game. We wanted to establish a more physical presence. Didn't get it the way I wanted to.
So we'll go back and look at it, evaluate it, find out where we are.

Q. Special teams overall, where do you feel like you are there?
COACH KELLY: I think our field goal kicker has been outstanding, and our kickoff coverage is outstanding. The rest of those groups lousy. We're going to have to take a good, hard look at what's going on there.

Q. Coach, obviously network TV, commercials, injuries. How hard was it to establish a rhythm offensively?
COACH KELLY: You know, I think that's probably more about what Stanford did than what NBC did. So I would say we just never created our own rhythm, you know, offensively. Stanford had something to do with that.

Q. It seemed like your team was moving at times, but there were breaks, then it would just shut down.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, no, I'm with you. I think I said the right thing (laughter).

Q. Coach, for the first time this year, Johnny Goodman was really involved at the receiver spot. Talk about why he got involved so much today and his play today?
COACH KELLY: Practicing better. Practicing better. Catching the football. Holding on to it. Finishing plays. Got a lot of confidence when he was at Michigan State, catching punts late in the game.
Confidence is about doing. I think when he had some success at Michigan State, really gained him some confidence. Had a really good week of practice. It showed in the game today.

End of FastScripts

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