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October 21, 2012

Brian Kelly

Q.  Just to double back on Everett for a second, put a finer point on it, has he basically passed the eye test with you at this point to where you don't have to monitor anything with him from here on out?
BRIAN KELLY:¬† I think tomorrow will be the last‑‑ we'll do a full physical exertion tomorrow and really kind of get after it from a cardio standpoint and make sure that he's past all of those markers, if you will.
I think tomorrow would be really the last test for us.

Q.  And then it's hard to predict these things, but you would anticipate everything to go okay with that I would think?
BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, I just met with the doctors about it again, and as I've said earlier, he was cleared because he had passed all those tests.  I think they want to just make sure that we run him hard tomorrow and elevate his blood pressure and make sure that that's the last piece.  The rest then is just let's go play.
So I would, again, just reiterate that tomorrow would be the last real test, and then we just move on.

Q.  Last time you had a team that was 7 and 0 it was sort of in a similar situation in '09 where you were undefeated 7 and 0, 5th in the AP Poll, sort of in the same area in the BCS rankings.  I'm wondering, when a team is having this much success but is not all the way at the top, it's a good problem to have, but can that be a chip on a shoulder moving forward?
BRIAN KELLY:  Well, I think they know they haven't arrived, and even being fifth in the country and 7 and 0, and you can say that, that they haven't arrived, that they haven't reached the level that they can, I think is a very good place to be.  There's a lot of things that we know we can improve on.  If you're 7 and 0 and fifth in the country and you think you've arrived, then that's where as a coach and a team, you're in peril.

Q.  That's sort of the respect of the pollsters, when you're undefeated you haven't done anything wrong in terms of winning and losing.  Did you ever use that at Cincinnati to say these guys aren't paying attention to us, let's go out and prove them wrong?
BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, it was a different situation at Cincinnati because obviously we came out of nowhere.  We didn't have the same kind of cache, if you will, that Notre Dame has in his its history and tradition.  We could still play even with that high ranking and really not have the effects of expectations and things of that nature.
So it was a different feeling than being here at Notre Dame.

Q.  I don't know how much you've kind of had a chance to look at Oklahoma, but in terms of Landry Jones and what kind of challenges he presents, what do you see there and where do you start with him?
BRIAN KELLY:  It's the balance on offense.  It's not just Landry Jones.  If it's just Landry Jones, then they're not where they are.  It's their ability to run the football equally as well as throwing the football.  It's one of the most balanced offenses in the country in terms of they can play physical, they can throw the ball, and of course Landry Jones has got those weapons that allow him to be so successful.  The offense is certainly about Landry Jones, but more importantly it's the balance that they have.

Q.  Assuming that Everett is ready physically, I wanted to know what you thought you've seen from him, what kind of progression you've seen from him mentally from say the Michigan game that gives you the confidence to put him in in what's probably going to be the most hostile environment that you're going to see this year?
BRIAN KELLY:¬† I think it's bits and pieces throughout the entire year, at Michigan State in a very hostile environment, and then in big‑game situations where we're playing on the road in Chicago.¬† It's just a cumulative effect.¬† In other words, all the pieces that come together for him to make him a better quarterback than he was earlier in the year is his experience, and we think he'll build on that and should not have any problem playing in a big environment at Oklahoma because he's already done it.

Q.  You talked yesterday about how the guys have such belief that in any situation they can come back and win.  Is having that veteran experience around him, does that ease a little bit on him?
BRIAN KELLY:  I think it does.  I know that he feels good.  If you have a running game behind you that you can rely on when things get tough, I think all quarterbacks love that opportunity.  It makes it easier for them to be more successful throwing the football.
I think the big key for him is he knows going in that he doesn't have to do it himself.  He can rely on others and especially guys like Ikard and TJ Jones and a veteran offensive line and the backs that we saw run the last couple of weeks.

Q.  And you talked yesterday about how Saturday was for celebration and Sunday was for pointing out what went wrong.  In your mind what went wrong last night and what has to change in time for Oklahoma?
BRIAN KELLY:¬† I don't know if I would characterize it as what went wrong.¬† You know, when we look at‑‑ let's just take an offensive standpoint.¬† Two missed field goals, those conversions, those have to be touchdowns on those drives.¬† We can't settle for field goals.¬† I look at it and make assessments as to what we did on those drives.¬† We had a snap infraction that put us in a 3rd and 9 situation, and then we come back and miss the field goal.¬† Then we come back again with a great drive and a big run and we can't convert a couple of runs.
So I didn't see‑‑ I can tell you this:¬† As we go through it, what we're looking for is how we can put more points on the board.¬† Settling for field goals has really been my focus here the last hour because, again, we just finished up with all of our breakdowns, and we'll take a closer look at it, but again, I'll go back and say we left too many points out there.¬† We've got to put more points on the board.

