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November 3, 2012

Brian Kelly


COACH KELLY:  First of all, Pittsburgh played a great game.  Hats off to Coach Chryst.  His players played at a high level.  Certainly, certainly respect that team.  Having said that, we overcame a lot tonight.  We made uncharacteristically some mistakes turning the football over obviously twice in the end zone.  Last year that would have been a loss for us.  But our team kept fighting, kept playing.
I told them that they have to understand that everybody they play against will play their absolute best.  Next week BC will play out of their minds against us and Wake Forest will.  And they can't just highlight certain teams on their schedule, because they will play their very best.  I think that's a lesson learned for our football team.
I think with the way the game swung, first half we left points out there that should have been on the board.  Two very good drives early on that did not result in score and touchdowns in particular.  Missed field goals, missed extra point, interception in the end zone couple of missed hits and tackles.  I could go on and on.  But I'm proud of the way our guys fought and persevered, kept playing.  When it didn't look good, they kept believing.
And really proud of two other things:  One, of our coaching staff.  As you know, I'm listening to the game on both sides, and our coaches stayed positive, were there for our players whether things weren't going well.  It was not it's your fault.  This is why we're not winning.  It was get back to what you do and how you do it.  I was just really proud of my staff and the way they executed the game plan and stuck with it.
Then Everett Golson, as you know we replaced him.  He missed a number of things that we thought he needed to have down by this time.  Brought Tommy in, had an untimely turnover, and went back to Everett.  I thought he competed his butt off.  He's not perfect, but the boy competes.  And, man, he just kept competing in the second half and found a way for us to get enough points on the board, so he got the game ball.  Questions?

Q.  Not to take anything away from Pittsburgh, but with the last three weeks with Stanford, BYU and going to Oklahoma last week, did you have any sense at all this week that maybe it would be tough for your kids to get up for this game or be mentally ready for this game?
COACH KELLY:  No, we prepared well, we had good practices.  There was nothing that would be an excuse today if we didn't come out on the right side of it.  We should not be sitting here going well, we didn't have a good week of practice.  We did not play as well as we needed to.  We had key turnovers.  Didn't fit plays the way we needed to fit.  We didn't tackle as well.  It was not our best effort.
Now having said that, we played a team that played extremely well today, and we found a way to win.  That's a good thing.

Q.  Coach, late in the third quarter, into the fourth quarter you ran 19 plays without going to a running back.  What did you see out of their defense and with Everett on his runs that took you that way?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, they were playing a lot of cover one, moving the front.  As you know we were having some problems inside blocking No. 97 in particular.  We just felt if we could spread him out, that would give us an opportunity to move the football down the field.
We had 60‑‑ I think we had 66 plays last week against Oklahoma.  We had 87 plays this week.  We felt if we could spread it we could hold on to the ball a little bit more with running Everett.

Q.  What was it exactly that Everett was missing that made you take him out?
COACH KELLY:  It's just progressions, coverage reads, just things that he'd come in and say I missed it, and my bad.  We're trying to win a football game.

Q.  At what point with what he's done in the last two weeks in the second half does that leash lengthen a little bit where you would maybe he's the quarterback start to finish even if he's struggling?  Are you getting closer to that point, I guess, is the question?
COACH KELLY:  I don't know how to answer the question definitively.  I get a sense of feel on the sideline as to where to move with that.  I went up to him when I thought we needed him back in the game because of the way the game was going, that we needed to be‑‑ our quarterback needed to be out there mobile, make some plays outside the pocket, asked him if he was ready to go, he said he was and we put him back in.  But for me to have a definitive answer for you, we just kind of get a feel for it.

Q.  On the two‑point conversion, was that a designed pass or did he have the option all the way?
COACH KELLY:  No, it's a three‑pronged play.  The first part of it is a sprint out, roll out, man‑to‑man, rollover to Robby Toma.  The second element is a clear out and delay for Eifert to come back, and the last was the quarterback to keep it.

Q.  You're happy with the way he decided to handle that play?
COACH KELLY:  Absolutely, very good on that one.  I wasn't going to pull him out after that play.

Q.  You talk about learning a lesson.  Do you think they had to learn the lesson beforehand?  I don't know if that goes to how they thought of Pittsburgh or whether they had maybe overread other games before this?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, we spent so much time talking to our team and having good habits and all those things.  We did.  We had a good week of practice.  We just didn't play well early on.  We dominated the quarter.  The numbers were astonishing.  What were they?
Pittsburgh had‑‑ I mean, we should be playing like that for four quarters.  We wanted to get off fast, and we didn't put points on the board.  There are a number of reasons, but I guess I would go back to they just have to understand that Pittsburgh or Boston College are going to play really well.  You have to play as well as you do against all of these teams or you're going to get beat.  They found a way to Marshall that in the second half.

Q.  A lot of adversity throughout, how did you sense them reacting to it on the side line, your players?
COACH KELLY:  We were upbeat.  We were positive.  Look, Everett throws a pick in the end zone.  He goes out, I read it wrong.  We said, here's what you did.  Here's what you need to do because we're going to call the play again.  We move to the next play.  We move to the next play defensively, and to the next play in special teams.  Because we had set that tone on the sideline, there was a sense as we keep playing, that we have a shot to win this thing.

Q.  This isn't the first time you've had to make this decision with Everett.  How does he handle that as this goes along?
COACH KELLY:  I thought he did okay.  I mean, I think he's a very prideful guy.  He's coming off playing well.  He knows he didn't play quite as well, but it did when it counted.  He got a chance to go back in there and got the game ball tonight.  So it's all a process of learning and developing and getting thicker skin, paying more attention to detail and practice.  There are just so many levels to it.
But I think what I'm looking for is a guy that continues to mature and grow up, and this was another opportunity for him.  He could have kept his head down and said I can't help us.  We wanted to go back in there and help his football team.  So that's a learning step for him.

Q.  That and getting past that interception a big step for him.
COACH KELLY:  I think so.  I think in the way that we presented it to him as well was that, look, you read it wrong.  We didn't say, hey, all right, Tommy.  I think just the way we managed the situation, I think it helped him a lot.

Q.  What is in the make of this team that wins games they probably don't win last year?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, I'm tired of talking about last year.  I think this year the way our guys believe in each other, they believe in their coaches, they believe.  They've won these games before.  They believe they're going to win.  I just think it's a great group of guys.  The leadership is outstanding.  We've got great competitors, and we've made some plays at the end that we needed to make.
I just think it's more about this group and how they believe in each other and they believe in their coaches.

Q.  What goes through your mind when you're watching a kick that could potentially win the game sail towards the uprights?  Can you say it?
COACH KELLY:  I really‑‑ in all of those situations there is just so much going on that I can't ever stop for one play and think about one play.  I'm always thinking about something else that has to happen.  So I couldn't give you a great answer other than I hope he misses, because I'd like to win this game.

Q.  Just going back to the game‑tying drive where Everett had the keys passed to Daniels.  Just coming right after the interception that he threw, what's that speak to his resolve that he had in this game?
COACH KELLY:  He just played that way.  We would have liked to have thrown it a long time earlier than that when he was wide open.  He didn't.  He stayed alive, and he got the ball down the field.  I mean, we're coming to understand that we're not perfect, as you know.  But the kid competes, and he's got a strong arm.  Put the ball in a good position, DD made a nice play on the ball and got us an opportunity to put some points on the board.

Q.  Did Tavares have his best game of his career tonight?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, he made some big plays when we needed him, certainly.  He made some big plays against Oklahoma as well.  He's in that same level of trying to get better each week.  He's going to be a really, really good football player as you know for us.
But he's a freshman, and he's going to have his ups and downs, but he's a competitor too.  I love having those guys on the field, especially the young guys because they are a great mix with our veterans.  All of them together with great leadership; it's fun to coach them.

Q.  And Ray Graham's obviously a talented back.  He had 170 yards against a defense that doesn't normally give that up.  What were they able to do running the ball?
COACH KELLY:  Ray Graham, broke tackles.  We missed tackles uncharacteristically.  He's a great back too.  But certainly I thought he ran extremely well.  We tackled subpar for us in terms of our defense.  I know Coach Diaco would not be happy right now.  But they found a way to shut them down in the second half, and that is the key.  We shut them down in overtime.  We took him and really were able to control him late in the game.

Q.  Louis Nix was supposed to be sick early on in the game?
COACH KELLY:  What do you mean?

Q.  Reported as sick.
COACH KELLY:  Okay, he was sick.

Q.  He came in late in the game and played extremely well.  Ended up with five sacks.  Was it chicken soup or can you report on his performance?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, I don't like the tone of the question itself, and then the chicken soup comment.  I don't know where you're coming from.  What do you want me to say?  The kid was sick all week, and he busted his butt to try to help our football team today.  So, you know, Louis Nix has got a lot in the bank of trust with me.
If he can't go, there's a reason for it.  He was in the infirmary two nights, and he came out and helped our football team.

Q.  Matthias Farley and Elijah Shumate made a lot of big plays in the game.  What did you think of the young guys back there?
COACH KELLY:  As you know, Nicky Baratti had to play a lot.  Matthias was operated on Tuesday, he was out cold on an operating table on Tuesday.  They put two plates and six screws in his hand, put a cast on him, he came back and practiced Wednesday and Thursday you know, did the best he could.  We had to call on Nicky Baratti to come in and help us as well as Elijah coming in.  As you know, he's our nickel, so he's going to play all those reps.  So you've got KeiVarae on there as a freshman.  You've got Farley as a freshman.  You've got four freshmen in the back end of that defense contributing really big.

Q.  Will you be pulling for USC, LSU or Oklahoma State at all tonight?
COACH KELLY:  Maybe I should say the politically correct, yes, you know.  We really hope‑‑ I don't really care about that.  Everybody says I should care.  I care about my football team.  I care about getting better.  We're really just focused on ourselves.  We can't worry about all those other things.  We really can't.
I could be politically correct and say, yeah, I care, we're going to watch it.  But to be honest with you, we've got a lot of work to do with our football team.

Q.  The punt return game was a little bit skittish, dropped a ball late there.  Any thoughts to moving John Goodman back into that role?

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