Nov. 14, 2015
Notre Dame – 28, Wake Forest – 7
Brian Kelly: Well, it’s always great to get a win for your seniors in their last home game. They certainly have left a great legacy here at Notre Dame, you know, with 21 wins over I believe that’s a four-year period. No senior class has ever won more games at home. A great legacy to leave here. Very proud of them. Very proud of what they’ve accomplished in their four years here, and certainly as a team very pleased with the win. I thought Wake Forest played very well today, and we’re pleased with the outcome.
With that, we’ll open it up to questions.
Q. Coming into the season, Romeo had in his entire career seven and a half tackles for loss. I think he’s gotten up to nine in the last five games and also has eight sacks in the last five games. Can you talk about why his game has taken such a huge jump?
Brian Kelly: It’s one of those things where he came onto campus as a 17-year-old that just really was a raw player, raw football player, and has, you know, grown in a very short period of time this year into the kind of football player that I think has, you know, a huge growth potential in front of him, as well. We’re just seeing that maturation process kind of come together. Long, athletic, starting to really understand the game of football, and I think that’s what we’re seeing in front of us.
Q. Have you guys done anything over the last couple games to really put him in more of a play-making position or is it about him just finishing more plays off?
Brian Kelly: He’s certainly in a position to affect the quarterback more in a pass rushing situation. But again, you know, we’re much more of a four-down team, where he was a bit of a drop player, so I think that contributes a little bit. But I would tell you that it’s much more about his skill development at that position that we’re seeing come together.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about Josh Adams’ performance today in his first start?
Brian Kelly: Well, it was — obviously the run was one of the highlight reel: Physical, explosive, sheds off a tackler. Obviously a big part of the game where we’re backed up, and just a terrific run.
But he is a young man that, you know, runs tough, physical, between the tackles, and has size, strength and speed. He’s got all those things, and he’s only going to get better. It’s nice to see a true freshman out there competing at that level.
Q. What happened with Cage, and can you talk about your defensive line shuffle and how you felt like that played out?
Brian Kelly: Yeah, we had to shuffle it around a little bit. You know, Cage was not feeling well from the Pittsburgh game, and you know, we really felt like it was best to keep him out this week. So we were moving some pieces around up front, and you know, I thought with 14 tackles for loss, we did some really, really good things, in particular the pressures that we got on the quarterback.
There’s some run fits that weren’t quite as efficient as they have been. We’ll have to take a look at the film, whether it was — I thought we were a little soft on some of our releases. But all in all, we had to move some players around to get the front the way we wanted it.
Q. When you say, “wasn’t feeling well,” you mean illness or an injury?
Brian Kelly: No, he had an injury. He had an injury.
Q. And then you didn’t have a lot of offensive plays. They played keep-away pretty well.
Brian Kelly: They did a very good job.
Q. I wondered how you thought Kizer managed that situation in the game today.
Brian Kelly: I thought he did okay. The one thing that DeShone does is when the moment is big, he rises to it. We needed that drive in the fourth quarter. I thought he did a very, very good job of making the plays necessary in getting that 20th, 28th point on the board. He did a very good job. We saw a lot of different things today, a lot of different coverages, a lot of different variations. Wake Forest did a very good job using the bye week to really change things up and did a very good job, I thought. So I would credit them a lot in terms of what they did defensively, but I think it’ll be a great learning experience for DeShone that he can take away and really build off of this game.
Q. What’s the latest on CJ Prosise? Could he have played today? Would he have played today? What’s the situation there?
Brian Kelly: Yeah. You know, I think he could have. We were going to be prudent all the way through this. We weren’t going to give out too much information. We were going to obviously try to give you as much as we could, but we weren’t going to really push him in a position that we didn’t think we needed to. But he worked out before the game, and he really felt good. But we weren’t going to push it.
So yeah, we feel like we would have him for next week.
Q. The one part of the game that Wake did control a little bit was time of possession?
Brian Kelly: They did.
