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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 9, 2010
COACH KELLY: I told our football team to get their 60 minutes worth. And I think they got their 60 minutes today. Again, got off to a pretty good start offensively, but as we've shown, we are really good at stubbing our toe, whether it be a penalty here or a drop here. But that's us. So you're going to have to get used to it, because I'm trying to get used to it or it's going to make me look really old real quick.
You know, we're a work in progress from an offensive standpoint. We're going to continue to work hard every week. And obviously we'll point out the things we believe we can obviously clean up and get better at.
But I just told them, "Enjoy the win." We'll micro manage this and talk about what we could have done and should have done on Monday. Enjoy the victory. It's a good win.
Great atmosphere out there today. Our kids played really hard for four quarters. And there's something that they're starting to develop a little bit and that is they believe they're going to win. And that's -- you know, that's starting to change how they go to work every day.
It's how they play the game now. They have a belief that they're going to win football games. We're not there yet, believe me, but we're taking the right steps towards where we want to go as a football team.
Q. One of the positives today has to be your kicking game. Not only field goals, but punting as well.
COACH KELLY: It was huge. I mean, we flipped the field position today. Ben Turk was outstanding punting the football. They're dangerous, one of the best ST teams we'll see this year was Pittsburgh. Well-coached. Certainly they probably want a couple of field goals back.
Having said that, Ben did a good job. Ruffer is obviously doing things that obviously not many people including myself thought he could do. Nobody would have thought 50 yards was like automatic.
He kicked that thing into the net. Had to look twice that it was 50 yards. He's just been outstanding.
Yes, the kicking game and the kickers, in particular, were very strong.
Q. Brian, you had said that mental toughness was job one, how do you feel like that wore on today's game?
COACH KELLY: I thought it was pretty good, obviously. Again, it's not that we don't want to hold onto the football on offense. We had a key drop to convert a third down, where we've got the right read and the ball comes out and we don't catch it.
Penalty here and there. Dropped ball. You know, we had a tough call go against us, which I disagree with. But you know what, they don't ask me whether I like the call or not, they just make it.
But I thought that touchdown would have obviously put us in a better position. But we keep competing, keep playing hard. And that's really -- that's really what this is about for us right now.
Q. Harrison had the one interception. Almost had another one, was pretty active, had double digit tackles, can you comment on his game?
COACH KELLY: Well, you know, you can't leave Baldwin by himself all the time. Interesting enough, the touchdown they caught, we were in two deep, we were in cover two.
The ball got outside the defense. We lost contain. The safety, you know, came up. And he gets behind us. But other than that, we did a pretty good job against Baldwin other than that one long play.
And that means you've got to keep Harrison back in two deep, but you also gotta be able to take your shots and drop them down.
I thought we had a great game plan, a good balance. Coach Diaco called a very good game of balancing when to drop Harrison for run support and then when to keep him back to double Baldwin.
Q. Crisp had some streaky spots, spurts during the game, yet didn't have any turnovers. Was this a step forward for him today?
COACH KELLY: Absolutely. No turnovers. We obviously didn't fumble the football or put it in a bad situation with our quarterback. He's starting to move a little bit better. We'd like him to obviously see some things.
But, look, we can say that this is going to be the same conversation until he gains more knowledge and he's doing that.
He saw some things today that, you know, he feels better about after the game. So I think we could probably continue to have this conversation that he's coming along. He's making progress.
Q. Coach, to be able to share that moment with your family after the game on the field, how special was that with you?
COACH KELLY: Anytime you get a chance to see your family because we spend about 80 hours a week. We have two families, football family and our own family. So when you get a chance to share it with your family, that's a great day. And, again, from my standpoint, doing it at Notre Dame, it doesn't get any better than that.
Q. Gary Gray, his play at the end, how big was that, obviously?
COACH KELLY: We were in cover two. That's where we start our defense. We start in two deep, and you run a hitch. We should be all over it.
We knew that they had thrown the ball, if you remember, Michigan early in the year had some success throwing the ball in the short field.
And we made some adjustments, rolled the coverage there, to take away the quick game. Because they were not going to throw it to the wide field and complete it. We were in good coverage. Gary did the right thing, reacted to the football, came up with a big play.
Q. Seemed that they were moving the ball pretty easily there in the first half. Your red zone defense really came up. What went right with your red zone defense?
COACH KELLY: We just -- we do have a developed attitude of we're going to keep you out of the end zone. You may get three on us, but we're going to keep you out of the end zone.
I think that that's something that's developed through this year, through developing an identity on defense. I think more than anything else, they're developing an identity that, listen, we may bend a little here and there but we'll keep you out of the end zone.
Q. I asked you last week about the how you win versus just simply winning thing, and you said I just want to play clean in certain ways. How does this game stack up to the playing clean part?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think, you know, if I could further elaborate on that. My job is to help our team win games. Find ways to win it. And I think this is one of those games that you click off and you put a W in it. And we found ways to manage the game to win.
