UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 12, 2017
Q. First of all, I wonder if you could update us with the health of your team coming out of the game last night.
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I would say pretty clean. You know, we've got some bumps and bruises but nothing that would put anybody in jeopardy for not playing against Navy on Saturday.
Q. No specifics on Wimbush's hand or anything like that?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, really no ill effects. Didn't have him on the medical report this morning when I met with our trainers and doctors. I feel like he got out of the game with no setback at all.
Q. With your goal for playing for a National Championship likely over, what did you learn from the game last night? What do you take the game, and what do you try to do to accomplish any other goals that you might have for this season and the future?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, we really haven't had any specific goals. We just have had one mission, and that is to play to a standard, and we didn't live up to that standard last night, you know, a standard of excellence that we've had since day one. So we'll go back to applying that standard in everything we do and our preparation and obviously learn from what happened on Saturday night and look to live up to the standard of excellence at Notre Dame and Notre Dame football on Saturday against Navy.
Q. I'm curious from Brandon's standpoint how you feel like he came out of this game mentally, and what do you hope he moves forward with from the experience in Miami?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, you know, first big game atmosphere, being able to get into his optimal zone. He obviously didn't perform at the level that he wants to perform at, and then he quite frankly needs to perform at. You take this as an opportunity to learn, and more importantly, how your preparation prepares you for these big games.
I think he -- you never like to learn lessons in losses, but I think he gained a lot of understanding of what he needs to do to lead this football team.
Q. And as you move forward, I'm not asking you if you're going to have this offensive model for the next 100 years, but do you feel like you can still be kind of a mashing, mauling, running team as long as you're able to balance it at times?
BRIAN KELLY: Oh, yeah, I think the physicality is always going to be what we are going to strive from an offensive perspective. But there's got to be balance, and you know, let's be honest, regardless of what offense you run, whether you're spreading it with five wides or running the wing T, turnovers still matter. You've got to protect the football, and we did not do a very good job of protecting the football. That can't get lost in this whole narrative of what kind of offense you're going to run. First and foremost, you've got to protect the football, and we didn't do a very good job of that.
Q. You guys have been so good this year at protecting the football; after looking at the film, what did you see on each of those turnovers?
BRIAN KELLY: One was a bit of a high throw. The first one, if you recall, was a high throw to Equanimeous but one that should be executed.
The next one was just a decision that Ian would probably like to have back. He threw a quick slant into coverage, and he knows that that's a man beater side and not a zone side to throw it into. We've got to coach him better in that situation.
The third one with respect to Brandon, again, just a late throw, one that's got to come out sooner. It was thrown behind Chase. So that's just being more accurate and being on time with the throw.
And then the fourth turnover was the strip sack, where in that situation Brandon has got to feel the pressure and step up in the pocket. In all those we've got to coach our players better. We've got to demand in practice that there's that attention to detail because the process really escaped us in some of those turnovers, and that really was a major, major problem for us Saturday night.
Q. Last night you kind of alluded to telling your team about how USC was able to regroup and they've won every game since they lost to you guys. How do you kind of refocus your team for the final two games?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, correct. You're absolutely right. This is about focus and then refocus. So we really have not talked all year about winning as much as we've talked about living up to a standard, and that standard was not met on Saturday. It's really refocusing on the standard and not worrying about all of those other things that seem to have maybe gotten us off our process. So really getting back to the things that have gotten us here, and getting back to a level of play that is the appropriate standard for us.
Look, Ohio State went on the road and had 55 points put up against them when they played Iowa. They came back the next week and really took it to a Michigan State team. It's really how you respond in college athletics. We've got good kids. They really want to win, and I expect them to really come back with a higher standard of play.
Q. You expressed some surprise last night, and Mike did, as well. Was there anything that happened last night that you thought, yeah, I thought something like that might occur if we ran into that kind of opponent? Was there anything that happened that you were worried about going into the game?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, if I saw the turnover chain passed around the bench like Gatorade, that was probably going to be my biggest concern. Unfortunately that came to fruition.
You know, I think in retrospect, it was a big game. There was a lot to the atmosphere. You know, I think our guys really wanted to win. I mean, they wanted to win really, really bad. I have to do a better job of keeping them in the moment and keeping them from being distracted from all of what's going around them.
I think you may have asked the question about big games and such, and I've never given it too much thought because we play in a big-game atmosphere at Notre Dame, but this one was a little bit different. A number of these kids hadn't played in a game of this magnitude since maybe the Clemson game, and I don't know that there were many defensive players on the field for that.
We'll have to take a good close look at that and making sure we prepare our guys. I've got to do a better job of making sure that they're in the moment.
Q. You mentioned I think a couple times that completion percentage isn't something you're going to sweat too much with Brandon, but just in terms of his fundamentals and accuracy, how much of a jump do you think he can make from 51 percent now, and how important is it that he makes that jump?
BRIAN KELLY: He knows he's got to be more efficient, more accurate, and that has to get better. You know, he's in his first year starting, but it can't be this is as good as it gets. He's a competitor. He knows that it's got to get better. Like I said, he's avoided the turnovers smartly, but you're going to be forced to throw the football against really good teams. When you're forced, you have to be accurate and you have to have a higher completion percentage. That's something that he's going to have to continue to work at.
Q. Upon reviewing just the offensive line, it seemed especially the backside pursuit for Clemson repeatedly, especially on pulls. It's like they were almost trailing everybody. Was there any, looking back, answers that might have been able to quell that type of momentum that they continuously had with their pursuit, especially on the outside?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, there are. And there are really two instances. One, they beat us on some cut-offs. They were quicker off the ball, where we're supposed to cut off. And second, we're reading that backside, and we should have pulled it on a couple of occasions. As a matter of fact, the first play of the game, if it was run again, we would have pulled that because the tackle pulls, the defensive end was in the hip of the tackle. That should have been a pull. We had the tight end coming around. We had a nice play there.
Again, there's some cut-offs that we missed, and I would say this: They were quick off the ball, so give them credit. But we had some reads, as well, that we definitely should have pulled the ball on.
Q. Did you feel any ill effects, just the fact that it's the first game in five weeks on the road, adjusting to that type of atmosphere and the silent count and everything like that? Did you feel a sense of disjointed or discombobulation on the offensive side?
BRIAN KELLY: No, because if you look back at our first drive, I thought we executed very well. We converted a 3rd and 10 versus an overload blitz. We communicated well. You know, we need to obviously complete that touchdown opportunity that we had that just goes past our fingertips, and we get off to a great start.
I didn't feel that at all, honestly. There felt to be a little bit more of pregame energy. Maybe we weren't, as I alluded to earlier, I didn't do maybe my best work at settling our team down. With the moment being so big for so many guys, they used a lot of energy. That's the only thing that if I had to do it all over again -- I mean, I'm looking for things, right? When you have a night that doesn't come up like that, you don't expect it. But offensively I didn't feel like the noise or the situation -- we didn't execute very well, and we turned it over. That was my biggest concern.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports