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November 20, 2010

Brian Kelly

ARMY – 3

COACH KELLY: New York's a lot of things, and what it was tonight was a college football town. It was an exciting atmosphere, and I know that our kids fed off the energy that was here in New York for the past 48 hours.
So very exciting for our football team to be here at Yankee Stadium and play well, obviously. Winning the football game is the most important thing, but for those that felt that New York City's not a college football town, it's a college football town as well. At least it was tonight.
So, guys played hard, physical. Again when you play a well-coached football team like Army, and you play an a academy and have to match that mental and physical toughness play after play, and I thought our guys did a tremendous job, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Holding an option offense to three points.
Any time that you can go into a game thinking that you're not going to have to chase the scoreboard with a lot of points when you play an option team, you would feel as though you're in a pretty good situation.
With that, I'll open it up to questions.

Q. Coach Ellerson was in here talking about a defensive scheme that you guys threw out there that they have not prepared for at all. Could you talk about the changes you made from Navy and what you're trying to get at with even fronts and all that tonight?
COACH KELLY: Well, I thought that clearly we needed to be more physical. Obviously, when you play an option team, you want to be able to use the point of attack as a focal point.
So going to the four-down where we could cover up the guards and essentially put four guys on the fullback and make certain that the ball got out. It would then come down to would the game slow down a little bit, which it did after the first drive, we could chase the football down.
Our back end did a good job moving Blanton to the drop and having him play, a very athletic player. I just think that the scheme for us was about being more physical.

Q. I know there's one more game left, but bowl eligible with the sixth win. How important is that considering maybe a few weeks ago people were wondering if that was even going to happen?
COACH KELLY: Again, as you continue to develop your program, those 15 practices are very important. Now, if I brought that up in the locker room, my players don't want to hear about 15 more practices. They want to hear about what's the bowl destination?
But as you continue to build and develop your program, those are important, but also getting to a bowl game and continuing to build off of the month of November.

Q. You brought in I think three freshmen quarterbacks this year. From what I understand, the guy you played tonight was the lowest of the rated guys whatever that's worth. So what did you see in him that you started to go with him some?
COACH KELLY: Just a young man that loves to play the game. He has a great feel for the game. As a freshman, there are a lot of things he doesn't understand in our playbook, has a hard time grasping some of them.
That's why we've been in the 20 throws a game, 20, 25 throws a game. Make them high percentage, give him a chance to get someone on one matchups.
But he's got just a competitive spirit and knows the game. He's been around it all his life and you can sense that when you talk to him. He's a pretty easy guy to talk to when it comes to the game of football. I guess that's not registered.

Q. You lost Ian Williams after Navy, and you said he was our best defensive player. Ever since, I think, it's 11 quarters now without a defensive touchdown. What changed about the mentality of the defense and the personality of this defense or has anything changed?
COACH KELLY: A culmination of just the same message. I know it's boring and it's not a great story for you. I wish I could give you something more. But it's just a consistency in our approach every single day. Guys are really understanding where they fit, how to play the game.
We're playing fast. We're playing physical. We don't look like a team in November that is not physically stronger, not in better condition. I've always felt that the teams that I've coached, we want to be better in November and we're getting better in November. And there are a lot of things that go to that, not just our guys are tackling better.

Q. After two big wins like this in a row where big, defensive wins, what does this do? A game like this, a win like this, what does it do emotionally for a team heading into a pretty big rivalry game against USC next week?
COACH KELLY: I think, and I've said this, you keep building a little bit more confidence. But, we were moving in the right direction. Certainly winning helps the message. Let's face it. But they were doing everything that I asked them to do, even when we hit a rough spot. This is just helping deliver the message.
USC's going to be another tough football game for us on the road. We're not even thinking about that right now. We want to enjoy this and in 24 hours we'll get to work on the Trojans.

Q. Obviously you have to get ready for Army and what you're going to face on the field. I'm curious if at all during the week you took a little time out with players to sort of verse them in the history maybe a little bit of not only Notre Dame-Army, but here at Yankee Stadium, and if you had an appreciation for that history at all?
COACH KELLY: Oh, I have a great appreciation. We sat in the same room that you're sitting in after our walk through. Generally, on Friday, my standard routine is to have a pretty brisk walk through, go through a lot of things. We didn't do any of that. We just stood around with our eyes wide open and took pictures and Marvelled marveled at the stadium and walked around here.
Then after they got enough of that, they got a big Jumbotron here too which is really cool. I don't know if you guys have seen one of those things before. It's really cool, And there is a beautiful one here. There were some videos that were playing. Our guys saw that.
After that, we came in here and showed a video of the Army-Navy history and the games and the names. I don't spend a lot of time on it, but it's a good mix in getting them to understand how rich in tradition this game was without going overboard. Without spending all week, Army, the Navy academy, the cadets, all of these great rivalries. We didn't spend too much time on it, but I thought we spent the appropriate time on it here in Yankee Stadium.

Q. So you have that first drive you made the change on your defense taking away the fullback, but they come flying down the field. Was that a situation where you thought we are doing what we want -- we're getting accomplished what we want to have accomplished, but we just -- they're still moving the ball? Did you feel good even though they drove the ball well?
COACH KELLY: I did. I did. Our coaches felt pretty good. I said, listen, it's going to slow down. We'll get a lot more comfortable with is that a crack and go route or is that an arc? It just was a matter of time to get -- look, when that ball gets pitched out, that's not what they want to do. They want to run the fullbacks, they want to run the quarterbacks. Those guys were not going to run the ball today. The ball was going out on the perimeter, and we were going to run it down.
Yeah, they got the ball out, executed what they needed to. It was not give up the big pass and it was chase it down. As we got more comfortable in the game, we were able to rally for the pitch.

Q. First possession you're down on the five. You're looking at a possible 14-point turn around. How important was it to hold them to the field goal at that stage?
COACH KELLY: Again, the real important part of this game for us was not to turn the football over and give Army extra possession. So we had already put ourselves in a bad situation, so it was absolutely crucial that our defense came up big in the red zone which they have all year. This is not something that just happened overnight. So clearly for us it was a big stop in the game.

Q. It looked like Manti was trying to get some help did something happen?
COACH KELLY: Bloody nose. It wasn't anything else. He was fine. He got banged in the nose, but no problems. He came out, looked pretty clean.

Q. You opened up talking about how New York City is a college football town. What does this do for recruiting for Notre Dame playing in the metropolitan area twice now this year?
COACH KELLY: Well, certainly we have such a great following here on the east coast and the tradition of our subway alums. But more importantly it gives us great exposure for our football program for players to see us play, and know that their family can see them play.
This is very important to us in the recruiting. It's also important because this is such a strong area for the University of Notre Dame. So there is a lot of significant pieces to that.

Q. How important was it for Bob Diaco after having the Navy game and the performance against the run and maybe some comments that didn't turn out real well a couple days after the Navy game? How important was this performance for him?
COACH KELLY: I think it just allows us to say it was anomaly. Listen, we haven't given up a touchdown in the month of November. You don't do that by accident. We've had answers all year.
I really feel great for Bob and the defense. This was a collaborative approach now. Obviously the entire defensive staff, myself, we were all involved in this. Bob is the defensive coordinator, and he's the guy that deserves the credit, but our players deserve equal credit.
So in this business you're going to get that criticism when it doesn't go your way. But I think it validates only the fact that I got smart guys over there. They know what they're doing. Navy caught us. What's the analogy there, first time shame on you, second time, shame on me. That would have been the case if we don't get it done this time.

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