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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 20, 2012
BYU – 14
NOTRE DAME - 17
COACH KELLY: Really proud of my team and the way they competed, particularly the second half. We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole in the first half with some uncharacteristic mistakes. But we told them at the half‑time, you know, this is about how we finish this football game. There wasn't a panic. We stuck with what we were doing.
It was pretty clear that we were going to be able to control both sides of the ball on the offensive line and defensive line. And you know, really stuck with our game plan. Came in here wanting to run the football. Thought we controlled that quite well. I think we rushed for over 270 yards, so I think controlling the football for us and playing great defense in the second half has been our formula for winning and we are not going to go away from that.
Again, I think the thing that was concerning for me the most is when our guys came in, and I didn't sense a great feeling after winning a tough, tough football game. And that's a team that won ten games last year. That's a bracket‑buster team in basketball parlance, that's a darned good football team. Our kids hung in there and won the football game. So really pleased to be 7‑0.
Q. It seems like Tommy and Tyler have some type of special relationship going. You targeted Tyler against Stanford as soon as he went in, and then today, I want to say it was three of the first four passes or five, were targeting Tyler. What's the reason for that?
COACH KELLY: I don't think that there's anything more than the routes that were called were specifically to get Eifert the football. If you look at the first catch, a stick route off the Mike linebacker to get it rolling, one‑on‑one, we lined him up on the outside one‑on‑one and just let him go.
So I think there's no magic there‑‑ they clearly are very close friends, we all know that. They have been together for a while. But the routes were called to get him the football and we connected on those opportunities.
Q. When Theo Riddick provided a great spark for you in the second half, expand on that?
COACH KELLY: Just ran really hard, north and south, physical. They are a very good defense. I think they are averaging 75 yards rushing coming in, and there's going to be some tough times in there.
I think what he did more than anything else is that he ran north and south and he plays physical. That gets an energy for everybody. The O‑line sees a guy that's really pounding it in there; I think that he got us that energy that we needed.
Q. You probably addressed this, but what did you see with Everett over the last 48 hours that made you want to go with Tommy and where do you go?
COACH KELLY: He wanted to play. He made his case. I just felt like where we were in the during and my evaluation of him cumulatively, I felt like this was the best thing to do. He was supportive. He was great on the sideline. But he clearly‑‑ he wanted to get in there as well. We feel like we've got a kid now that's 100% ready to go for Oklahoma.
Q. Talk about concern to your guys reaction about winning like this‑‑ what concerns you about it?
COACH KELLY: I want them to know, that, listen, you can't win games by 28 and 30 points. You need to find ways to win. That's who we are. There's a lot of teams around the country that have made their programs on winning 7‑6 and 13‑7. It's just who we are; embrace who we are, I guess is what I'm saying. We just keep fighting, keep playing and we'll find a way to win.
Q. In the second half, I think you only threw three passes the whole half. Talk about that stretch, and what did you see going into the game where you thought you would be able to run the ball so well against the third‑ranked defense in the country rushing?
COACH KELLY: Well, we just felt like that we matched up well; that they play a lot of different coverages, and you know, if they are going to play a lot of two‑deep zone, we always philosophically like to go in thinking about running the football first. And then, that's who we are.
We are becoming that kind of football team on offense. You talk about finding an identity; that's why we talk with it. Even when we were down, we kept running the football. I think we only threw it two or three times in the second half.
It's our identity and what we do. There were some opportunities we probably could have thrown the ball and didn't need to take advantage of it at this point. But again, that's how we are playing the game now.
Q. Second week in a row, you got behind at half‑time, you haven't really been behind much as a coach here; how did your players respond to being behind again.
COACH KELLY: I thought the second half‑‑ if you take the last two weeks, you take the Stanford game, and of course you take this week, I think our kids have played very well in the second half.
Again, say whatever you want, it goes to the toughness of our football team. They believe they are going to win. There's no question they believe they are going to win and if there's any questions out there, that's been eradicated over the last couple weeks.
Q. Bronco was in here and said that he felt like that was the best BYU has played all year; did you get a sense evaluating how they played today versus tape?
COACH KELLY: They played very well. They are a well coached football team. Very disciplined. They made some plays. That third down and long two trail and they throw a great corner route over KeiVarae. They made some plays when they needed to make some plays.
Yeah, we expected their very best. This is a team that's got a lot of tradition, a lot of history and have won a lot more games over the last two years.
And so, again, I thought they played very well. I thought our kids played extremely well in the second half.
Q. What do you think today spoke to the maturity of your team, both in the first half the way they came out but also the second half the way they responded?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I'm always looking, it's not necessarily how you start; it's how you finish. We would like to start a little better, clearly, some fundamental things and some penalties that were not timely.
But we are finishing so well. It goes to their conditioning and mental and physical toughness. And then the last thing is they believe they are going to win football games. Doesn't matter if they are behind; they have an energy about them that they believe they are going to win.
Q. The final drive, you couldn't draw that up much better. Do you feel like your line had that in them and that's what you expected?
COACH KELLY: 6:10, we expected to run the football and we had talked about it on the preceding drive and this was‑‑ we were going to make them use their time‑outs. We calculated three first downs; we needed four, eventually. But we felt with three first down, we could put them in a position where we could end the game.
Q. You said game‑time decision for the quarterbacks on Thursday. How close to game time did Tommy find out today?
COACH KELLY: It was actually Friday he found out. I had made my decision after Friday's walk‑through. We were indoors. Threw the ball around a little bit and felt after that time where I saw Everett again‑‑ we run what we call 88s. We run eight plays, high‑tempo against our defense on Friday, and that's after that 88 period is when I made my decision.
