Oct. 16, 2012
COACH KELLY: The 24-hour rule was firmly imposed after a great win against Stanford. A lot of emotion, really proud of the way our guys competed. And competitive greatness is a term that’s used quite a bit and what it means for me is that when the stakes are at its highest, players step up and reach that level and we had a number of guys step up and make great plays.
But as I said, 24 hour rule, we enjoyed the win and that is now behind us. Our focus is on BYU. Our focus is on getting better as a football team. There are many things that we have to clean up fundamentally from this past weekend if we want to continue to grow as a football team.
So that has really been the focus, and our guys are fully engaged in that. We’ll get a chance to go out on the field today and go through a similar Tuesday.
Again, I think the most important thing for our football team is to continue to do what they have done. They don’t need to change anything. We don’t need to add more to practice. We don’t need to do anything else but pay attention to what we’ve done up to this point.
So BYU, physical football team. Again, we don’t leave the Big Ten. It’s another physical football team that plays great defense. They have won a couple of close games this year on the backs of their defense.
Offensively, they have got some big bodied wide receivers, a quarterback who is a senior who can certainly make plays, well coached, and certainly from our end, we’ll have to play well or we’ll get beat.
So with that, I’ll open up to questions.
Q. Can you give us an update on Everett’s (Golson) situation right now?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he did not pass his cognitive test yesterday. He’ll take it again this afternoon. Obviously if he passes today, we’ll practice him on Wednesday, which has been a similar routine of the last couple weeks. It was turf toe that he was not able to go and the week before it was his shoulder.
So this is kind of business as usual. But each kid is different. Each case is different. We’ll take it day by day.
Q. You’ve talked about how limiting turnovers is crucial, but Everett (Golson) has had a couple of weeks being loose with the ball. Is he getting close to a breaking point where you might have to consider making the change?
COACH KELLY: No, I think he understands that that’s what he has to get better at is taking care of the football. We don’t talk in terms of, hey, if you don’t do this, we are going to take you out of the game. He knows how important it is to take care of the football and we have to be more vigilant in practice.
We have to make sure that as I was talking to Coach Martin yesterday, that it’s got to be pointed out every single time when that ball is not in a good position, because it’s clearly something that has to change.
Q. How do you work on that? How do you get a guy to when he’s running, he’s got the ball out there and dangling it around; how do you rein it in?
COACH KELLY: There are certain times he’s going to carry the ball in one hand and we understand that but he’s got to feel pressure and he’s got to understand that covering the football up he’s got to understand when to get down. One of the fumbles that he had, he could easily have stepped out of bounds.
And so, a lot of this is first time for him and we have to make sure that he takes care of the football. He understands how important it is, and we are going to continue to make sure that we hold him accountable.
Q. Is it possible you scale back the running a little bit since that seems to be where some of these are happening?
COACH KELLY: No, I don’t think so. I think we probably have to continue to move him. I mean, that’s one of the great strengths is his ability to run. He’s just got to take great care of the football. And we’ll get through it. It’s a painstaking process right now. But we’ll get him to hold on to the football.
Q. I know it’s probably not as important for the winning coach but have you had any explanation with the controversy of the last play, how the instant replay was called, all that kind of stuff?
COACH KELLY: No, I haven’t. Haven’t asked for it, either. We simply feel like we had made that play. We had guys in position to make the play. If the whistle had not blown, we feel like we were in good position to continue the play. We heard the whistle and the play was over.
So you know, there’s look, there’s a number of plays that could have went either way; Everett’s fumble which was a huge play, it appeared that he stepped out of bounds. You could microcosm the whole game and look at different things. The fact of the matter is that the game was officiated, it went to replay, and it was a great game.
Q. You had some things happen in that game between the fumble in the end zone, you have your first couple of deficits of the season, and in the past those kind of things happen, things might go a different way. Where do you think the mental just the overall mental toughness that your team has displayed this year has come from?
COACH KELLY: Did you see me on the sidelines at all last year? This is a process. This just didn’t happen overnight. I mean, this is demanding, that mental and physical toughness. The pride and tradition of Notre Dame football will not be left to the weak, the timid or the non committed. I mean, that’s in our locker room. That was put up the first day I got here.
So this is a process of developing that physical and mental toughness, and along the way, having some scars where maybe it wasn’t as evident. So this has just been a process of getting to this point and now they see that.
