Nov. 8, 2015
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. After 24 hours, do you have an update on C.J.?
COACH KELLY: Yeah. He’s going through the concussion protocol. He landed on his shoulder and kind of whiplashed his neck. He got down to the ground and a player landed on him.
He was better today. He’ll go through a physical conditioning tomorrow. If he obviously passes that, then we’ll move to the next stage. But we’re hopeful that if he takes the steps necessary, we’ll have him back out on the practice field this week.
Q. Is it just the concussion protocol or anything involving his shoulder you’re concerned about?
COACH KELLY: No, I think neck more so, just the way the injury kind of took place. It was kind of awkward. It wasn’t a helmet-to-helmet. At first we weren’t sure whether his head struck the ground or not. It was more kind of a whiplash effect.
Regardless, we’ll go through a complete concussion protocol with him. Obviously he was better today, but we’ll take it day by day with him.
Q. In 2012, Manti was kind of the play-maker heart of that defense. The flipside, can Will Fuller be that play-maker, heart of the offense guy you can rely on as you move through November or is it two different scenarios there?
COACH KELLY: Well, Manti was certainly a guy on defense that not only would he make a play necessary late, but he galvanized both the offense and defense.
Will is not that kind of personality. He’s a weapon. He’s a guy that’s feared by defenses because of his ability to get over the top of any coverage. So I see him differently from that perspective. But certainly somebody that is going to impact each and every game.
Q. With Josh you kind of talked earlier in the year about his ability to work in pass pro. Has it been an effort? He’s a quick study? What has been the genesis of Josh being able to have that part of his game?
COACH KELLY: Good question. I just think he came with a pretty good understanding. In high school he was asked to block. His system had the runningback as part of protections, so he had a little bit of that.
Then, you know, he’s a pretty sharp kid, pretty smart kid. Savvy, understands things. Actually had a nice blitz pickup for us in the game as well.
I think his high school teaching and understanding, then just having a pretty good football IQ has helped him a lot.
Q. Considering how Josh played yesterday, even if C.J. is completely healthy, would it be more likely you might give Josh a little more carries, lighten C.J.’s load?
COACH KELLY: I think so. I think he proved to everybody that he’s capable against a very good defense in Pittsburgh of getting deserved carries, earned carries. He earned that opportunity in this game.
Yeah, I think he can lessen the load for C.J. and provide us with another option in there, as well. I would agree that he earned that this weekend.
Q. Obviously a lot of talk before the game about the red zone. Very good yesterday. You talked to the team. How do you think that helped?
COACH KELLY: They’re more alert in terms of play calls and recognition of where we were on the field. So I think there was just a heightened awareness. They knew how it impacted the ballgames that we were in, how it kept teams obviously in the game and closer.
So I think it was just a heightened awareness, an emphasis we placed on it, that we’ll continue to place on it. I don’t think you can do it for just one week. It’s something that we’ll have to continue to build with our offense week in and week out. But it was that heightened awareness I think they had when we got into that scoring zone.
Q. Russell, the secondary. Is he targeted more this year because he’s a number one, first-round pick in the NFL? Do you think he’s going to be targeted more?
COACH KELLY: Oh, I don’t know if it’s targeting as much as we’re in a situation where teams are throwing the football. They were 13 for 32. Very, very low percentage. There’s going to be opportunities that he’s going to have to make some plays.
I just think it’s the nature of college football. The ball’s going to be in the air. There are no shut-down corners. There’s guys that are just going to have to make plays. I think it’s the nature of college football today, that corners are going to have to have short memories, come back and make some plays, like he has this year.
Q. Adams is running the football. Is it nice to have two backup runningbacks in case C.J. can’t go next week against Wake Forest?
COACH KELLY: Certainly depth is always something you want to build within your football team. We think that Josh and Dexter are guys, if we’re left to having just those two, they can help us win. We’ll continue to work with them.
We think that C.J.’s going to be able to get back out on the field for us. If not, we have great confidence in both these guys.
Q. Talk about Wake Forest. They’re a 3-6 team, ACC opponent. What do you see getting ready for that game?
COACH KELLY: Well, very stingy defense. They play very good defense, physical. Athletic corners and safeties. A ball-control offense with a very dangerous quarterback.
Like to control the offense. Like to control the ball. Time of possession. They’ve had a week off to prepare. It’s a young football team.
Coach Clawson is a great football coach, had success at every level he’s been. We’ll expect Wake Forest’s very best.