Q. A couple 3rd downs, defense couldn’t necessarily get off the field. Is that something you want to see more balance of and clean up as you move forward?
Brian Kelly: Yeah, I think Wake Forest did a very good job of controlling the football. There were a couple 3rd down situations — one there was a 3rd and 12 where Shumate has got to play a little bit tighter man coverage. We gave up a couple of throws where we just have to be tighter in our man coverage situations.
But you know, we were pretty stingy in 4th down, so we made up for it in 4th down situations.
Q. What’s the diagnosis with James Onwualu?
Brian Kelly: He’s got an MCL sprain. We’ll get an MRI tomorrow and then find out what the severity of the MCL sprain is.
Q. I know Equanimeous didn’t play. Did you get any results from the MRI or find out what his status is moving forward?
Brian Kelly: Yeah, he had an MRI, and it’s a definite shoulder sprain that’s going to be significant in terms of time loss. I couldn’t tell you exactly, but it’s going to be significant.
Q. Did you get any explanation on that penalty that got taken back on the late hit?
Brian Kelly: I think he was safe, then he was out, then he was safe, then he was out. It’s just unfortunate, and you know, I didn’t get the explanation that I would want to share with anybody here.
Q. Red zone defense doesn’t get talked about a lot, but talk about how important that was to the overall outcome today.
Brian Kelly: Well, I thought it was very important. Certainly they had a missed field goal and then a few opportunities. Certainly they were very aggressive in going for it on 4th down situations where maybe in other situations that you would see during the game maybe you don’t. But some of their 4th downs were difficult. Other than the 4th and goal, they had some long 4th down situations to try to convert, as well.
But you know, a couple things happened in our favor. We got them behind the chains in those short areas, and then we played — we were able to play some zone coverage behind and not be exposed. I thought we did some really good things in mixing some things up in terms of pressures and then not bringing pressures, so I thought Brian did a very good job of calling the game in that short field. That’s really important, too. You have to call a good game. You have to be diversified down in the red zone, and I thought we were.
Q. Just doubling back on DeShone, with the possessions in between kind of the first one in the first quarter where it was kind of like 10 plays, 67, and then the one where you got 28, was there anything differently he maybe could have done just surface level picking out easier throws, or is this kind of a learning experience?
Brian Kelly: No, I wouldn’t put too much on DeShone. We’ve got to put him in a better position. You know, we tried to get the ball outside. They changed up how they were defending some of our outside run plays, and then we had some — we had a couple breakdowns in protections. You know, there was probably a play or two that we could critique him on, but by and large, he’s on it. You know, I think he saw a lot of different variety of coverages and drops and things of that nature that I think he’ll benefit from that he hasn’t seen, but again, I would say that there were other things going on there from an offensive standpoint more so than DeShone not clicking or not playing well.
Q. Talk about the view you had of Adams’ recordbreaking run.
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, that was pretty awesome. Any time you’re backed up that far and you’re able to get out of a drive that easy is great for us. We know that with the punter, the great punter that they had over there, that we were going to have a couple situations in which we were going to be backed up and for Josh to break off the way he did, that was really huge for the momentum of the game.
Q. How do you feel about this win? Not a ton of plays, not a ton of yards, but otherwise fairly stress free?
DeShone Kizer: You know, when you’re out there and you’re going from drive to drive, it kind of bothers you that you’re not out there with the momentum that we typically have. But now being on the field and realizing that it’s November and we just came out with a 21-point win, it’s huge for us. We’re moving forward. We have a win streak going. We have things rolling for the offense, and the defense came out and had an outstanding game. To hold a team like that to seven points, an ACC team, who was doing some really cool things, is huge for us, especially at this time of the year.
Q. 9-1 with two games to go. Is that a good place to be?
DeShone Kizer: Great place to be. Great place to be. We’re just trying to accomplish goals. The mission has been set. We all understand where we’re at, and it’s just another step of the way that ends up being a 21-point victory. As an offense and as a program, we’re heading in the right direction, and we’re willing to take the W’s for what they are. We’ll celebrate them and we’ll prepare to go play a good Boston College team.
