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November 12, 2016

Brian Kelly

San Antonio, Texas

Notre Dame - 44, Army - 6

BRIAN KELLY: A good victory for our guys. You know, starting off with the special teams, touchdown obviously gave us a great deal of energy and momentum in this game, and any time you can steal a possession like that against a team like Army that you know is going to be a battle, I think it gave us a great deal of confidence.

Offensively I think it was 14 out of 16 possessions where we've come up with points. We're starting to be much more efficient and effectively offensively since the Miami game after the bye, and then defensively it's a difficult chore when you're going against option teams, and Army in particular, to hold them in six points. Great job by our defensive staff and great execution by our players.

You know, a complete performance by our guys. There's something to pick at always, but a pretty good performance all around by our football team.

Q. (No microphone.)
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, it clearly was one word. It was to be more decisive, and you could see that in the way he played today as a starter and on special teams. You know, he was extremely decisive in everything that he did, and it showed itself. I think he learned a lot from that game, and when he was indecisive how bad things can happen. Another young player really in an unfortunate situation where we're losing a football game. It certainly wasn't on him, but he learned a lot about being decisive.

Q. (No microphone.)
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah. You know, we went to some more odd front. Last week we mixed up some fronts and played a few more fronts. We needed to get off the field, so we made some decisions on how we could -- we felt how we could force that.

You know, some guys got to do some tough jobs to play odd front against triple option, but the two inside backers, the two tackles did a really good job, which allowed our safeties to run. They're pretty good athletes, and we were able to obviously do a really good job of tracking them down.

Q. (No microphone.)
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, he's a smart football player. He's got -- you know, when you talk about freshmen playing, you worry about the mental more so than the physical, but he has a great sense of the game, whether it be option or the traditional offenses that we see. His maturity, the way he handles himself is well beyond being an 18, 19 year old.

Q. Could that be a long-term move for Julian Love with your other young corners developing, although I don't think we saw pride today, but could that be a long-term move?
BRIAN KELLY: No, I don't think that's something that we're looking at right now, just that the safety position was set up within defending the option that you really wanted guys that could run and hit at that position from seven and a half, eight yards. The game changes a little bit when you get back in a traditional defensive structure, but if you were to ask me right now whether we're making that move, there was no intention there to move him to safety, it was just to structurally defend this particular offense.

Q. I think we were all surprised to see Mark Harrell in the starting lineup. Was that injury related to McGovern?
BRIAN KELLY: No, Mark has been really solid for us. And we felt like this was the right time to give him that start. He's been -- as one of our only -- I think we've only got a couple of fifth-year guys. He's just been really solid for us, and we just thought he earned that opportunity to start today.

Q. (No microphone.)
BRIAN KELLY: Well, he was chasing down the B-backs, so the slotbacks, he was man-to-man on the slot, and he had to fill -- had the slotback blocked, he had to play him man-to-man, and in terms of his coverage responsibility, and then he had to come from the off side and track down the option. So that puts a lot on an athlete to do so, and we just felt like he had the skill set and the smarts. He really picked things up well, he's got eye discipline. Other than one play where he wasn't in really good position, he played very well.

Q. (No microphone.)
BRIAN KELLY: Oh, sure, and I think I said in the short-term it's definitely advantageous. It's the long-term. It's getting ready for Virginia Tech now, having had two weeks not playing against traditional offenses. We've got a lot of work to do. We've got to get to work on Tuesday, and it's got to be a schedule that allows our guys to get a lot of work at cover four and cover six and cover two and what we do normally. So that's where the work is really going to come into play for us, but no question that back to back week helps you from that perspective.

Q. (No microphone.)
BRIAN KELLY: Well, we were able to throw the ball over their heads, and it backed them off, so it gave us some opportunities to run the football. I think any time that you get the ball vertically down the field, it's going to open up your running game because they certainly weren't going to play their safeties down. They were much more interested in staying over the top, which gave us the opportunity to get some pretty good looks to run the football.

Q. (No microphone.)
BRIAN KELLY: He's maturing as a quarterback. He got the game ball. I thought he matured -- he made a mistake obviously in the red zone. You can't make those, but I liked his leadership today. I liked his leadership all week. He was vocal. He was holding players to a higher standard. I liked his toughness, and he's growing. This is only his second year as a quarterback, and you can start to see the things that a quarterback needs to successfully win football games, and that is -- one of those things is he's got to be a really good leader, and I thought he was a really good leader today.

Q. (No microphone.)
BRIAN KELLY: Well, they do a really good job defensively. Obviously they may not think that they did today, but they put you in some tough situations in dropping eight and then bringing different pressures. When we were able to push the ball vertically, it opened up a lot of things for us, and then in 3rd down we got out of trouble a lot on 3rd down, and a lot of it was DeShone keeping plays alive. When they dropped eight, he was able to scramble. When they brought pressure, he was able to get the ball out of his hands, so he did a really nice job. I think they were 10 of 13 in 3rd down situations. He was pretty key for us in 3rd down.

Q. I know you didn't want to play as many freshmen in as many prominent roles as you have, but now that that's banked, what do you want that group to have gotten most out of it?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, outside of the experience and making plays, which gains confidence in the group, experiencing what it takes to win consistently, and that is the kind of preparation that they go into relative to Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and how they have to prepare. When you're put on that front line of preparation versus watching, it's totally different. How they prepared is going to -- it has built great equity moving forward, and then the game is a tough game. It requires a mental toughness that they're starting to understand that you have to fight for every inch, and that's been something that at times we haven't quite had it right, and we're starting to really understand over the last three weeks when we came back from the bye, after we kind of detailed out what we needed to look like, they're starting to get that. So they get that piece of that mental toughness piece that they can carry with them.

Q. Seems like Love has real natural leadership ability. Stepherson, as well. Can they be leaders within that group of younger guys?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I think when you look at Julian Love, that's somebody that -- he has -- well, look; when you talk about leadership as a freshman, it's how he handles himself both on and off the field. People will follow him, and they'll follow him because they respect him. He's not afraid to get on his teammates if they're not doing the right thing.

Q. (No microphone.)
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah. I mean, this is the second week now in terms of the academies just -- obviously we play these games for a reason. You know, they're tough to play these games, first of all. These teams are tough. Navy and Army are tough teams to play. But when you're done playing the game, there's just a natural respect that you have for them, and for how they do their business, in the classroom, out of the classroom, their preparation, their sacrifice, and then to go on the football field and compete against them and then share in singing the alma mater together, it just makes it a special event.

So with all those special moments in the game, I think it's the right way to finish it by singing the alma mater together.

Q. How much did Torii Hunter practice this week? When did you make the decision on him?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, he just wasn't explosive. He just didn't have that. So he's going to be day-to-day.

Q. (No microphone.)
BRIAN KELLY: You know, Durham is a veteran. You know, he's seen a lot of things, played a lot of football. I'll tell you his biggest contribution is he's a guy that has to do a lot for us, whether he's blocking or running vertical routes or option routes. He's asked to do a lot. You know, he's a committed player. He's high character and well-respected by his teammates.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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