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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE


August 16, 2012


Brian Kelly


COACH KELLY:  Good afternoon.  For football coaches, this time of the year is certainly one with great optimism.  We've been in camp, so we've gotten a great look at our football team over the past couple of weeks.  I've probably in my own mind answered a lot of some of the early questions that we had about our football team.  And just the way that we have gone to work, really pleased with our football team, proud of the way they've taken each day and have really benefitted from the teachings.
As you know, trying a new quarterback has required us to keep our practices from being too much about individual and more about 11 on 11 because that's what we've got to get him ready for.  So we've had a lot of work, a lot of opportunities to teach, a lot of guys have gotten reps and work.  So it's been for me and our staff, I told our guys this morning, I couldn't be more pleased with the way they've handled themselves through double sessions and the practice opportunities that we've had.
You know, you get your bumps and bruises like anybody else during camp.  I wouldn't characterize it as more physical or less physical than other camps as much as our guys now in three years being here now really we know each other very well, we know what to expect from each other.  There's a consistency in the approach.  And like I said at the outset, really excited about the work that our football team has done.
Now, still got a lot of work to do.  Over two weeks of preparation for Navy, and that's kind of where our eye now starts to move towards beginning on Monday, and as you know, that's not an easy proposition, preparing for a very, very good system of offense and very sound defensively, and certainly the travel, going over to Ireland.  So a lot of factors there.  So we'll prepare and really use two weeks in our preparation for Navy.
So, camp, pleased with it.  Really like the way our players have responded to a very aggressive schedule, and now our eye toward Navy begins on Monday.
With that I'll open it up to questions.

Q.  I have to ask you an injury quite right off the back.  Tate Nichols, what's his situation, and how are you addressing that?
COACH KELLY:  He's had a knee, a patella subluxation, and he's had it before.  He hasn't had it, and here he had one, and we lost his services for about two or three weeks.  So you know, we expect him back in a couple of weeks.  Whether we get him ready for the Navy game is unclear right now.

Q.¬† And that means Martin and Stanley are kind of your‑‑
COACH KELLY:  Martin and Stanley right now would be 1A and 1B at this point.

Q.¬† I wanted to ask you a little bit about DaVaris.¬† On some of ‑‑ certainly the last practice we were in on Saturday, we saw a lot of freshmen.¬† I know you wanted to get a good look at them, but a kid like DaVaris, has he shown you some of the things you wanted to see in the spring from the consistency standpoint, work ethic standpoint?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, I think that's a very fair question.  He's been here two years, but he hasn't gotten to get the reps that he's getting now.  Now he's fighting through that mental fatigue.  He's getting banged up a little bit, and he's answered the bell.  I thought yesterday he could have very easily begged out of some practice time.  He didn't miss a rep.
So we're really seeing a young man continue to mature.  Look, he's far from where we want him to be, but boy, has he made great progress in the last couple of weeks.

Q.  The quarterbacks, when you start preparing for Navy on Monday, do you have to then have the idea in mind of exactly how you're going to operate with the quarterback situation?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, I think we're getting closer to that.  Certainly as we start to prepare, it's not going to be a 50/50 proposition.  We're moving closer towards that as we move into actually working against Navy.

Q.  How soon do Andrew and Everett and Gunner, how soon do they need to know from you this is how it's going to go?
COACH KELLY:  I think probably Monday we sit down and talk about how the reps are going to be distributed.  But there's still so much learning, so it wouldn't be as cut and dry as say, here's my No.1.  The door will still be open for growth during that week, but we'll start to separate the reps a little bit.

Q.  Everyone seems to think if you play two quarterbacks that's dicy and tricky.  In your experience how can that work, if that's the actual plan going into a game?
COACH KELLY:  You know, I've played two quarterbacks only because I've had to play two quarterbacks.  I don't think I want to play two quarterbacks.  I'd rather have one guy make himself known to everybody that he's the starter.  Always love to have a No.2 that can go and win for you.
I wouldn't subscribe to the fact that two is really where I want to be.  We still want to be with a singular quarterback.