Now it’s not just words in the locker room. It’s not just a creed with a bunch of words. They are actually filled in now because it’s starting you can see it’s starting to play in how they go to compete each week.
Q. And then this obviously has the makings of the classic trap game; how do you avoid that?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I mean, it’s college football each and every week. Look to the North Carolina State/Florida State game; go to West Virginia versus Texas Tech. Why does that happen? Well, you forget how you got here.
They are trap games if you forget how to go to work and do those things. We’ve already talked about it with our team, and we’ll make sure that we do everything to prepare the right way.
Q. This fits in with that; I’m sure you set team goals at the beginning of the season with your guys. How do you balance that with kind of keeping your eye on the immediate task at hand?
COACH KELLY: Well, our team goals are based upon certainly how we perform from week to week. So we have specific team goals as it relates to how the game is played. For example, we want to be less than 15 percent of our plays that have mental errors and we were above the cut there.
So for each game, there are particular goals that we believe that if you hit those goals, you win football games. So we redirect that to the most important goal for us, is to win on Saturday, and how you’re going to win on Saturday, and that’s the process and preparation.
So the only goals that we really talk about, we don’t have a list of goals that says, hey, we want to go to the Sugar Bowl, we want to go to the Fiesta Bowl, we want to win the National Championship. We don’t have any of those goals. They are not written down. You won’t see them anywhere. They are not in our locker room.
All you’ll really hear us talk about are the goals as it relates to playing the game, and if you hit these goals, you’ve got a great chance to win and then how do you get there and so that’s how we deal with it on a day to day basis.
Q. Why don’t you have goals like that? Why don’t you put up National Championship or Sugar Bowl?
COACH KELLY: I just never felt like that it kept you focused on the process. And you’ve heard it ad nauseam from me; I’ve always in my career focused on the process. Those things take care of themselves and that’s how I’ve always managed my program.
Q. You mentioned the cog test that Everett failed; specifically.
COACH KELLY: Well, there’s a number of different things. First of all, there’s a balance test, which he passed. There’s also just an exam that he’s passed, and then there are symptoms, whether it’s sensitivity, agitation, light sensitivity, all those things he’s passed. Then there’s a computer test, a cognitive test that he has to pass, and he’ll take that again today. Once he does that, he’ll be allowed to go back to practice.
But again, I would say, there is a protocol, there are standards. They are independent of the head football coach. This is strictly on our medical staff. They make all of those decisions, and they come to me and tell me when he’s ready to go.
Q. So he’s close? Close to passing it?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he’s I would say if Everett Golson was a guy that you knew, you would know when he’s ready; when he’s smiling and bouncing around, we are seeing that yesterday and today. So we are seeing great progress.
Q. It looked like Troy Niklas had a tough day going against a great player most of the day. When something like that happens, obviously you would prefer he didn’t have a day like that but I would imagine there is a ton to be gained by having that experience against a great player, as well. Could you talk about that a little bit?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, there’s no question. He was challenged and wasn’t taken out of the game at any point. He was right in the thick of it. We put him in a role that some could argue was a difficult one for him to succeed in.
What I loved about him, as I said earlier in my remarks about our team, is that that only will help him as a football player because he went against such a very good football player. But he was there when we won late and contributed greatly to the success in the last drive where we were able to run the football effectively.
So all those things are confidence builders. Because he knows, hey, sometimes I get my butt kicked here. But late when he needed it, he made some really big blocks for us and that just helps your confidence immensely.
Q. And what is the corrective technique? What mistakes did he make technique wise that you look at and say, hey, you made this mistake, we can correct it by you just doing this.
COACH KELLY: He does what all long players struggle with: Balance. He gets overextended. He’s a big, physical kid. He’s 6 7, and he gets overextended quite easily. We have to continue to work on his base. We’ll get him stronger, not necessarily from the waist up, but the waist below. When he gains more strength in the lower body, he’s just going to be absolutely immovable, and that will come.
Q. We saw Daniel Smith play a little bit, he caught a pass and also did a good job of coming back and making sure that Everett’s (Golson) throw was not a grounding; what has he done to get himself back in the mix?
COACH KELLY: John Goodman was out. John probably would have been in those situations. So it was the next man in for Dan. Danny has improved every week. It’s the blocking part of him. We like him. He’s a bigger, physical guy out there in terms of blocking.
