Aug 31, 2013
Notre Dame Quotes
AD Jack Swarbrick and Head Coach Brian Kelly
(Athletic Director) JACK SWARBRICK: While I know that the news has made its way out into the public during broadcast today, I just wanted to take a minute on behalf of Father Jenkins and the rest of the University of Notre Dame, to say how thrilled we are that on a day where our head football coach becomes one of the youngest coaches in history to achieve the 200 win milestone, that we can also announce that we have entered into a new agreement that ensures that Brian will continue to provide the leadership that has fundamentally changed this program, restored it, given it the foundation that it needs for continued success in the future.
While we won’t be providing any details about the contract, I did want to preempt Brian just for a second to say we could not be more pleased, and, Coach, thank you very much.
COACH KELLY: Thanks, John, appreciate it. Thank you.
Well, there is so much to get into. A great win for our football team. Openers are probably for coaches the most difficult because the preparation and the planning, you don’t know what to expect, really. I mean, we can talk about our team. We can, you know, think that we know about our team, but you really don’t until they get out there and play. Certainly we had a notion about this team, but until they get out and really get into the action, you don’t know a lot about it, and we got a chance to find out a little bit about our football team today, and we won.
Anytime you can win in an opener, you can learn so much more about your football team. Here’s what I know, to win football games at the BCS level, you’ve got to take care of the football. We took care of the football today. No turnovers. That’s extremely important. You’ve got to keep the points down on defense. We continue to do that.
Again, our defense does not surrender big plays and keeps the points down and really makes you work to sustain drives and to get it into the end zone.
You could see in the second half how difficult it is to play mistake free, flawless, play in and play out. It’s very difficult to do. We’re suffocating in that sense defensively. The third element is your special teams. And although at times we would like to execute better, I saw some very encouraging signs in our special teams.
We were able to flip field position with our punt game. The time that we were asked to flip it with Kyle Brindza today, we did that. We’ll have to be technically better in our pooch punt situation with Kyle. I’m confident we’ll be able to do that. Certainly our field goal situation will need to be better. But, again, all of those areas I’m very confident that we’ll get better. We’ve left the ball outside our kickoff coverage one time. But those phases allow you to win football games.
So we saw all of those things, and then we saw ten freshmen play today. A lot of good things happened in our opener against Temple, and we’ve looked to build on that. We’re going to have to play better in all phases against Michigan next week, but we’re going to enjoy this victory today, and our kids will get back to work on Monday.
Open it up to questions.
Q. If I can ask you about the contract quick. Typically schools, at least Notre Dame has released length in the past, can you say how long this new deal runs through, what year?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, it’s a five year contract.
Q. Starting now?
COACH KELLY: Yes.
Q. If you don’t want to get into specifics, what elements in this are important to you? Are there elements that you really wanted to address that this does address for the next five years?
COACH KELLY: I just think the contract is one that has involved the leadership of the university. Obviously, Jack Swarbrick, Father Jenkins, we’ve all been in discussion about the future of the program. So when we come to an agreement, it’s not necessarily that within it I get a lunch stipend on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s about that we’re all together in this contract about moving the program forward. Do you know what I mean? That we’ve all decided that by signing this contract, we’re all in it together, and that’s what I was looking for.
By my signature on it, Father Jenkins’ signature on it and Jack Swarbrick’s signature on it, we’ve all agreed that the principles within this contract is that we’re all in it together, and our voices, the communication was the huge piece for me. That that dialogue is open, and that’s what I was looking for.
Q. Move back to the game. When you look at first glance at Tommy out there did you see the command and the clean play that you wanted to see from that position?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I saw some really good things, and some things that we’re going to have to get better at. We had six possessions in the first half, you know, and I think we missed a couple of throws that he’d like to have back. Obviously, missed field goal. But I think we had four or five chunk plays of over 30 yards. Obviously a lot of the questions coming in is could we push the ball down the field?
I think we answered a lot of those questions right away with his ability to push the ball down the field. I thought his patience was better, and it will continue to get better. So I was pleased with his performance, and he knows he can play better.
Q. Do you have an update on DaVaris?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he had a slight groin, and we could have played him, but we felt like with the depth that we have at that position, we put Chris Brown in for the big third down conversion when they went press cover one. And DaVaris would have normally been in that position. It gave us a great opportunity to put Chris Brown in there.
As you know, he came up with a big catch. So it was next man in. But he could have played. We wanted to make sure we did not put him in a position where it could have been worse, and make sure that he’s a hundred percent for next week.
Q. The double move he had on the second touchdown. Is that a move he could have made last year successfully like that?
COACH KELLY: You know, it wasn’t as much of a double move as much as he was reading the coverage, and I think he’s just a lot more experienced, and he and Tommy now have a much better relationship in terms of where to be.
Q. If you could, could you assess Jaylon Smith’s first game at Notre Dame, and how you feel he performed today?
COACH KELLY: He did some pretty good things. He played like a freshman. He was a little out of place at times, but in some instances he obviously has great athletic ability and closes very well. But it’s probably what we expected from him. I thought he played like a freshman today. Played with some great energy.
He’s got great speed and athleticism. But he’s got a lot of work to do as well in terms of being in the right place, forcing the football, being in the curl. He missed the curl a couple of times, but I’m sure glad he’s on our football team.
Q. Can you talk about the cohesion of your defense, what you saw from that standpoint and maybe what you want to see going forward?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, what I like was the safety communication was outstanding. I thought Collinsworth did a very nice job of working with Matthias Farley, in particular, get eight lost our calls in. I thought that was seamless. I think we continue to work as a group up front with calls and making sure that we get the proper calls in.
But by and large, other than a couple of mistakes, we had some penalties in the first half that we didn’t duplicate in the second half, and that was key. But, no. I think that there’s a seamless, natural transition on that defensive side of the ball. We didn’t feel that there were communication issues at all on the sideline. Everything seemed to move and communicate very smoothly for us.
Q. In terms of what you would like to do with your placekickers at Michigan, is this something that you kind of have to go through the week and figure out?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, yeah. I’ll probably have to go through a couple of days and figure out what we want to do.
Q. It’s a pretty heavy rotation defensively, but Shembo needs to stay in there in every important situation. He spent a lot of time in the back field whether the stats show or not?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, Romeo did get a chance to play in the fourth quarter. We got him out in the fourth quarter. But you know, Prince is a guy that can go all day. He’s a great, conditioned athlete, and he’s an important player. He just doesn’t like coming off the field. He can do so many things for us. He’s a guy that we feel like can play every play. But I will say this, we have a great deal of confidence that Romeo can go in there and play if we need him to.
Q. T.J.’s contributions today both receiving and in the punt return game, what were your thoughts?
COACH KELLY: I thought it was dynamic. Dynamic is a word that I would use as a receiver when we’re talking about after the catch. So he caught the football, and then he was dynamic after the catch. And that’s what we were looking for from him.
As a punt returner, this is his first time returning punts. He made one bad decision where he did not field the punt, and I thought he made a great play late in the game where he fielded it in traffic, which we’ve struggled with guys having done those jobs over the last few years. I think he’s going to be really good at it as he continues to get more live playing time at that position. I’m pretty excited about watching him back there.
Q. Third quarter, Cam McDaniel came real close to scoring a touchdown. He got down to about the two yard line. He was getting ready to get back in the huddle, hoping to get probably the ball again. Then George came in for him, and he looked a little frustrated. He came out, but then when George scored, he was the first one on the field. What is that attitude among the running backs or among anybody that made that happen?
COACH KELLY: Yeah. In hindsight, I should have kept him in. We were at a personnel grouping. It’s a bit I don’t want to get into too much detail, but we pair a lot of our personnel groupings in with certain play calls. We really should have just kept him in with that personnel grouping. We got a little too technical on it, and that was my fault.
He should have stayed in. He carried the load right down to the end, and he should have stayed in the game on that play. So, hindsight, I should have kept him in the game.
Q. But he still didn’t get frustrated. He was the first one out there to congratulate George and congratulate Tommy. About that attitude of the way they get along or the chemistry there?
COACH KELLY: Well, we asked our guys to really look at three things. One, we want them to be smart, disciplined and selfless, and that is the core of our football team. I think it’s probably exemplified in most positions, but at that running back position, that is Cam McDaniel. Heck, he ran through the wrong side of the gauntlet in the running back thing for me. Right? If you remember that. There is nothing more selfless than that.
So that is the kind of kid he is. Is that going to be the lead story too?
You were building up to this. That made the story.
Q. I were talking about wanting to see greater distribution of the ball from receivers. Were you pleased with what you saw today?
COACH KELLY: I was very pleased. I thought you saw what I was hoping for. You had Daniels catch a touchdown. You had T.J. Jones and obviously Chris Brown. You had Troy Niklas, you had the running backs catch footballs. You had Tarean Folston catching a nice ball coming out of the back field. I think you’re going to see great distribution of the football across the board, and it’s going to be somebody new each week.
Now T.J. Jones is going to be in the mix every single week, because he’s one of the best wide receivers in the country. But you’re going to see a lot of guys contribute offensively. I think it’s for the better. I really do. I think it gives us great balance across the board.
Q. The momentum got away from you a little bit in the second quarter. How much of that was your lack of familiarity with what they might run with the new coaching staff and/or end up running 43 plays in the first half which looked like it fatigued your defense?
COACH KELLY: I don’t know. I mean, I had the feel and the flow of the game pretty we felt like we could score, and we were going to score enough points. I didn’t feel like I had to click over and tell Bob to bring pressure and get the ball back. I didn’t feel like at any time that we were in that position that take the ball. Let’s get the ball back no matter what. Either they score, right, or we get them off the field. I didn’t feel that at any time because I felt like we were going to put enough points on the board.
So I was okay with it the dink and donk that they were going exhibit on offense. If they were going to continue to just take stick routes and swings, I was okay in letting that happen. That’s how we play defensively. We knew kind of that that was the plan for them, and I never felt that. There was only one time in the third quarter where they had an extended drive that I said, let’s get some pressure. We got some pressure, and then we got the next score and then if they wanted to continue that. So I really never felt that at any time.
