Sept. 2, 2012
Q. I wondered if you had an update on Ernest Jones’ situation.
Brian Kelly: Yeah, he fell ill on the flight back, had an adverse reaction to sinus medication, a bit dehydrated, and we were very fortunate we had Dr. (Jim) Moriarity, Dr. (Chris) Balint, and Dr. (Brian) Ratigan, they were able to give him great care, and rested comfortably and did some tests to make sure that there was no other issues. They’re talking about releasing him this afternoon. Had a little bit of a scare, but it turned out everything looks to be pretty good.
Q. Sometimes when you play the service academies, the guys setting the edge don’t always show up in the stats. Ishaq (Williams) seemed to show up a did a good job of that. Can you talk about his contributions yesterday?
Brian Kelly: Yeah, it was certainly his best game since he’s been here at Notre Dame, and that comes with the maturity and the opportunity, which both are coming his way now. And he’s playing the game the right way. He plays with an energy that you need, and he was definitely somebody that we were pleased with after we watched the film.
Q. You have a couple of guys coming off suspensions this week. How do you reintegrate them in terms of reps, especially at the quarterback position?
Brian Kelly: Tommy (Rees) now will get a chance to take some reps and get some work. That’s going to be a process. You don’t just jump in there and pick up where you left off. He’s got a lot of work to do, and it’ll be nice to have him back in practice where he can go in there and get some meaningful reps.
Q. As far as where he stands on the depth chart, do you start the week with a number in mind, or do you just kind of have to wait and see how the week goes?
Brian Kelly: I think what we want to do is give him some work, him and Andrew will get some work, and kind of play it by ear as we go through the week, because they’re going to be competing for that No. 2 position going into this week.
Q. And Ronnie Stanley, your decision to play him Saturday, can you talk a little bit about that and how you felt he did?
Brian Kelly: He’s our third tackle, and so I don’t think that you can ever go into the season and think that you’re not going to put a guy like that out on the field. So that was a decision that we made before we even went to Ireland with him, and that was when we got an opportunity to get him in the game, we were going to take advantage of that opportunity. And I was really pleased with our second unit. That whole unit, other than the first couple plays were a little shaky, had a bad snap and a missed assignment, they did a very good job, and Stanley and (Conor) Hanratty and (Matt) Hegarty, Nick Martin all did a very nice job for us.
Q. They maybe showed you a lot of different looks. Just curious what you take away from the Navy game in terms of your defense.
Brian Kelly: Well, I thought assignment wise against the option, I was very pleased with our discipline on the back end. Certainly they completed some balls that can stress you when you’re playing that kind of offense. This week Purdue threw it, what, 37-47, so we’ll get a real good look at where we are. It’s like I told our team; this is a process. Every week we’re going to get challenged in different areas, and this week’s challenge against Navy was the option, and the things that go along with it in preparing for it. This week it’s going to be more of a balance between the run and pass, and we’ll learn a lot more about our football team after week 2.
Q. A couple questions for you: On the first quarter when Everett (Golson) got sacked, was that a miscommunication with (Zack) Martin and (Chris) Watt, or did Martin just not step out?
Brian Kelly: Martin recognized it as three down, and Everett called it four down, so there was a communication error there. So Everett didn’t see it coming.
Q. I noticed the depth of the tailbacks in some of the short yardage plays, they seemed to be deeper than usual. Is that how you want it, or did you think they were too deep at times, or what was that all about?
Brian Kelly: No, we vary the depth, and we try to use different depths so nobody can zone in on a particular play that we have. So we’re committed to using different looks in the backfield so nobody can get a beat on what we’re doing.
Q. How would you grade Troy Niklas’ performance?
Brian Kelly: I’d say it was a very solid performance. He had, like anything else, first time starter at that position, I think we had 20 guys that entered the game for their first collegiate experience. He gives us what we thought, big, physical at the point of attack, he can catch the football, he’s athletic. He’s got a bright future.
Q. I was curious if you could talk a little bit about the offensive line play, just your evaluation of that group after looking through the tape a little bit more detailed.
Brian Kelly: I think it’s a unit. I don’t know that there’s one guy. But here’s what they’ve got: They communicate very well, they work well together. They work as a unit. And I’ve had offensive lines where we had singularly great players at certain positions. I think the thing that stands out with this group is that all five, including the tight ends as they attach themselves, really work well together. There’s not a lot of missed assignments and miscommunication. And I think that was the overriding theme in our film study today is that as a unit they work very well together.
Q. Kind of segueing into working well together, you and Chuck Martin, how would you evaluate his game day performance, and I guess his chain of command or how play calls come in any different from when Molnar was here last year.
Brian Kelly: No, very similar. Clearly Chuck and I communicate very well. We talk during the week, so we’ve got a pretty good understanding of what we want. I think we’ve maybe streamlined it a little bit. I think we’re effectively communicating on maybe some of the areas that we wanted to improve on from last year. We’ve carried that over. So we’re getting great information from the booth, which allows us to be clear on our selection of plays, and there’s just again, I think the dynamics are really good in that we’re on the same page the whole game.
Q. And obviously turnover margin, vastly different story from this time a year ago. Some of it is the attention to detail you talked about yesterday, but just the keys to keeping that in a positive direction and having that be a trend in your favor this year as opposed to working against you like last season.
Brian Kelly: Well, I think you get what you demand, and we’ve demanded it since January. All the times that we’ve gotten together with the media, we’ve talked about the emphasis of taking great care of the football. Even on the sack where Everett didn’t see him coming, we talked at great lengths about how to protect the football. I just think you get what you demand, and our kids are really understanding how important it is to take care of the football. And hopefully the other team turns it over a couple times. I think last year at this time last year we finished with six fumble recoveries for the entire year, and I think we’ve got three already. Hopefully we get that working in our favor, too.
Q. Can you just give us a little bit on how you think Golson played?
Brian Kelly: Well, I think mechanically there were a lot of things that he can get better at. Certainly decision making, you don’t ever want to turn the football over in a short field like we did. But as a first time starter, I thought he showed poise, the leadership skills necessary on the sideline. He came over, he was easy to communicate with. You know, all part of the process. This is going to take some time, but again, I think there’s a lot to build on after this weekend.
Q. On the interception he threw would you say he just kind of waited too long to throw it?
Brian Kelly: Well, there were a lot of things. His footwork took him out of the ability to throw it quickly. He wasn’t in a good position to make that decision to start with. So we hope that he’ll learn from that and keep building on it.
Q. And the running came with Cierre (Wood) coming back this week, how does he fit in with (Theo) Riddick and (George) Atkinson (iii) as far as who would get the most reps maybe?
Brian Kelly: Cierre is out this week, too.
Q. I was wondering if you could comment on Manti’s performance. Obviously he had a killer game and just any of the differences you see from last year, how he’s grown as a player.
Brian Kelly: Well, he played well. He had solo tackles against an option team, fumble recovery, interception. We just felt like he was the leader that he’s been, and he continues to exert his own personality on this football team. It’s pretty exciting. Not only is he a great player, but he continues to grow as it relates to demands on this team. People talk about Ray Lewis is demanding about the linebacker corps and the defense for the Baltimore Ravens. Manti has taken on that kind of role. He’s demanding and making sure that his players play at a high level. It’s fun to watch.
Q. And then going into this week, are you worried at all about fatigue after all the traveling and everything? Are there going to be any adjustments to practice that you foresee for this week?
Brian Kelly: No, I don’t think so. We had everybody check in today. Our trainers and physicians were there today. They feel pretty confident that the plan that we had put in place over again, this is a lead up for the last two and a half weeks. I feel like the plan has been effective in making sure that we didn’t have guys that were going to be fatigued on the way back. We’ll monitor it during the week. If we’ve got to make an adjustment, we will. But I don’t see that there’s going to be any issues moving forward.