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    An Interview with: COACH BRIAN KELLY

    FIGHTING IRISH
    FIGHTING IRISH

    FIGHTING IRISH

    Nov. 20, 2011

    Coach, after the first couple of drives, it seemed like Boston College really started to commit a lot of resources to their run game, and you guys really had to scrap for those 161 yards. Can you just talk about the play of your line and backs with the different looks that BC was throwing at you guys yesterday?
    COACH KELLY: Well, I thought their game plan stayed fairly consistent. They were trying to add an extra guy to the run in most occasions. Sometimes it's just a matter of you're going to run the ball anyway. They know it, we know it. Because as you know, the next few possessions, our average starting field position was, I think, the 8 yard line. And with the weather conditions, it was blustery we just felt like running the football regardless of their scheme was what we had to do and just kind of, just tough it out. And I thought they did a pretty good job up front.

    And Mike Golic obviously faced a lot bigger group. Could you talk about how he held up inside against BC's big guys on the inside?
    COACH KELLY: BC, obviously, is physical inside. And Mike had his moments. But they got some, too. Mike was in there battling every play.

    Any update on Jonas (Gray)?
    COACH KELLY: We won't have the MRI results, but it's pretty apparent that he has a significant knee injury. The MRI would probably confirm what we know as to be, as I mentioned, a significant knee injury.

    This is something that would take him certainly obviously this week well past the bowl game; that's what you're expecting?
    COACH KELLY: That's unfortunately what it looks like right now.

    Moving ahead to Stanford, I guess. This is obviously the fourth ranked team in the country. You guys have won eight of nine games. What kind of punctuation mark to your season does this game and this sort of setting offer you guys?
    COACH KELLY: Well, clearly you know coming back from an 0 2 start to continue the winning through a very difficult start of the season would be a great thing for our program as we move forward. So it means a lot. It's also that last game you play. You want to be feeling good about your bowl practices and things of that nature. So it's the No. 4 team ranked in the country. They've got arguably the best quarterback in the country. It's a national television game. It's a great way to finish up the season. Our guys are excited.

     

     

    How do you sell this to your guys?
    Yesterday they kind of talked about just another game that they wanted to win, your players did. Do you amplify that in any way, talk to them about what kind of I don't know if you want to call it respect or validation or however you want to put it that they can earn if they beat a team of this caliber, with a quarterback of this caliber, et cetera?
    COACH KELLY: I don't think I'll go into it in that regard. I think what's most important is the guys just keep playing hard and know that the competition with Stanford is going to be as good if not best. Everybody feels like that's the best team that's on our schedule. So I think I'll talk more about what kind of effort we're going to need. We're going to have to play great football against great competition, more so than validating who we are and what we're doing.

    Just wanted to check and see how Austin Collinsworth came out of the game and also how soon you may anticipate getting Stephon (Tuitt) back?
    COACH KELLY: Lateral ankle sprain, which should not prevent him from playing. He may be a little limited in practice this week. But should be able to be an impact in all of our ST (special teams) stuff and the nickel package. So feel pretty good about that. Stephon, we'll know more when he checks in with the doctors on Monday. We're hoping to get some news on that so we can get him cleared.

    You had quite a few guys you mentioned that were in the infirmary. Do you feel like the flu or whatever it is kind of about run its course?
    COACH KELLY: It's interesting you bring it up. We had another guy go down. So we are taking the precautions of really training our staff now is in the process of cleaning all of the meeting rooms, the weight room. We're talking to players about roommates that have had this bug. So we're actually on full alert, because we've had so many guys affected by it at this point.

    Just curious, Aaron (Lynch) and Chase (Hounshell) have gotten a lot of playing time lately, especially Aaron. Just talk about how he's held up really the whole year with so many expectations and really having a lot of opportunities as well.
    COACH KELLY: He's a very unique young man that he can go in there and do the things that he does. He plays really hard for four quarters. Of all the guys I've coached on the defensive side of the ball, he is a very unique individual. And the way he comes to practice and plays and the things that he does, it's really it's really fun to watch him. Chase Hounshell did a great job. Went in there and gave us quality reps. And Troy Nicklas as well. He played down the stretch, was really good for us. So it's nice to see all those true freshmen really making an impact late in the season.

