UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 7, 2018
Q. Obviously the 97-yard touchdown run by Dexter, probably the most important play of the game. What's it like having a guy like that wearing blue and gold for you?
HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I mean, Dexter has waited for his opportunity and he's certainly making the best of it. Good blocking up front. You know, he found a seam there inside the kick-out block and obviously has got great speed. But you know, well blocked up front, and you know, he took advantage of a defense that doesn't have a lot of layers to it.
We talked about it all week: If you could catch a seam, you've got a chance for a big run.
Q. And then Julian went out there with a targeting call near the end of the first half, but it seemed like the defense up front wasn't fazed by his loss. What is it like, just talking a little bit about that depth up front. You mentioned in preseason that this is the deepest defensive line you've ever had. Is that stills case?
HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, we went down without Daelin Hayes, you you're down you're two starting drops. Jamir has got to play in there and then Ade has to go over and play a position he hasn't played very much. I thought the kids did a really good job of not letting the adversity take advantage of the situation for them. They did their job.
We're better with Julian and Daelin no question, but those guys stepped up and played to a standard. That's what we talk about with next man in. It's not just the next guy coming and playing; he's got to play well. I think that's what stood out for me.
Q. Ian Book, he seems to have such a great feel for the position and extending plays. Is that part of what's making him so effective right now?
HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I think so. Today, I think a lot of the things with the quarterback position require sense and feel for the game. He's throwing the ball at over 71 percent completion percentage and a lot of that has got to happen with a feel. He sees things very well. He missed a couple of throws and even missing a couple of throws, he was over 70 percent completion.
So I think you're right. I think it's one thing to be in a progression read offense and go through your progressions, but you've got to move your feet and find open receivers. He does a really good job of that.
Q. He's a great example of the 40-yard touchdown pass to Boykin, where he was facing pressure, scrambled to his left and found a way?
HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I'd like him to throw the dig first of all, but one of the things with him is that you know, he's got a pretty good sense and feel, and he was able to step up and feel the rush. Our offensive linemen, I will say this, really enjoy blocking for him because he senses the rush and slid to his left and found Boykin there in that situation.
So yeah, that would be probably highlighted as one of those particular plays.
Q. Your team is very likely to move into the Top-5 when the polls are released today. Obviously coaches always say they don't like talking about polls, but is there any time to reflect on what that means for this team and what it's accomplished before you move on to focusing on Pitt?
HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY: Not really. I mean, we talk about it briefly after each game, about you have to be aware of your situation before you can enhance your situation.
So they are aware of it and to enhance their situation, they have to continue to play one play at a time and win football games. They are aware of it. Fine. That doesn't do anything about how to defeat your opponent on a play-to-play basis.
Look, this group now knows what will move the needle for them and what moves the needle is playing one play at a time. We're okay with being aware of the situation, but they clearly know that that does not help them win play-by-play, and that's something that's been ingrained in them.
Q. You have moved into the Top-5 in both polls, so just thought I'd let you know that. The big picture, though, what do you remember from 2012 that you think you might be able to use with this group as the season goes forward, because again in 2012, they knew what was going on. What are some of the things that you can take from that to apply to this year?
HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY: You know, it's such a different club. It was constructed differently. It was largely put together on the backs of a great defense and ball control offense, and slugging it out to the very end. Small ball, if you will. We won some very, very close games, one in overtime. Matter of fact the Pittsburgh team that's coming in, took us a few overtimes to beat them.
Just constructed differently. I think the similarities are that they know how to win, and the things that you have to do in terms of week-to-week in your preparation. I think that's probably the most similar.
But in terms of the teams themselves, they are really different teams. This one has a much more complimentary group in terms of offense, defense and the way they work.
Q. Is this team more workmanlike than that team in 2012, or does this team have more fun, or those kind -- are there different personalities to these teams?
HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY: Yes, I would say that the personalities are a little bit different. It was a very mature group in 2012 with Martin and Theo Riddick and Tyler Eifert, Manti Te'o. That was a very professional, older, veteran group. Not that this is a non-veteran group, but you know, we signed 27 players in our last class; 15 of them were on this trip.
So this is a younger group that is a little bit looser in that sense, but very focused when it comes to doing their job.
Q. Do you like having a loose group?
HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY: As long as they do their job, I have no problem with having to listen to music that I'm not very familiar with and routines that are a little bit different. I can adapt and manage to that. It's certainly a group that when it's time to lock in and focus, they do a very good job.
Q. I apologize if this has been asked; I was in hold music hell for a while. Daelin Hayes, how did his injury come up, and how serious is it and do you expect him back this week?
HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, it's simply a brachial plexus, so it's the C-6, which is as we all know, a stinger.
But today, we take MRIs. We're very cautious and careful in making sure that we get consultations and make sure that everything is clearly presented. But this is just a matter of calming down this injury to the point where we can get him back out on the field.
They usually calm down in 24 to 36 hours. If they don't, then the window opens up to six weeks. So once he's asymptomatic, then he'll be cleared to play. Then we'll go from there. He was out obviously practicing non-contact because he was still symptomatic. Had some tingling in his hand.
Once that goes away, he'll be cleared to play. It's really just day-to-day right now.
Q. And kind of circling back, I know you were asked earlier about defensive line depth, but specifically Jamir Jones and Justin Ademilola, how would you evaluate the way that they were playing in the Virginia Tech game?
HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY: They were solid in their performance. I would say that, you know, grading them out, we haven't gotten the grades yet. I've watched the tape twice, once myself and once with Clark. They were really good in doing their jobs.
We'd like to see a little bit more from them in certain situations, but I think in their first time out there in significant roles, we're really pleased with their discipline and the way they played.
Q. You came out strong again. Scored on the first two possessions and then you hit a bit of a lull there in the second quarter. How much did maybe just the rhythm of the game affect it, and maybe how much the absence of Alex Bars maybe affects some aspects of the running game early on?
HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY: No, I don't think Alex really affected those next couple of series. If you remember, we missed the wide open double move, and you know, we had an opportunity to pick up a third down, and we got the ball out and we weren't able to escape a tackle.
So those plays were there to be made. We simply didn't make them. We had a misread on one. We had a left tackle that Liam had a spiker on a play that got inside him. So if you evaluate the next couple of drives, we had some missed opportunities there.
You know, we'd love to have Alex in there, but I would not point it to one guy.
Q. And the last two weeks, you outscored Stanford 17-3 in the second half and Virginia Tech 28-7 in the second half. Is there anything that you would attribute the strong finishes to, because you had the strong starts early during the year, but maybe they are flat finishes. Has that been just a point of emphasis since then?
HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY: No, I think it's maturing. You know, the first three weeks, we're still trying to find our identity from an offensive standpoint. We made a change there.
You know, we were playing really good defense, as you know, in the second half, but we were not complementing that defensive presence with an offense that was moving the football effectively and scoring points.
I think it really is just a matter of complementing what we are doing defensively with some offensive production that we weren't getting earlier in the season.
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