Q. We’ve seen you run the ball more the last couple weeks. Today a couple touchdowns, but you’ve started to take some hits. How do you feel after a game like that?
DeShone Kizer: I’m good. I’m good, yeah. We do a good job with making sure that those plays are called because we got things rolling the other way, so it’s not like we’re out there with me just running power game and taking big hits. It’s more counter stuff that’s going back away from where the big hitters are. My body feels completely fine, and we’ll move forward next week and hopefully continue to run the ball successfully at the quarterback position.
Q. Was it pretty obvious from the start that they were going to do everything they could to not get beat by Fuller?
DeShone Kizer: Yes, yes. They play a lot of drop eight. They even dropped nine a couple times. As a team they did a really good job with game planning that, and they had an extra couple days with their 3rd down stuff. They’ve been a really good 3rd down team all year, and they came out and they executed again. We lost them a couple 3rd downs, and that’s unacceptable on our part. I have to make sure that I’m in the right protection and not take the sacks that I took. But at the end of the day we won when we needed to win, and a victory at this time of the year once again is huge for the Irish.
Q. What were you able to do on those two long drives in the first quarter and then in the fourth quarter?
DeShone Kizer: That had a lot to do with the run game. The offensive line once again comes out flawless in the first couple drives. We got things rolling, and with the challenge that we have from X to W on the backside is huge for us. Josh Adams came out and played really well once again, and a senior-based offensive line did a really good job in their last game at home.
Q. How important was it to send them off with a win?
DeShone Kizer: Huge for us, huge for us. Those guys, they’d do anything for us. They’re a really good set of leaders. I’m proud to be a member of the team and to have them leading me, and the best way that we could possibly repay them is with a victory in their last home game. It was awesome for those guys to leave on a good note.
Q. How exciting is it looking forward to next week?
DeShone Kizer: It’s fun. It’s fun. This is what we dream of, to be in this position at this time of the year, and this is just another step in the road to try and accomplish a mission. We know that Boston College is a really good team who also is coming off a bye week and has a lot of time to prepare for us, and we’re going to have to make sure that we’re studying up and preparing the way that we always have and try to come out victorious.
Q. How would you grade yourself today?
DeShone Kizer: There’s some good, there’s some bad, as always. Ran the ball pretty well. There’s still some checks I really need to make sure that I’m making out there and making sure that I can avoid some sacks. There was a couple situations in which I’ve got to get rid of the ball. Other than that, we played really well as a team, I believe. Wake Forest is a really good defense. Their front eight is some of the best that we’ve played this year, and we came out with a victory, so we’re going to take that for what it is and continue to move forward.
Q. How strange was it to see Dave Clawson on the opposing sideline?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, really weird, really weird, being a guy from the 419 area, to see a guy who’s down doing some big things in the ACC is huge for us. He was kind of a community-type of guy when he was at BG, and obviously he was one of my first couple offers, so I spent a lot of time with him, and to see him doing what he’s doing at a level school like Wake Forest is huge. It was nice.
Q. I don’t know if you saw any scores from last night, but Central beat Clyde.
DeShone Kizer: I sent Coach Dempsey a text. That’s huge for us. Obviously that game still haunts me to this day. But to see us come out victorious against Clyde the last three years is huge, or two years, whatever it is.
Q. What was your conversation with Ronnie like after the game? You guys were talking before —
DeShone Kizer: Oh, yeah, Ronnie is just a goofball. He blocked out on the play and said that I made the wrong check. He made sure that I understood that he got outset because the last game there was situation in which I made a check, he didn’t understand it or he didn’t — I didn’t communicate it to him well, and he didn’t end up making the same out block, so he made sure that I understood and I recognized that he went out and made an extra block for me to save my backside, so that was really nice.