Q.  For you, is evaluating the quarterback position different than evaluating any other position, and if so, how?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, you know, he's got so many more things on his plate than any other position on the field.¬† I don't know that the other 21 have as much that‑‑ first of all, he's got to take care of the football, he's got to communicate to the offensive line, he's got to be able to take all the signaling.¬† I don't think you can compare that position with any other position on the field, so as it comes to the evaluation, there's so many different columns that he's got to be able to check off.¬† If you're a defensive lineman, get lined up, be really excited and get to the ball.¬† There's more columns.¬† It requires a lot of attention to film study and making good decisions, and those guys have to do a ton of film study, as well.
There's no other position that requires the kind of attention that the quarterback position does.
Differently, yes, I guess that answers the question that you have to look at the quarterback position differently because there's so many other things he's responsible for that no other position has that same responsibility.

Q.  How has the running back situation played out for you so far this camp?  How do you think the reps are going to distribute?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, I think we're going to play all of our backs.¬† When we talk about all of our backs, they're playing both wide receiver, slot position, we can move them anywhere on the field as well as play the running back position.¬† And I've seen great growth in George Atkinson.¬† We always look to George as somebody that‑‑ boy, maybe he's just a running back.¬† Well, he's really evolved into somebody that can catch the football for us.
We know about Theo, obviously with his stint at the wide receiver position, and Cierre has really made great strides over the past 10 days or so.  They're all going to play, and it would not be a surprise if a couple of them are on the field at the same time.

Q.  Who's going to handle your punt return and your kick return duties?
COACH KELLY:  Well, in terms of kickoff return, George Atkinson would be featured as the kickoff return specialist if we get a chance to return any.  As it relates to punt, we're still a work in progress there.  We've got three guys that we really like back there that are still developing.  I'd say that's probably something that we'll focus a little bit more on next week.  But we haven't made a decision on punt return, but kick return, it'll be George.

Q.  How would you evaluate Kapron's return from injury?
COACH KELLY:  Oh, I think he's come back stronger physically.  He's been a great leader for us.  His personality has really come out this year.  I think he really feels comfortable in a leadership role.  So I think all of those things, so he hasn't missed a beat as it relates to that.

Q.  Can you clarify the Danny Spond situation and just how cautious he has to be over the next couple of weeks?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, from what we've gotten, he had a migraine that was so severe that it required hospitalization.¬† He's seen specialists, the best in the country.¬† He's been through a battery of tests.¬† Now it's just a matter of getting him reacclimated in terms of‑‑ because he's been cleared, now it's just a matter of when can he get back out there and start contact and those things.¬† We really don't have a timetable for that.

Q.¬† Going back to the quarterbacks really quickly, being the guru you are at that position and the history you've seen there ‑‑
COACH KELLY:¬† That's one word that as the head coach at Notre Dame I don't think I get a chance to put that one on myself.¬† Guru is‑‑

Q.¬† Given your experience‑‑
COACH KELLY:  Experience, I've had a lot of experience, yes, good and bad.

Q.  Is it as fluid a situation coming into camp when you have four guys, taking everything into account going back 22 years?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, it's been unusual in a sense that the guy with the most experience is not going to be the starter for Navy, so that's a little bit unusual.¬† But it's been great, it's been fun to work with young quarterbacks that are learning every day.¬† As a teacher, that's‑‑ and it's a captive audience.¬† These guys want to get better.¬† They want to be the starter.
Probably in my career, it's probably been the most energized for me to get out there and teach and coach guys that want to learn, and that's been fun for me.  Hope it's fun against Navy.