But he’s just a real good football player for us that when he gets his chance, he can get in there and help us.
Q. And where is (John) Goodman health wise this week?
COACH KELLY: Good. He looks good. He had an epidural on Tuesday of last week. Responded pretty good. Actually came back Thursday, caught some punts for us. He would have been an emergency guy for us if we really needed him. He feels really good this week.
Q. Six play defensive overtime, 12 guys that either technically made a play; what does it say about the toughness of your base defense to be able to do that?
COACH KELLY: Well, that’s what we have been working towards, and as you know, we talked about this a lot earlier in the season about the number of guys that are getting playing time; that we can put them in at any time of the game and feel very confident that they can go in there and play at a high level.
So building that depth; the dynamic is that everybody shares in that victory, which obviously, you know, creates great morale within the ranks, all of those dynamics that go with winning, but winning with depth and guys getting a chance to be part of it, obviously that synergy is a real good thing to have.
Q. He by no means is alone on the play, but how much did it mean to Carlo (Calabrese) after missing the first game this year, I guess he’ll be on the poster for making the stop at the end along with (Prince) Shembo and other guys.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he’s bounced back with really good football. Something that we knew, Carlo, and he’s helped us on special teams, as well. He’s been a very good teammate, and he’s contributed greatly to the success of our defense.
Q. And the last one for me, you and your staff identified in the spring as a guy who would not be a problem in the young secondary is Bennett Jackson and he seems to continually improve; can you talk about his contributions last week?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we thought this was a step up for him. We asked him to step his play up. We thought KeiVarae Russell was catching him and not that he had not been playing better, but we issued a challenge last week, and Bennett did a great job of stepping up his play and putting himself in a very, very good position to help us.
So we are really pleased with those guys and the progress they are making each and every week. Same thing with Matthias (Farley); we thought Matthias came back with a very solid effort. The one thing that you need from him is solid tackling. He put himself in a position to make tackles. And of course, the interception, he was in a pretty good position in coverage. So we are getting those guys to improve each and every week.
Q. You mentioned the 24 hour rule a handful of times immediately and trap games; what are some of the things you are looking for this week that will give you confidence that, hey, my guys are not falling into that trap game syndrome?
COACH KELLY: I think we have all been at it long enough. I think they know, the seniors know, the veterans know how to practice and prepare and do the little things the right away.
So I don’t think it’s a one way conversation. I think it’s more about, hey, we will look at each other practice and say, all right, is this where we need to be.
So I think when you get to this point where they understand what it takes to be successful, it’s more of a two way conversation. It’s never about just the head coach coming before you and saying, all right, you didn’t practice well today; what do you guys think; was this the kind of effort necessary for us to continue to win. And I think that’s where we are at the next step of our program is that it becomes a two way conversation with your players.
Q. Last week’s game was so physical, and such hard hitting, how do you rebound from that to try to keep it consistent but also accommodate or acknowledge that you left a lot out there and you may need to have some extra time to build it back up?
COACH KELLY: I really look at our schedule and talk about, you know, Purdue; I talk about Michigan State; I talk about Michigan; I talk about having to play them week in and week out, and that physical brand of football.
BYU, as I mentioned in the outset, is that same kind of team. We have responded well. I don’t know that we know how to play any other way, but to have that kind of effort necessary.
So I think if we had played a bunch of spread teams coming into this game, we would probably be a little bit more concerned about it but we have already played this kind of physical brand.
Q. Without (Everett) Golson today, how do you divide up the reps as quarterback in practice?
COACH KELLY: We’ll make sure that he gets a lot of mental reps, and then Tommy Rees and Andrew (Hendrix) will get probably probably go 60/40 today would be my guess.
Q. I think a lot of people just look at stats and they see Cierre’s (Wood) averaging two yards more per carry than Theo (Riddick). Can you just talk about the rotation there, where it’s good to play Theo and Cierre equally, regardless of somebody might just look at the stats and be like, wait a minute, Cierre is averaging two yards, he should have more reps?
COACH KELLY: I agree, we are getting way too much out of per carry statistics. We are looking at circumstances in the game, play call, matching of personnel versus the defensive personnel that’s in the game. A lot of those things are not seen within the statistical numbers.