Q. How did you feel like the offense graded out today?
DeShone Kizer: You know, it was a little off. We’re a type of team where we strive and we try to go out and get some explosive plays, and there wasn’t any of those explosive plays other than that run that we were backed up. Typically those happen a little more often, but at the end of the day, when we go out and we grade out, when we check out our film, we did a lot of good things. Like I said, they had a really good 3rd down plan for us, which comes with preparing with a bye week the week before a game, and to come out victorious at this time of the year is always good.
Q. Do you ever feel like you’re pressing out there? Did you get any of that vibe today?
DeShone Kizer: Not really. Not really. As I always say, when the ball is in our hands, we expect to score points, so there’s always kind of a pressure on us, no matter what the situation is, no matter if we’re down or if we’re up. When the ball is in our hands, we expect to do something, so if we don’t come out with it, then it’s a losing drive. So when it comes to pressure, it’s kind of the same mindset every time we get the ball.
Q. You said things are kind of off today, but what did you kind of learn about being off but also still overcoming it in the month of November when you guys are on a playoff run?
DeShone Kizer: It just shows the style of team that we have. We live on adversity. We lose guys each week, and it’s really unfortunate, but somehow we end up coming out on top. This is a week in which maybe our passing game wasn’t where it should have been, and we didn’t have the big, explosive plays to Will Fuller and things like that, but yet we still come out with some sort of a way to put up 28 points which is huge against a team of any level. So as an offense, we’re going to go out and we’re going to evaluate where we are. It’s a learning process from game 1 to game 13, 14 and 15, so this is just another opportunity for us to evaluate where we are and continue to move forward.
November 14, 2015
Notre Dame Players Quotes
Jaylon Smith – Jr. – Linebacker
On looking forward to playing on senior day…
“I had it on my mind each and every day this week. I was really just looking forward to this opportunity.”
On focusing on being in the college football playoffs…
“Winning is hard in college football so anytime you get a chance to celebrate a victory, have your seniors go out the right way, and go undefeated at home, it’s a huge accomplishment.”
On keeping the same mentality in the next two games…
“They are must wins. We play against a rich tradition school in Boston College next week. It’s our Shamrock Series game so I know the guys will be excited for that and I know I am. I’m very excited when it comes to dressing up appropriately and being in style.”
Andrew Trumbetti – So. – Defensive Line
On his interception return for a touchdown…
“I really don’t remember the play. I kind of just blacked out. It was the coolest moment of my life.”
On the feeling after making his big play…
“When I got to the sidelines I was really worried about catching my breath. I thought I was going to pass out because I was just so excited and everyone was jumping on me. I think I forgot to breath.”
On how being a running back helped him on his interception return for a touchdown…
“I loved carrying the ball in high school. It’s always good when you get the ball back in your hands, especially when you practice without touching it every single day.”
Chase Hounshell – Gr. – Tight End
On getting his first career reception…
“The first career reception was good. It was nice to have the confidence of Coach Kelly and Coach Booker that I can make it. It was just cool to go out with a reception and more importantly a team win.”
On the most memorable part of the day…
“There were a lot of emotions, but coming in with that senior class, with my fifth years, I mean there is nothing better than having a win on senior day. It just doesn’t get better than that. I’m going to miss this place so much along with the incredible fans and my brothers in that locker room. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
On the challenges of senior day…
“They call your name, you’re running out, and you get to see your parents in the middle of the field. All this emotion just rushes through your head but eventually they’ve got to go and it is game time. You just flip the switch. As soon as they kick off the ball, it is go time. All the emotions just went away and it was time to play football.”
Josh Adams – Fr. – Running Back
On his 98-yard touchdown run…
“It was just great blocking all-around from the team. It was blocking down the field and initially by the offensive line as they tried to dominate the front. I was basically just trying to do my job, do what I could and read the holes correctly. They’ve been telling me all week, `You have to read the holes correctly,’ and I’m just glad I could do that. Everything fell into place on that play.”
On how it feels to get his first start…
“It felt good. I was trying to contribute, not get too hyped, and keep myself calm just like any other game if I were going in for C.J. [Prosise]. I was just trying to focus on my job. Again, it wasn’t about me; it was about the seniors. I just tried to help them make this night memorable.”
