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    FIGHTING IRISH

    Oct. 6, 2013

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    COACH KELLY

    COACH KELLY: A terrific football game. Arizona State, out standing offense. You know, we have been looking for some consistency offensively, and we knew that coming into this game, we had to control the football and keep that offense off the field. I thought we started the game on a long drive which kind of set the tone for the game and limiting some possessions for them. I think that really helped kind of set us into a flow offensively.

    And then defensively, I thought we played very well. They are a very difficult offense to defend. They do so many things well. Kelly is difficult to keep in the pocket and when he gets outside, he has outstanding receivers, Bryce, the back; it's just a difficult offense to defend and I thought we did a pretty darned good job.

    Probably like to have the last drive back there, but that's why Arizona State's a pretty darned good offense, so really good football game.

    Q. You expressed a lot of confidence in your defense going into this week, saying that it was good enough to win the rest of your games; what led you to that confidence and what did you see in practice this week?

    COACH KELLY: I don't think it was just this week. I just felt like we were getting better. You know, not to the level where we feel like we have arrived. We think there's a lot left out there that needs to get better.

    Certainly disappointed to lose Jarrett Grace today. It looks like he's probably going to be lost for the season. But, you know, Danny Fox went in there and played very well for us. I just felt like we had not yet put together a consistent effort. We saw a pass rush today that we had not seen most of the year, which obviously changes the way we look defensively.

    I thought we triggered much better in the secondary, tackled much better, as well. I guess to go strictly to your question, I just felt like the personnel that we had was getting better, and we were starting to come together as a unit.

    Q. It seemed some seniors attacked the game with more intensity: TJ Jones, Prince, Dan Fox, Bennett Jackson all made huge plays. Did you see this post Oklahoma practices?

    COACH KELLY: I don't know that there was any more intensity in the group. As we have talked about, we just needed to make more plays, the little things. All week we have talked about making the ordinary plays.

    TJ would tell you that he just ran good routes and did what he was asked to do across the board. If we are going to win games, those guys have to play well. If they are not going to play well, we are going to struggle.

    I don't know that there was anything more is that we saw in practice. I think we have continued to be who we are week in and week out.

    Q. The way the defense responded after the field goal with Prince getting the sack and the fives with the interception, how encouraging is it to see the defense come up with that effort late in the game to basically secure the win?

    COACH KELLY: Well, again, I think we all remember what we saw last year defensively salting away games and we feel like our defense is continually getting better. We are not there yet; again, I highlight the last drive. I know Coach Diaco wasn't happy with the last drive. I had to cheer him up a little bit in the locker room. But certainly, we feel like the defense, with a good pass rush, playing good technique in the back end, that we can do those kinds of things.

    Q. Talk about playing in such a grand venue as AT&T Stadium and what it means having momentum to build off of tonight's win flowing into your bye week.

    COACH KELLY: Certainly, the Shamrock Series here and North Texas I think for our university was a great experience. We didn't you know, we didn't know what to expect in this stadium, because you hear things like 100,000, but it just feels like a great venue. The fans seem to be close. It is loud in here.

    We actually struggled at times, as you saw, with some penalties and some false starts; even with a pretty pro Notre Dame crowd, it is loud. It is a terrific venue for a college football game, and I'm happy to hear that college football is going to be back here next year. Just a great venue And north Texas is great and the Shamrock series is a great success for our university here.

    Q. I know you need to push it when it's 27 all, but talk about Kyle Brindza, he's now 11 for 11 in the fourth quarter in his career kicking.

    COACH KELLY: Yeah, I would say he's a pretty clutch guy in the fourth quarter. He missed one early, but you've got to look at his track record, and you obviously have done your research. He just has that feeling that he's a clutch player for us, and he has been since he's been here.

    We feel like he's started us off well with the 52 yarder and got us the lead for the first time. And again, he's that kind of player for us. We can really rely on him.

    Q. Did TJ Jones give you a bit of everything?

    COACH KELLY: Yeah, they couldn't defend him. And again, similar to the last few weeks, a lot of man to man coverage. Their choice was to make it difficult to run the football, but I thought we did a better job, 145 yards rushing, 279; that's a little bit better mix with the kind of pressure defense that Arizona State brought today. I think that's a little bit better in terms of where we want to be, so we got better today offensively.

    Q. Tommy Rees has been facing criticism recently, especially on Twitter and things like that; do you think with his performance tonight, he was able to silence some of those critics?

    COACH KELLY: No. No. They will still be there.

    Q. What was the difference in the pass rush and specifically with Prince, seemed like he had a break out.

    COACH KELLY: I just think that week in and week out, they have well, I'll back out and be a little bit more detailed with you.

    Oklahoma and their game plan, the ball came out extremely fast. The ball came out quickly. We were just that close. Michigan State, same thing. I mean, the ball was coming out of their hands.

    This was a lot more, they wanted to get down the field; a lot more vertical routes and takes a little bit longer for their routes to develop. And this was the first time that we really got into a true drop back passing game. And the more drop back passing game that we see, we are going to get home. And tonight we were able to.