Q. Your assessment, without looking at film, of the inside linebacker play?
COACH KELLY: First half spotty, second half firm, much better. I thought that the second half we fitted the plays a lot better. One of the hallmarks of our defense, no easy runs on the perimeter. We had run easy run on the perimeter, and that’s very unusual to happen in the first half. We had one. Then had none in the second half.
So, again, the playing volume wise, Fox and Calabrese, their volume was way up. But I thought in the second half they played much, much better.
Q. Can you talk about the flow of the game and not feeling the need to put on pressure. Is that just your team or your program? Do you feel more comfortable in that grind it out type of pace as opposed to the first four minutes when you were playing?
COACH KELLY: No, I mean I want to score every time we touch the football. As I said earlier, we got up 14. We should have kicked the field goal, right? We should have been up a little bit more. Then we had a couple of throws that got away from us. I thought we did a great job of checking and protection. We had a pressure. Tommy rushed the throw. We had a wide open receiver, so we misfired on a couple. Thought we should have been up more points.
Our style of defense is we’re going to keep points down. We just need to be patient, and that’s just the way we play. Offensively, I’ve said from day one, we’ve got to score more points. In this game we had some opportunities to score more points. I was never it was never in my mind that we were in a situation where we were in trouble. I felt like we were going to score enough points.
Q. On your 200th win, is there any point where you’re able to take a step back and look at that big picture and what type of accomplishment that is?
COACH KELLY: You know, I think the thing that, and I haven’t really taken the time to think about it, other than a lot of the coaches that are with me today have been part of a lot of those wins. And that’s really, for me, pretty special.
A lot of those guys Mike Denbrock, I think he’s been with me. He might have been with me on my first win and my 200th, and then coaches along the way. So it’s pretty special that a lot of the guys that were here for the 200th have been along the way with me on a number of those wins.
Q. Coach, you touched on Troy Niklas’s touchdown. What did you see from him as a pass catching option throughout the day?
COACH KELLY: He was wide open down the middle of the field, and Tommy did a good job of reading the coverage. They were in their third and long coverage, and he outran the middle linebacker down the middle of the field.
He’s an option every time. He’s a big body guy. He’s got to continue to work on separation. But what he did today on some quick bubble throws, I mean, he man handled some guys on the perimeter. He was an outstanding blocker for us today. We asked him to block on the perimeter. He did a great job today. Then when he had his opportunity to catch the football, outstanding.
Q. (No microphone)?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think it did. I thought we ran the ball effectively out of that look. I think there is more to come. I think we only showed a little bit of it. There were a lot more pieces to it. Today was just a small segment of it.
We didn’t obviously show a lot of our stuff today, which was our intention. We’re happy that we didn’t have to put our entire game plan out there for everybody to see. So that was a pretty good deal.
Quarterback Tommy Reese
Q.Just an assessment on how you played out there?
TOMMY REES: Good enough to win the game. Some missed opportunities out there that we need to fix. Pleased with how the entire offense played. We had an opportunity to make some big plays which we did and happy with the performance. There is still a lot of work to go, and we know that and we’re ready to move forward.
Q. Are you more confident this year knowing that you’re in charge?
TOMMY REES: I think that helps. I think I’ve learned a lot in my three years previous. I got a great understanding of what’s going on out there. All of that adds to the confidence. I have all the confidence in the world in my teammates. My offensive line, the guys out there that make plays for us. I’ve got confidence in anyone that we’re running out there, and that helps an offense a lot.
Q. Tommy, there was a big question about you being able to push the ball down the field, couple nice, long touchdown throws. Talk about those two plays?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, I mean, never doubted the fact that we could drive the ball down the field, really make some deep throws for us. DaVaris did a good job getting open on the early ones. Then we had a couple there later. Good job by the receivers. I put ball where it needed to be and it worked out.
Q. You talked about wanting to improve going to Michigan next week. What are you most looking forward to?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, there are a couple of throws you want back, a couple of balls I missed. You never want those to happen. But just staying consistent with those and really get in the game plan and prepare hard for what Michigan is going to do for us.
Q. DaVaris, the second touchdown you threw to him, Coach Kelly said that’s just having a greater understanding of the routes and the coverage. Is that the evolution you’ve seen from him?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, he did a great job of understanding where the corner was playing him. He cut on a high angle. I knew I saw that pre snap that we had a pretty good shot out there with the leverage the corner was playing. And DaVaris is a great route runner. T.J. was open to. But we had confidence that DaVaris could take it on the high angle. He’s played great. He learned a lot about how defenses are trying to play him, and he’ll just continue to get better and better.
Q. Given all you’ve been through, is there any added pleasure you took from this game?
TOMMY REES: No, none of that. The pleasure for me was being able to go out there and play well enough to get a W. Playing for my teammates, playing for the coaches, playing for the University, the student body was great out there. They had unbelievable support. There is no added benefit for me for some of the hard times I’ve fallen on, but it’s gone well.
Q. You’ve been through the wars for so many years. How do you try to prepare your teammates for the atmosphere that they’re going to be in next week?
TOMMY REES: We’ve got a lot of guys that played there two years ago. We know Michigan is a rocking place and a rivalry game, everyone’s going to be up for it. But we’ve got to stay confident, stay within ourselves. Really pay attention to the game plan and just if we take care of our business, we won’t let the crowd or any of that play into our execution.
Q. Do you feel like you have to improve between this game and the next one to win?
TOMMY REES: Absolutely. I think you need to improve every game to game. Michigan’s going to present another challenge for us, and we’ve just got to stay prepared, stay level headed and just move forward and get ready to execute.
Q. You didn’t throw any interceptions today. You were clean. How good does that feel?
TOMMY REES: Anyway to get the W. Obviously, turning the ball over not turning ball over gives you the best chance to win. That’s been a point driven into me for a long time. I’m a senior now. I understand a lot of the nuances of playing. That’s something that you’ve got to continue to strive for.
Q. Take me through that touchdown with Troy and then the seam route?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, we got a two high look. We knew we were going to be one on one. Troy did a great job winning with speed down the middle. After he caught the ball, he made a great play for us breaking a couple of tackles. He’s shown once he gets going, he can move.
Q. Did you think he was that fast?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, I knew he could move. To be honest, I couldn’t see the whole play after I threw it. But I know when we get him in space, he’s a big guy and he’s hard to bring down. Once those legs start moving, he can really move.
Q. To be here for coach’s 200th win, how special is that?
TOMMY REES: It’s great. A couple of us knew about it going in beforehand. We didn’t try to make a big deal out of T it’s a great accomplishment for coach. We’re happy for him. We’re happy to be the team that could get that done here. But I’m sure just as he feels, it’s another team win, and it’s the first game of the season, and we’ll just move forward from here.
Q. Do you like to keep a running tally of 13 games how many you get through unscathed without a turnover?
TOMMY REES: I’m not keeping a tally. I’m just trying to put a ball in the right place. Always, every play, the concept is to give us a chance to be successful, limiting the turnovers and just knowing what the defense is doing. As long as I can keep doing that, I should be all right.
Q. How big of a year is DaVaris Daniels capable of having?
TOMMY REES: I’m not going to put numbers on it. I think he showed today that he can be a big play threat for us. He’ll continue to work and continue to get better. He’s got a lot of potential. I don’t see him not tap into that. He’ll continue to work and want to be the best player he can be. For him, we’ll see where that goes.
Q. Were you guys aware that he hadn’t scored? TOMMY REES: Yeah, I think we’ve given him a hard time with that in the past, but it wasn’t something we were consciously thinking about. He did a good job getting open. He’s been great throughout the entire camp.
Q. That second touchdown of his, you must have seen that second move unfolding pretty early in the process of the play?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, I saw the leverage of the corner. I like the match up back there. DaVaris and I were on the same page where the route needed to go. He did a great job getting open. Mine was the easy part, just putting it out there for him and letting him go run underneath it.
Q. The one you overthrew him on, did he pull up on that one?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, I think a little bit. I’m not exactly sure on what happened. I think he’s all right. But I’m sure he’s fine.
Q. You had good balance today on offense?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, I think that’s something we strive for. We had good run looks, and when we did, we took advantage of it. We had good looks where we knew we could be effective through the air, we were effective through the air.
Q. (No microphone)?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, we always talk about starting fast. To get early leads is great for the team morale. We kind of slipped up there a little bit in the second quarter before Troy’s long score. We had some missed opportunities. But I’m really proud the way the guys kept chugging along, and didn’t let a couple of drives and stall or get us down. We kept moving forward, and it worked out.
Q. You had a couple of good strike plays today?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, any time you can get one play 80 yards for a touchdown, or however long it was to Troy, it was good. We’ll continue to try to do that.
Q. Did you feel comfortable out there today?
TOMMY REES: Oh, absolutely. I felt great. We had a good week of practice, and I have all the confidence in the world in my teammates and the scheme we had going in there. It was fun out there.
Q. Is it good to be part of Coach Kelly’s 200th win?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, I think a lot of us seniors knew beforehand about the goal for him. He never talked about it. We never brought it up. In the back of our heads, it’s a cool accomplishment to be able to get that for him.
Q. You mentioned the second, what did do you with the first one?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, we got them looked at. We had prepped all week. We had confidence in DaVaris going out there and winning one on one. We had to put a ball out there for him to go get.
Q. It looked like you were going to score, score, score the whole game. But eventually things slowed down. What do you feel like on the fence has to do to get a little more consistency?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, it starts with me. There are a couple of throws I want back, a couple opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of. But I’m happy with the way we came out and played and continued to be persistent with that big touchdown to Troy. Coming out in the second half right away and going down and scoring. I’m proud of the way the guys fought through some of those stalling drives. Obviously, we need to get better and need to be more consistent. That is the goal for this week.
Q. (No microphone)?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, we got a lot of depth. We’ve got a lot of depth out there. Lot of guys that can go out there and make plays that we have confidence in. Any time you have those numbers, that really helps.
Q. Coach mentioned the touchdown to DaVaris and it was because of your communication, something that’s really improved between the two of you.
TOMMY REES: Yeah, we knew we run that route and we know different looks that we have. I saw some pretty good leverage out there for an opportunity. DaVaris ran a great route.
Q. How nice of a target is Troy Niklas?
TOMMY REES: He’s huge, so that helps. Yeah, Troy has done a great job and worked hard at becoming more fluid and more natural catching the ball, which is a testament to his hard work. He’s done a nice job, and he has a lot of athletic ability once he gets the ball in his hands.
Q. Did you think he was going to catch the ball?
TOMMY REES: I couldn’t see, to be honest. Once I saw big Troy running down, he’s kind of hard to bring down.
Q. The pace slowed down there after the first couple minutes. Was it a more comfortable pace for you guys that way you can stop making mistakes?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, I think we had a good pace on offense throughout the entire game. We knew what we were getting. We communicated well, all facets were good. The pace today was comfortable and something that we can go fast and slow it down if we need to. But today was a really nice pace.
Q. How would you kind of Brian mentioned you’re going to have to be a lot better next week. How do you view today versus next week?
TOMMY REES: Oh, yeah. We know we’ve got to improve every week. That is the goal every time heading into a new challenge, a little more consistency on offense. We had some opportunities that we missed. But I think we’re on the right path, and we continue to work hard and not get complacent, and I think we’ll be all right.
Q. Did you feel like had you some guys target today that stepped forward to establish themselves?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, I had a lot of confidence in those guys. I’m with them every day, so I know the ability that they have. Aside from T.J., DaVaris and Brese, Chris Brown, really our younger guys that are maybe not as proven. But I’m with them all the time. I have all the confidence in the world in all the receivers we run out there.
I knew they had the ability to make in plays for us, and I’m happy they did it.
Q. The power run you went zone with, what did you see?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, they were bringing a guy off the edge. They rotated opposites, so I tried to get us the best play. The offensive line did a great job, and Amir ran hard. It worked out well.
Q. (No microphone)?
TOMMY REES: It was great to win for the team. Individually, I got to go in and help this team win games, which is exciting. But it was a great win for the team and the entire university.
Q. Did you know it was a huge rivalry?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, I knew. I didn’t grow up the biggest Notre Dame fan, so I didn’t pay that much attention. But I knew about SC and I knew about Michigan, and I’ve learned a lot more about them since I’ve been here, obviously. We look forward to every game, and we don’t treat any opponent that much differently. We come with the right mindset and ready and prepared each week.
Q. You and Coach Kelly talked a lot about how you were able to get (No microphone). Do you think you’ll be able to do the same thing against Michigan?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, I think we’ve got good balance and good consistency. We have confidence in everyone that runs out there that we can get them the ball and they’ll run the right route and catch it. We’re happy with how the guys came out and played. But we’ve got to get better coming into Michigan week to week.
Q. How do you think (No microphone).
TOMMY REES: Yeah, no. I think I’ve improved a lot physically and mentally. I’ve tried to develop my game throughout the off season as best I could. I feel like I’m better and a more improving quarterback. I think week to week I’ll continue to strive to get better.
Q. What stands out (No microphone)?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, it’s an exciting opportunity for us. Obviously, the game wasn’t what we wanted it to be. We left without a great feeling. You remember last year’s Michigan game with a good memory, and we’ve got to come prepared for this week and get ready for that challenge.
Q. (No microphone)?
TOMMY REES: Yeah, I think you want to get off to a good start. You don’t really have much time to you know, you get right into it. Play Michigan week two, and even Temple week one. They did a great job today and they had a good scheme for us. But heading into Michigan, it’s a big game for us, and I think we’ll be ready to go.
Q. Is there a feeling that you guys showed what your offense can do and Coach Kelly said you didn’t show everything.
TOMMY REES: Yeah, I think we had a good balance and we were pretty consistent in what we were doing. But we know we can be better, and we know we have a lot of improvement in what we can do. We’re excited about growing this offense.
Notre Dame Players
Dan Fox – Sr. – Inside Linebacker
On the play of the linebackers…
“Walking off the field today, I was thinking about the mistakes I made and how I can be better next week. I’ll look at the film and see what I can work on.”
On keeping points off the board…
“That’s what Coach Diaco preaches to us. That is what we keep in mind and take that into each game.”
On next week’s game at Michigan…
“I remember playing there in 2011. It is a big game.”
On the better play in the second half…
“I think we just locked it in better in the second half. First game you’re not sure what they are going to do. The coaches did a great job of getting new checks, and we played a little bit better.”
On the three-man rotation…
“It was great. We all did a great job.”
On freshman Jaylon Smith…
“He looked good. My first college game I was so nervous. He looked really comfortable over there and I thought he did a great job.”
Amir Carlisle – Jr. – Running Back
On playing next week at Michigan…
“It is a great environment to play in. We have to make sure we are firing on all cylinders.”
On how the season turns out with a win or a loss at Michigan…
“To be honest we are preparing just like it is any other game. We take each game one game at a time. We will prepare for this game like it is the national championship. Michigan is the only opponent we are focusing on, not what is after Michigan.”
On breaking the long run to open the game…
“It was a great feeling. I give God all the glory; and Tommy (Rees) made a great check on that play. The offensive line made a huge hole, and TJ (Jones) did a great job blocking the perimeter. It was great to get back on the field and to play with my brothers.”
On his thoughts after the long opening run…
“I just try and give my all for my teammates. Everyone did a great job today. It was a great win.”
Bennett Jackson – Sr. – Cornerback
On the first game …
“It felt great. It’s always good to be out there. You put so much time and effort into working for a limited amount of hours. It’s a great experience.”
On the Notre Dame defense `bending’ to Temple in the second half…
“To be honest with you, I wouldn’t necessarily say it bended. Really, at the end of the day, those little short passes are not going to win any games. They’re not point-producing plays, so we just try to keep the ball in front of us and make the tackle. We worked tackling today. At the end of the day, they’re not going to get all the way down the field.”
n the advice he gave to Cole Luke and Devin Butler “We’re all really a tight knit group. We talk all the time. We’ve got a great relationship, me, Cole, Devin, and everybody else. I just let them know to just be loose and just play. Don’t think too much and just relax. You’re here for a reason. Go out there and play. They take coaching great and they perform pretty well.”
On getting his hands on the ball a little more…
“I was trying, but it really didn’t come my way too much. There wasn’t really a chance to really get my hands on the ball. I was in a great position on a lot of plays and the whole secondary, but it happens like that sometimes.”
Matthias Farley – Jr. – Safety
On what enables his communication with Austin Collinsworth…
“Just being on the same page throughout the week in practice, building that strong line of communication, and knowing that we have to be on our business to make all the right checks. Looking at each other and making sure that we were on the same page before the play started on every play. That comes from getting reps with each other throughout camp and throughout the past weeks.”
On Jaylon Smith…
“He played really well. He played fast. He played physical. It’s a whirlwind to be out there when the lights are on. It’s easy to do it in practice and I think he handled it very well. There’s a lot of talent, obviously. He played with himself and played inside the defense and made plays. He performed very well.”
TJ Jones – Sr. – Wide Receiver
On achieving a new personal record…
“No I actually thought I was still under and then they showed it on the jumbo screen, the scoreboard thing, it said I had 138. I didn’t know how far under but I felt like I was because I didn’t know how long any of my plays really were I just knew they were long. A lot of people told me. It’s just a good feeling to finally break it. I know I got close and it’s kind of a burden over my head, something that you want to break as a receiver.” On his connection with his quarterback…
“You know Tommy and I lived together for two and a half years. We came in together so we have a connection we’ve had time to build on since we enrolled, and today I think a little bit of that was shown as well as the play calling came my way.”
On his punt returns…
“Definitely room to improve. I don’t know why I kept tripping. It was aggravating. But I did save some of the hidden yards by picking up those balls. I’m going to be as aggressive as I was today next week and the weeks to come. And I’m going to work on picking up my feet when I run.”
Head Coach Rhule
COACH RHULE: Obviously, we played against a really good football team. Disappointed. I think we shot ourselves in the foot. Obviously, the two missed field goals were difficult for us, and as a result, kind of tried to throw the ball in in the green zone and the red zone later. Spotted them two touchdowns early, and they got a gimme right before the half, which was obviously good plays by them and just miscommunication by us.
But I told our team, I was proud of the fact that they didn’t quit at the end. I thought for long portions of the game, they proved that they can play with that team. Those first two drives were obviously not the way we wanted to play. The offense, I thought, at times went up and down the field and had 230 yards at halftime, 240 yards at halftime.
Just wasn’t quite as good in the second half. Moved the ball and couldn’t put it in the end zone. Have to give a lot of credit to their guys. They did a good job. Their coaches did a good job playing more man and taking away a lot of our throws, and we kind of hit a lull there for a while and weren’t able to get it started. Had that long last drive couldn’t punch it in and tried one more time and dropped the punt.
But as far as Temple goes, I think our guys realize they can play at that level. Obviously, you can’t play a good team and give plays away, but they can play at that level for extended periods of time, and next week we’ll have to do it for a longer period of time.
With that, I’ll answer any questions anybody has.
Q. (No microphone) was it the atmosphere?
COACH RHULE: Yeah, I think the very first play the safeties went the wrong way. We blitzed on one side and they spun the other way. You know, you’ve got a freshman out there, and it’s obviously good I won’t take anything away from them. It was a good run by them. We spun the wrong way, and the ball went 80 yards. The play right before the half, the freshman middle linebacker, wasn’t his fault. Looked like it was his fault on film, but it wasn’t his. Guys missed the call, and we turned one down the middle of the field.
The message to our guys is playing a good team, you can’t miss calls and you can’t give things away. You can’t play 65 great plays and five bad ones. But they are really strong and physical. Some of the double moves they hit, excuse me, the game is long. But their receiver, No. 10, I have a lot of respect for him. At the end of the game, a guy runs down, catches a double move, touchdown, and runs down on the next kickoff, some things our players can emulate. That was a good play by them. But we shot ourselves in the foot by spinning the wrong way, so…
Q. Coach Rhule, it was your first official game as a head coach in the record books. What do you take from this game personally, and what do you take from it that you can move forward with and maybe change or do anything different or you personally as your first game as a head coach?
COACH RHULE: Well, change, I’d like to win the next one, if I could. But, no, I mean, I told our coaches, we had to show our players what poise looked like and confidence looked like. I went into halftime and told them, I mean, we’re playing Notre Dame. We’re in South Bend. They’re up 14 0.
Our kids rallied back. We scored a rushing touchdown. They’ve only given up how many rushing touchdowns in the last 31 games, and we just ran out of time. We moved the ball with two or three first downs. So for me, I just told our guys we’re going to be aggressive. Connor threw 46 passes, 23 for 46. Couple of those were Hail Marys, and the pressure anchored up in the second half. But, for me, I just get off to a better start, probably, and continue to be aggressive as a coach and as a program.
Q. On the first two scoring plays, it looked like the same problem with the same guy?
COACH RHULE: No, they max protected and threw a post. He didn’t stay high on it. So the next time they threw a post corner. So he got high on it and they threw a post corner. They max protected, and they made it a one on one, and their kid made the play and our kid didn’t.
I thought for the rest of the game, he kind of settled down and played really good football. They have outstanding ball skills. Throwing the ball down to Jones on the sideline. He was able to go back up and make plays. Those are things our guys have to see. But they won those one on ones. We didn’t compete well early in the game.
Q. (No microphone)?
COACH RHULE: And we rode a lot of guys. We played five safeties today. At the end of the game on the last drive, we had Nat L. Smith who hasn’t played a ton.
So I think the big thing was getting their guys to settle down and trust their technique. I hope that is the one thing they take out of this. The just go back and watch the film. If you do what you’re supposed to, do if they’re better than you, they’re better than you. If they throw the ball up and Jones goes and makes the play, he makes the play. But if you start panicking, we can’t win like that.
So we settled Robey down, played the freshman safeties, got them in the mix, they made some mistakes, but eventually cooled off and played better.
Q. Coach, last year, Chris Coyer was the quarterback, and he changed positions. What were your impressions between Connor Reilly and the connection to Chris Coyer on the field?
COACH RHULE: We used Chris as a quarterback a couple times on zone replays and those were good plays for us. He made a couple great catches. Caught the ball and got hit, I think Connor knows that he knows where Coyer’s going to be, and he knows he’s going to be open.
You know, we’ll try to get Romond the ball. I thought we went to Deloatch to get the ball more than he ended up getting the ball. Jaylon strong for them was the real deal now. Some of the things we wanted to do, he took out of the game right away. So he’s the real deal.
But you know Connor, I thought, I don’t know how many different guys caught the ball, but Tyler Karpinski just walked on a month ago. I don’t know how many catches he had today, but he had some. And Connor did a good job of finding the right guy.
Q. Coach, what were your impressions of Rees? Were they similar or different than you’ve seen on film in previous games?
COACH RHULE: That’s the thing I said about him. He doesn’t get sacked. We got one on him, but they have an NFL offensive line. They’re really talented. He does a great job of taking what’s there and giving it away. We had hoped he’d throw the ball to us once and twice, and he didn’t. He maybe had one overthrow.
But he didn’t give us any throws. He’s a poised player. He understands their system. Some of our guys, we were showing the blitz and we showed it, and he checked. So he’s obviously well coached in that system.
He’s a really smart, tough football player. You can tell. You’re out there and you can tell a guy that can use his cadence, get us to show. And our guys I thought figured out, okay, this is what it’s like and they hid their disguises better. But he didn’t turn the ball over. That is the first thing you want from a quarterback.
Q. For a guy that hasn’t played, Connor seemed to have good presence out there, felt the rush and made good decisions, and your offensive line seemed to hold its own against the defensive line. Were those areas you were pleased with?
COACH RHULE: Yeah, I’m pleased. I challenged them in the fourth quarter. I thought in the end they started hitting our quarterback and I was frustrated. But I tell you, they went straight. They got out of what they were doing. They played man. They rushed.
I thought we held, you know, Nix is a great player. Have a ton of respect. I thought Kyle did a good job. We hopefully neutralized him a bit. I didn’t realize how big he was until I walked by him. My gracious. Connor proved to everybody in my mind he’s a competitor. He’s out there, running around, getting first downs. He doesn’t take it to the ground. He gets hit. He’s probably a little banged up and he keeps playing.
So to throw that many passes and have one sack, you know what I mean? That’s impressive.
Q. Jim’s got a long career ahead of him, but first college game. What was your action with him on the sideline?
COACH RHULE: I told him he’s going to have to come back and win the game for us. That is the mindset he has to have. I hated for him to miss those kicks because he’s going to be a great kicker for a long time. But from the missed two kicks and extra point, I hate it for him because he’s going to come back and bounce back and be a good kicker. That is unfair for a freshman to have to deal with that in that environment. I thought his teammates rallied around him and told him we need you to come back and help us win the game in the end. Hopefully next week he’ll get himself righted up.
Q. Did he exceed your expectations today? He didn’t take a lot of bad sacks. He seemed to know where the rush was coming from. Is that better than you would have thought he would be?
COACH RHULE: No, that’s how I thought he’d play and I hoped he’d play, and there are still things, you know? I just love coaching the kid. I’m out there yelling at him on the field, What are you doing? And he’s yes, sir. He’s a winner.
He’s got two years ahead, and I think that’s a really good defense. 12 points per game last year, and missed two field goals, missed the extra point. Had the ball down in the green zone later, and obviously, the ball’s on the 8 yard line. You’d normally kick the field goal if you feel like you can kick the field goal. So we threw up and down, and for him to throw that many yards against a good defense, I was pleased with.
