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October 7, 2012

Brian Kelly

Q.  You talked a lot over the last couple of weeks about Everett Golson and the mental process of becoming more confident and in charge over the offense.  What have you seen that gives you confidence he's reaching that point?
COACH KELLY:  Well, I think it started to show itself in the second week of preparation.  I think his knowledge of Miami having plenty of time to prepare for them started to show itself on Thursday.  Felt a lot more confident that he would be able to execute at a higher level than he had been previously.
So I think just being with him every single day, we have days where we make progress, and days where we've got to come back and work on it a little bit harder.  So I think this is going to be the case most of the year.

Q.  Having the bye week, is it going to be a little harder for Stanford?
COACH KELLY:  I think you're always concerned when you have a younger quarterback that he's going to be able to pick up a lot of things that a team like Stanford likes to do defensively.  They're an aggressive defense that bring a lot of looks, so we'll have to make sure he has the looks down.
But I will say this:  He did some things in the second half that he had not done all year.  He recognized pressure, did not run out of the pocket, stayed in there, delivered some balls on time.  If that continues to show itself, he's going to be very, very difficult to defend because he's got that confidence level and a strong arm that he can deliver the ball.

Q.  Going off topic, maybe a little broader.  You've had two very excellent offensive games against teams that maybe don't have the strongest defensive units statistically this year.  How do you as a coach gauge what's real progress in your offense, if maybe the defensive competition isn't quite top tier?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, I think fundamentals.  I go back to looking at fundamentals and blocking and protection and route running, quarterback fundamentals.  If it looks like the same old thing to me, then I too would be skeptical of improvement.  So I have a different eye, in a sense, that I'm looking at those things more than anything else.
If I see, for example, Mike Golic pulling on power and him not running into the back of a lineman but finding that linebacker and creasing him, those are fundamental improvements.  Or Troy Niklas on the edge of our defense blocking with better technique than he did against Michigan, that's progress.  That's how I see it maybe from a different eye than who the opponent is, per se.

Q.  I guess just following up, maybe those are examples from yesterday.  But how does your eye view what you saw yesterday in that context?
COACH KELLY:  Well, regardless of Miami's statistical prowess, they are physical players that have a lot of young players that have physical talent.  So it was a different game than say maybe where we are outmatched another opponent physically.  So I take both of those things into account and look at it that way relative to the evaluation.

Q.  Stanford is won/lost 17th in the country.  We've got game day this weekend.  We talked about keeping the noise out of your guys' ears.  How difficult is that this week when you compare it to any other recent weeks you've had?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, we've had NFL Films here with the last ten days with boom mics and cameras, and players being wired for practice.  It's a life in the day of the Notre Dame Football program.  So it's kind of business as usual.
Having said that we'll have to remind 18 to 21‑year‑olds how they got here and continue that same message.

Q.  I was just kind of curious for your offensive line how much they needed a day like that?  You mentioned some of the fundamentals being better and how they live up to some of the hype for preseason and putting that rushing performance on Miami.
COACH KELLY:  I think any time you have a day like we did, it's going to build your confidence.  But I will say they didn't come in lacking the confidence and their ability to control the line of scrimmage.  We had some fundamental mistakes that needed to get cleaned up.  Coach Hiestand has been very consistent in what he's expected from our players each and every week from the offensive line.
And a lot of this, and I said this I think earlier in the week, the inside, outside schemes are coming together.¬† We're a big gap‑and‑pull team last year.¬† They're a lot more comfortable with their technique and their steps, and you can start to see it coming together.

Q.  After the games Theo kind of talked about he had enough carries to have some success.  Is that the kind of back that he is, that he needs to get warmed up?  Do you kind of agree with that assessment?
COACH KELLY:  That's our DNC'er (Indiscernible).  We love him, and he did some really good things for us.  But, again, he's a guy that loves to compete and he's passionate, and he wears his emotions on his sleeves.

Q.  Sort of ignoring the noise with game day and all that, how much can the noise be a benefit to your program?  I realize you want your players to block it out, but how big can this week be for the program in terms of national perception and things like that?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, I think you want to be in that group of football programs that has College Gameday on your campus. ¬†You want to be that program that appeals to the audience that we're out recruiting.¬† We saw those uniforms and we got great feedback from those.¬† Yeah, I think you want to be in that in‑crowd.¬† You don't want to be on the other side looking in.¬† So all those things are great.
We're excited about the spotlight being here in South Bend and for our program, and I'll just work really diligently this week to keep our guys on task.