    Q. You mentioned this in your opening but the focus on the week doing the tiny, small things, how do you think your guys did that with that this week?

    COACH KELLY: You know, I'll have to take a look at it. That's kind of more of a big picture, more of what I wanted them to focus on.

    I think it was more about a message of how close we are to winning football games consistently, so I think that's something I'll kind of have to watch some film before I can answer that clearly.

    Q. Ben Koyack tonight, to build on last week with the touchdown, what does that do for him? And also, Jaylon Smith's play, particularly matched up against a team that likes to hit the field; how do you feel like he did tonight?

    COACH KELLY: He's a very difficult position. Matter of fact, they even started to crack down on him with their No. 2 receiver. We have to replace, because now people are actually trying to account for him, because he's a difficult guy to block. He's got great speed. You saw him and his ability to track down Kelly in the open field. He's a very important player now within our defense.

    They got the ball outside us a couple of times, but he's getting better each and every week. His recognition of what's going on is really where we are seeing big progress with him.

    As it relates to Ben Koyack, confidence is the big thing here. He's gaining confidence week in and week out.

    Q. Talk about the pro destruction you're getting out of TJ Jones and Rees, 135 yards tonight?

    COACH KELLY: Well, TJ is our big play guy. I mean, he's somebody that we have to rely on.

    Tommy and TJ have come through this program together. Whereas sometimes we misfire with some of the other younger receivers, and I think you probably saw that at times, him and TJ Jones are right on the same page. And when he's in trouble, he's looking for TJ Jones are.

    So I think that they came in together as freshmen, they have played together as freshmen and they have grown through this program together, and when he needs to throw, he's looking for TJ Jones.

    Q. Any update on what happened to Daniel Smith?

    COACH KELLY: Fractured ankle. I don't have that, my guess is that would be the case.

    Q. I was going to go there, but just to confirm Jarrett, was it his knee?

    COACH KELLY: No. He has a fractured leg. He'll stay here for observations overnight and we'll have more for you on both those injuries, but they look to be fairly significant.

    Tommy Rees

    Tommy Rees: It wasn't all that tough. I tried not to pay attention to all the outside. Really just focused on what's going on within the program within my teammates, my coaches, family and that's who I play for. Really just stayed positive with them and just like another week for me. I have to get prepared and get ready to lead this team to victory.

    Q. Inaudible.

    Tommy Rees: I think as an offense, we settled in and had a good understanding of what they were trying to do. Arizona State had a great game plan, they did a lot of things on defense to get us thinking. So we made some plays there in the second quarter, and proud of how the offense played.

    Q. Coach says the run game sets up the passing game, and you didn't have the run game before the fourth quarter.

    Tommy Rees: Yeah, I think we had some matches, so we could take advantage and our guys protected and made plays on the outside. Really TJ and DaVaris, Torii, all those guys ran routes well and got open for us; and Koyack, really happy for him on his first town down. A lot of different guys contributed to the win tonight.

    Q. Talk about the importance of the win, knocking off a win

    Tommy Rees: Yeah, it's a big win for us. You know, to get right back on the right track heading into the bye week, the halfway point of the season, was kind of a game we understood the importance of, and we are really ready to go and had a great week of preparation. Like I said, proud of the way the team played.

    Q. Coach talked about limiting possessions on defense; what did you try to do offensively?

    Tommy Rees: Just try to sustain some drives. We knew Arizona State had a really good offense and could put up some points. So limiting their opportunities to go out there and score ultimately helps our defense with ball control. Obviously running the ball helps with the clock and all that, but just sustaining drives. When you've got third and manageables, just making sure that you convert, which I thought we did a good job of, keeping their high powered offense off the field.

    Q. Inaudible.

    Tommy Rees: Oh, man, so happy for TJ. Him and I came in together four years ago, and you know, you can't say enough about how the kid has grown since he's been here. You know, first of all, tremendous player; but the way he's grown off the field, really being the leadership and everything he's gone through, had to grow up fast for his family, I'm so happy for him and all the success. It's not a surprise; he's a hard working and very talented player.

    Q. You get a lot of heat and know it's part of the job, but how do you let it roll off your back and perform like you did tonight?

    Tommy Rees: I don't even know what you're talking about no, I'm just kidding.

    Being a quarterback at Notre Dame, it's one of the things that you kind of sign up for. But for me, like I said, I rely on my teammates first, coaches, family, the people that I care about, and I care about what they think. For me, it's just staying focused and staying within the people that matter.

    Q. As the game moved on, you really got into a rhythm in the passing game, where did that come from?

    Tommy Rees: The week of preparation. We did a great job all around protecting, like I said and getting open. I think it's something that we needed to improve on the past couple of weeks and that's something that we really focused on.

    Q. How do you come back from six

    Tommy Rees: Well, yeah, you know, it's going to happen and obviously you want to limit those mistakes, and have got to take accountability for that. But I've got a hundred of my teammates and brothers counting on me, and there's never a moment to get down. Got to get right back out there and find a way to move the ball on the field, which we did.

    Q. What was it like to play here?

    Tommy Rees: Awesome. You know, the stadium is obviously an unbelievable venue, and you can really see the pull that Notre Dame has nationally. You come down here and it's like playing a home game. It's loud for you, and that's a special thing about Notre Dame.