We need to win games. And it's not a beauty contest yet for us. It's certainly not that. But my job is to get Notre Dame to win football games and we're starting to do that.
Q. The stubbing toe stuff, how long does it really take to build that sort of cut-throat, put a team down when it's just wobbly mentality? Does that take a while to take hold of the team?
COACH KELLY: Certainly it takes experience more than anything else. Because really what we're talking about here is a couple of individuals, if we make a play here or there, or we get something that goes our way, we do put the game in a position where it's less in doubt with our defense having to come up with a big play.
So it's just a couple of players needing to make plays. Our quarterback needs to continue to develop. As I told him, we had a couple of throws that, you know, they were pretty good throws, and we dropped them.
I told him those are on you, because you're the guy that everybody puts on a pedestal. You're the quarterback at Notre Dame, you've got to make those plays. He's all in on that and that's the great thing about coaching him.
Q. The high tempo in the first half seemed to be a little more high tempo. What was the idea behind that?
COACH KELLY: We had to move Zack Martin over to right tackle because Taylor could not answer the bell.
We were a little concerned that match-up could be an issue, so we definitely wanted to try to tire out that front four of Pittsburgh. So the tempo, flipping Zack Martin over to right tackle because Taylor couldn't go, we had him dressed out. He went through warmups. He had that look on his face where you go I don't know if he can go.
So we decided to move Romine and flip Zack Martin over and I thought tempo would be the best way to slow down that pass rush.
Q. Coach, I just wonder, you played a tough schedule this year. You haven't played any soft teams. Every game has been a fight for your ball club. Do you think your learning process is going on better because you've played a tougher schedule? Do you think the kids are really starting to buy into it of what your -- seems like they're coming along better?
COACH KELLY: Certainly when you play the competition that we've played it exposes your strengths and weaknesses. You're not covering up everything. All our warts are exposed. We're working on those things. The tougher schedule forces you to do that.
Again, I think when we go back and look at the film, we're going to find a lot of things we can do better but they're all coachable things, and that's what we'll continue to do.
Q. Talking about guys needing to make plays, you go to your playmakers by definition. I'm wondering what's your tight end situation going forward the next couple of weeks, because you don't have a bye week to rest Kyle?
COACH KELLY: Well, you know, clearly he didn't play the last series, because he's struggling. He's struggling all year. He's a tough kid, he wants to keep going out there.
It's probably at that point where you have to make a decision to shut him down for a week or you keep playing through it. You can't tell Kyle Rudolph you're shutting him down.
He wants to play and he wants to compete. Look, at the end of the day he played pretty good for us. Yeah, could he have played better if he was healthier, certainly I'm sure he would feel that way too.
But he's a pretty good tight end at 75 percent right now. So that's one that we'll have to continue to have a conversation about.
Q. And the last series, I think it was first down, pass in the end zone, looked like people thought it was an intentional grounding, what was your thoughts on that play?
COACH KELLY: My thought it was an intentional grounding. They didn't ask me again. I don't know why. They seem to make the decisions without coming over. (Laughter). So I reviewed it in the hope that it hit an offensive lineman. And then it becomes a live ball.
So obviously you can't overturn a call. But we were hoping for something there. And we were in a pretty good position to use a timeout if it didn't come up.
Q. (Off microphone)
COACH KELLY: Well, we've run it this year at different times. I think I explained I wanted to be in tempo because I wasn't certain that we were going to be able to hold up against a very good front four, in particular the defensive end.
I wanted the third and fourth quarter for him to be a tough third and fourth quarter. And that's really why.
Q. You were always known for your fast paced lightning offense, scoring at a raped rate. Boston College, you had a 14-play drive to end the game for 76 yards. You had a 15 and 13-yard drive here. The sustained drives, is that team identity now just predicated right now?
COACH KELLY: It's hold on and try to get it down the field. We're really micro managing in a sense the offense until we can let it go.
And we can't turn it over yet and just let it go because we make too many mistakes. So we're really trying to manage it. Ball control throws. Mixing in the run, high percentage kinds of looks for our quarterback, until we get to that point where we can just rip it and let it go but we're not there yet.
Q. Is there a gratifying point to being able to maybe control the clock?
COACH KELLY: I think we're good enough to do that, to control the clock. The problem is we don't put enough points on the board. But we can control the clock, and at the end of the day I'm not a big time of possession guy. I'd rather have more points on the board than time of possession and sitting here going we won time of possession but we lost.
We're not able to be as explosive offensively until we continue to develop. And once we do, we'll get back to being able to score enough points.
Q. On that point, the development, when it gets to that point will it be like it was, is that the goal the way the offense was in the first half?