Q.  If you can touch on how important it is to have leadership on the defensive end of things, maybe coming from Manti or some of those older players.
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, I think leadership shows itself in so many different ways.¬† I think when you're talking about leadership on defense, it's communication.¬† So as it relates to the game itself, great communicators, and guys that are confident and understand the system.¬† We're three years now into the same system.¬† There isn't a change in terminology, there isn't a change on a day‑to‑day basis.¬† That means a lot.
Again, from a defensive standpoint, leadership shows itself in the way they practice every day, as I commented earlier.  It's been such a great camp because our guys have done a great job of handling the work volume, Manti, Kapron, Zeke, Jamoris, these are guys that are veteran players that have played a lot of snaps.  Our defensive players have played a lot of football.
So great communication equals great leadership for me on the defensive side of the ball.

Q.  And then any clarification on captains or any time we might know?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, we're going to have captains, and I'll probably make that decision sometime next week as to whether it's going to be captains for the year or game day captains.  Getting close to that decision, so we'll have something before very soon.

Q.  When you elevated Chuck Martin to offensive coordinator, communication and kind of streamlining the process, how have you seen that show itself over the last couple weeks, and how would you describe Chuck's influence on the offense?
COACH KELLY:  Right.  You know, Chuck, just as he was my defensive coordinator, he's the same way as the offensive coordinator in that we can have a very short conversation, and we know exactly what the outcome is going to be when we go on the field.
Him being in that position is just I know what to expect.  It's not going to be a surprise.  I come out on the field, our guys are executing the things that I want done.  He's just really good at following through on whatever decisions were made relative to our offensive structure.  I know it's getting coached.
You know, it's the same offense that we have.  Chuck is really good at being flexible.  He doesn't have to be in this particular formation, he doesn't have to be in this type of offense.  He can really adapt well to all circumstances.  So I like his ability to adapt based upon what our personnel is, and I like his ability to carry what we talk about in a staff meeting onto the field, and I would expect that from Bob Diaco, as well, on both sides of the ball.  I want my coordinators to be able to do that.

Q.¬† Jamoris was out there today with the first team.¬† Slaughter, is he injured, or‑‑
COACH KELLY:  He's bruised his heel, and no need to put him at any risk, so we're cautious with him.  Farley has done very, very well.  I think he's changed the dynamics back there.  I know I had spoke that McCarthy had that position locked up.  Well, it's a battle now.  Farley has really been impressive the last 10 days or so.

Q.  And also kind on the second line of the secondary, Russell and Brown, earlier I think it was Atkinson and McDaniel, McDaniel is back at running back.  What have KeiVarae and Jalen shown you?
COACH KELLY:  They're getting better.  They're just playing the ball.  They're assignment correct.  We grade them every day after practice, and they're grading out higher.  They're starting to understand the scheme, what's expected of them.  Just both of them maturing, and KeiVarae obviously faster because he's playing as a true freshman.  He's extremely gifted.  We're getting Jalen a lot more reps, too.  Part of this is these guys have to mature and develop, and they're getting that opportunity.

Q.  Big picture in your career, you I'm sure have stood up at media days where you knew exactly what you had, where you knew what your team's identity was going to be, and I'm sure you had years where you didn't know what you had and you weren't going to know until the first game.  Where does this team fit into that mix in terms of how much you still need to learn and how much you already know?
COACH KELLY:  I think we're really good up the middle, to use a baseball term, and I mean on both sides of the line.  We're going to be able to physically handle ourselves in the trenches against anybody in the country.  That's a good feeling right away that you know you're going to go out there and be able to handle yourselves physically.
We need to continue to develop on the perimeter, both on offense and defense.  I think that development will go a long way in deciding how successful we are.  And then certainly the quarterback position.
If I was to leave you with one thing, I think we're really strong up front, and I think that in itself gives you a chance to win all your games.

Q.  Building on that, is there a position group or unit where I guess since last season you've seen enough improvement where you think that it's kind of an added strength or a new strength from last year?
COACH KELLY:¬† I think our punter and kicker.¬† You know, I really like‑‑ I think you saw in the end of the year Ben Turk starting to come on with some consistency.¬† He had a great spring.¬† He's been terrific, and I don't want to jinx him, but Coach Diaco is working with the punters directly, and he's done a great job of getting them to a level of consistency.¬† I really think that unit‑‑ there were some questions in my mind, but watching them and special teams, they've done a really nice job.¬† And that means obviously you're talking about Tausch and you're talking about Brindza and you're talking about Turk.¬† Those three guys I've seen really great movement in terms of their development, even over the last couple of weeks.

