UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 14, 2012Richmond High School
STANFORD – 13
NOTRE DAME - 20
COACH KELLY: Well, just a great college football game. Great win. So proud of my football team the way they overcame adversity.
We had not been in that position at all this year. I told to them at halftime, I said, listen, what did you think, we were going to go the whole year and not trail and do that the whole year? You don't do that in college football, at any level.
I said, stick with the plan; here is what's going on out there. Continue to play. And, look, we found a way to run the football, late, again, which tells me a lot about our physical preparation; that we are clearly a football team that can match physically with Stanford. And then obviously a great goal line stand, where physically we controlled the line of scrimmage.
Again, very good opponent in Stanford, but today NotreDame was better. Really proud of the way our kids fought and persevered.
Q. There are two plays inside the one?yard line, even with your defense and what they have done, are you really expecting them to make those two stops?
COACH KELLY: You know, I think, again, as you know, with didn't give up a touchdown to a team. We gave it up obviously on offense.
No, I think you think something is going to happen, you know what I mean. You're going to get a tackle for a loss; the ball is going to come out. But I was not starting to look at my play sheet for calls. I've done that at other times in my career where you're in overtime and you're going, okay, this one is going to another one.
I was focused on the calls that were being made defensively; that we were going to find a way to keep them out of the end zone.
Q. Can you talk about what happened to Golson that knocked them out of the game?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, blow to the head and his vision was blurred. And he wanted to get back in, and our medical personnel would not clear him.
Q. Given the history of the series where they have pushed around, by your own words, was there something satisfying that they came right at you the end of the game?
COACH KELLY: There's no question. Look, when you're talking to your team all week about a heavyweight match, and you can't keep taking body blows, you have to stand in there, and sooner or later, you've got to be the one that delivers. That was?? it comes to fruition in the way the game ended and our team coming up with a great goal line stand. Classic.
Q. Given what Stanford has done and given how good they are, maybe the best team you've seen this year, is this a corner?turning moment for you guys this year in a way?
COACH KELLY: The group has a lot of confidence. They have a confidence now. They have not been on the other end of it where they had to come back and win a football game, so there's a high level of confidence that our football team now can carry on to the next game and the next game.
We are halfway through the season, and six weeks left with this group, I think they leave here knowing that they can win if they stick with the plan.
Q. The way this quarterback thing has been working out for you this year, as much as you're comfortable with it??
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I know, I'm just letting it happen. What I was really proud of, and I hope you'll take notice of this, Everett hit a point there where his dauber was down a little bit; his confidence was a bit shaken, and he came back with a great drive and did some really good things. I was really proud of the way overcame a little bit of adversity during the game.
Whereas, when he had had that situation against Michigan, you know, we really had to move in another direction. He fought through that and he made a big step today. He made some plays; he helped us win this football game.
Q. Were you surprised that they tried you twice spread up the middle?
COACH KELLY: No, that's what Stanford does. Look, they ran an inside power play all the way down to the three?yard line.
So I don't think you can fault them for doing what they do. That's their offense. I mean, if they were a spread offense and a team that doesn't run between the tackles, then you would be surprised. But you know, we were loaded up. And just controlled the line of scrimmage in those situations.
Q. And I think Louis went out on second down; talk about the importance of him being in there on those last two plays.
COACH KELLY: He's one of the 11 guys. If Louis is out there by himself, they score. But certainly to have a 300?pounder in there, he's a guy that we think is a very good. We wanted to get him back on the field, for sure.
Q. Tyler made maybe your biggest offensive play of the season today??
COACH KELLY: Well, it was tough. He had double coverage on the bake side. It was all one?on?one on the front side. We just didn't do a good enough job of taking advantage. Tommy did a nice job a little bit later, and finding that touchdown in overtime, was a nice check. But, yeah, we had to get the ball to him and maybe we forced it a couple of times, but the kid came up with some great plays.
Q. On the last stop, did the ref blow the whistle??
COACH KELLY: It was pretty apparent to me that the play was over. So I think that that's what everybody saw; that the play was over. You know, because again, we are focused on making sure that progress has been stopped. Seemed to have been validated.
Q. Can you talk about the third quarter, momentum changed, you didn't score but you dominated. What happened there?
COACH KELLY: Again, I think our physical conditioning, we are a team that just keeps coming after you, and if we stayed with the run, we kept trying to find ways against a seven?man box, loaded box, we didn't throw the ball well enough again, and that's still our Achilles heel. We have to throw the football better.
But, having said that, we found ways to move the football running it in a very difficult look.
Q. Until the fourth quarter, Everett didn't make a big play?? right before he got hurt, he did get the ball going, did you see something there?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, he started feeling more comfortable with the rush. He was?? obviously he's learning about a pressure situation where they are just four down, where you have to slide in the pocket. I was really proud of him today. He grew up. I know it wasn't as clean and the numbers, you can analyze them and say, well, didn't play well.
All I can tell you is that in his growth, he did some things for me as the head coach that allow us to keep progressing with Everett.
Q. Coach Shaw said that on the third and one play before the field goal that his players ?? sacked ??
COACH KELLY: The TFL??
Q. ?? that there was a whistle his players heardand they thought ??
COACH KELLY: I didn't hear a whistle.
Q. Were you aware of him complaining about that?
COACH KELLY: No, I was not aware. This is the first I've heard of it.
Q. Is there a possible problem, because I think Michigan, the ref ruled there was a whistle in the stands.
COACH KELLY: Look, I will tell you that I've been in a lot of stadiums and very rarely do you hear a whistle. I hear my name a lot but I don't hear?? usually?? (laughter)?? I usually don't hear a whistle, so I don't know where that came from.
Q. What did you tell Tommy when he went to get in the game?
COACH KELLY: Get your helmet and let's go. He couldn't find his darn helmet. So just get in his helmet.