So we think they are all very good backs. I think if there’s any comment that needs to be made on the three running backs is we still have to continue to get more touches for George Atkinson III. It’s less about Cierre and Theo, because they know their role, they have accepted their role. George has, as well. We just think that from a coaching standpoint, if there is anything amongst the three backs, we have to get George some more touches.
Q. And lastly, I guess the teachable moment for Everett (Golson) to just, hey, Tyler (Eifert) maybe double cover, just throw the ball up there, how much do you think you can benefit from that kind of pushing the ball to Tyler, maybe a little bit more than he has?
COACH KELLY: Well, there’s a little bit more than just throwing it up there I would say. We’ve worked hard on green grass throws where your movement key might be sinking. As you saw, the ball was put in a position where the defensive back had no chance of what we call raking through the basket. We work very diligently on those throws.
We just think that the air that he put on the ball, which is a level two ball, and where he put it, Tyler Eifert was the only one that was going to be able to catch that ball. And so I want to make sure that it’s clear that that’s something that he has worked hard at developing.
He would have not made that throw in week one or week two. He would have thrown a line drive level one ball and it would either have been deflected by the corner who was sinking or Tyler would not have gotten his hands on it.
Q. So just following up on that, is this kind of the progression of countering almost defenses rolling to cover (Tyler) Eifert then?
COACH KELLY: I’m sorry, in terms of?
Q. Just in terms of (Everett) Golson making those throws, as opposed to week one or week two.
COACH KELLY: No, this is just the development of a young quarterback who is taking to coaching and understanding; Everett had his best four plays of the game with the last four plays that he was in there.
I think probably his best play, and again I’m going back to answer your question about the curve and the learning curve and his progression. He threw a ball out to TJ (Jones) that seemed to flutter. He had somebody in his face. He set his feet. He stayed in the pocket. He didn’t try to escape, which he did earlier in the game. So that learning curve is taking place, series by series.
And so to answer your question, that throw is something that he’s developed into by being out there. That’s the value and the benefit of him playing this year with four seasons of competition. That’s what I see and those are the things that keep me moving towards seeing the positive things. I know there’s others. He’s got to take care of the football. He’s got to set his feet. He plays sloppy at times but boy, he competed his butt off. I couldn’t be more proud of the guy and the way he competed.
Q. With TJ (Jones), is he developing into the guy that could be the option when they have double coverage on (Tyler) Eifert?
COACH KELLY: Absolutely, without question. I think if there’s one guy singularly who has brought his game to a new level and look, this is a cumulative effect on him, as well. TJ and I have had conversations along the way in between plays, on the sideline; he’s developing that mental and physical toughness and he would tell you that.
But more importantly, he’s really focused on his craft, and the skill of route running; all of those little things that go into being a better football player.
Q. You mentioned Andrew (Hendrix) getting 40 percent of the reps. Is there a situation you have in mind where he could enter the game instead of Tommy Rees?
COACH KELLY: No, I haven’t thought specifically. I’m going to have three quarterbacks ready to play on Saturday.
Q. Mike Golic Jr., has been so solid, I think he started 10 games in a row, and yet it looked like in the replay that he did the same thing three times. Was there something
COACH KELLY: In terms of the false starts?
Q. Was there something that
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I could get into the specifics of it. It’s poor communication. We have to do a better job communicating with the quarterback and the center.
I could do a two hour clinic on this thing. It has to do with how it comes out; your voice inflection, all of those things. We have to do a better job. That’s another area that we have to clean up. One week we don’t have any; the next week we’ve got five. So that’s what keeps us here late at nights.
Q. Wanted to ask you about the coin flip, I know in overtime, you always want to get the ball first and get on the board. You didn’t, and I thought the second decision turned out to be a great one and that was playing in the students’ end of the feel. It was a phenomenal atmosphere down there at the end of the game.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, pretty standard for me is obviously if we are going to go on offense, we are going to make sure that if we are at home, it’s going to be loud and we are going to have that as an advantage for us.
Certainly you still have to make the plays and you still have to get in the end zone but any time that we are confronted, unless the wind is clearly a factor in the game, I would choose wind over having home field advantage, but wind was not a factor.
Q. Midway point of the season, how satisfied are you with the progress your team has made from where you started to where you’ve gotten to now?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think if you look at the individuals, we are really pleased with all of the individuals in our program, starting with Manti Te’o, who is kind of the guy that we have put up there.