Q.  I was wondering if you recall anything from the 2008 game when you were at Cincinnati and you played Oklahoma, just a blueprint of a Bob Stoops team and what you see in his style.
BRIAN KELLY:¬† Well, they were a little bit different offensively in terms of their tempo.¬† But defensively very similar, four‑down, great athletes on both sides of the ball, very good balance.¬† You know, you're going to see an offense that can run the ball and throw the ball equally as well.
And then defensively always a very good front four.  It looks a lot like the team that we played in '08, so I think that they are pretty consistent with how Coach Stoops wants his team to look.

Q.  And last night after they won, he was pretty quick to point out that this week's game is the biggest for them at home since Nebraska.  I know quieting the noise has been a big thing for you guys.  What is the message for your players this week?
BRIAN KELLY:  It'll be the same.  You have to play better and continue to improve during the week.  It only counts as one.  So we'll do the things that we've done leading up to it.  We won't change anything in our approach.
But our players understand that they've got to go on the road against a top‑10 team and have to play extremely well.¬† We've done this already.¬† We went on the road against a top ten team in Michigan State and beat them.¬† We're going to have to do the same thing here.

Q.¬† You talked last night and sort of the players about the believing that you can win in these tight games.¬† For the first half of the season under you Notre Dame was 2 and 5, now it's 7 and 1 in those touchdown‑less games.¬† When did you sense that the belief began coming through?
BRIAN KELLY:  Well, you know, I think there were some signs of it last year.  We won a close game on the road against Pittsburgh.  You know, I thought that the pieces were coming together.
But I think each year is a different year, and I think probably the Purdue game and then going on the road against Michigan State probably instilled the most confidence in our group.¬† I'd probably single out those two games where they were both close, competitive games, and then of course Michigan at 13‑6.¬† Those games, when you win those close games early in the season, it kind of sets it for the rest of the year.

Q.¬† And is the next step‑‑ you said this kind of blueprint for the team, but is the next step being a team that doesn't have to win these close games, in other words, a team that can start winning more comfortably?
BRIAN KELLY:¬† No, I mean, I think for us it's just playing the game the proper way each and every week.¬† You know, I thought that the first half wasn't our best half, but our second half was, and it's about a four‑quarter game.¬† No, I don't look for margin of score.¬† I just want our guys to compete and prepare well.
If they prepare well and compete on Saturdays, we'll win enough games.  I really don't care how many we win them by.

Q.¬† You mentioned earlier not wanting to settle for field goals, but in a close game like that if you're going to have to settle, obviously you'd like to see Brindza make those two, but it's obviously absurd to expect a first‑year kicker to make them all.¬† Was there any concern coming out of that game about his confidence and did you have a chance to talk to him about what went wrong there?
BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, he was just off on his line a little bit.  You know, it's such a skill that you have to be right on.  He's got a great makeup.  Mentally he's a tough kid.  He's not afraid of the big moment.  And those are all the things that I'm concerned with the most.  And I never saw a crack there at all.
He was a little off on his technique, and he knew it, and he'll work hard on it in terms of correcting it this week.  He's got the makeup to be a guy that you can keep rolling out there.

Q.  Totally switching gears here, what have you seen on film with Oklahoma's Belldozer or their jumbo package?  Why has it been so successful, and why does it seem like opponents even when they know it's coming just can't stop it?
BRIAN KELLY:  They're physical up front, big offensive line, and you know, it's very similar to the package that Stanford uses, and so there's some similarity there.  They bring in a jumbo package with some big fellows that can get off the ball.  It's just a big, strong, physical unit that's very talented, and it fits in the kind of demeanor that Coach Stoops wants to display on offense.

Q.¬† Just jumping back to that Oklahoma game in 2008, it looked like it was just a one‑game series.¬† Did you have any say in playing that?¬† And also, what was that environment like?¬† What can you take from that meeting with Oklahoma in Norman?
BRIAN KELLY:¬† Just the atmosphere.¬† Yeah, I mean, I think it was a‑‑ in terms of just to back up a little bit, that game was already on the schedule when I got there at Cincinnati.¬† But what I could take from it is just it's a great game‑day atmosphere.¬† It's a lot like Notre Dame and Michigan, Michigan State, obviously the high‑profile schools that we play here.¬† So it'll be another similar environment.
Fans are right on top of you.¬† They're very knowledgeable.¬† It's just a good college environment, and they're a really good football team.¬† I think what I took away from it mostly after that game is‑‑ when I was at Cincinnati, that there was still a bit of a gap; even though we were a team that was playing very well, there was still a bit of a gap between us and Oklahoma.

Q.  You referenced earlier the running game makes things easier for the quarterback or can make things easier for the quarterback.  Do you feel like given that this was against the No.3 rushing defense in the country that this is something that you're going to be able to sustain with your running game from this point forward?
BRIAN KELLY:  I think the last two weeks quite frankly.  Stanford is one of those defenses, as well.  I think if you take back to back weeks and look at what we did in the second half in running the football, it's a real positive for us.  We've got to do some other things a little bit more efficiently, but yeah, if you take the last two weeks and take the defense that we have, continue to be solid in the special teams and know that you can run the football against two really good defenses, that's a pretty good feeling at the end of the day, and I think we carry that moving forward against Oklahoma.

Q.¬† I know you mentioned the part about exertion test and so forth with Everett.¬† Was there‑‑ did he take that particular test last week?¬† Was it just kind of an eyeball thing with you even though he passed the medical stuff where you said he's not the same guy?¬† Is that kind of what happened there?
BRIAN KELLY:¬† Well, you know, he took reps, but the reps that he took were really more of 7‑on‑7 and some team reps, and we really haven't run him physically like he would in a game situation after a big run and then come back and maybe run an option play.¬† I just want to make sure that we've covered everything, so in talking to our doctors we're going to put him through a good physical exertion tomorrow, and we expect that to go well.¬† If it goes well, now I think it's just full steam ahead Oklahoma.

Q.¬† If those tests are passed and you plug him back into the offense, do you feel like‑‑ where do you feel like he is?¬† Is he still at a point where he's trying to master what you had before or are you at a point where you're adding things?¬† Where are you with him with that?
BRIAN KELLY:  I think it's clear we want to definitely continue to take advantage of his strengths outside the pocket and his ability to run.  I think the things that we'll continue to focus on is ball security, taking care of the football, making good decisions.  I think we have got enough plays.  We know where we want to utilize him.  I think everybody knows his talents and it relates to his feet and his arm.  We want to get that involved in the offense.
But again, I think for him it's just ball security and playing smart football.

Q.  Tuitt is way up there, he has been all year in sacks, could break the school record.  Is this something that you saw in him, or did you see more of a run stopper guy when you were recruiting him?  What was your take on that?
BRIAN KELLY:  No, we thought he was a complete player in terms of having the ability to be on the field on 1st, 2nd and 3rd down.  We didn't think he was a guy that was going to come off the field.  He's developing as a football player, and Coach Elston has done a good job with him, and Stephon has done a great job.  He's committed to being a better football player.  But no, I think we expected in the recruiting process to get a complete player, and it's starting to show itself that way.

Q.¬† You were mentioning about settling for field goals.¬† I was curious about one possession in the third quarter after Theo's 55‑yard run, you get down inside the 8‑yard line, and I think Cierre and Theo had a couple runs that got stopped and it looked like after the 3rd down run you weren't too pleased.¬† I don't know if it was the execution of that play or the play itself.¬† Could you take us inside what happened there once you guys got inside the 10?
BRIAN KELLY:¬† Yeah, we wanted to be more patient up inside.¬† We were bouncing the ball out, and the way we're running the ball, it's inside first.¬† I thought we got‑‑ I thought on consecutive runs, if we were a little bit more patient, they would have been more successful plays.¬† And it showed itself on film, as well.
They were much more patient after that series, and it proved to be effective because we got north and south on them.  We got a little bit too much east and west on those, and we want to hit those up inside.  That's what I was a little frustrated about.

Q.  One thing that you guys have been pretty consistent with in the secondary is not turning receivers loose.  It happened a couple times yesterday.  Did you kind of get much of a sense of how that happened, if that was communication, BYU getting a necessary look or kind of how those things unfolded?
BRIAN KELLY:  As you know, they wanted to go fast, and we had a couple of communication errors between our safety and corner.  One time we felt like we were in one coverage and we were not.  So those were strictly communication errors.

Q.  Just a quick injury:  John Goodman didn't play yesterday.  Do you feel like he'll be good to go this week or where does that stand?
BRIAN KELLY:  We do, and the game was a game where we wanted a bigger body out there.  Danny Smith got a lot of those reps because of the way the game was going to be managed the rest of the way out.  John was ready to go if he was needed.  You know, again, he is a good blocker, he's not as big and strong, and of course coming off the back, we felt like Dan would give us a better chance out there.
But no, he should be full go for this weekend.

