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Notre Dame Football

Brian Kelly Transcript: Coach talks dominant win at Stanford

November 28, 2021

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA – Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly spoke following the 45-14 win over Stanford.

On the win:

"Certainly one that we feel like we controlled the game from start to finish. 24-0 at the half. That's 100 points now, if you guys weren't counting, over the last two weeks, to 14. It's a really good football team. I think it's one of the best four teams in the country. We controlled what we needed to control and that was to play really good football on offense, defense and special teams over the past six, seven weeks, and we've done that.

“So, we made our case. We'll now sit back and see what other people think. But we got one of the best four teams, without question in my mind, in the country. We're ready to prove it. We'll take the week off and get this team ready for postseason action."

On defensive back Ramon Henderson:

"Hamstring. We had two. Isaiah Pryor went down with a hamstring and there you go, right? Other guys just stepped up and came in and played."

On the preparation from the team this week:

"We knew that we had to control this situation because we don't control anything after this. So, it was control the controllables and that was the theme all week. After today, we don't control anything. We were going to make sure that today we were going to control the outcome. Whatever happened out there today, we made it happen. That was the sense that I had from our team all week."

On Michael Mayer setting the single-season tight end reception record:

"He's not on the Mackey Award List, which is a — I don't know — maybe it was just an oversight and they're gonna get back together and revote. Maybe that's what happened. But he's one of the best, if not the best tight end that I've ever coached at Notre Dame and we've had some great tight ends. He's complete in every facet. He's a beast in-line blocking. He's a guy that you double, he finds himself open. He's a leader both on and off the field. He's a difference-maker down the field vertically, option routes. I don't know what else to say. Thank you for the question."

On his thoughts on the team team - playoff or not:

"We're gonna play BYU next Thursday in Las Vegas. Jack set the game up. He didn't want to come in here and just steal everybody's thunder.

“No, you're right. It wouldn't change anything. It really wouldn't change anything because this football team has grown and developed and matured in all the areas that you want to see your team mature, right? From an offensive standpoint, consistency standpoint, defensively. You saw how well they tackled tonight. We were a sieve at times as a tackling team. So, it's really easy to evaluate this football team and see the growth you.

“I have officials come up to me, that had us earlier in the season going, 'I've never seen a team get to this level later in the season.' So it's not just us. It's not just me. Then, you know, we just have to wait and let other people make those decisions."

On youth playing well:

"Trust in them and then they have to trust in themselves. Building that trust in practice, the confidence that we believe in them and then we'll put them in the game and say, 'You're ready for this. You're built for this.' I think that's probably the most important thing. When they know that you believe in them, they'll go out and compete for you."

On WR Kevin Austin Jr.:

"Look, and the question is valid, but we probably put a little too much on him after not playing for really almost two years and heaped a lot of that pressure on him and maybe him on himself in terms of what he wanted to do. I think it weighed heavily on him. He relaxed. He worked hard in practice and then he started making some plays and that confidence came back. I think we saw the real version of what Kevin Austin can be and will be moving forward."

On the decision to throw vs. run against Stanford:

"They were in a double eagle front. They really pressured the run. They didn't want us to run the football today. I think they felt like this would have been out of hand quickly if they stayed in there three-down front. They sunk both ends down into three techniques, walked up the outside and gave us cover one and favorable matchups across the board.

“It's one thing you give up, you gave us something else. Then when we went to Buchner, they jumped back into four down and gave us some favorable looks there and we were able to run the football a little bit more effectively."

On WR Braden Lenzy:

"The speed on the perimeter. Obviously he slips on the reverse, but that kind of confidence and speed that we have with him — he's been really a quiet, consistent performer for us the past month and a half. It's really helped us. When we lost Avery, we had to rely on more balance throughout that entire receiving core. It couldn't just be, 'Lorenzo, go be Avery Davis for us,' it had to kind of spread out and that's where it picked up a lot for us."

On improved tackling:

"Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. We do it in practice. Do you know that? We just don't show up on Saturday. We do this for a living. A lot of work. Marcus, every day, starts off practice with run support and tackling drills and he's committed to it and we have to be committed to it. We weren't really good early on in the season and those guys are really sure tacklers now. You saw Houston Griffith made some really fine open-field tackles. He was not making those tackles earlier. That's a commitment on his part to really be 1% better in the areas that we ask them to be. Good for Houston. Those kids really took to it and worked hard at it."

On WR group:

"I think more than anything else when we came into the season, it was, and I said this publicly, that we were going to rely on those guys if we were going to have the kind of season that we wanted. They were going to have to step up for us. We were consistent with our praise and confidence. Gentlemen, we had to be, because we were going to be reaching into some youth if we didn't and we just stuck with them and were confident and we got them the ball in their areas where they can be effective too.

“I think Tommy did a hell of a job of finding ways to get those guys the ball where they're really good. Kevin Austin, one on one in third down, is a nightmare matchup and he consistently goes to him in third down situations to move the chains. I think Tommy deserves a lot of credit for being really smart in the utilization of those guys."

On RB Chris Tyree:

"The speed. We missed him on the up. We got him matched up. He's been electric, we felt, even in practice the last two to three weeks. Really good to see him going."

On the Auburn-Alabama game on the video board during pregame:

"I was distracted because you got to stay over the top on that coverage one on one. How do you get that up? I'm sorry. Our guys were totally locked in. They don't follow that stuff. They're locked in. When it gets to Friday, they will hear a little bit of the buzz and the noise, but they're getting ready for performance. I'm standing in the middle of the field. They got it on the jumbotron. I try to stay out of the way of most things, but that was on and that was pretty evident."

On OL:

"There's a lot into that. Getting the five to be together in Friday meetings. Our quarterback runs a Friday meeting with the offensive line. He sits up here with the offensive line and he directs a meeting. That communication consistently over 6, 7, 8 weeks with the same five guys, as he's identifying fronts and talking about the wrong plays and communicating with them, as he's identifying where they should be moving, it was just a piling on effect of communicating and being on the same page and it just happens that over a period of time, you breakthrough. That's what you saw happen."

On growth of the team:

"This one has unique features in there that there's a young group of players, freshmen that played prominent roles and seniors in one instance. In two, there's a sixth-year senior and he's a prominent captain on our team. To have a sixth-year senior and midyear enrollees mesh together is unique in that it doesn't always work well. You have a freshman that comes in with his resume from high school and he thinks that because of the success that he had in high school, with that resume, that works when I go to college.

“Then you have a sixth-year senior who's been in this program, who's had success and has won to our standards, and he looks at him and goes, 'That doesn't work here. The stuff that you did in high school. You do it the way we want you to do it.' Bringing those two together is a tricky feat. This one went seamless, and that was the dynamic of this team that was really neat."

On team telling him to chug in the postgame celebration:

"Yes, after each game I chug a fifth of Jameson Irish Whiskey. Oh, you guys didn't know this? Okay, more folklore for you," said Kelly laughing. "We put some Gatorade in the Legends trophy. We started doing that a few years back. I like to chug the Gatorade out of the Legends trophy afterwards."

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