Q. Was there any circumstance where Everett would have played today?
COACH KELLY: No, there was not. We felt like at that point I had made my decision and the reason for it was mostly health and safety.
Q. Any point in the second quarter, third quarter, before Riddick had the long 55‑yard run that seemed to wake everybody up; were you worried about the energy on your sideline being sluggish or flat or anything like that?
COACH KELLY: I didn't sense that. I know people will comment on sluggish or flat ‑‑ I didn't feel it. I thought fundamentally, we did things. We let the ball outside our for a first time in a long time, and we had some untimely penalties. We had a TI, face‑‑ you know what I mean, we had some untimely penalties, and then of course the big turnover. We let a ball go through our hands.
So you know, if you really look at it, those plays have nothing to do with being sluggish, have nothing to do with being not properly prepared. We didn't make some plays that we are accustomed to making and then we found our way to pull out of that hole.
Q. Do you feel compelled, like you said, to encourage your team that this is a good win and you want them confident, I suppose, going into Oklahoma and what they are going to face?
COACH KELLY: No, they are confident. They worked too hard to not appreciate and understand how tough it is to win college football games across the country. I just want them to‑‑ I was just trying to let them know that they are going to be in close games, they are going to be in tight games during the course of 12 games, 13 games. You're going to have to win those games. That's part of the way they played and I wanted them to hear that, and I think they did and now we'll move on.
Q. When you're in these tight games like this, do you rely on your captains more so to fire up the guys?
COACH KELLY: No, I wouldn't say that. I think they do it constantly. I think in games like this, what you're trying to do is you're building your entire program from the bottom to the top. So if you're just relying on four guys, next year, who knows what's going to happen, you know.
So you make sure that in your program that you have all those guys that are ready to step their game; all I said to them at the half was to make sure that they are playing to the standards that they have set for themselves individually and we have set at a football program.
So all they have to do is look within themselves and say, all right, if I need to pick my game up, I need to do that, and that's really all we talked about.
Q. Hendrix got a big first down for you. After you made the decision yesterday that Tommy was going to be the starter, was Andrew in the mix and you would have liked to have played him more today?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, the way the game went, we didn't really feel like we‑‑ we were handing the ball off a lot and Tommy was getting us into some plays and didn't feel like that was an added advantage.
If we were throwing the ball around more and spreading it out and now you have a quarterback that could run the football, maybe he would have seen some more time. But the way the game played just didn't play into him getting any more reps.
Q. Can you talk about Theo's 55‑yard run, I think it was third and one, looked like he was down.
COACH KELLY: Toughness. I mean, he has run really hard and physical for us. He's been that‑‑ last year, we had Jonas Gray, who was that big physical back. Now I'm not comparing him to Jonas, because he's not; he's half his size. But running up between the tackles‑‑ I think it was asked earlier, I think Sean posed the question. It gives an energy to the entire team when you see backs running that physical. And those linemen, they want to start blocking for you.
He's been that way. You remember the Navy game the way he physically took it to the opponent, and he's been that way. The only time he didn't was when he had that elbow, which kind of took him out of running as physically as he would have liked, but he's been that way all year.
Q. With Golson missing practice, what role did Matt play in your decision for him not to start?
COACH KELLY: Each week has been a cumulative of him learning more. Each and every week he's gained more knowledge. I think if we just cut it down, it was health and safety for me more than anything else. We threw the ball twice‑‑ once.
He could have reversed pivoted and handed the ball off like Tommy did 30, 40 times in a row. I think when we cut through all of this, my gut feeling was, I wanted to err on the side of caution relative to playing him.
Q. You said your concern about your team's reaction, and you also have to be I would think a little bit pleased that they are not satisfied with what happened out there today.
COACH KELLY: I do, I do feel both ends of that. I think you know that you want your guys feeling like they can play better.
But I think when you win football games, you wait on Sunday to feel like, I can play better. Saturday, you win the football game, and you need to feel that excitement. And then Sunday, Sunday could be an interesting day (chuckling). But let's wait for Sunday. Saturday is for success and celebration.
Q. Like a pitcher, when he losses a no‑hitter, were you worried about the defense's response when they finally gave up a touchdown?
COACH KELLY: No. I went over to the sideline and there wasn't one guy pointing a finger. It was about, let's just continue to communicate out here. They felt like they let some plays outside the defense‑‑ I know a couple of times they felt like they should have been there.
And then I thought Bob made a couple of nice adjustments on their quick screens and we started to roll the coverage a little bit. They knew we were going to make a couple of adjustments and they needed to clean up a couple things. I went over there twice and really felt a good energy with the defense.
Q. Danny Spond had a big play; can you talk about his production?
COACH KELLY: He's been so consistent. We don't even take him off in nickel‑‑ I don't know if you guys know it, he plays corner. Here is a guy that's playing corner is our nickel package and running with the No. 2 in bracket. Great play on the ball in space. You saw the high/low that he had, he came off the arrow route and slooped to the curl. He has been physical at the point of attack. Teams that have wanted to get outside‑‑ I could go on and on.
Kid has been tremendous. He's been an unsung player on our defense and we appreciate him. I'm not saying you guys don't, but he's just played really, really well for us and he's not even coming off the field.
Q. Talk about Manti's role on the defense?
COACH KELLY: The guy is all over the field, and continues‑‑ and I mean all over the field, pass coverage, breaking on the ball, setting our defense up. It's not going to change. It's only going to continue to be the same kind of performance week‑in and week‑out, because he's so well prepared. Just glad he's on our team.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports