Sept. 14, 2014

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An Interview with Coach Brian Kelly

COACH KELLY: I am very pleased with the way we responded in some adverse conditions.

Offensively missed opportunities for the most part. We needed to play better. Everett is going to get a lot of the blame. Obviously, he’s the quarterback. He’ll tell you he needs to play better. But we got to block better. We got to catch the ball better. We got to run better.

It’s an entire offensive unit that was just not where it needs to be. Quite frankly, it’s an opportunity for us now to critically evaluate where we are and what we need to do to get better.

With that, a win, get to 3 0, first quarter of the season is down, we get a bye week, hopefully get some guys back and get ready for Syracuse.

With that I’ll open it up to questions.

Q. (Question regarding adversity.)
COACH KELLY: Absolutely. You know you’re going to face it. At some time it’s going to present itself to you. So it’s a matter of how are your teammates going to respond and how are your players going to respond.

I thought today they responded very well. So you know you’re going to deal with it. Now it’s behind us. We know what the standard is.

Q. What are the issues you see along the offensive line?
COACH KELLY: We’re not sustaining. I mean, we’re in position. We’re falling off a block here. We miss a fit here. And maybe it’s just the continuity took us a little bit longer. It’s nothing big, but it’s everything.

It’s going to get better. They will get better. It’s just we’re not where we need to be. We’re going to keep working, keep grinding. We’ll get there. We’re just not there yet.

We’re on the three yard line, we’re running a double team into the B gap, we slip and fall. Somebody fires through the B gap. Little things like that. They got to get cleaned up before we get to where we want to be offensively.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY: Well, he’s grown exponentially as a person in terms of his maturity, his leadership, his ability to communicate on a day to day basis, take responsibility. I could go on and on. He’s a man. Again, he had to go through some tough times to get to that point.

As a football player, he’s evolving. He’s getting better. He can make plays, as you can see, out on the field. But he’s got a ways to go, too. He’ll tell you that. I love the fact he’s a pretty good player right now and he’s only going to get better.

Q. The seven penalties, was that a product of the adversity?
COACH KELLY: Crazy penalties. An off side penalty because you can’t take the time to look at the official’s foot, you know, to line up. Are you kidding me? Things like that.

So they were little aggravating penalties for me more than anything else. A taunting penalty, which was uncalled for. You know, Max’s penalty. He’s trying to hold up in that situation. I know he was not trying to target anybody. We understand the rule. We understand the interpretation of the rule. We’re not arguing with it. But he was trying to hold up the quarterback, slid quickly, and those things happen. So there’s four of the seven penalties right there.

Two of them are knucklehead penalties, and one of them was an aggressive penalty, and the other one we’ll take care of that one internally.

Q. Six defensive backs out for a myriad of different reasons. What are you doing to keep their jobs simpler?
COACH KELLY: Well, we came out about 2 minutes and 5 seconds on the clock at halftime because we’re trying to coach it up on the run. We’re down. I mean, we’re depleted at that position. You know the situation on our roster. We lost a two deep safety. We lost a starting corner. Then we lose another corner, two more safeties.

There’s no waiver wire, there’s no trading in college football. We’re trying to get young guys ready. That’s what we’re trying to do in the locker room.

Q. (Question regarding Tranquill.)
COACH KELLY: He did great. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he’s awesome (laughter). He’s running around there. I say that kiddingly because he does know what he’s doing. But we’re trying to really keep it simple for him out there. He was such a locked in kid. We’re able to do some things with him, and he’s only been here, what, eight, ten weeks. Where would we be without that young man? It’s really pretty incredible.

Q. Talk about Jaylon Smith on the fourth and two.
COACH KELLY: I thought Brian called a great game. We showed a lot of pressure against Michigan in third down situations. I thought he backed off a lot on third down situations tonight. We played a lot more coverage. I thought that caused some confusion for Purdue in third down. Then in some fourth down situations, I thought we brought some pressure.

Brian mixed it up well tonight. I thought when we got into the fourth down situations, we dialed it up. Jaylon this week is part of those pressures. He has not been. We’ve had him focused on that job. That inside backer position has been a whole new thing for him. So we didn’t want to put too much on him.

But this week we really worked on a pressure package with him and were able to get it installed with him in this game.

Q. Evaluate where your team is heading into the bye.
COACH KELLY: Well, I like a lot of things about the team. One is they love to play. They’ve got a great demeanor about the way they play this game. They’re a group that pays attention to the things that I need them to pay attention to relative to preparation.

But we’re really young. We’ll benefit from every day on the practice field. We will get better. So we’re still not a finished product by any means. We’re such a young team.

At 3 0, we’re extremely pleased where we are, but we know we’re nowhere near where we need to be to be the kind of football team we want to be.

Q. Does the bye week come at the right time considering the injuries?
COACH KELLY: Considering the injuries it does. Certainly an early bye for us wouldn’t matter one way or the other, but now with Carlisle, Trumbetti, Cole Luke, Baratti. I mean, the list goes on. This game was and has been one of the games that we lose a lot of guys, unfortunately. It was again. So the bye week comes at a good time.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY: We were hoping. We knew Rabasa was probably going to have to take some snaps out there with Trumbetti out. We knew that obviously Blankenship was going to have to take them. We were hoping maybe 15 snaps. But he was able to do more for us. He’s a well conditioned athlete.

Q. You talked about preparation. Do you feel like you had a letdown or did Purdue force that upon you?
COACH KELLY: No, we didn’t play flat. I thought our first drive was really precise. We did the things that we wanted to do.

We missed some plays. We overthrow a launch play. We miss a block here or there. We were just a little off in areas.

I think a lot of that is attributed to some areas that we’re still learning. We’re still trying to get there. But, again, Purdue I thought played very well, as well. We had some opportunities that we just left out there.

The way they played tonight, I think they should get some of the credit, too.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY: I really don’t. Amir had an MCL, I know that. Cole Luke was, you know, neck. Trumbetti was neck and head from last week, chest. Of course, we know the Redfield situation. Baratti’s shoulder slipped out again on him. I think those were the injuries.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY: He’s had this high ankle sprain that really has not allowed him to be an inside productive guy for us.

Q. (Question regarding the secondary.)
COACH KELLY: Well, yeah, we’re trying to keep it simple for him. We coached him up at halftime. He was the next safety in.

Q. (Question regarding the young players.)
COACH KELLY: You get what you demand. First of all, they know that they’ve been called upon, and they have to step up for their teammates.

That accelerates the process, too. They know they have to pick it up. They know they’re being counted on to go in there and they have to get the job done for us. So that’s one.

Then the second thing, Brian does a great job of teaching, Kerry Cooks, Bobby Elliott, that whole defensive staff, Kyle McCarthy is doing a great job with the safeties. We have just have a great staff working with those kids getting them ready.

Q. What is the biggest difference in Everett’s game?
COACH KELLY: You know, I think, look, he just understands the game. The game is slower for him than it was when he was here in his first year. The game has slowed down. He sees the field better. He can see it better. He’s not there yet. We missed some things tonight that would have changed maybe the complexion of the game, the way it would have went.

But definitely the game has slowed down for him quite a bit.

Q. What do you think about playing in Indianapolis?
COACH KELLY: First of all, it’s special because you have two teams from the state of Indiana playing in one of the premiere facilities. An NFL facility always gets the attention of the college kids. So being in this facility, two teams from the state of Indiana. Then we’ve got two kids from Indianapolis that are captains.

It was a special night for our football team. They were excited about it, making it a Shamrock Series.

Again, I think it’s a way to showcase Indiana football. College football in Indiana sometimes doesn’t get some of the notoriety it deserves. Hopefully tonight a little bit of it was shown on national television.

Thank you.

Notre Dame Player Quotes

Romeo Okwara – Jr. – Defensive End

On preparing for the game…
“All week, the defense worked very hard. We played fast this game. In the second half, we came out and played very well.”

On the defense improving throughout the game…
“Going into halftime, we got together as a defense and talked about needing to execute better. When we came out in the second half, we executed a lot better.”

On first half struggles…
“We were not executing like we wanted to. We had to correct those errors.”

On the contributions of the young players…
“It was definitely good to see the younger players fire around. Kolin Hill, a true freshman, was out there making plays on defense, and it was definitely fun to watch.”

On the physicality of the game…
“Purdue gave us their best. They put it all out there on the field.”

On the aggressive defensive play…
“Not much changed. We just had to execute our pressures and get through to the quarterback.”

Corey Robinson – So. – Wide Receiver

On getting in the end zone…
“It feels good. I was close a couple times before — one yard line — and I think the other one I got shoelace tackled. I got close a couple times, but it feels good to get it under my belt.”

On Purdue’s physicality…
“This was a very physical game. Purdue always comes out ready to play and they are a physical bunch. So we were just trying to bang a little bit and that’s when we had to step up and make some plays.”

On status of the team entering the bye week…
“We’re just as hungry as we were at the beginning of the season. It doesn’t matter if we’re 3-0 or 0-3. We’re going to come out aggressive. We have a bye week. We’re going to get ready for Syracuse coming up and we’re going to approach it the same way we approach every weekend.”

Will Fuller – So. – Wide Receiver

On his individual game…
“I try to catch every pass that’s thrown to me every opportunity I get. So, as long as they keep it throwing it to me, I’m going to try my best to catch it.”

On the gritty victory…
“I know Purdue always comes to play us. In prior years, they have always been a tough game, so they always come to play.”

On facing adversity early in the season…
“It’s always good to get some early adversity so we know how to deal with it.”

On Everett Golson rallying the team…
“We weren’t executing as we should, so Everett brought us together and told us we have to get going and execute.”

Jaylon Smith – So. – Linebacker

On Purdue’s adjustments…
“As far as motions, trying to confuse us on every play — we prepared for those things, but in the first half, we didn’t execute on some of it and that just opened up the window.”

On Purdue challenging Notre Dame…
“They always give us a battle. We understand that going into the week. It’s not just an easy week off. Purdue is a Big Ten school. They love to play us. It is the best of Indiana. The winner owns that title. We really just had to come prepared and after that first half we really controlled it.”

On playing in front of family…
“I actually set the record. I had 46 tickets, so with family it felt like home. I won four state championships here. It just feels good to be back in Indianapolis one more time.”

On being a leader…
“It’s all about the next man in. We had a guy that went down for targeting and things like that, so it’s all about rallying. Drue Tranquil is my guy. I took him under my wing a couple years ago. We’re from Fort Wayne. So, obviously, it’s all about executing and making sure that we can do well.”

Cody Riggs – Gr. – Cornerback

On feeling like the last man standing…
“Max went down early with that penalty, and then Cole went down and Nick went down. It was just a lot going on, but, no, I didn’t because I had Shumate back there with me, and Devin came in and played well. Drue came in and played great as always.”

On facing adversity…
“It just shows the amount of talent we have back there. I said that a long time ago in camp that we have so much talent back there, and it shows that when you got so many guys down and then new guys come in and make a big play.”

On being 3-0…
“There are no easy wins in college football. I know that. It just shows that we have accomplished something in these past few weeks. No matter how you get there, as long as you get there, what matters is that the win comes.”

On his first time playing Purdue…
“Yeah, they came out and ran some stuff that we have never seen before. They were playing hard with a lot of emotion and that just showed that this game meant something to them. It meant something to us as well, and they gave us their best shot.”

On his first Shamrock Series game…
“What I got from that is that the fans travel well. They are very supportive and stay until the end. It was a really good experience. I love the uniforms, and it was very cool.”