His progress look, if he comes back for his senior year and we don’t win a lot of football games, we are all disappointed. But if he comes back for his senior year, and he doesn’t develop as a player and as an individual, that’s disappointing.
So while the individual is developing in our program and we are seeing great signs of young players and old players alike developing as football players. They are getting better. They are playing their best football later in their career. Mike Golic, Manti Te’o, TJ Jones; and then we have got some young guys that we have to take some of the lumps along the way.
But I think that’s how I look at it more than anything else in terms of the development of the individuals and the whole of the team; I’m pleased with that.
Q. And your thoughts on where you guys stand in the BCS, and I know
COACH KELLY: Really?
Q. It’s a nice place but there’s still room to climb.
COACH KELLY: (Sighing). I really don’t care. I’m sorry. I know all of our fans care a lot about that stuff and that’s great. I love seeing Notre Dame out there and having stories about Notre Dame. That’s why we came here.
But I really don’t give it any thought as to positionally whether that’s a better post-position for us than any other. Sorry.
Q. Can you talk about Tommy Rees and the way he has come off the bench now in three games, similar to a pinch hitter in baseball, especially on Saturday where he had to come off basically no warm up and on the second play zinger pass to (Tyler) Eifert over the middle. Talk about how difficult that is.
COACH KELLY: I think you know how difficult it is. You know, it’s freezing cold I wouldn’t say it’s freezing cold; that’s an overstatement. But it’s raining; it’s chilly, and he’s got to go in and hasn’t had a chance to warm up and he’s got to go throw the football.
He’s just a guy that he’s one of those guys that you can do that with. You can’t do that with everybody. They don’t have the makeup to be able to go in the game and check the play twice, while the clock is ticking down and know that there’s six seconds left on the clock and I’m going to get this snap off. Those things are experience and then within your makeup. He’s got those things.
But I don’t think he could do it without the experience that he had over the last couple years.
Q. Looking at the numbers, BYU matches up similar to your team statistically. Talk about the test for your defense, especially with their running game behind a big offensive line.
COACH KELLY: Good, physical, offensive line. Big bodied receivers that can put you in a tough position. It’s a good football team. It’s a solid football team. They have made some mistakes along the way, have had some close losses. They are 21 21 in the fourth quarter against Oregon State who is a Top 10 team.
So you know, say whatever you want. Our kids turn on the film and look at BYU and go, that’s a good football team. We are not turning on the film and looking at a team where the kids go, oh, these guys can’t play. They are physical, play hard and play for four quarters.
Q. Talk about turning on the film; what do you see when you see (Brandon) Ogletree on film?
COACH KELLY: First of all they put him in a position where he can play downhill, physical. (Kyle) Van Noy, the rest of their players are outstanding. They are not as big and as long as Stanford’s players but play just as hard and just as physical. A little quicker, maybe a little bit better in space than the Stanford players, but play a very similar scheme.
Q. Your secondary has done a terrific job of avoiding penalties this year while making plays. Talk about how you work on developing that.
COACH KELLY: Well, I think we go one on one every day, and in those one on one drills, we are talking to our offense or defense about whether that’s a PI or whether you’re holding them, and Coach (Kerry) Cooks, Coach (Bob) Elliot, we are all talking offensively and defensively during that period of time as to how you play the ball, and it’s being coached.
It’s not recess when we go one on one, where just throw it up there and see what happens. We are coaching and communicating.
Q. But it’s been coached in other years, too, and they have not been as successful. Why is this unit successful?
COACH KELLY: I think a lot of it has to do with timing. We are not in a lot of man to man situations. We don’t play a ton of man. We play a lot of zone, so we usually have somebody over the top where we are not in a reaching/grabbing situation.
Q. What’s the development of Dan Fox from last year to this year? Where is he right now?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think, first of all, he’s a very physical player. Though I would not say that he wasn’t physical last year. I think just overall knowledge of the position.
As you know, the will linebacker position for him was something new for him. I thought he adapted very well last year. There were times that we thought that he was clearly the No. 1 player at that position. Now Carlo (Calabrese) obviously has had a really good year and those guys are sharing time.
I think pass coverage to be the first thing. They had a dig, Stanford, behind him and he got fished out by the underneath defender. He came in and pulled him out. And he immediately came off the field knowing, I can’t believe I got fished out on that play.
Just you hear things and you go, this guy really gets it and understands. So I think the knowledge base has helped. And he’s been physically not banged up. He had that shoulder and it really hampered him at times. I think he’s been physically in a much better place, as well.
Q. I don’t know if it was him or just everybody on the sidelines, but there was a play, he was on the sidelines and the defense was in a wrong alignment or something, and he started jumping up and down, up and down, trying to signal for the time out.
COACH KELLY: We were in the middle of the field. We had a couple of situations where we are in the middle of the field and we have to adjust our calls, because we are working off of hashes, right and left calls.
So if you are in the middle of the field, we had a couple of times where we had our dog on the wrong side of the field. He thought right was on this side, when it was actually on the other side. Those are generally middle of the field alignment errors. So we had to go back and make a couple of adjustments, Coach (Bob) Diaco did it at half time and we cleaned that up.
But that’s the situation. Danny knew what was going on that we were misaligned in that position. That’s why we used the time out.
Q. Did he initiate?
COACH KELLY: Well, I was on the headset with the defense and I could hear them say, “Get Prince (Shembo) over, get Prince over,” and Danny (Fox) is jumping up and down.
And then I said, “I’ll take a time out, I’m going to take a time out.” And then they said yes and we took a time out.
Q. How different of a game manager are you now as the season is going on with the defense that you have in terms of the way you call a game in general both sides?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think I’ve always tried to do that, but you call a different game with the kind of defense that you had. As I’ve said probably many times is that my background has been in the Mid-American Conference and when I was at Cincinnati, you had to outscore people. So you’re just like, defense, hold on, you’re not thinking much about it; whereas now you’re really thinking about long fields and how you can put your defense in a better position.
You know, with the turnover that we had, which consequently they didn’t score, we were not able to flip field position for about nine minutes. And I’m thinking about that that whole game; that that turnover, though it didn’t result in a score, it took us nine minutes to get field position back for us. So I think a lot more about it now.
Q. Just to put a finer point on (Everett) Golson and get a little speculative here, if he were not to practice Wednesday, is that too late in the week for him to be part of the game plan if he starts practice, his first practice of the week is on Thursday?
COACH KELLY: We would probably limit the things that we do. There’s very little we can’t do in the running game. We would probably limit some of the things we would do in the passing game and some of the things that we have put on him. But he could practice on Thursday and be ready to help us on Saturday.
Q. You talked about his growth and that you see it series by series and so forth. Do you feel like you’re close to kind of that breakthrough point with him?
COACH KELLY: Like, at what level? That he never turns the ball over?
Q. I think you said you wanted to be and had to be a better passing team, and this certainly is a team that it be fruitful to be a better passing game.
COACH KELLY: I do. I don’t know if it’s a breakthrough moment but I think just little things like I mentioned, the last four plays, I thought the throw that he made to TJ (Jones) late in the fourth quarter, where he had Murphy right in his face and he’s hung in there and then the throw to (Tyler) Eifert you know, I don’t think they are teasers. I really think those are the little things to build on, and so but we are still hopeful, you know, as we go through another week that that becomes more consistent.
But I would say that we are definitely trending in the right direction.
Q. With George Atkinson III, I believe initially when you were recruiting him, you were looking at him as a wide receiver, kind of moved him to running back as necessity. Has he surprised you as a running back and is there still that receiver element that you would like to bring out in him?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we feel like we can throw the football. He’s made great progress from camp to the point we are at right now where we feel like we can put him in in a route and he’s going to catch the ball with his hands. He was not fun to watch in preseason camp when you threw the ball to him, and now he’s snatching the ball with his hands. We have seen great improvement.
I think the one thing I’m really pleased with George is he sticks his foot in the ground now and goes North and South. If you remember, a couple of plays, one in the Miami game, they fired the corner off the edge, we ran a pitch to him and he could not bring them down.
He’s a big, physical kid that now is playing not just as the speed guy but a guy that will put his foot in the ground and go north and south. That’s why I continue to say, we have to keep working to give him more touches.
Q. With this being fall break, a couple of things, do you have more than 20 hours with your team and also do you try to keep them in the routine so that they are not sleeping in and all that stuff?
COACH KELLY: We keep it to 20. We don’t want to change the routine. So we bring them in. We don’t want them sleeping until one o’clock. We got them out here right now. We had brunch at 11 o’clock and then they had some captain led film study today.