On what it means to have the longest run in the history of the program…
“That’s pretty crazy. That just means that this group of offensive linemen had the longest run in Notre Dame history and they are definitely proud of that.”
Ronnie Stanley – Sr. – Offensive Lineman
On how it feels when a guy runs for a 98-yard touchdown…
“That’s a good sign to see. It’s always nice to see guys get big runs, especially when we’re backed up in our own end zone. That is just a testament to our execution, knowing the defense and knowing our job.”
On how he feels about the win, even though it wasn’t the prettiest win of the year…
“It’s hard to win in college football. Every team has got a game plan against us. They do the best they can do and really try to get us off our game. Wake Forest did a good job of mixing their looks up and really giving us a hard time. I’m just very happy about the way our team performed in facing all those looks and that we came out with a win.”
Joe Schmidt – Gr. – Linebacker
On the emotions of the day…
“You know it is emotional now, but before it’s tough. You’re trying to sort through all of that but once you get back into the locker room, you resort back to training and try to ignore the noise that’s not important to the game. A few times you think about making it count during the game, and I think we did that today as a senior class. I’m happy with the victory.”
On the seniors’ legacy…
“I think it’s important to us to improve upon the foundation that was laid by the senior classes before us. You know we feel that we have some work left to be done in that area, but the record at home is something that we really wanted to work on. It’s a point of pride for us.”
On the difficulty of winning late season games…
“It doesn’t matter when the game is or who you’re playing, winning in college football is really hard. I think Wake Forest gave us all we could handle defensively. They had a lot of really good offensive plans to challenge us and they’re a good football team.”
Romeo Okwara – Sr. – Defensive Line
On the red zone performance…
“We just came in as a defense and said `Hey, you’ve made it this far, now we need to dominate. It’s time to keep them out.’ We just blew it up and kept them out of the end zone.”
On winning the game on senior night…
“Every win is good, but it’s always good to win at home, especially on senior night. Everyone’s very excited, but now we just need to go to the next game and play Boston College.”
On his progression as a player…
“This is something I’ve been working on each and every year. I’ve just been working on things, especially transitioning from the defensive line to outside linebacker and then back to defensive line. I’ve just been working on my game wherever they put me and I try the best that I can wherever they have me.”
Sheldon Day – Sr. – Defensive Lineman
On the pregame moment with his mom…
“It was very special. It’s a moment that I’m going to share with her forever. We had a nice little handshake, a hug, and an `I love you,’ so it was very special for me and my mom.”
On what this day was like as a whole…
“Words can’t explain it. I’ve spent so much time here. I’ve seen this stadium through its up and downs, and it has definitely been a good ride.”
On how the fact that it’s your last home game plays into your mindset and preparation…
“I would definitely say as it’s going on, you try to embrace everything, but it seems like everything is flying by. Going into the week, we tried to keep emotions out of it, but it’s kind of hard because you’re trying to get family here and you’re trying to do all the other things to make sure that your senior day is perfect. But once it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”
Wake Forest Head Coach
DAVE CLAWSON: Obviously we’re disappointed. We outplayed them, we outgamed them, we had the ball longer. But we beat ourselves. We had a pick six. We gave up a 98-yard touchdown run that we had two guys miss a tackle. We had the ball twice on the 1 yard line and came away without any points. You know, we had a personal foul in the end zone before the half, which takes at least three points off the board. You know, we catch a punt inside the 10-yard line, our first possession starts with us on the goal and the 5. Those are things that I’d say well-coached football teams don’t do, and we didn’t — Notre Dame is a very good football team. They don’t need our help, and we gave them a lot of help tonight.
Q. (Question regarding Notre Dame’s offense.)
DAVE CLAWSON: Yeah, one of the very 1st downs, keep the clock, they’ve got a lot of explosive playmakers. We wanted to limit their possessions, and in a lot of ways, we did. I mean, you know, obviously a big part of our game plan was we did not want Fuller to beat us, and we were going to roll coverage to him and not let him get over our heads, and I think in a lot of ways we executed well. I think in the first half they had 174 yards of offense, and 98 of it was on one play. So a lot of things we wanted to do, we did. We executed, but again, we beat ourselves, and that is a theme with our football team this year.
