HE SAID IT: Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who had his contract renewed for five years on Saturday, talking about the Irish’s season-opening 28-6 win over Temple:

BRIAN KELLY:    Well, there is so much to get into.  A great win for our football team. Openers are probably for coaches the most difficult because the preparation and the planning, you don’t know what to expect, really. I mean, we can talk about our team.  We can, you know, think that we know about our team, but you really don’t until they get out there and play.  Certainly we had a notion about this team, but until they get out and really get into the action, you don’t know a lot about it, and we got a chance to find out a little bit about our football team today, and we won.

Anytime you can win in an opener, you can learn so much more about your football team.  Here’s what I know, to win football games at the BCS level, you’ve got to take care of the football.  We took care of the football today.  No turnovers.  That’s extremely important.  You’ve got to keep the points down on defense.  We continue to do that.

Again, our defense does not surrender big plays and keeps the points down and really makes you work to sustain drives and to get it into the end zone.

You could see in the second half how difficult it is to play mistake‑free, flawless, play‑in and play‑out. It’s very difficult to do.  We’re suffocating in that sense defensively. The third element is your special teams.  And although at times we would like to execute better, I saw some very encouraging signs in our special teams.

We were able to flip field position with our punt game.  The time that we were asked to flip it with Kyle Brindza today, we did that. We’ll have to be technically better in our pooch‑punt situation with Kyle. I’m confident we’ll be able to do that. Certainly our field goal situation will need to be better. But, again, all of those areas I’m very confident that we’ll get better.  We’ve left the ball outside our kickoff coverage one time.  But those phases allow you to win football games.

So we saw all of those things, and then we saw ten freshmen play today.  A lot of good things happened in our opener against Temple, and we’ve looked to build on that.  We’re going to have to play better in all phases against Michigan next week, but we’re going to enjoy this victory today, and our kids will get back to work on Monday.

 Q.  When you look at Tommy Rees’ performance at quarterback, did you see the command and the clean play that you wanted to see from that position?

KELLY:  Yeah, I saw some really good things, and some things that we’re going to have to get better at. We had six possessions in the first half, you know, and I think we missed a couple of throws that he’d like to have back. Obviously, missed field goal.  But I think we had four or five chunk plays of over 30 yards. Obviously a lot of the questions coming in is could we push the ball down the field?

I think we answered a lot of those questions right away with his ability to push the ball down the field. I thought his patience was better, and it will continue to get better. So I was pleased with his performance, and he knows he can play better.

 Q.  Can you talk about the cohesion of your defense, what you saw from that standpoint and maybe what you want to see going forward?

 KELLY:  Yeah, what I like was the safety communication was outstanding.  I thought Collinsworth did a very nice job of working with Matthias Farley, in particular, get eight lost our calls in.  I thought that was seamless.  I think we continue to work as a group up front with calls and making sure that we get the proper calls in.

But by and large, other than a couple of mistakes, we had some penalties in the first half that we didn’t duplicate in the second half, and that was key.  But, no.  I think that there’s a seamless, natural transition on that defensive side of the ball.  We didn’t feel that there were communication issues at all on the sideline.  Everything seemed to move and communicate very smoothly for us.

 Q.  You were talking about wanting to see greater distribution of the ball from receivers.  Were you pleased with what you saw today?

 KELLY:  I was very pleased.  I thought you saw what I was hoping for.  You had Daniels catch a touchdown.  You had T.J. Jones and obviously Chris Brown.  You had Troy Niklas, you had the running backs catch footballs.  You had Tarean Folston catching a nice ball coming out of the back field.  I think you’re going to see great distribution of the football across the board, and it’s going to be somebody new each week.

Now T.J. Jones is going to be in the mix every single week, because he’s one of the best wide receivers in the country.  But you’re going to see a lot of guys contribute offensively.  I think it’s for the better.  I really do.  I think it gives us great balance across the board.

 

 Q.  On getting your 200th win, is there any point where you’re able to take a step back and look at that big picture and what type of accomplishment that is?

 KELLY:  You know, I think the thing that, and I haven’t really taken the time to think about it, other than a lot of the coaches that are with me today have been part of a lot of those wins.  And that’s really, for me, pretty special.

A lot of those guys ‑‑ Mike Denbrock, I think he’s been with me.  He might have been with me on my first win and my 200th, and then coaches along the way. So it’s pretty special that a lot of the guys that were here for the 200th have been along the way with me on a number of those wins.

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