Q.¬† There's been an offensive explosion in some of these games around the country.¬† You see 70‑63 scores, 50‑41, and things like that nature.¬† When you look at the top of the polls there's a lot of pretty good defenses that are with most of those teams.¬† What is your take on the whole offensive explosion thing and where Notre Dame fits in with its defense in the big picture?
COACH KELLY:  Well, I've done that too, been there.  I've had to run an offense that scored more points than the defense.  You don't do your defense any service in those kind of games.  When you play the game that way, you're susceptible to off days, you're going to get beat.
And when I came to Notre Dame, having lived in that world of trying to outscore opponents, I felt the best blueprint that we could put together for a National Championship here was through our defense.  We're starting to see the building of that.  It's only our third year in terms of building it.  The blueprint here is to not try to outscore people and turning it into a track meet.  It's to control the line of scrimmage.  It's to play great defense, to be solid in the special teams.  So it's just the choice of the way I want our program to evolve.

Q.  Last night you didn't have any sacks.  You had one tackle for a loss, yet Al golden talked about the pressure that your front seven put on, and how difficult it still was to play against.  Can you kind of see what he's talking about and what you saw in your front seven that you liked?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, we take away the depth of the pocket.  There is no depth in the pocket.  In other words, we get such a great push from our nose and our inside that it's hard to see down field.  You have to move your feet which takes you out of timing.  A lot of the passing game is built upon the ability to step up and have great timing, and we do a very good job of disrupting timing within our scheme, and that continues to be our biggest strength.

Q.  Everett's zone running, you talked about it a little bit last night that you felt like this was the week to put that in.  He wasn't a big runner in high school.  A lot of people thought maybe he was.  What is maybe the most difficult thing in becoming a solid runner in this offense?
COACH KELLY:  Well, I think you've used the right word, a runner.  Understanding how he fits into what we want accomplished by the quarterback, and he doesn't have to run every down, but when we're trying to block effectively and we've got to leave a guy unblocked, he's got to be able to make the right reads and take it or give it out given what he sees.
So this is a disciplined approach to everything that we do.  Not only in the passing game, not only in the management of the game, but also in the running game.  I personally thought that once we got him running a little bit, he seemed a whole lot more comfortable in the game, and I would think that we'd consider continuing that route moving forward.

Q.  I know last night you thought Theo was a little dinged up but it was nothing serious.  At second glance are you still seeing the same thing on Sunday here?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, for a game against Miami, you figured you're going to get a couple guys banged up.  We did.  Eifert had a couple of stitches and a laceration, nothing major.  We had an ankle on TJ Jones.  We had an elbow.  It wasn't hyperextended, more of a bone bruise by Theo, and that's really it.  So just a few bumps and bruises.
Oh, Goodman, his back locked up on him we think he'll be fine moving through the week.  Other than that, a pretty good week for us.

Q.¬† Just following up on Everett how much was there maybe a fear‑‑ he's not the biggest guy around, but at taking and absorbing some of the hits from defenses as a runner would potentially affect his passing?¬† Or was it more than just a mental aspect that held him back from running the zone option a little bit more?
COACH KELLY:  Just didn't like the way he carried the ball, exposed the ball a lot in practice, wasn't comfortable given the fact that we have to be very, very conscious of turnovers.  He's protected the ball better, though he did put the ball on the ground twice.  That was probably our biggest concern of running him was that we didn't want the ball on the ground.
We're working at it in practice.  He's better at it.  He's cognizant of it.  He's aware of it.  As he continues to protect it better each and every week in practice, we'll continue to run him more.

Q.  Was there any worry physically the beating he might take or anything like that, restraint?
COACH KELLY:¬† No, I'm not going to put our quarterback in a position, especially him.¬† He's not a big, thick, physical guy that Andrew Hendrix who is 230 pounds.¬† We're not going to run him in a fashion where we're going to grind him out and put him in a position where he can't utilize his strengths.¬† We'll pick our spots and make sure that he's one‑on‑one when it comes to some of the running opportunities that he has.

Q.  One of the main pregame angles of the game was this was maybe the best passing team that the secondary would be facing this year outside of the two drops.  To hold him to one catch for six yards after he had caught 375 yards in the previous two weeks, how did you overall grade the work of the secondary?
COACH KELLY:¬† We liked our re‑routing.¬† We thought we missed a couple of opportunities to re‑route on the perimeter.¬† But by and large, our grading was that we were on spot.¬† We were disciplined, and we put ourselves in a good position to succeed because we pushed the pocket pretty good and took away some quick throws that they like.
Then I think that probably the biggest thing was after we settled to the speed of the game and picked up our own level of speed, we kept the ball in front of us, which was the number one goal going into the game.