Q.  Just with a couple injuries and a few defections, does that in any way how you view freshmen helping you out this year?  Do you kind of take a big picture look where these guys maybe need a year of development whether they're on special teams or the two deep or is it just basically how they perform?
COACH KELLY:¬† No, I think it's more than how they perform, it's how they handle taking classes from all of June, all of July.¬† I mean, they're taking a heavy load of classes, and then if the football gets thrown right at them and then school starts‑‑ I think there's more guys that can play than not play, it's just can they handle all of the things that go along with being here at Notre Dame.
We expect them all to play, and I tell them that in recruiting.  Look, you're coming to play, and if you want to come here, you'd better have that attitude.  Whether they do or not, I think it's the other things that decide that.

Q.  You mentioned in the spring, you touched upon George Atkinson, but I think at the end of the spring game you mentioned heart attack and Golson and Atkinson in the same sentence.  Where is your heart as it pertains to their ability to eliminate those mistakes?
COACH KELLY:  A lot more trust in both of them, and they've exhibited it.  I'll give you just an insight:  We've had 126 throwing opportunities for Everett.  He's had one interception.  You build trust.  You don't just give it, you build trust.
So going from that phrase that I used in the spring to where we are today, I had to be able to move from where I was to where we want to be, and so we had to really load a lot of work on his plate.  And he's exhibited that trust in the way he's handled himself in camp.
And the same for George.  We've put the ball in his hands and have thrown it to him and had him run with it and essentially said, listen, George, the only guy that decides playing time is you, because if you take care of the football, you're going to play, and he's done a great job.  He has not put the ball on the ground.  I know these are all things that coaches should never talk about, but in answering your question, they have both done the things that I have asked them to do, and their position coaches have obviously done a great job of reinforcing it, but both of those guys are no longer on that heart attack list.

Q.  Good for you.
COACH KELLY:  Good for us.

Q.  Alex Welch had the surgery?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, very successful, had no collateral damage, just the ligament damage, which generally, generally speeds the recovery process for him.  He's back in that time frame of four to six months.

Q.  We've asked you about every injury but yours, I think.  I don't think we've asked you about your back surgery.
COACH KELLY:  I just wish I did it 10 years ago, honestly.  I'm going to be the new poster child for back surgery.  If you want to know, if you've got a bad back, get it done, because I can run around a little bit too, now.  It's fun.

Q.  It's bothered you that long?
COACH KELLY:  Yes.  It was probably at its peak last year where it was difficult.  But that Irish stubbornness, you've got to put it aside and take care of yourself.

Q.  You mentioned that injuries are about normal, but you also said last week about 11 on 11, there's a give and take, you benefit from it but you also put yourself at risk for more injuries.  Are the benefits outweighing the negatives there so far?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, only because our defense has so many live snaps.¬† They've played a lot of football.¬† If we had not played a lot of football on defense and had not had a lot of live snaps in terms of real game experience, I'd be a little bit more concerned.¬† But we scrimmaged yesterday, one‑on‑ones, live action.¬† We still know how to tackle, so I feel pretty good about that.¬† The 11‑on‑11 work has really benefitted us both when we go ones versus ones, and then we use some show work, as well, in other words we'll go ones versus twos so we can get some specific looks.
So I think the combination of both of those together has served us well.  It's kept us sharp, it's kept us safe, and it's given our quarterbacks the multitude of looks during a game that I want them to see.

Q.  When do you back off from that?
COACH KELLY:  Tomorrow.  Tomorrow we'll get into kind of a game week mode as it relates to our preparation.