Temple Player Quotes
Jim Cooper, J. – Fr. – Punter/Placekicker
On missing two field goals in his first college game…
“Obviously you want to get the best start possible but a bad game happens. The coaches are being really supportive. The players, the seniors are really getting me through it. It’s a bad game, it happens, I’m just trying to move on from it.”
On why he missed the field goals…
“The snap was perfect, the hold was perfect and blocking was impeccable. I just didn’t hit it right.”
On the kicks in general…
“I felt confident going out there. I just need to make a small correction and square my hips off and I didn’t. I had a second opportunity, the coaches never lost faith in me, which is why they’re such great coaches, and I didn’t capitalize. That’s just something I’ve got to work on and get better at.”
On the transition from high school to college…
“It’s a huge culture shock but to tell you the truth, when I’m out there it’s just me and my team. They were very supportive and were helping me out a lot.”
Zaire Williams – Fr. – Running Back
On his first college game being against ND…
“It was exciting, I had a lot of fun. They are a very good team so it was a good experience to open up to a very good team.”
On the game in general…
“I just came out to play. Coach told me to keep my head up and keep going.”
On missed opportunities…
“I feel like we played hard the whole game. If we hadn’t missed those opportunities we could have been neck and neck with them.”
On the transition from high school to college…
“Everybody is faster, but it’s basically the same.”
On goals for the season…
“I just want to win. That’s the only goal I have. I just want to win. That’s it.”
Connor Reilly – Jr. – Quarterback
On his impressions of the team’s performance…
“It wasn’t too bad, we definitely have a lot to work on but we can only build and progress from here.”
On his decisions on the field…
“It’s an important thing not to turn the ball over because that leads to lost games, so my one job was to protect the ball. I thought I did pretty well as far as distributing. There are a lot of things I need to work on in terms of getting the ball out quicker but I think overall the offense can move the ball and we did move the ball; we just have to capitalize on our opportunities.”
On the offensive line…
“Our front five did a phenomenal job: I hardly got touched at all. Kyle Friend did an incredibly great job of snapping and holding his own on Louis Nix at the front; Cody Booth transitioning from tight end to tackle did a great job; Zach Hooks on the right tackle did a great job; so did Pete White up the middle, and Jeff Winningham.”
On missed opportunities…
“They are all squandered opportunities-we left a lot of points on the field. This team is young and that’s where we can build: if we can put those points on the scoreboard the game’s a whole different game. But give credit to Notre Dame, they did a great job. Our defense played a great job in the end, a few missed opportunities at the beginning-I think three missed plays by us turned into three big plays for them-but Notre Dame played a great game. Our defense held stout in the second half, our offense moved the ball, but we just have to capitalize on opportunities when we get in the red zone.”
Chris Coyer – Sr. – Halfback
On the team’s performance…
“We didn’t come out on top so it was tough. I think you feel it a bit more being a senior knowing that’s the last opening game of my career but it was tough. I got a chance to get in there and make a few plays but all in all we just didn’t execute on a high enough level.”
On his individual performance…
“There were some things I could’ve done better; my grade’s not going to be 100% when I look at it on film. I think I did a couple good things out there, and I did some things that weren’t as good but I’ll get a better feel when I get a chance to look at the tape.”
On his role as a leader on the team…
“I see my role being much the same as it has been, like you saw out there today. I try and motivate the guys as much as I can when we’re on the sidelines-trying to pick guys up, never putting guys down-trying to bring everyone to a higher level of play. As far as my responsibilities on the field, hopefully I keep getting more and more responsive each game.”
On playing at Notre Dame Stadium…
“Notre Dame is a very good team and this was a great place to play, a great venue. There was a lot of crowd noise and I love that-I love playing in a loud stadium. The overall experience of the game was first class, but unfortunately we couldn’t come out on top.”
Tyler Matakevich – So. – Linebacker
On settling down after the first two touchdowns…
“I think it was really about calming down and relaxing, a few kids were nervous and stuff like that. Everyone was just getting the jitters out, and once we did, we certainly calmed down and played very good football.”
On emotions after the game…
“Definitely disappointed, we’re never completely satisfied with how we play, but we played tough. We didn’t quit; we just gave up some big plays that definitely cost us in the end. We played all the way up until the game ended. Really can’t take anything away from them [Notre Dame], but we didn’t quit.”
On opening at a place like Notre Dame…
“It definitely gives us a lot of confidence. We know we can hang with teams like Notre Dame. We were planning on coming in here and winning. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. They made plays and we didn’t, so you’ve got to tip your hat to them.”
On the direction of the program…
“This program is definitely on the rise. The coaches are doing an excellent job. We were ready for them [Notre Dame] today. Once we settled down, we definitely felt really good about our defense.”
On implementing the game plan…
“I think we stuck to the game plan. Like I said, they were just fortunate enough to make plays, and we didn’t. We did move the ball up and down the field, so we can definitely take a lot of good things out of this. We just have to come in tomorrow and get ready to work so we can be ready for Houston.”
On playing at a place with tradition like Notre Dame…
“It was everything I expected. I would have liked the W, but what are you going to do? It’s an excellent environment to play in though, and definitely one that I will remember.”