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October 22, 2011

Brian Kelly

USC 31

COACH KELLY: Disappointing we could not play better football in what I considered a great environment, stadium was electric, the fans were terrific. It's the kind of environment we want to create here. We just have to play better football.
We started poorly. I just told our team that, you know, very disappointed in the way we played the first half. Sloppy football. Didn't tackle well. Timing was off. Just unacceptable for the amount of time we had off to play that way in the first half.
Second half, you know, I thought we settled down defensively. You know, again, you look at USC, we gave them three points on a penalty, that kept the drive alive. We lacked some poise that is necessary. And then you know, we settled down defensively and put ourselves back in the game until we turned the ball over twice in the scoring area. And we thought we were past that. That's the toughest part is when you think you've moved past that kind of self-inflicted wounds, to come back and have those hit you again, it's disappointing.
So there's, you know -- you can't beat good teams playing half a game and then turning the ball over on the three-yard line and the 27-yard line. So I mean, you guys were there, too. You saw what I saw. That's kind of the recap.

Q. First, what was wrong with Rees's knee for that short time, and explain what your thought process was that led to the unfortunate fumble.
COACH KELLY: Well, Rees had a hyperextended knee. It's the same one that went out on him against Miami. We were able to brace it and he played in the second half. That's something that's a bit chronic for him. But he toughened it up, came back and did a nice job.
Dayne went right in. Did a nice job, moved us down there. We put Hendrix in to run the ball a little bit down there. Ran some zone option. And then we had the fumble snap.

Q. With Johnson out, did they scheme with the two freshmen --
COACH KELLY: No, there wasn't anything particular. They moved past into the boundary early on and we adjusted. We were playing a lot more cover three to stay over the top of their talented receivers. They got us a couple of times on the short field and then we started to play some coverage sticks which I thought we shorted up there.
But no, nothing in particular. You know, we have to play with better poise. We have got some young guys out there, and at the moment, that was difficult.

Q. Robert Woods, was that what you wanted --
COACH KELLY: Well, we lost Zeke, Zeke to a concussion, which put our nickel situation in a very difficult personnel situation.
So the next best guy, is Lo Wood. As you know, they moved Robert Woods around everywhere.
Could we have done something different? Well, Robert is our backup nickel, and so the next best player for us is Lo Wood. If he lines up as the slot, Melvin (ph) is on him. Just one of those things when we lost a player, and we lost Zeke, we went to second nickel, and the next best player for us is Lo Wood.

Q. What did they do with Mike --
COACH KELLY: Nothing in particular. We were out of sync, rhythm. We had Mike two or three times and we didn't connect with him. I thought we got him some touches in the second half that got him in the flow of the game. You know, should have made a play later if the game that got picked.
I'll take a look at it on the film but we had the look we wanted in the corner under cut the route. But no, all in all, I think in the second half, we made a more concerted effort to get him the ball. We just were out of sync in the first one.

Q. Considering a lot of the stuff you talked about in your intro, everything at stake, is this as tough a loss as you've had since you've been here?
COACH KELLY: No. Losing stinks. For me, it's hard for me to put a stink meter on losing. They all stink.
You know what, I'm disappointed in? This is the first time that I've leaned on my guys pretty hard in the locker room. I was not happy. Because we are better than that. We are better than that. And, to turn the ball over in the ridiculous fashion that we have, I just -- just makes me crazy. In terms of -- I just don't understand how something so easy can come out the way it does.
So I told our guys, listen, every time we try to take a step forward, we seem to want to take one step back. I'm not going to tolerate it. It's not going to be pretty this week in practice. If we have to go back and tackle every day, we'll tackle every day, because they know how I feel about the way we played.

Q. Physical going back to the line of scrimmage tonight --
COACH KELLY: No. A good team. Hey, got to give USC credit. They played well. They played well. Barkley is a good quarterback. He was elusive. But, look, you guys saw the game. You have two teams battling, and if we take care of the football, you are probably not asking those questions.

Q. Any thoughts about -- in the first half?
COACH KELLY: You know, I generally -- I'm going to fall on historic nine out of ten times. I know what I'm doing on a bye week. I've had great success. I know what it looks like. And for us to come out and be less than what we should be, I'm not happy about it.
But I'm certainly not going to go back and second guess the way I've prepared over 21 years in a bye week. Sometimes there's some accountability from everybody, coaches and players alike and sometimes it falls on, as a group, all of us. But they just -- they didn't play as well as they needed to play.

Q. There was a lot of run-up that went into this game, big game, night game; any sense they might have just been too excited?
COACH KELLY: You're trying to get at something that I think is real, and we talked about this. We had some guys that didn't play with poise that need to play with poise. Championship football teams play with competitive grace, which means that when the stakes are high and the stage is great, they raise their game.
Today, in that same situation, some of our players didn't raise their level of play. That to me is poise, and we are still building that. That's a hard thing to dig at. But we are still building that.

Q. You haven't been able to get a consistency all year on the running game, getting five yards on five carries, that a bye product, once you fell behind 14-0, you were not getting in a running rhythm.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I thought, again, you can precisely know the times when we got in good rhythm, we were running the ball in the third quarter and were very effective in mixing things up. Early on, we didn't get in that kind of rhythm because we got down 14-0, started throwing the ball.
We are best operating offensively with that kind of balance. And I think we only had it for spurts in the third quarter.

Q. So they almost overloaded the front there -- dared you to throw?
COACH KELLY: Their system and structure did not change against us. We were prepared knowing that they were going to jump into bear fronts. So it didn't catch us by surprise. We clearly didn't execute as well. We had two or three occasions where our timing was off on routes that, you know, would have kept us in a pretty good position.

Q. Inaudible.
COACH KELLY: He was going to fake it to the back and throw a pop back to the tight end.

Q. And over the last couple of weeks, you've talked about you had to be in the playoffs -- what's kind of the next goal? How do you get back?
COACH KELLY: I'm not worried about that. Their gift bag won't be as big. The fact of the matter is, they have got to play Navy and they have to get ready in a short period of time.
So the moment for us, it never gets too big. In other words, we didn't think in big picture terms. I'll talk to you guys in big picture terms. But those guys, all they know is, Monday is not going to be a great place to be around me. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, that's what they are thinking about. They are not thinking about those bigger picture items.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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