Q. Was this the best game you’ve seen from DeShone so far?
COACH KELLY: I think in terms of all things, from the run game to protections, it was a very good game. I’ll just say his pocket presence, moving in the pocket, escape-ability, I graded him out very, very high. I would probably say right now that he did some things in this game that he hasn’t done all year.
I think that probably is because he’s gaining so much more confidence and seeing some things that he feels really comfortable with that has allowed him to now elevate his game to the level that it is right now.
I would probably agree that it was his best performance this year.
Q. Where do you think his confidence is after something like that? You mentioned his poise throughout his tenure here. Do you think he even took another step forward in that regard, or teammates’ confidence in him?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think each and every week has been one where he’s gaining more and more confidence in different things. Different throws that he struggled with, he’s not struggling with. Different reads that may have not come as easy. I think just overall there’s growth in so many different areas.
Q. We’ve seen a lot of these two-way players popping up, Adoree Jackson, Whitehead. Now you got into it. Had you considered this before with other players, one play thing against South Florida, maybe with Jaylon?
COACH KELLY: No, not with a special player. When you have a dominating player like a Jaylon Smith where you’re not going to take him off the field, really didn’t consider that because he’s just so important to our defense.
We felt like if we had a guy that maybe was able to do some specialized work, I’ve looked at it both ways, but never to the level where you’re a dominating player on one side and you’re going to get 15, 20 reps on the other side.
Torii Hunter shares reps offensively, so we felt like he was a great fit to do some work on defense. I’m more in that vein than I am taking a dominating player off of one side of the ball.
We know Jaylon can play runningback, he can play wide receiver, he can play tight end, a number of different positions. But it never was a thought that we had.
Q. If I remember right, you guys were involved with Jordan Whitehead in recruiting. You knew his skill set. When he pops into a game, I think that was his first offensive snap this season, as a coaching staff how do you kind of adjust your players for a dynamic player like that who shows up out of the blue?
COACH KELLY: We didn’t adjust very well. We told our guys when he came in the game, we were alerting them. We didn’t adjust very well to it. They were going to an unbalanced offensive set when he came in, and he was going to get the football. We told them that. We didn’t do a very good job.
Defensively he was a guy that we tried to take out of the mix as much as we could. I thought we did a pretty good job of that. We didn’t do as good a job as we would have liked, though, when he had the ball in his hands.
Q. Watching the sidelines, it looks like Malik is moving around pretty good. Looks like he’s fairly engaged with DeShone Kizer. Maybe you could talk about the effect he’s had on DeShone’s evolution this season.
COACH KELLY: He’s moving along very well. He’s got two more weeks and then the boot comes off. He’s been throwing in practice. Some of our drills where there’s not a lot of movement, he’s in there already throwing. He already feels part of it again.
But he’s been great in the meeting rooms, on the sideline in games. After he comes to the sideline, DeShone that is, I’ll say a couple things to him, then he talks to Coach Sanford on the phone, he goes over to Malik and gets the recap and any information he’s seen. It’s been really good dialogue and has built a strong relationship between the two.
Q. A quick injury thing. Looked like McGlinchey was walking out of the locker room with some kind of boot on. How is his ankle or foot?
COACH KELLY: He’s got an ankle sprain. It will be one where we’ll keep him in a boot probably through today, take it off. Rob likes to isolate those tendons and shut them down for the first 24 to 48 hours. But it shouldn’t be anything that prohibits him from practicing on Tuesday.
Q. How do you think DeShone Kizer can go ahead and sustain the success that he’s had from this past Saturday’s game?
COACH KELLY: I think, first of all, he’s somebody that is very grounded, very humble, is interested in getting better every single day. He doesn’t feel like he’s arrived. He’s got competition every single day. He knows that he’s got to get better.
He’s got great weapons around him that he wants to obviously be able to get them the football. So he’s got a lot of people around him that he wants to live up to the expectations that they have for the quarterback position at Notre Dame. He takes that seriously.
Q. You’re No. 5 in the country right now. What are you telling the players about not looking towards the massive Stanford game? You have Wake Forest, Boston College, then basically an elimination game.
COACH KELLY: Again, those things will take care of themselves when we get there. They’ve done a great job of staying in the moment, staying in the present. We’ve got great leadership. They clearly understand it’s about preparation from week to week.
Their focus is on this week ’cause it’s the senior’s last home game. There’s a lot that goes into that. So our guys are really excited about playing at home, playing Wake Forest. That really preoccupies all of our guys.