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November 30, 2013

Kelly Q&A: Nov. 30

BRIAN KELLY: There's no moral victories. Very disappointed that we weren't able to come up with a play and win the football game. We didn't come down here to play a close game.

A lot of disappointed guys in that locker room. I feel for them. We just, obviously, came up a little short today. Stanford's a very good football team and we wanted to get to the fourth quarter with an opportunity to win the game. We got to the fourth quarter and we needed to make one more play. We just couldn't make the play when we needed to.

QUESTION: On the first interception in the fourth quarter by (senior quarterback Tommy) Rees, was (sophomore receiver C.J.) Prosise thrown off his route?

BK: He got a collision there. They were running double buzz, drop-eight. We worked on trying to get the ball in the seam and got collisioned and obviously the interception. It didn't cost us, we got another opportunity, but just again couldn't make the play when we needed to.

Q: How do you think the offensive line held up given that it was down starters?

BK: It gave us a chance to win. With (junior center) Nick (Martin) out and with (senior guard) Chris Watt out and playing (freshman) Steve Elmer, we're down a lot of bodies in there. They battled, and I thought they held their own. It could have been ugly in many instances when you're playing a Stanford team that's a veteran team, but those kids battled and really gave Tommy an opportunity to make some plays.

We ran the ball when we needed to in some key opportunities. I've got to say, for a lot of guys with inexperience, I thought they went in there and battled well.

Q: Do you know the extent of Watt's injury?

BK: I really would not want to make that assessment right now. It didn't look good. The early reports weren't good.

Q: Was it his PCL again?

BK: No, it was not the PCL.

Q: (inaudible)

BK: I thought (junior safety) Matthias (Farley) was a little shaky in the first series and then I thought he played very well after that. (Senior safety) Austin (Collinsworth) obviously had a very big interception for us. I thought they played well. They were on bodies, we had to utilize them a lot and some of our schemes, we had to fit them in some of the run game. I thought they played solid today.

Q: Can you talk about (junior receiver) DaVaris (Daniels) tonight and how close he is to putting it all together?

BK: He's just got to run consistently. He does some really, really good things, and he's coming. There's a lot of good things out there for him. He does a really nice job and then he's just got to continue running his routes and every single play is where his focus needs to be. That's the next level for him, that consistency.

Q: Can you talk about (senior linebacker Dan) Fox's display tonight?

BK: Back-to-back weeks just a different level of focus, a different level of being locked in to understanding how to play the game. He's just been really, really good the last two weeks. I'm really proud of the way he's played -- taking that Mike linebacker position which has really been a big transformation from the Will linebacker position -- physical and tough and gritty.

In this instance, the seniors -- bowl games and all those things -- do you want to play, do you not want to play. I really can't wait to watch him play one more game because he's playing good football.

Q: The defense as a whole in the fourth quarter, was there a challenge they answered between the third and fourth quarter?

BK: I thought they just hung in there and played hard and made some plays for us and gave us an opportunity to win. We had a chance to win the game. Our defense gave us a chance to win the game. Our offense kept us in it. We just needed to make another play. We had an opportunity, but we couldn't get the ball to (freshman receiver) Will (Fuller).

Q: Did tonight's outcome alter your postseason destination?

BK: I don't think so. I couldn't tell you for sure. I think (director of athletics) Jack (Swarbrick) would know better than I. There's going to be some opportunities for us. We're just going to have to sit and evaluate and find out. There's a lot of schools that obviously still have an opportunity to take some of those spots. We're in a unique situation, as you know, this year without having a tie-in. We're appreciative of any bowl that would take a good hard look at us.

Q: Your attitude is the same in terms of leaving it in the hands of your seniors?

BK: Yeah. I'm certainly going to have a say in it, but I've already met with our seniors and our captains, they want to play. So we're going to play. They want to finish out with a win.

Q: Can you talk about how (freshman running back Tarean) Folston ran tonight against Stanford's defense?

BK: He did a pretty good job. I thought he ran hard. We got some great looks. Tommy did a great job double-checking, checking. There were some things going on out there and I thought he was masterful in a lot of things he did today. He had them on their heels at times and got us in some really good looks. I thought Folston did a nice job running the football.

Q: What did Stanford do offensively to have the success they did on third downs?

BK: Well, they got us in dime twice. They brought the tight end into the backfield. They got into three-open split backs, and ran the ball with dime personnel. They effectively schemed us pretty good. We had to get out of dime personnel. That cancelled out our dime personnel after they ran the ball against us.

Q: In your mind, what is Tommy Rees's legacy?

BK: You guys ask me this. I don't really -- I would really need more time. Legacy is such a big word for me. I just love the way the kid competes out there. He's not going to go into the College Football Hall of Fame. He doesn't have those incredible skills but he just puts his heart and soul into what he does.

As a coach, what you appreciate is when somebody gives you all he have. He threw that ball as far as he could throw it to Will Fuller. He can't get it any further than that. That's just Tommy. He gives you everything he has. I don't know if that's a legacy answer. He just gives you all he has. That's all you can ask for from the kid. I wish it was more.

Q: This may be hard to answer so quickly, but 8-4 regular season --

BK: It's not where we want to be, 8-4. I told our guys, losing is unacceptable, 8-4 is not where we want to be. We lost some tough games, but those are all excuses. We want to win football games and we come to Notre Dame to win football games.

We can sit here and talk about it for 10 minutes how we've got 15 guys that are injured and Tommy Rees was in St. Liam's getting an IV on Friday. Those are excuses, you've got to win football games. It is what it is.

Q: In some of your losses, you've been pretty up front if you thought you guys played well enough you deserved to win. Was this different? Do you feel like this performance was different?

BK: For me, the markers have been pretty clear. Turning the football over -- we turned it over today but we were able to overcome that -- we wanted to be on the road against arguably the best team we've played all year and have a chance to win. That's what you want to do. You want to fight and play hard and play physical.

We've done that. I liked the way we have physically and mentally approached the games the last couple of weeks. Obviously I didn't like the way we played against Pittsburgh. Nobody did. But for the most part, this team has answered the bell all year. I think we've had one stinker against Pittsburgh.

We weren't ready -- our football team didn't play the way they played -- we're better in November than we were in September. I'd like to take this team and look at it, where were you in September compared to where you are in November? This is a better football team.

Q: You've done that twice, actually. Your first year you were much better in November than in September and you were beaten up then, too. You're beaten up now. I realize three months in you make your team better, but what is it?

BK: I guess I've got to find a way to get better in September. I guess that's the way to do it.


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