Q.  I was going to kind of go there myself.  Just kind of staying with the secondary first.  Did anything you saw from your back end surprise you last night?  Just considering the formidable challenge and all they've done with the passing game the last couple of weeks.
COACH KELLY:  I don't think anything surprised me as much as we were able to utilize all of our calls.  I think I mentioned this last Thursday in that we have not been allowed to really, because of the teams that we've played, get into all of our zone coverage looks.  We've got a multitude of them.
They probably saw three or four different zone looks that they had not seen all year because of the games that we played.¬† Again, maybe Purdue, which was a run team first.¬† With a pass team first, we got into a lot more three‑downs.¬† We were able to drop eight in coverage.¬† We were able to do a lot more things on the back end of our defense.

Q.  Just with all the varying offenses you've seen, how impressed are you on a week to week basis with what you're seeing from this defense of yours?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, any time that you can go back‑to‑back weeks with a Michigan team‑‑ and again, obviously the bye week in there.¬† But a Michigan team that presents so many conflicts in run pass, and then come back against a team that really does throw it well.¬† We've seen it with an option offense.
Think of what Coach Diaco has had to defend in the five weeks.¬† Option offense, a run first with the quarterback in Purdue.¬† Michigan State, a grind‑it‑out, great running back.¬† It's been an outstanding performance to date, and we've seen it all.¬† Now we just need to build on it.

Q.  The laceration you talked about with Tyler, where exactly was that?
COACH KELLY:  Three stitches in his elbow.  We've got the stitches in it after the game.  Looked at it, it looked clean.  There was a lot of dirt because of the field and the turf itself being pulled up.  We got it cleaned out, no infection.  He'll be good to go on Tuesday.

Q.  Are you ready to start talking about next year's sham rock series uniforms already?
COACH KELLY:  This is the first question that was actually brought up about the uniforms which goes to show if you win, everything's great.  If you lose, you hate them.

Q.  In light of Everett's strong performance last night, can you talk about how that makes you feel going into what could be the toughest stretch of your season with Stanford, BYU and Oklahoma?
COACH KELLY:  Well, certainly you feel better that he's feeling more confident and that he's out there understanding the game and the way it needs to be played.  I think it's going to be a great step forward for him in practice.  We're hopeful every day with Everett that he's purposeful and he comes to practice, and he's locked in and ready to go.
But, again, every day is a new day for us.  We'll just take it one step at a time with Everett.  We're not ready to feel like we're anywhere near to being that finished product.
But a game like this will certainly buoy his confidence and his ability to really focus in on the details of practice.

Q.  Also, we saw him in that very first series of the game last night, those two dropped passes by Dorsett that, I mean, I guess he catches either one of those balls, and that completely sets a different tone for that game.  Are you confident that you made the adjustments you needed to make in the secondary of that game, or do you still feel you have work to do in that area of the game?
COACH KELLY:  No, we were in great coverage.  There was a burst at the top of the route that we did not match with the same kind of urgency.  We corrected that.  After they came to the sideline, Coach Elliott and Coach Cooks got on the phone right away, made the corrections with how they need to burst to stay on top of the route, and it wasn't an issue with the rest of the game.
Believe me, they saw what we saw.  They went back to the same routes and we were on top of them.  So I was really pleased with our guys picking up their game when they knew they needed to.

Q.  Not to belabor the defensive pressures, but what happened to you guys second in the country in scoring defense?  Less than 8 points per game?  What do you think is the ceiling for this unit as a whole?
COACH KELLY:¬† Well, I think for us, it's continuing getting that consistent performance week‑in and week‑out and not having any lapses.¬† You've seen a pretty disciplined group where there's very few breaks, very few penalties, and their assignment correct.¬† So the challenge for us is to continue to do this week‑in and week‑out, and that's not easy to do.¬† It takes intense preparation.¬† It takes everybody committed to the task at hand.¬† And not swaying at all and saying we've arrived,¬† because in this business obviously you're going to be lost.¬† The challenge for us is to not turn somebody into what they're not, but just continue to improve on those fundamentals.¬† If we do that, we've got enough good players out there that we can do this week‑in and week‑out.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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