    You mentioned Cam (McDaniel) and George Atkinson getting some more reps within an apparent serious knee injury to Jonas (Gray). Is there any thought to Theo (Riddick) getting into that mix, or do you just want to leave him at wide receiver?
    COACH KELLY: No, I think we'll look at all those possibilities. We're into a one game season, so to speak, if you will, when it comes to Stanford. We'll sit down as a staff and, first of all, see what Theo is able to do physically and then decide whether he can go into a running back position and help us out. We haven't made that decision but we'll certainly consider it.

    We haven't seen Andrew Hendrix in quite some time. Just was curious as to kind of where he stands, what his role is right now and moving forward.
    COACH KELLY: He just stays ready. We continue to give him work. But as you see, we're committed to Tommy (Rees) being in there. And we keep him ready. He has a package of plays that has expanded from week to week. And he's getting I know he's not on the field but he's getting valuable time with us in practice. He's getting valuable time being on the sideline and being close to the game.

    Is it a matter of just Tommy (Rees) needing to get all the reps, or is there a situation?
    I know there have been tight games, there have been blowouts, times when the offense has struggled, is there a situation you feel comfortable inserting Andrew right now?
    COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think when we look at it, it's probably more about the time in the game. We were backed up quite a bit. You don't want to risk turnovers in those situations. So I think it's been up a lot or in tight ball games that has prevented maybe him getting on the field.

    How has he (Hendrix) progressed since the Air Force game?
    He set a pretty high bar for himself and then I know he kind of struggled against USC. How has he come along since then?
    COACH KELLY: I think he's done well. He's learned so much more about our offense. I know he's a lot more confident in his own ability to run our offense. So, like I said, I know he hasn't played much. But I don't think that's the way that we evaluate his progress. His progress for us as a staff has been what we were looking for.

    I was going to ask you about (Troy) Nikas as well. That was a unique role and he seemed to really take to it yesterday. Can you talk about his contributions as a pass rusher?
    COACH KELLY: Yeah, obviously Stephon (Tuitt) had that role but with him being unable to play, we needed another guy to go in there. We told Troy (Niklas) to just go in, thrash around, and play with a lot of energy. He certainly did. He had some key plays for us. He got better as he got more reps. And as you can see he can impact the football game as a true freshman.

    He (Troy Niklas) seems so naturally big and quick, can he grow into a defensive end position in your defense?
    COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think all of our kids have that ability to either stand up or put their hand down. So those are things that we'll address after the season. But certainly you saw what he could do, whether he's a linebacker, which he's played that position, and this past weekend where he was an interior player. He's got great flexibility, if you will, when it comes to playing a couple of different positions.

    And Ethan (Johnson) was obviously more comfortable two games back. Is that kind of crucial going into not to talk about the previous opponents but going into a game like Stanford with such a strong offensive line, that he has his feet wet and he's not just kind of coming back to see what he can do?
    COACH KELLY: Oh, yeah, every game that he plays certainly is going to help him. We're still getting through the ankle. But we were a little concerned with him in the first quarter. He had some soreness, but he played through that. We got a lot of guys playing time as you know. Sean Cwyner did a great job. And Louis Nix probably had one of his best games of the year. So we have to count on a number of different guys; but certainly with Ethan, the more that he separates himself from that injury, the better we're going to be.

    As you guys begin your preparations for Stanford, I'm kind of wondering how extensively you guys will use what Oregon was able to do against Stanford as kind of maybe a starting point?
    COACH KELLY: I don't know what Oregon did. I haven't watched Oregon/Stanford. We've just been finishing up our (Boston College) film and then what we do is we meet as a staff and kind of close the book today and then we'll start this afternoon in breaking down Stanford. We've got some initial breakdown information, but it did not include the Oregon game. THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

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