So you know, we are keeping him around but we don’t want it turning into a situation where you know, they have got to be here like an NFL. We want them to relax a little bit, as well.
Q. You referenced something early in the press conference about, did you see me on the sidelines last year. Have you taken a different approach just because this team is more mature; that they get who you are? Is it a little bit different on the sidelines?
COACH KELLY: I think in terms of being here three years now, they know what I want from them on game day. They know the physical toughness I want them to play with, the concentration; you know, this has been a process, and it has to start with the head coach.
Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t play out as good TV. But the fact of the matter is, we needed to set expectations of the way we wanted our program to move. We are moving in that direction and it doesn’t require me to have to have those kinds of conversations.
Q. Everett (Golson) did not practice on Tuesday the past two weeks because of those injuries you mentioned?
COACH KELLY: He was limited. He was limited, yes.
Q. And the 60/40 split would be 60 for Tommy (Rees); is that right?
COACH KELLY: I mean, I don’t want you to hold me to 60/40. I mean, if we go 58/42, is that all right? I don’t want to back later and be fined (chuckling).
But certainly we are going to try to get a mix there where this is an opportunity where Everett could take a step today and take a look at things; and I can get both those guys who have not been getting a lot of reps, I want to get them more reps today. So we’ll try to take advantage of that. Q. And if Everett (Golson) could not go till Thursday, would that maybe using two quarterbacks on Saturday?
COACH KELLY: I don’t know. Those are a lot of hypothetical situations. I’m going to look, I’ll tell you. What we are going to get three quarterbacks ready and at what level they are, it will determine, but we already know what Tommy (Rees) is capable of doing. We know he just needs to clean up on some of the finer detail things.
Andrew (Hendrix) has not got a ton of work, and you know, if Everett can’t go till Thursday, then maybe we have to bring it down a little bit. But we have to make sure that you have to defend a running quarterback that can run; that’s going to be part of the game plan.
Q. And does the off week help with the trap game in that they are not students saying, hey, you’re great and all that; does it make it easier to focus on this game?
COACH KELLY: No. I think it’s a trap game each week if you think that you can take a breather, you know what I mean. If you think you can go: Ah, I can take a breather now, it’s mid semester break, you know what I mean.
We are screwing things down tighter. If that locker room is a mess, there’s going to be a long practice today and they know that. If the game room looks like a pigsty, it’s going to be a long practice today.
My point is this: I think they are all trap games, every single one of them, if you take a breather. But if you just stay on the course, continue to do what you’re doing, we’ll be fine.
Q. Is one of the challenges this week, each week so far this year, the opponent, you can point to history. This is the first game where you haven’t played BYU in a while and there’s no real history here. Does this make it harder to get some sort of a sentiment going?
COACH KELLY: The hardest game for us to prepare for offensively was the Purdue game, because we had a new defensive coordinator, had no film, he had been in the Canadian Football League. We had no idea how it was going to go. Bronco has been the defensive coordinator for some time there. I mean, we know how they are going to play the game and conduct the game. So I think that’s less of a concern. Q. And what are you looking for going into the second half of the season, rushing wise, from the tailbacks, what are you looking for for the most improvement going ahead?
COACH KELLY: I just think discipline in running the inside/outside zones. We need to continue to work on that. Running North and South, we have a tendency to get too much of an east and west mentality. We want to be more north and south in the running game. And being the complete back and catching the ball out of the backfield and when called on to block to be there. Those would probably be my list of things.
Q. Where would you rank Tommy (Rees) in terms of the mental aspect of the game have you had a guy like that before?
COACH KELLY: I have. I would say that he certainly would be as good as any of the quarterbacks that I’ve had. My background, unfortunately, has been such that I’ve played more than one quarterback so a lot of them have had that knowledge base. He’s as skilled as any of the quarterbacks that I’ve had in my career.
Q. How much do you go to that, when you ask his opinion of things, how much of it is, I’m going to go with what I think and what Chuck thinks; how much do you value the input of other guys sitting on the sideline watching things?
COACH KELLY: I’ll ask him, did you see what I saw. I think more so kind of validating; did you think that that was, you know, this particular coverage; did you think that he should have thrown the ball here. I’ll ask him to kind of validate what I saw more so than, hey, do you got a particular play you like here.
So I think it’s more about validating some of the things that are going on. That’s where I generally have a conversation with Tommy.
