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January 7, 2013

Tyler Eifert

Everett Golson

Brian Kelly

Zeke Motta

Manti Te'o



JOHN HUMENIK:  We'll ask each of the gentlemen, starting with Coach Kelly, to give their thoughts on the game.  Coach?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  We'll begin by congratulating Alabama on their National Championship, Coach Saban, his entire staff and players deserved it.  They won the day today and deserve to be the champions.
As far as our team goes, I couldn't be more proud of especially my seniors.  What they have done in a very short period of time to help elevate our program back into the spotlight, competing for a National Championship, can never be repaid.  Now it's up to those that return to take it one more step, and we saw that that step needs to happen.  We were beat today by a better football team.  I don't know if they were 21 points, 28, 35, but they beat us today, and we've got another step that we have to take in the development of our program, and it'll be left up to those that have been led by these seniors, and that'll be the challenge moving forward.
As for the game, it was pretty clear.  I mean, we had a hard time getting off the field, and a lot of that had to do with Alabama.  They ran the ball effectively.  For us, we've been able to manage the run game.  They were able to run the ball effectively, and then obviously when you do that, it opens up so much of the play‑action game.
From an offensive standpoint, I was proud of the way we competed on both sides of the ball.  I was proud of the way our quarterback competed.  Everett did a nice job today of leading our football team.  And again, I think when you look at it, there's a lot of positives, a lot of things that we can draw from this game.
TYLER EIFERT:  You know, it's a tough way to go out, and we laid it all on the line, but at the end of the day, Alabama was the better team today.  They deserve it.  All the credit goes to them.
EVERETT GOLSON:  Just like everybody else is saying, it hurts me to see the seniors kind of go out like this, but for me, I felt this.  So this kind ofmy experience that I've gained, and I don't want to feel this feeling again.  But definitely giving the credit to Alabama.  Like everybody was saying, they were the better team today.
MANTI TE'O:  Yeah, just reiterating what everybody said.  Congratulations to Alabama.  They were the better team today.  But I'm proud of my team.  I'm proud of the way they battled not only today but all season.  I couldn't ask for a better senior year.  And just thanks to my team, thanks to my coaches, and thanks to the Orange Bowl Committee for this opportunity we had to be here in South Beach.
But congratulations to Alabama again.
ZEKE MOTTA:  Yeah, kind of going off of what everybody has been saying.  Obviously we don't want to go out like that.  It's tough to take a loss.  And through the whole season, to get to this point, we had opportunities, and we didn't execute to our best capabilities.  And obviously got to give the credit to Alabama for executing the way that they did.  They had a great game and just feel bad just because it hurts going out with these seniors.  Next year they have something to look forward to, though.  I think that we all represented the team well, and we would have liked to represent ourselves better tonight, but at the end of the day, we move forward after this and grow.

Q.  How much did the first drive, maybe the first two drives, just lead to a snowball effect and maybe just a sense that it just wasn't going to be your night, and that feeling that you guys haven't had really in a while of having to play catch‑up?
MANTI TE'O:  I think Coach Kelly told us before the game that there are eight minutes that are very important in the game, the first two minutes of the game, the last two minutes in the second quarter, the first two minutes of the third quarter and the last two minutes of the game, and obviously the first two minutes of the game didn't pan out the way we thought it would go.  But you know, we had a lot of opportunities, like Zeke said, and we didn't capitalize on those opportunities, and Alabama did.
And so there's nothing that we can say, but we know now that the first two minutes are very, very important to the momentum and your success in the game.

Q.  Coach, you mentioned the next step, what is the step between you and Alabama right now?  Is it talent, execution?  Could you see something, the difference between the two teams right away?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  We've got to get physically stronger, continue to close the gap there, and just overall you need to see what it looks like.  Our guys clearly know what it looks like.  When I say "know what it looks like," a championship football team.  They're back‑to‑back national champs.  So that's what it looks like.  Measure yourself against that, and I think it was pretty clear across the board what we have to do.
And again, I don't want to minimize the fact that we have made incredible strides to get to this point.  Now it's pretty clear what we need to do to get over the top.

Q.  Coach, the other day you talked about building a winning program, and it's about more than just putting up points on the board, and my question for you is how do you take what happened tonight and turn it into a positive so that you can bring a team back here or at least have a really great chance of bringing a team back to the BCS Championship next year?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  Well, I think it's easy to look at the positives.  First of all, it sets a bar for your entire program.  We all now know what we have to do to move from where we are, which is a 12‑0 football team, pretty darned good football team, but not good enough.  So it's clear what we need to do in the off‑season, it's clear what we need to do in player development, it's clear what we need to do to continue to coach better and recruit.
It's a great, great opportunity that we had here.  It's disappointing we lost the football game, but it's going to make my job very easy when it comes to talking to players about how you win a National Championship.

Q.  Coach, can you take us to two minutes in the second quarter, it's 4th and 5, you're on the Bama 40‑yard line, you decide to go for it.  Talk a little bit about that call, that play.
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  Yeah, certainly did not feel at that point that we could give the ball back to Alabama, so just a sense and feeling that we needed to convert there.  If we were going to get back in the game, we had to take a shot right there.  Again, it didn't work out, and they capitalized on it.  But I think at that point it was pretty clear in my mind that we needed to possess the football.

Q.  You mentioned that you saw some positives in today's game.  What specifically did you see that you liked?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  I mean, the way our guys compete‑‑ now, Alabama was the better football team, but I love the way our guys kept fighting and kept competing.  They didn't quit at all.  They understand how to play the game.  They played it better.  They were the better football team today, but I loved the way our guys just kept playing.  There's a number of young guys that got a chance to see that, and Everett talked about it; his motivation in the off‑season is going to be to get back to this game.  And the experience that he is able to take from this game, you can't duplicate it if you're sitting home or playing in a bowl game.  When you're playing for a National Championship, that stuff doesn't leave you.

Q.  Manti, after all the ups and downs this year, what are your emotions right now?  How are you feeling?
MANTI TE'O:  I'm obviously disappointed, not necessarily all that we lost, but just we didn't represent our school, our team, our families the way that we could have.  So in that aspect it's just disappointing.
But at the same time I'm proud to be a part of this team.  What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger.  The best thing about this experience is it creates fire.  It creates fuel for both the guys staying here and the guys leaving.  And everybody here, everybody here tonight will be better because of it.

Q.  How is Kapron?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  He suffered a significant knee injury.

Q.  Coach Kelly, Alabama became just the third team to win three national titles in a four‑year span.  Where do you put them in history?  Are they one of the greatest football teams ever in history in your estimation?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  Well, I think each year everybody can do those comparisons.  I measure success as a head coach with consistency.  And some people use the word "dynasty".  I look at it as program consistency, starts at the top and filters its way through the entire program.  And what Coach Saban has been able to do has really put an exclamation point on consistently putting elite programs and football teams together at the University of Alabama.

Q.  Manti, I apologize if you heard this before, but can you give me your impression of how good that Alabama offensive line is.  And was there anything different or unusual they did coming out of the chute in that first drive?
MANTI TE'O:  I think everybody knows about Alabama's offensive line.  They're very big and they're very athletic and very strong.  You know, we battled.  We battled.  They just did what Alabama does.  And like I said, we had opportunities to make plays, we just didn't capitalize on those opportunities.

Q.  The way that DaVaris played tonight and with Everett coming back, how optimistic are you that the offense can continue to develop next year?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  Well, if Everett would come back for another year‑‑ are you coming back?
EVERETT GOLSON:  Yeah, I'm coming back.
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  We worry about whether he wants to play basketball.
EVERETT GOLSON:  (Laughing).
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  Obviously with a young quarterback that is coming back, and emerging wide receivers in Daniels and TJ Jones was outstanding tonight.  Obviously losing a great wide receiver in Tyler Eifert, we feel really good about the nucleus and the development.  These guys have played great competition across the board from the start of the season to the end, and obviously it's only going to help them as we move forward.

Q.  Without the benefit of film study, is there anything schematically you look at now and say, shoulda done this a little different, they were a little better there than maybe you thought?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  Oh, I think you always have time for that.  You know, they obviously put us in a tough position in some of their wing sets where we had to roll a corner, fire a safety.  But those were things, as Manti and Zeke said, we had hats in a position, and they're pretty good.  We had some opportunities, and we missed on them.
But yeah, there will be plenty of time to look at film.  But we're all going to learn, not just the players, coaches.  We hadn't been in this game, either.  So we're going to learn a great deal from it and be better coaches from it, as well.

