Oct. 29, 2011
COACH KELLY: A great victory for our football team today against a team in Navy that has been very difficult for us to defend obviously, and I think we can put that to rest about our ability to defend a very, very good offensive football team. No one has had success this year. Very proud of our defense, our coaches, all of our players and the way they defended Navy today.
I think from an offensive standpoint, controlling the line of scrimmage, as you know, against USC, we did not run the ball effectively, and it put us in a tougher situation in terms of managing the game. So we were committed to making sure that we got the ball out if we needed to, if the numbers weren’t right, but we were going to run the football regardless. And I think those are the things that stand out: Controlling the line of scrimmage with our running game, especially our offensive line, I think our backs ran hard. Michael Floyd played great football. Our big players played big. Controlled the line of scrimmage and played great defense. It’s a good recipe for success. With that, open to questions.
Q. Can you talk about what you have been through with your team since Thursday night, can you take us through the whole process?
COACH KELLY: Well, I can tell you that, you know, as a family, we all have good days and bad days. And you work through that as a family. And we had to work through some things this week. But at the end, like all families, if there’s a disagreement, if there’s any kind of need to communicate, it needs to get done and we did that. We communicated with each other as a team and as a family, and you saw it today. You saw a team that played together.
I told our team, that’s the best collection of plays relative to all 11 players playing together. It was part and parcel of all of those things; it was a family coming together. And like I said, those specifics, I won’t get into, those are family matter, but we are certainly pleased by the way our guys played together today.
Q. I don’t know if this qualifies as a specific, but were you worried about pulling your team back on Friday, the clichÃƒÆ’Â© would be losing your team; did you have any worries about that when you spoke to them?
COACH KELLY: I mean, I think any time you’re in a business like we are, where you’re around your guys all the time, that you need to be honest. You need to be communicating and that occurred. And like I said, those family matters, we have all been in them. The most important thing is what happens, and what happened today was our football team played together and played great football.
Q. What was different about today involving Dayne as opposed to the Purdue game? Remember you said against Purdue, you didn’t want to do it to him when he came into the game in a blowout; did that have anything to do with your decision to put him?
COACH KELLY: No, he was the next guy to go in. So when we made a change, Dayne’s going to go in the game. I thought did he a great job. Threw the ball well. Got into two really good checks. Yeah, we worked on the same mechanics. He practiced the same way, and he was the next guy in.
Q. Could you just explain what the idea was with your defensive front, the three point stance, the whole game, did you not know he was going to be available to you today?
COACH KELLY: Of course not. We waited right up until the very end to make that decision. We thought that he had a chance game day, you get a little help and it wasn’t going to be enough. He prepared but he wasn’t going to be able to play at the level he needed to.
You know, our plan is the same as it was versus Army and Air Force. We’re four down, as you know and Prince has got to be able to drop down and play that position, as well as Darius, when we kick our front over for four down, so it’s not an uncommon thing for them to jump down into a four down.
We just did a very good job of defending it from inside out, and rallying it. They are a tough offense to stop. We were on body. We did a very good job in the back end, other than the one pass off the boot action on the goal line, which we turned it over twice, which was the only disappointing thing that had happened.
But no, those guys were well prepared to be in those positions.
Q. Seven of seven in the red zone today, talk a little bit about why maybe in a simplistic way you were so successful, as opposed to earlier this season in those opportunities?
COACH KELLY: You know, I think we probably ran the ball a little bit more effectively in those situations, and put more of an emphasis on the run game in that area, and I think that that is a direction that we want to keep moving.
Obviously seven for seven is where we think we should be. I thought Tommy made some good decisions down there, which it’s the decision making that has to happen down there, and we got it to our guy. We got it to Michael Floyd. You can’t go wrong if you can get it to Mike.
Q. Can you talk about Manti’s game today and also, you had Stephon Tuitt; talk about your jumbo front.
COACH KELLY: Manti played well. He’s very disciplined. Obviously he was in a position where he had to play back and QB, and he wasn’t guessing. He was very disciplined today and played a solid game. But our front was outstanding. Our two inside guys didn’t give much. You are not going to talk a lot about them, Tuitt and Cwynar, they were really good inside. They took the fullback away and forced the ball out on the perimeter. Those two guys played very well.
Q. Where do you go from here with this team? You said you got things repaired as a family; you have a big win today. Where do you go from here?
COACH KELLY: I think it’s what I talked about last week; that we want a consistency about how we play each and every week. We have got to play together. We have got to play, you know, a brand of football that I’m starting to see.
Today was a great example of the kind of football, everybody together, everybody playing hard for each other and that’s what we expect. We don’t want to just do it for four weeks; we want to do it for eight, ten, 12.
Q. Using them equally, but Gray and Wood coming in, and Jonas getting his first start.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he was what we wanted him to be when we talked about how important he was to us when we started the year. He ran physical. He’s got burst, he’s got speed. He breaks tackles. He’s a very valuable player, as well as Cierre Wood. Him getting off to a good start he sets a physical presence for us. That’s why it’s so important that week after week, we can continue to run the football, especially with those two guys.
Q. Do they feed off each other?
COACH KELLY: I think so. It’s a very good I think early in the week, Cierre wanted to prove that last week was not what he is about. And he had a good week of practice, and you know, other than slipping a couple of times on the sideline, he played very well today, too.
Q. Looked like Cierre really wanted the ball on that one, the goal line.
COACH KELLY: Well, I don’t know what they saw but clearly he wanted the end zone. The only thing we talked to him about was, let’s not leave it up to interpretation on whether you’ve broke the plane or not. We don’t want the ball loose.
Yeah, he wanted the end zone badly in that situation. We just have to be careful because obviously the ball got blown dead, but we talked to him a little bit about making sure he’s got good ball security too.
Q. Can you talk about Michael played great football, was it more than just the receptions and yardage he put up today?
COACH KELLY: He was great. He couldn’t wait to play. He was you could tell that he was ready to play. He had talked about it all week, you know, coming out this week and having a great game, and you know, he was not going to be denied today.
Q. What went into Nate being named captain, not the most decorated guy, but what does he represent.
COACH KELLY: I think he represents all of the great things that we want in our football players. He’s a non scholarship player. He loves Notre Dame. And he was very emotional when we named him captain, but more importantly, I think our players were more emotional. They were so happy for him being named a game day captain.
He’s a very important part of our football team in what he represents and how hard he works. He’s also very productive for us in our special teams. So he’s just an important part of the chemistry of this football team.
Q. Do you know what happened with Hounshell
COACH KELLY: Early indications, a shoulder. As to what it is exactly, they didn’t tell me, but he hurt his shoulder.
Q. You talk about getting your team over the hump. Can what happened, this coming together be a galvanizing thing, in your experience? Does this iron out some of the wrinkles we have seen?
COACH KELLY: We hope that the relationships that we build with players, that there’s trust there with those relationships; that if we do have times where we need to take a step back, we are able to do that, but move forward, and I think what you saw was just our football team coming together today going through the week that we went through, our kids really responded well today. So our hope is to build off of this and continue to build off of it.
Q. The first drives in the first quarter, was that something you were looking for and what can you tell us about that?
COACH KELLY: I thought that we had some looks that we could get formationally early on, that we could get some big plays, and it proved to be that that was the case. There was some adjustments made by Navy that took some of those things that way from us later.
But we felt in the first couple of drives, it was important to get off to a good start after not getting off to a very good start against USC. We scripted some plays out, some plays that we wanted to get to and we were able to get to them and have some success early on.