COACH KELLY: All things will be okay. (Laughter)
Yes. I mean, look, we just -- we're not a consistent offense because we're just not developed enough. We're going to continue to pound at them and we operate with a sense of urgency.
This is not a transition year. This is a winning year. We don't allow them to grow. But they're growing. And that's really what we're going through, some growing pains as we move forward. But I'm a big believer that you can have those and still win football games.
Q. Danny Spond, looked like something happened to his legs?
COACH KELLY: Ankle. He was on the table when I came in after. He's doing pretty good. We'll evaluate that further. It was simply an ankle.
Q. What was the personal significance of having a pink game this season?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think you know college football and the NFL has embraced breast cancer and heightened its awareness nationally. And when you can do it on the college level, you know, for obviously the publicity that we get on TV and in the NFL, I think it's such a great, great cause that we're able to do that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
Q. Dayne, pretty good birthday present?
DAYNE CRIST: Yes, no better present than getting a win on your birthday.
Q. Did the guys sing to you or anything like that?
DAYNE CRIST: Guys wished me happy birthday. We were really celebrating the win, and there's not a better feeling.
Q. This is about as much as I've seen you guys celebrate a win so far. Was it a sense of relief? Do you feel you played your best game? And what was behind all the excitement?
DAYNE CRIST: It was an exciting atmosphere. We got a win at home again. It's been a while, since Purdue. So we were happy to come here and defend our field and play decent at home and get a win.
Q. Dayne, how would you evaluate your personal progress?
DAYNE CRIST: It's still a work in progress, I would say. It's still continuing to develop. We did some good things today and did some things that we'd like to correct. But the best part was we got a win while doing it. So that was the most important thing for us.
Q. You're known for your passing; what about that touchdown run you had?
DAYNE CRIST: It was just an opportunity that presented itself. Sheard is a great defensive end. Was real disruptive all game, a real good player. So just trying to get on the edge around him. When the play broke down, it was huge, and it just kind of happened.
Q. That's the fastest we've seen this offensive tempo-wise especially in the first half. Can you talk about that, what it's like operating in it?
DAYNE CRIST: I think the best thing about it is we can come back to it at any point in time. We've really been doing it since the summer at the pace that we wanted. And you can just see the way that we operate it, it can be very effective.
We're happy with the way we're moving the ball while we were in that tempo. It's something we'll continue to improve upon and make sure we're as close to perfect as possible.
But it's nice being able to switch the tempo at any point in the game.
Q. With everything you have been through, does this game feel like a little bit of a turning point and something you can build off of?
DAYNE CRIST: Yeah, I think so. We beat a very good team. Pitt is a very good team. Year in, year out, they've got a great program; but really it comes down to taking one game at a time, evaluating the opponent you have in front of you and do everything you can necessary to get a win.
Q. What do you feel like, besides obviously getting a win, but what do you feel is the most positive things that came out of this game?
DAYNE CRIST: Our defense played outstanding, really tip your hat to those guys. Won the game for us at the end of the game when their number was called. So happy for those guys.
On offense, happy the way we were able to execute in certain tempos and everything like that. But it wasn't completely clean. We sputtered at times, and we'll go and try and correct those mistakes. But just overall, being happy with the win and then now moving to two in a row.
Q. Back to back for the first time this season, how does that feel?
DAYNE CRIST: Feels great. Again, we try to take things one game at a time. That's been kind of our MO since the new staff. That's been what's been expected of us. But it's nice to kind of add one on and just picking up some momentum.
Q. Dayne, the offense bogged down again after some initial successes; do you consider that kind of on your offense, or is that more what maybe Pitt did to counteract what you were doing?
DAYNE CRIST: It's always a combination of both. Again, football is such a game of adjustments whether it's halftime or on the field. You're constantly doing different things throughout the course of the game.
So, really, our offense will take the blunt of that. And I think you can ask any guy on offense they'll take the responsibility of that one because we want to be in control. At the end of the day we don't want to put pressure on our defense. They played great today, and obviously we're very happy that they were able to stop Pitt toward the end.
But as an offense you really want to put that on your shoulders not have to worry about whatever the defense is doing.
Q. You feel like you've got the momentum?
DAYNE CRIST: I think so. We've got the momentum, but we've got to clean some things up to continue to get better and maintain that momentum.
Q. The touchdown that was called back, what was the review on that play?
DAYNE CRIST: I was a little frustrated. But again I can't comment on what a referee called. I mean, every team is going to get breaks, get some calls they shouldn't get and not get some calls they should get. That's just part of the game. Obviously it's frustrating, especially when it's a long play like that called back.
But everyone understands that's part of the game. You can't dwell on one play.
Q. You think this team's developed a sort of killer instinct, you're up 20 to 3, seemed like you could have put them away there.
DAYNE CRIST: I think we're moving towards that. I think that's something that everyone's cognizant of, something that we all want to achieve on offense. It's something that we haven't forgot about. We'll continue to develop that as much as possible.
Q. What do you think it takes to get that?
DAYNE CRIST: Experience, and experience together, really. Because if it's in the minds of certain guys and not others, it doesn't matter because you really need the offense collectively to develop that together. And the only way you do that is experience with one another.
Q. Play 12 in a row, playing at a high tempo, two touchdown passes, do you think that's as well as you think for offense?
DAYNE CRIST: We're happy with that. We're definitely happy with that. We can smile about that one; but, again, now it just goes back to maintaining that.
Q. Obviously been a streaky offense. What do you think it will be like when you start to put things together?
DAYNE CRIST: Only time will tell, but excited to see where it can go, obviously.
Q. What's the significance of having a pink game supporting the cause and for your coach and his wife?
DAYNE CRIST: I mean, just being able to represent such a great cause that kind of adds to the whole aura of the game and the pageantry of the game. But as a team, and obviously with how Coach Kelly was affected with breast cancer, that's our leader, that's who we're supportive of. There's tons of guys in the locker room that unfortunately were affected by that in one way or another.
So it's such a universal cause you feel really good about doing what you can to represent that and bring awareness to that.
Q. On Thursday Coach Kelly mentioned he saw different things from you in practice, last week and in the past, what was different last week?
DAYNE CRIST: Did he comment in particular, because we didn't --
Q. Pretty general, just like I saw some things from Dayne this week and I liked them.
DAYNE CRIST: I think this week in practice we wanted to -- I can speak from an individual standpoint. I just wanted to bring as much sense of urgency as possible, and I didn't want to be happy with, okay, we've got a win, now the monkey's off our back. No, it's let's keep going. I wanted to do everything we could in our power to tack on another one and another one that's going to be my mentality the rest of the way out.
So if that's what it was, then he'll definitely see that sense of urgency.
Q. How do you get that across to guys?
DAYNE CRIST: You really just have to bring a feistiness and kind of a fire all week in practice. And you can't have dull moments in practice.
The dull moments are what creates complacency in practice. And that's something that we as a leader of the offense you have to make sure you're staying on guys and getting the best out of them on every play.
Q. Where are you in the spectrum of caring about the how of the win versus just the win?
DAYNE CRIST: I mean, right now, after a game I could care less how we won. But after we let that 24-hour rule kind of settle in, then I become more critical of myself. I'm my biggest critic. I'll definitely spend a lot of time just trying to correct the mistakes we made today. But as of right now I could care less how we got the W.
Q. Coach Kelly talked about the offense and managing things, putting together 14, 15 play drives. How do you sort of balance that?
DAYNE CRIST: You understand that. I mean, any guys on offense understand, again, for as much as time of possession is an issue with our offense and just talked about, you understand especially with a team like Pitt who controls the clock, being able to balance that and also have ways to control the clock and manage the game, as you talked about, it's very important for us. But statement we're happy with when we're able to turn it on and cut it loose, really, and pick up that tempo and that intensity, we're happy with how that went. We thought that part of our game was clean today.
Q. Coach Wannstedt said that they had difficulty adjusting to your tempo early, which was faster than normal. Did they adjust to your tempo, or was it just the mistakes that you made that prevented you from scoring in the second half like you did in the first?
DAYNE CRIST: It was a combination of both. I think that we weren't -- I mean, like when we started off in the game and we were going real fast throughout the course of the game, you know, switching in and out of tempos. I mean, guys, you're cognizant of what they need to do. But in the second half, we were a little bit less.
Q. Think you're running clock?
DAYNE CRIST: Right, just trying to control the ball a little bit more. But, again, I've said this before, but this game is such a game of adjustments and just being able to make those adjustments throughout the course of the game at any point. And both teams did a great job today of doing that.
Their defense made adjustments to what we were doing. We made adjustments to what they were doing. But it's always a you check/we check game. Typically that's how all second halves are.
Q. Could you name one or two things they adjusted to defensively in the second half that maybe slowed you down a little bit?
DAYNE CRIST: In our run game, they were doing some things different. They were just getting an extra hat in certain areas, typically knew where we were going. They made good adjustments in their run game how they spiked their ends and did some things like that and then switched up coverage and brought a little bit more pressure in the second half. But I think that we did a pretty good job of identifying that. Now it's about executing our response to what we're getting.
Q. Dayne, the touchdown run looked like you baited Sheard there on the edge. Could you talk about that?
DAYNE CRIST: He's a real athletic player. So as a quarterback, you have to develop ways to escape. We practiced that all week with Coach Molnar, when we're doing individuals.
But just growing up, you know, you learn how guys play you. It kind of becomes more instinctive than anything else, really. But it's something that we practice; and when you've got an athletic player like that you can't just beat him with straight line speed, you've got to set him up and give him moves just like you would with an offensive tackle.
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