Q.  Everett, not the result you wanted obviously, but how do you feel you personally handled the beginning of the game, just nerves and whatnot, and throughout the game?
EVERETT GOLSON:  Well, the beginning of the game I don't think it was necessarily nerves.  I was more so anxious to play.  I think all the players were anxious to play, and we had that mindset of really going out and executing and giving us the best chance to beat Alabama.  Obviously things didn't work out the way we planned.  We kind of fell.
But how I feel right now, I'm kind of just taking this game under my belt.  Like I said, I'll just gain the experience from it, and really looking forward to next year knowing that I've got to be more of a leader, and just being more of a leader to this team and trying to make this team better.

Q.  Zeke, just all season long, your defense was stellar and the entire unit, and you bent a little bit but never broke.  Tonight it kind of broke a little bit.  Did it start in the trenches with the lines?  And kind of explain what happened.
ZEKE MOTTA:  I mean, our whole team is a brotherhood, and I'm proud to say that we came out and kept fighting no matter what the situation was.  Like I said earlier, like everybody has been saying, Alabama came out and executed.  You can't put it on one person or the other, it's just a team thing.  And we just need to fight and learn from it.
I love all these brothers that ‑‑ I'm fortunate to say that I've been here for four years and grown from that.  So yeah.

Q.  Brian, I'm not sure one play would have made a difference in this game tonight, but what was the explanation on the fair catch early in the game that Alabama fumbled and Notre Dame recovered but it went back to Alabama?
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  Said that we ran into a fair catch.  What I disputed was the validity of the fair catch.  I thought it was an invalid fair‑catch signal.  The official thought otherwise.  And then of course we couldn't tell exactly, but our guys that watched it on the video thought that we did make contact.
That would have been a nice play to go our way early in the game.  Obviously it didn't go our way, but as you mentioned, it certainly didn't change the outcome of this football game.

Q.  For the defensive guys, it seemed like their biggest pass plays seemed to be corner routes to the outside that you guys‑‑ they pinched you inside and then had the safeties vulnerable a little bit.  Was that something that you guys were expecting before the game started, or was that something that you hadn't seen before from that offense?
ZEKE MOTTA:  I mean, we had prepared for that since after the USC game, and like I said earlier, we just needed to execute better.  Schematically I think that we did the right thing, and I believe that.  They didn't do anything different that we didn't expect, it was just a matter of execution and playing the right way.

Q.  Manti, after the magical season you had, the team had, your run for the Heisman Trophy and the way it ended, does this sour it for you, and what kind of emotions are you going through?
MANTI TE'O:  Well, like I said before, it definitely sucks, to be quite honest.  But I wouldn't trade it for anything.  I wouldn't trade this team for anything.  I wouldn't do anything differently.  Obviously we wish that the night could have ended in a different way.  But the season, the year, my career here, I've been truly blessed to be at Notre Dame, and I'll forever be proud to say that I'm a Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  Regardless of what happened tonight, I'm proud of my team.

Q.  Manti, as your team went through the climb to this point this year, there was always a debate about is Notre Dame football back for good or not.  As you walk away from this program, what's your assessment of that question?
MANTI TE'O:  We're definitely‑‑ we're close.  Obviously we're not there.  If we were there, we would be holding the crystal ball.  But we're close, because if we weren't close, we definitely wouldn't be in South Beach.  And I know Coach Kelly and Everett and all the guys who are coming back, they're just going to be that much better, and it's going to be exciting to watch them next year.

Q.  Coach, I haven't seen the final numbers, but there seemed to be quite a few missed tackles.  Your players were there, so it wasn't a matter of scheming.  Can you talk about that.
COACH BRIAN KELLY:  Well, I think it's a combination probably of three things:  One, outstanding back; Lacy made us miss.  I thought his ability to shake us down was outstanding.
You know, I have to evaluate whether I did a good enough job as the head coach in getting tackling done for our players.  I think everything is on the table when you see so many missed tackles.  But again, that will require a little bit of research and looking at it a little bit more in depth.
But I would put most of it on a really outstanding back in Lacy and the way he ran.  I was very impressed with him tonight.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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