I told him, listen, here is what you have to manage. We're going to give you a run play and you're going to have to get us in the right play. And we'll keep it really simple, we had three or four plays; you manage the rest. And he, essentially, you saw him out there, he got us into the right play. He managed the game very well.
Q. Then with the third?and?long in the overtime, the pass to Theo, what happened on that play?
COACH KELLY: Cover zero. We knew that we were going to get pressure from the field. They actually went zero and brought the safety across. They had not done that, so they came free. Tommy knew he had a one?on?one match up, a very good one, and it's a practice thing where in practice, we say, listen, just get some air to it. You've got to?? you've got a wide receiver coming out of back, it's going to be a favorable matchup, put it up there and let's give it a shot. He did a nice job.
Q. After Everett's fumble in the end zone, Tommy's throwing on the sideline, were you giving any serious consideration at that point?
COACH KELLY: No, he was banged up a little bit. And so, no, I was not thinking about taking him out of the game. He held on to the ball too long, clearly. But it was only a three?man rush, too.
So you know, it's one of those things where, yeah, I'd like him to get the ball out of his hand in the end zone. But no, he got banged up a little bit in the sack. We just wanted to make sure he was going to be okay. He was cleared. He was fine. He said to me that he was fine, so we put him back in and that's when he responded after that, what was a huge play, he responded and gave us a nice drive the next series.
Q. And then just Matthias, for a young guy, obviously still new at the position and a new challenge for him today, talk about him a little.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, absolutely. We had to drop him down a number of times because of the formation looks. He can't play deep. You start playing two?shell against that look, we ran into some problems. They hit us a couple of times when we were in our bracket coverage where we had to bring him down.
So he had to be closer to the ball. He made some plays and KeiVarae made some plays out there, as well, so both of them played very well for us.
Q. It seems your front seven, it's almost a blind share of credit for everything on defense. The secondary today, did they take it up to a level?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, they made some great contested catches. They had two consecutive plays where the ball was thrown under position away from the defender?? we were on body. We were on body on those throws and made some really good plays.
Outside of that, no double moves over the top, which is what they do. We kept the big plays away from the secondary; again, if we can continue to do that, as you can see, we are pretty difficult to go against defensively.
Q. When you kicked the tying field goal to put it into regulation, you had 3rd and 2 at the five or so??
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we did.
Q. Were you almost content to go into over time?
COACH KELLY: You know, we talked about it. No, I wasn't content. We wanted to score.
We talked about going to a run pass, and you know what, power has been our bread and butter. That's what we have done, when the game has been on the line, we have run power and we have closed out games. We closed out the Michigan game running the same play. We went back to it and went to the left side and they were better on that play.
So no, we wanted to pick up the first time. We thought power could do it.
Q. Their touchdown in the end zone, usually your nature has been to protect the defense and punt it away.
COACH KELLY: If I had a chance, I'd take that one back. If I had to do it all over again, I would have taken that one back.
Q. Just with T.J.'s catch, how good of an adjustment did he make with the ball, because it was thrown a little behind him.
COACH KELLY: Well, it was thrown without much air on it either. He made a great job.
He's a very skilled player this year in terms of he has focused on his craft. So he came out of his break; came back six yards for the ball. Great receivers do that. They come back and get the football. They don't stand waiting for it. And that's been his progression. He's progressed in the still end of that position in his route running and that was evident in that particular play.
Q. With defense, do you guys even talk about at all the touchdown?? is that something you're cognizant of?
COACH KELLY: We don't talk about it but certainly it's a source of pride. They hear about it. They talk about it amongst themselves. It's not something we stand up and talk about, other than when we go over our goals on Monday and we'll go over them again and talk about what we are doing defensively.
Just, again, game ball went to our defense. How do you not give the defense the game ball after the way the game was played.
Q. We all hear how hard you tried to stop the noise, but how difficult is it now for your team especially now to think that they are a team of destiny?
COACH KELLY: I don't know that?? I think they know that they are a good football team more than anything else. I think they feel?? they earned the win today. They came from behind, right. They didn't luck into it. They won in overtime. I think if they lucked into it, you know, maybe a fumble on the goal line or something happened, maybe you could make that case.
But they won that game. They earned that win. And so I think I would rather have them believe that each and every week, if they prepare, that they can beat any opponent.
Q. I guess maybe the better question is are you worrying less and less as you continue to win each week that you don't have to keep pushing that message?
COACH KELLY: No, absolutely not, no. They are 18? to 21?year?olds. You know, this will be a consistent?? we will over?communicate the message beginning on Monday.
Q. What's the ruling on the penalty that kept the drive on Everett, the way you understood it, because it did look like it was intentional, but it was helmet to helmet clearly.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think it's administered as a helmet to helmet contact in a tackling form. So if there's a tackle involved, and it's helmet to helmet and it's actually seen, it's supposed to be called.
A lot of times, as you know, when those things come together and there's two or three guys closing, sometimes you can't see it. But actually the rule as I know it, is helmet to helmet contact on a tackle is a foul.
But other than that, I think what you're talking about is strictly interpretation of the rule.
Q. Seems like we ask this every other week, Tommy coming in, game?winning drive, where does that come from, the mental toughness in those conditions?
COACH KELLY: I'll sound like the same guy who has answered this question 15 times. He manages the offense very well. Does he have all the tools, the strength of arm, the foot speed? No, he does not. But what he has is a great mind for the game. He can manage difficult situations. And he comes in and he can close games, if we need him; if we need him.
He's an incredible young man that he can stay so focused in the game, know what's going on during the game; at half?time I'm talking with him and Everett and he's pointing out some things about the outside coverages that we should maybe think about running, as well. He's just a very smart football player.