Q. Switching gears to Kapron Lewis-Moore, what kind of season has he had and is this a victory lap for him as a guy who has been through a lot in five years to be enjoying this success?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, a lot of growth, a lot of growth as a leader in our football program. Yeah, certainly the dynamics there which put him front and center now in that defensive line meeting room, he has taken that over.
He is the guy that is respected in that room. There is clearly, from my end, a commitment from him to being a better football player; not that he didn’t want to be last year. I think he’s evolved in this program over the last three years as much as any one player.
Q. You hit on (Kyle) Van Noy and Manti (Te’o), and I understand they are different positions they play, but are they totally different skill sets or could Manti be a guy that gets to the quarterback if you wanted him to?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, good question, I think both of those questions are such because they are not asked to do that. Both of them set their defense. Both of them are adjustors. So they are generally asked to do a little bit more in the passing game relative to coverage.
So I think that that’s probably where we see the similarities. But I would agree with you; if they were asked to be guys to get after the quarterback, I think they are both very capable.
Q. D o you see his skill set as not the same to be a middle linebacker and Manti could be an edge guy?
COACH KELLY: No. I actually see (Kyle) Van Noy more as an edge player; of course that’s where he plays. I think the way they ask him to play, he gets the opportunity to get after the quarterback much more than Manti.
But you know, he’s a guy that is relentless like Manti. Look, the great players have the same traits. It’s just they are played at different positions, but they certainly could be interchangeable. I think if you ask me the difference between the two specifically, I would want Manti running downhill hitting the guard, and I would want Van Noy exactly where he is rushing the quarterback off the edge.
Q. Do you get any sense there’s any edge to him this week that this game means anything extra?
COACH KELLY: No, but I know it’s talked about a little bit. They have all got a lot of family here. Manti’s family is in town, Kona Schwenke’s family is in town and Robby Toma’s family. They have talked about it, Chris Badger here, obviously, too, so there’s been some conversation.
But I don’t know that that card is really going to be played in terms of more motivation. I think they are motivated about getting better as a football team.
Q. Regarding your front defense, you’ve been able to land playmakers and build quality depth at the front seven with success on the recruiting trail that we have not seen recently at Notre Dame; what has made your staff successful in that department and what do you hang your hat on in being able to develop these front seven guys and the better players once they are in your program?
COACH KELLY: Well, if you can sell Avon, you can sell Notre Dame. You’ve got to knock on every door; you have got to ring every bell. They are out there; you can find them; you just got to go get them.
So I think the charge to the staff was: Let’s go get these guys. This is what we need. Here is the blueprint for success. And we have been at that. I mean, we have been at it hard. We have had some successes; we have had some failures; we have had some good and bad situations that have occurred. But I think it starts with a plan, and knocking on every door and finding them. They are out there but you’ve got to go get them.
I can’t believe I pulled that Avon analogy out. I don’t know where that came from. Feeling a little weak on that one (laughter).
Q. Your athletic director mentioned the other day that Manti Te’o should be a candidate for the Heisman or consideration. Just wondered what your opinion on that is, and also where he would rank in terms of leadership among the players you’ve coached over the years.
COACH KELLY: Well, I think as it relates to the Heisman, again, by its definition, he would be considered for that award. Now, we know where it’s gone, it’s gone to quarterbacks and offensive players.
But you know, again, you have to extrapolate this out: Where are we at the end of the season, all of those kinds of things, if you have the No. 1 ranked defense in the country, I think he certainly is in the conversation. But we are six weeks into it.
What I do know is that unquestionably, as a leader, there has not been anyone in my 22 years that is a better leader both on and off the field and represent the kind of ideals that you want in college football than Manti Te’o, and I don’t even think that’s close. And I’ve had extraordinary young men that have played for me. So that, I know for sure; that as a leader and a representative of our program, unmatched.
Q. Because of his ties to BYU and the Mormon Church, that sort of thing, will you have to talk to him about keeping his emotions in check or anything? Or is he mature enough that that doesn’t really apply?
COACH KELLY: I think we’ll know if that conversation needs to take place. With Manti, because we have so much conversation on a day to day basis, I would know or sense if there was something that was not right there; in other words, that there wasn’t a good, balanced approach to the game and what it meant.
But I have no plans right now to talk to him about that, unless I see something or I’m told something from other coaches or other players.