Q.  And you mentioned Farley.  Does Slaughter become the nickel when you go to nickel?  Does he become the nickel and somebody else play safety?
COACH KELLY:¬† Yeah, we're still working through that.¬† We're not there yet, but I think there's a lot of‑‑ you talk about moving pieces, there's probably more moving pieces there than any other position group.

Q.¬† Talking about the 11 on 11 that you have done more often, the last couple‑‑ the first two years here you had slow starts out of the gate there, a lot of it related to turnovers.¬† Is that a factor in wanting to create more 11 on 11 work, or were there other things, also, that you wanted to address to perhaps aid a quicker start out of the gate?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, no, I think the 11 on 11 was specifically targeted towards the quarterbacks.¬† It wasn't about getting out of‑‑ every year I go into camp we're preparing to win our opener, it's just I think in this instance your preparation‑‑ I've been doing it for so long that I believe that the plan that we have in place prepares us to play well in that game, that opener that is.¬† So there wasn't a lot of tweaking because I didn't believe that our plan was solid leading into our opener.¬† The 11 on 11 was more for the quarterbacks than anything else.

Q.  Just addressing, though, the slow starts the past couple of years, was there anything specific you could really reevaluate that you wanted to change or anything?
COACH KELLY:¬† No, I just think it comes down to playing better.¬† I mean, you can take the South Florida game, you can take‑‑ that game in particular, that‑‑ we just didn't play very well that game.¬† The year before I think we opened against Purdue.
So the last couple of years we've won one, we've lost one, in terms of the opener.  But I just think in your opener, you just play smart, take care of the football, and I think if there's one thing, a message kind of started that way in the opener, and it stayed through the entire year, and that is take care of the football.  So if there's one team that has any effect on what we're doing this year based upon last year was take care of the football.

Q.  And after two weeks when you look at this freshman class, who are the candidates you would consider most likely to be able to help, not just get on the bus but really be able to make an impact early on and throughout the year?
COACH KELLY:¬† Impact?¬† I think any guy that can help us relative to special teams or playing a role, we're going to play him.¬† And I think that opens up room for a lot of our players.¬† On the back end of our defense, I think we've talked about KeiVarae Russell possibly getting an opportunity to get on the bus or get in the two deep or at least get in the rotation of a two deep.¬† At safety somebody is going to have to emerge there, whether it's‑‑ we talked about Farley is stepping up.¬† He's a freshman in a sense, the first season of competition.
Offensively we need some of those receivers to give us some time, no question about that.¬† And then Ronnie Stanley who's an offensive lineman that right now that's where we're a little short.¬† So those were probably be where your eyes would kind of wander toward in terms of guys that might provide us some depth this year.¬† There's not a freshman that's going to be an All‑American this year.¬† I think he's going to be a role player and help us win.¬† I hope he is.

Q.  Pretty quiet summer in a lot of ways, and over the years it's always been kind of a good sign that the guys are not only buying into the coaching staff and what you want and the level of performance on and off the field, but into each other, which ultimately is a good thing going into the fall.
COACH KELLY:¬† Yeah, you know, I like the way things are coming together.¬† But we've still got to win football games.¬† Yeah, I think there's‑‑ look, we've got really good leadership, we've got guys that understand what it takes to win.¬† They played a great schedule last year in terms of Michigan and Michigan State and Florida State.¬† So they know how close they are.¬† I think they brought‑‑ I think really we didn't win as many games as we all want to win, but even in that sense last year, you could sense a confidence growing because they know how close they are to winning those games.¬† So that kind of helped us.¬† And it's been a really good focus.
The guys are focused on what they need to do, and again, we've got to‑‑ look, we can talk about it all we want.¬† There are good signs, but we've got to go and now finish that off and win some games.

Q.  When you came in, you're going into your third year, obviously.  Is quickness maybe the biggest development when you watch the team?  Just in the limited time that we get to watch them, but even last year during the season we seemed like we were getting quicker and had pretty good quickness going into the season.
COACH KELLY:  Well, we're developing it in the plan and the fashion that I've wanted to, and that is physically we needed to get stronger, we needed more team speed across the board, and we're continuing to develop that.
You know, year three, you'd better be further along in all those areas, and I believe we are, but now we've got to pass the tests every Saturday, and that's the next step for this team.

