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November 12, 2011

Brian Kelly

Notre Dame – 45
Maryland - 14

COACH KELLY: We asked our team to get off to a fast start. We did that. I thought that was important for us to come here and really make a statement early on. I thought we did that, put some points on the board. It was a total team effort today; if you look at it, our special teams, David Ruffer a 52-yard field goal; Turk punted the ball very, very well; defensively we scored; offensively we were able to play fast at times, which is a sign of a growing offense.
So when we look at it, very good victory for our football team, and I liked their preparation. I had mentioned to many of you that around us that I liked our preparation during the week and that paid off today.

Q. What does that balanced offense, defense, special teams say, that they were locked in?
COACH KELLY: It was just today. You know, it's Saturday, November the 12th. We played the way we need to play in all three phases. We'll see what happens on the 19th of November. But they know -- our players truly understand how to win football games now, and it starts with our preparation during the week, and they know that they have to be able to bring all three phases. We'll look to repeat that next week, and that's the challenge to our football team.

Q. You said Robby wasn't your typical No. 2. Did he prove that today?
COACH KELLY: That he wasn't my typical No. 2? Okay, I think of a No. 2 as the No. 2 receiver. He really adds a dimension to our offense. You saw that tonight, especially in the quick game stuff. He's very good with the ball in his hands, run off the catch, just a smart receiver. He's a really good football player.

Q. Lo Wood, you had him in early in the game, just wanted to get him more time?
COACH KELLY: He had a stinger. He missed a couple of series, but Jamoris did a great job of closing on that screen and had read that screen out and forced a high throw, and Lo was in a good position. It was good to get Lo in the game. He's going to have to play for us next year so it was nice to see him get a pick six.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Jonas Gray's game?
COACH KELLY: Senior players, Michael Floyd, I know we look for perfection from Mike, but he blocked so well. Jonas Gray was what we have all been talking about. He's been a consistent performer for us, and he's really emerged as a big-time back. That's why we went with two backs in the backfield for the first time this year; we played both Jonas and Cierre, because they've been so productive for us defensively.

Q. We talked a lot about Jonas. He needed to step up. Did you expect this much production this year?
COACH KELLY: I thought he was capable of it. We had challenged him to be the kind of back that we think he should be, and that is powerful, keeps his feet moving, doesn't go down after first contact. We told him that his reps would be based upon his ability to play physical, and you could see he doesn't want to get off the field.

Q. You were here for a road game, you said, tonight. Did it feel like a road game?
COACH KELLY: No, it was really loud coming in. It was an enjoyable atmosphere. We really loved being here. I know our players were excited when they got out on the field and heard the crowd and the action that was in the stadium. Our guys were excited, you could tell that.

Q. When you talked about understanding how to win, what is that "it" that they're understanding now, that they're getting?
COACH KELLY: They understand the things they need to do consistently if they want to win. They can't just do them once in a while, but they have to do these things every single day, and they're starting to become habit forming. That's a good sign for our football team. As long as they continue to do those things, you'll get victories, and they're getting closer. We're not there yet, but we're making progress.

Q. You talked about Jonas being physical. Seemed like early on, whether it was screens, running game, seemed like you were really trying to establish that physicality early on in the offense.
COACH KELLY: I think getting off to a good start for us is running the football. I think if you watch us over the past month, running the football for us is really crucial to our success. Any way that we could establish a quicker tempo, allow us an opportunity to either put the ball out on the perimeter to our skill guys or run the ball up inside. Tommy did a really nice job tonight of feel -- he had feel for the game, because as you know, we have slowed the game a lot down for Tommy to get us in the right plays. I think we talked about that last week. That wasn't the case today. We went fast, and he had to have a feel, do I give the ball out or do I put it on the perimeter and throw it, and he had a nice feel for it.

Q. Talk about Tommy's play in the second half.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, it was important. We made a couple of play calls that we had talked about and executed them very well. He played well. He made a great play on the last touchdown to Eifert, made a great throw to Floyd and missed a couple, but those balls are the ones that he has to make because he's a guy that lives in the pocket. You know, he's got to be able to stay alive and find Eifert at the very last second or put the ball up for Mike Floyd, so he's getting better at those things.

Q. How about the 4th and 1 touchdown at the end, did that kind of put the dagger in them?
COACH KELLY: Well, we felt like it was about -- it was less than a foot. Even if we weren't a very good running team I was going to probably go for it no matter what. But we've been running the ball physically and controlling the line of scrimmage against most teams, so we felt that was not a difficult call at that time.

Q. At this point can you go big picture with your team and talk to them about that, or do you try to focus week by week?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think for us the process is what we do during the week because we're not -- it's not -- we're not at that point where it's habit, that we do it the right way all the time. We're making good progress there. We really can't fly at 35,000 feet, so to speak. We have to really focus on the day-to-day.

Q. Can you assign a specific catalyst for Toma's improvement, or do you just think he's been working hard at practice?
COACH KELLY: He's been waiting for his chance, his opportunity, and he's a classic case of our next man in. You know, Mike Golic played well tonight, too, coming in, and nobody said anything about the center position and the things that we did in running the football tonight, because we have that next-man-in philosophy of, look, it's your time, and you can't drop off when you go in there. Golic and Toma did a nice job.

Q. Talk about what happens at halftime. It seems like every single time you guys come out and score.
COACH KELLY: You know, I think our guys settle into the game. They're tuned in. We can talk to them and they know exactly what we want to do in the third quarter and they go out and do it. Again, our guys understand how important it is to get some adjustments made at halftime. There's good communication. Our guys go out and execute.

Q. Tommy had an obvious good game today, but can you talk about the use of Andrew Hendrix for a couple of plays? What were your thoughts on using him?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we want to keep getting him some reps if we can. We were in a pretty good flow there, and we wanted to change it up a little bit, ran a little option, some read option, again, just to keep him sharp. He's a good player, just don't have enough reps for him right now.

Q. Can you talk about your experience with the Shamrock Series? The Notre Dame fan base came out strong probably more than the Maryland fan base.
COACH KELLY: I think it's the big picture of the Shamrock Series, and that is that we want to play in these venues that are strong alumni groups for us, the East Coast in particular, D.C., last year we were in New York. It's a great series that Notre Dame wants to be part of because of its geographical representation, especially here on the East Coast.

Q. There were able to get a couple sacks tonight. Did they do something differently?
COACH KELLY: I think it was just a matter of time, when you're throwing the football as much as we do at times, and they're a pretty good front. They got after us. We missed a block. It was protection, it was a very easy play for us to pick up. We just got beat. It was a physical -- not a mismatch, but physically we just got beat on an inside game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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