Q.  Continuing along the injury theme, Nicky Baratti tweeted something about dislocated shoulder after the game yesterday.  What's his status right now?
BRIAN KELLY:  He doesn't get to use Twitter next week.
He was cleared to play.  Subluxation, was stabilized and went back in the game and played the rest of the game.

Q.¬† Bennett Jackson, it looked like‑‑ did he get maybe his bell rung I think it was in the third quarter?¬† He kind of hit somebody and kind of came off the field a little‑‑ stumbled a little bit maybe.
BRIAN KELLY:  Strained his neck.

Q.  And he's good right now then, too?
BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, he's getting treatment.  He'll be a little bit sore, but it won't affect him on Saturday.  He'll go through some treatment, and he was down there.  When I was in the training room he was getting a massage.  He'll be a little sore, but he'll be fine.

Q.  And the injury to Tausch, is it more serious than maybe you guys thought it was initially?
BRIAN KELLY:  That could be true.  I mean, I think any time you have a kicker that is dealing with a muscle injury, especially hip flexor, rotator, you're messing with somebody's routine, technique.  He's coming back.  He's much stronger in kicking the football now, but again, the door was opened for Kyle to go in there, and we're pleased with where we are with him.

Q.¬† And then just overall you obviously mentioned after the game that the team wasn't necessarily feeling good after the win yesterday, and you kind of talked about‑‑ a little bit ago about the first half.¬† Do you feel like you got the kind of consistent intensity you needed from start to finish yesterday?¬† Where was that?
BRIAN KELLY:¬† Yeah, I wasn't worried about that.¬† I mean, people talk about being flat.¬† No, I was‑‑ I thought our guys had very good intensity, very consistent in their approach, in their preparation.
We were sloppy.  We had some sloppy play in terms of we threw an interception, we had a couple of fouls, we had a personal foul.  It was more about some sloppiness than it was intensity.
I was pleased with the way we came out, other than those errors which I mentioned.

Q.  Having watched the film, what was your perspective on that second touchdown by BYU that they reviewed and upheld?
BRIAN KELLY:¬† What comment do you want me to use?¬† I didn't see it the same way, but you know‑‑ and I thought I had a pretty good view.¬† It's one of those things, I guess it's got to be‑‑ from a replay standpoint, when the call is made on the field, they've got to be absolutely certain.¬† I thought I had a good look at it, but I guess those things even out.

Q.¬† This is more of a Tuesday question, I guess, but looking at Bob Diaco and his body of work, what factors went into your decision to hire him as a coordinator at Cincinnati?¬† I know he had been a co‑coordinator for you at Central, but what factors went into that, and how have you seen him grow as a coordinator under you?
BRIAN KELLY:  Well, he started with me at Central Michigan.  I hired him back at Central Michigan as my coordinator, and it's the same feeling.  He's so detailed, he's so on task with every little thing as it relates to relationships with players, developing players.  He is in lockstep with my philosophy.
And then where the growth has been, I think, is play management, experience in calling games.¬† He's seen it both ways for me.¬† He's seen it with an offense that scores 40‑something points a game and now half of that and has adapted very well to managing the game based upon how the offense plays the game, as well.

Q.  I've got a question related to some of the stuff you probably don't like to talk about this time of year, so I'll just warn you.  But the second BCS standings will come out later today.  Do you pay any attention at all to that this time of year?
BRIAN KELLY:  Not really.  I know it's good for our fans and they like to see it, and we're fine with that.  We'd rather be part of the conversation than not.
As it relates to my day‑to‑day operations with our football team and preparing them, it has no significance in terms of what we do.
I understand the big picture of it, our players do, it's great for our University, but it's not going to change the way we prepare and how we go to work each and every day.

Q.  Do you think at all about in terms of, hey, at some point style points come into play, or does that ever enter the conversation with you as you go further in the season?
BRIAN KELLY:  No.  I mean, this is my 22nd year and I know how this thing plays out.  I've been down this road before.  You've just got to win your games, and if you win all your games and you have no control over that other than just take care of what you can take care of.  I've always focused on just the details of the day and then let everybody else figure out what happens from there on out.

Q.¬† Is that a little bit maddening that you can't control some of that?¬† Potentially there could be two or three unbeatens or once‑beatens at the end of the year and somebody gets left out.
BRIAN KELLY:  Well, I think clearly that's why there's going to be a new BCS.  They don't want anybody left out.  That's not going to be the case this year, and if it ends up that there's three teams undefeated, only two are going to play.  I think everybody knows the rules of the game going in, and that's why they're going to be changed moving forward.  That's why we'll just control what we can control.

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