Q.  Going back to the quarterbacks, you mentioned before all the columns.  What's the most important column to you for a quarterback?
COACH KELLY:  Well, it's kind of hard to answer that question.  The most important column when he understands the position and is ready to take it on, it's obviously production, how productive is your quarterback.  I've got two guys really, because Gunner is not ready to do that yet, although he's done some great things, I've got two guys that I can't rate on production yet because they haven't produced anything.  So we have to kind of scale it during our practices and say, okay, who's going to be that guy that gives us the best chance to win, and to do that, then you start to look at other columns, like knowledge base, taking care of the football and leadership.
And then you turn the page and you go, okay, I want accuracy, escapability.  So I guess the point I'm making is when you don't have somebody leading into the season that has that production, then you have to be able to use all those columns because you're making the educated guess as to who that next player is and who that starter is going to be.

Q.  If hypothetically all the columns are as even as they can be, how do you make the call?
COACH KELLY:  Well, I think if everything is equal across the board, then you're looking at some of the intangibles, the ability to show poise under pressure, the ability to command a presence.  I think some of those things that are not on the column, you start to look at some of those other things that we don't necessarily look at in moving them up the ladder.  But I think that's where you start to look and really dig deep to find out who that next guy is.

Q.  You just talked about commanding a presence.  How does a quarterback develop a presence?  What goes into that?
COACH KELLY:  Well, I think the realization that he's got to bring the other 10 along with him, and especially the offensive line.  In our system he's communicating with them every snap.  So if there's confusion, if there's not good communication with the quarterback and the offensive line, you'd better pull him aside and talk about presence; you'd better talk about communication; you'd better talk about that most important element, and that is the leadership of the group.
You just put him out there.  Like I said, in 7 on 7 they don't need to do that because there's no linemen there.  You've just got receivers running around.  But you put them in 11 on 11 and you've got to make some checks and you've got to tell that tackle now that he's got to fan and that this tight end stay in.  You develop that, so you create those situations so you can see it, and then if it doesn't happen you can talk to him about it and say, hey, here's a perfect example.  That's going to hold you back from being the starter unless you can overcome that.  So creating those situations.

Q.  In a situation with Chuck Martin in the three years he's been here, how has he handled going from a head coach to an assistant and fitting in rather than being the guy that sets the pace?
COACH KELLY:¬† You know, I think he was an assistant for as long as he's been a head coach, and I think just being in a leadership position‑‑ he was in a leadership position on the defensive side of the ball.¬† He didn't have a title.¬† But he was a valuable member of our staff last year, and I think he felt validated.¬† I think it's how you're treated.
You can make that transition to a program as a head coach, and it could be, hey, I'll tell you when I want you to talk.  It's never been that way.  I want people to be who they are.  I want ideas.  If you disagree, let's talk about it.  So I don't know that there's ever been an environment here that he's felt stifled or that that's been a tough jump for him.  Certainly now it's even more gratifying because he's in more of a leadership position on the offensive side of the ball, and he's clearly got a voice.
But again, I think you probably have to ask him, but I don't think that we created an environment within our staff that you would ever feel as though you couldn't make that transition.

Q.  And Bob Diaco seems to have a new look out there, that hair of his?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, again, you'll have to talk about Bob about that, but he's moving around pretty good out there, feels really good about it, and I don't have much to say about that.  (Laughter.)

Q.  Going back to Manti for a second, every senior ever has felt a sense of urgency in the last year.  How has that manifested with him do you think?
COACH KELLY:  I would say without question it's now at a point where he is imposing his own set of standards on others.  He was always a leader by example in the way he handled himself both on and off the field, but now if somebody else is not doing it the right way, it's not good enough, because it affects the way he sees his role.  And that obviously is a very positive dynamic to have on your football team.
He understands pure accountability, and he holds his teammates to a high level, too, and as a head coach, that's a pretty good feeling.