    Q. What is it about TJ

    Tommy Rees: Great, he's such a smart football player. I think that's one of the things that all good receivers have is they understand coverage. They understand leverage and how to run routes. TJ's best asset is how well he understands defenders are playing him, and then he runs routes based off of that. You know, a guy like that I can trust and count on being on the same page. He obviously catches everything and does a great job.

    Q. Inaudible.

    Tommy Rees: Any time you have a senior who has played as much as he has and I can say things like, guys look at me like I'm crazy and he understands it. He's like a coach out there for us outside and obviously being a captain and being a leader of the team, he's done a great job of understanding the intricacies of playing.

    Q. Is there an example of something that you can tell him and somebody else would like stare?

    Tommy Rees: All those guys do a good job of trying to understand. I think just the experience that he's had in games and understanding how defenses play, that's kind of where he builds that knowledge.

    Tommy Rees

    Tommy Rees: It wasn't all that tough. I tried not to pay attention to all the outside. Really just focused on what's going on within the program within my teammates, my coaches, family and that's who I play for. Really just stayed positive with them and just like another week for me. I have to get prepared and get ready to lead this team to victory.

    Q. Inaudible.

    Tommy Rees: I think as an offense, we settled in and had a good understanding of what they were trying to do. Arizona State had a great game plan, they did a lot of things on defense to get us thinking. So we made some plays there in the second quarter, and proud of how the offense played.

    Q. Coach says the run game sets up the passing game, and you didn't have the run game before the fourth quarter.

    Tommy Rees: Yeah, I think we had some matches, so we could take advantage and our guys protected and made plays on the outside. Really TJ and DaVaris, Torii, all those guys ran routes well and got open for us; and Koyack, really happy for him on his first town down. A lot of different guys contributed to the win tonight.

    Q. Talk about the importance of the win, knocking off a win --

    Tommy Rees: Yeah, it's a big win for us. You know, to get right back on the right track heading into the bye week, the halfway point of the season, was kind of a game we understood the importance of, and we are really ready to go and had a great week of preparation. Like I said, proud of the way the team played.

    Q. Coach talked about limiting possessions on defense; what did you try to do offensively?

    Tommy Rees: Just try to sustain some drives. We knew Arizona State had a really good offense and could put up some points. So limiting their opportunities to go out there and score ultimately helps our defense with ball control. Obviously running the ball helps with the clock and all that, but just sustaining drives. When you've got third and manageables, just making sure that you convert, which I thought we did a good job of, keeping their high powered offense off the field.

    Q. Inaudible.

    Tommy Rees: Oh, man, so happy for TJ. Him and I came in together four years ago, and you know, you can't say enough about how the kid has grown since he's been here. You know, first of all, tremendous player; but the way he's grown off the field, really being the leadership and everything he's gone through, had to grow up fast for his family, I'm so happy for him and all the success. It's not a surprise; he's a hard working and very talented player.

    Q. You get a lot of heat and know it's part of the job, but how do you let it roll off your back and perform like you did tonight?

    Tommy Rees: I don't even know what you're talking about no, I'm just kidding.

    Being a quarterback at Notre Dame, it's one of the things that you kind of sign up for. But for me, like I said, I rely on my teammates first, coaches, family, the people that I care about, and I care about what they think. For me, it's just staying focused and staying within the people that matter.

    Q. As the game moved on, you really got into a rhythm in the passing game, where did that come from?

    Tommy Rees: The week of preparation. We did a great job all around protecting, like I said and getting open. I think it's something that we needed to improve on the past couple of weeks and that's something that we really focused on.

    Q. How do you come back from six

    Tommy Rees: Well, yeah, you know, it's going to happen and obviously you want to limit those mistakes, and have got to take accountability for that. But I've got a hundred of my teammates and brothers counting on me, and there's never a moment to get down. Got to get right back out there and find a way to move the ball on the field, which we did.

    Q. What was it like to play here?

    Tommy Rees: Awesome. You know, the stadium is obviously an unbelievable venue, and you can really see the pull that Notre Dame has nationally. You come down here and it's like playing a home game. It's loud for you, and that's a special thing about Notre Dame.

    Q. What is it about TJ

    Tommy Rees: Great, he's such a smart football player. I think that's one of the things that all good receivers have is they understand coverage. They understand leverage and how to run routes. TJ's best asset is how well he understands defenders are playing him, and then he runs routes based off of that. You know, a guy like that I can trust and count on being on the same page. He obviously catches everything and does a great job.

    Q. Inaudible.

    Tommy Rees: Any time you have a senior who has played as much as he has and I can say things like, guys look at me like I'm crazy and he understands it. He's like a coach out there for us outside and obviously being a captain and being a leader of the team, he's done a great job of understanding the intricacies of playing.

    Q. Is there an example of something that you can tell him and somebody else would like stare?

    Tommy Rees: All those guys do a good job of trying to understand. I think just the experience that he's had in games and understanding how defenses play, that's kind of where he builds that knowledge.

     

     

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