Q. This has been kind of a theme of yours, taking a young team and rebuilding. What’s their next step to start getting on that right track?
DAVE CLAWSON: I think from a year ago, we’ve elevated the talent level, and right now our two deep is the youngest two deep in America. We’ve got 31 freshmen and sophomores, and at times we play like a really young football team. So we’re — last year we were not very good, in a lot of ways not competitive. I think this year we’re a lot more competitive in games, but against better football teams, we don’t find ways to win, we find ways to lose.
Q. Playing a team of this caliber, what does that do for your team to point your guys in that direction?
DAVE CLAWSON: Well, this is the level we aspire to get to. I believe we can get there, so this is a measuring stick game. Our guys were excited to play here, and again, I’ll tell you what I told the team. I think when the team plays with that much energy, that much effort, that much enthusiasm and you execute 90 percent of what you want to get done, you know, we should actually be a happy locker room, but we beat ourselves, and we’re a team that does that too much. We lose the turnover battle. We mishandle the ball on the 1-yard line, and those are things that good football teams don’t do. They have the ball on the 1 and they get in the end zone. Right now there’s a gap between us and the better teams in our conference not because we lack talent but because we don’t execute as well as we need to at critical times.
Q. You had at least 14 snaps on defense where you held them to one yard or less. Talk about that.
DAVE CLAWSON: Well, we did a lot of blitzing and a lot of movement, and guys got off of blocks today up front for us, and again, we have great respect for Notre Dame. In our opinion that is certainly the best if not one of the top three offensive lines we’ve faced all year, and they’re very well-coached. You know, we didn’t feel we could sit still. We had to be very disruptive. We started a freshman tackle today and a sophomore tackle, and our defensive ends were two sophomores. If we sat still, we thought we’d be in trouble. They knew where we were, so we moved a lot and we pressured a lot, and we tried to get off of edges a little bit, and we had to be disruptive.
John Wolford – So. – Quarterback
On losing to Notre Dame while winning most statistical categories…
“Statistically when you win every category you should win the game. When you get in the red
zone, a silly turnover is not going to be winning football. We played well, and when it mattered
most we made some mistakes. If we can find a way to eliminate that, there’s a good chance we
win that game.”
On the rotating quarterbacks…
“We knew going in that Kendall [Hinton] was going to get in and have some plays. He’s a
tremendous player. You find a way to get your best players on the field. I knew going in and he
knew going in that he was going to get some playing time. It was a good rotation. I felt like I was
in a rhythm still throwing the ball and he made some plays for us too. We had the two
quarterbacks on the field some too, which keeps the defense unbalanced.”
On the struggles in the red zone…
“Obviously, the red zone is one of our keys to victory. We have it up on our big board in our
meeting room that you’ve got to convert in the red zone whether it’s field goals or touchdowns.
We missed that field goal because I took a sack and we had that dumb penalty. Two times we
were on the one inch line and we came away empty handed. Everyone has those plays where you
wish you had them back, and we had a bunch of those tonight.”
Tyler Bell – Fr. – Running Back
On the missed opportunities in the red zone…
“It was pretty frustrating. We knew that we had to keep pushing and keep fighting for these
yards, but it was just frustrating.”
On having their sixth 100-yard rushing game after only having one such game last year…
“I think the difference this year is the offensive line. They are a little bit more experienced and
they are fighting a little bit harder. I think the offensive line is just a lot better this year.”
On next week’s game against Clemson…
“I expect good things. I expect us to fight hard, just like we do against any good team. I think we
can play with anybody in the country.”
On deciding to go for it on fourth down on multiple occasions…
“We just really wanted to get in the end zone. Coach thought we could get in the end zone
behind everyone on the offensive line. It was really just a matter of wanting to get in the end