Q.  What is the blueprint for what is literally a foreign exercise here with all these issues you have with football and then having to go over there to debut?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah.  Some morning practices.  Leading up to it we'll practice in the morning just to get our guys up and understanding because we'll play at 9:00 a.m. on their clock.  I think the second element is an incredible support staff that keeps all of the distractions away from them.  You're moving a team and equipment through a border, and it's not easy, so I've got an incredible staff that we're able to do that here at Notre Dame.
And then I think we have to be very smart with how we get the proper rest, because quite frankly what I'm more concerned with, it's the opener.  Those guys will play it at 2:00 in the morning.  What I'm worried about is sleep, loss of sleep, and a cumulative fatigue factor that bites us three, four weeks down the road.  So my concerns are more in not just one game but three or four weeks.  For example, we didn't get up at 6:00 in the morning for camp.  We pushed the schedule back a little bit.  I want to make sure our team is fresh so we don't feel the effects of it later.

Q.¬† Do you plan on waiting to tell everyone who the quarterback is?¬† Obviously you'll tell your guys‑‑
COACH KELLY:  You're the only one I'm going to tell.  It's just going to be a one on one, not a two on one, just a one on one you and I; Jeffers won't be there.
You've asked me this question each week.  How do you want me to answer it this week?

Q.  I don't think I asked that one.
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, you did.  When am I going to announce it?

Q.  No, do you plan on announcing it or do you plan on going into the opener with the other team not knowing who the starter is going to be?  That's my question.
COACH KELLY:  You know what?  Okay, fair enough.  I have not thought about it in those terms, in terms of making a public announcement about the quarterback position because I've never had it in my mind that we were going to get there at a certain time.  If it's clear to me that we've got a No.1 and there's a great separation there, then there's a possibility I could announce it.  But I have not thought about it in those terms.

Q.  When you made the decision to put Hendrix on the field in the middle of last year and you wanted Everett to focus on academics and being on the scout team at that point, the way he handled that situation, did that start to build trust then, or did that really happen at a later time with how he handled going to the scout team and not being a part of things?
COACH KELLY:¬† No, I think the individual meetings during spring, because I don't get‑‑ we don't get much time with those guys, so I think it was spring ball, and then how he handled his academics in the summer and all those little things.¬† He's built trust along the way.
And then you build trust when I'm around you every day, and so this camp obviously was a big proving ground for him, and he's doing well.

Q.  A couple little personnel things, Kona with the wrist, what's going on there?  Does it limit him at all?
COACH KELLY:  Not really.  He's got a big lollipop cast on it just to protect it.  It's not even a fracture, it's a crack of the bone, just the fourth knuckle.  We put a big cast on it, but we'll get that down to a very workable, small cast for the game, so we're not concerned about that at all.

Q.  And Cam McDaniel flipping back to running back, did you just like a lot of the options you had at corner or did you want to have some more depth at running back?
COACH KELLY: ¬†Probably a little bit of both, but he's cross training on defense, too, so he is‑‑ he's still taking some reps on defense, so he's kind of our one player that we feel like could fit in on either side of the ball in a pinch.

Q.¬† You mentioned about getting back to your roots and being more hands‑on and so forth.¬† Was that something that was building in your mind during last season, or was it you get to the end of the season, you look at the Bowl tape and you say, I want to think about things?¬† When did that introspection period happen for you?
COACH KELLY:  Well, certainly finishing the way we finished, I think any coach, whether they come to the same conclusion I did or not, you're always going to take a step back and look, all right, what can we do better.  There was nothing wrong with our schemes.  There was nothing wrong with what we were teaching them.  What was wrong was we weren't winning games that I thought we should win, and so sometimes you've got to look at yourself.
So I think the bottom line for me is that I wanted to be more involved in that process of making sure that I could help our players win, and that means you've got to push the distractions away and focus on why you're here, and that is I want to coach my guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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