Football

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Brian Kelly Football Media Conference

Nov. 22, 2015

Q. Brian, any up to dates on the statuses of C.J. and KeiVarae?

Yes, KeiVarae has a tibia fracture, so he was casted after the game. Tonight they will have surgery and put a rod in there. So that is a six to eight week process for him. Certainly, you know, very disappointing.

But he was in a lot of pain last night obviously on the way home. But he's just one of those kids that you hate to lose. He's meant so much to the program.

But we'll have to regroup and, you know, we'll have three guys there that we'll give work there at the corner back position. So we'll move on from there.

C.J. has a high ankle sprain. He would be doubtful for this weekend. But no fracture, no major damage to the ligaments, so very, very encouraging on that note relative to the ankle. We've got an MRI to follow up the x-ray and given the circumstances it looked to be good. But I would say that right now he'd be doubtful for this weekend.

Q. Is KeiVarae's injury at all similar to the one that Jarret Grace suffered in 2013 or is that one more serious?

That one, Jarret's, was much more serious. Yeah, that required immediate surgery and follow-up surgery. This should be very clean with a very, very good six to eight week hard, you know, time table for his return.

Q. Changing gears, with Matthias yesterday with the three specialty points that he made, in a game that was only decided by three points, how important were those three plays in the game?

Well, he was given the game ball, because we recognized how important they were. He's been that kind of player for us all year, the off side pick, stopping the fake punt, downing the ball inside at the ten yard line. He packs the game wherever he calls. That's why he's a captain. That's why he's really the guy on special teams that makes big plays for us, and a valuable member of our football team.

Q. From afar, in watching Stanford, did you make a note of the kind of Christian McCaffrey is having on their team? And Barry Sanders, I think it's an all purpose yardage record that he's coming here?

 

 

Oh, yeah, we're very much aware of McCaffrey and his ability to impact the game. And the special teams, coming out of the back field, obviously a very gifted runner. He is one of the elite players in college football, there's no question about it.

Q. Were the high turnovers because there's a lack of focus or just because of good Boston College defense?

Well, I mean obviously a combination of things. If there weren't 11 defensive players on the field, I don't think we would have turned the football over. So clearly it's a little bit of both.

We feel like we've got to do a better job offensively, in making good decisions, ball security. Boston College is very good defense. But, you know, again, the standard of play offensively, it's such that five turnovers is unacceptable. Our players know that. And it can't happen. It did. Our guys persevered because that's the kind of character they have. But it's something they know can't happen if they want to beat Stanford.

Q. And looking at the red zone opportunities that you guys had, how do you think you should be able to execute for a higher percentage for the Stanford game?

Well, don't turn the ball over. We like what we're doing in the red zone, obviously. We like our schemes, we like our players. They just have to be better makers. They have to take care of the football. I think it was pretty clear that DeShone knows that the worst case scenario down there is we have to kick field goals. We had plenty of opportunities to extend the game. We left a lot of points out there.

It's one game. It's not who we are. And it can't be who we are this next Saturday. And our players know it. They're smart and they'll improve on it.

Q. And then looking at the Stanford game, how will you stop Christian McCaffrey?

We're just starting to deal with that right now. He's a very good player and we'll obviously have a game plan put together for him, but we're just going into it right now.

Q. Brian, what are the chances you'll get Daniel Cage or James Onwualu or both back this week?

I think we'll get Daniel Cage, optimistic there.

We will not -- I don't think we'll get James back this way. I think he's probably another couple of weeks away. But I think we'll get Daniel Cage back this week.

Q. Brian, when you look at your team and everything that's gone on with the team, how did the team react to yesterday's victory? What kind of reaction do you want to see this week as you get ready for Stanford, given everything that's been in the season, including the injuries?

I couldn't have been more proud of my football team, the way they handled themselves, especially, you know, on the offensive side of the ball and the reaction that our defense had.

Look, we had five turnovers, plus the one kickoff return, six sudden changes and our defense didn't give up anything. They gave up three points in those sudden changes. That's the a great mentality to have defensively.

And then from an offensive mentality, five turnovers and three in the red zone, I never saw one guy point a finger. I never saw any bickering. Nobody was pointing fingers. All they were doing was we were moving to the next play. They were pulling for each other. It's just a pleasure to be able to coach this group of guys that just persevere.

Look, it wasn't our cleanest game, there's no question about it. We can't play this way against Stanford and expect to win the game. But as a coach the satisfying moments are when your team is united, when your team plays together, when there's no pointing fingers and they just keep playing together. And that's probably for me the most satisfying thing as a coach when you see that happen and those dynamics come together on the sideline.

Q. Was there an area in the team work you saw, other than what you just described there, where you saw progress, where you saw maybe the certain possession groups step forward, was there anywhere that you particularly said, okay, that was a good move forward for us?

I thought, you know, again, it's one of those things where from an offensive standpoint, we moved the ball up and down the field.

I thought we had established the kind of running game that we wanted to get to very, very stingy Boston College rush defense. We pass protected well. I thought that the hustle and effort was outstanding. I just loved a lot of things that we did on both sides of the ball. Except for the last rout where we lose a little bit of our focus on the big run. We're close to doing some great things. We just have to put it together for four quarters, and we're going to have to do that against Stanford. If we do, this is a playoff team.

Q. The culture of these team plays that you put at the beginning of the year, can you lean on your group to push your team to evolve? Can you lean on that culture to make them look like a playoff team when it really matters this coming Saturday?

Well, I think we did this weekend. I'll give you an example in terms of just the way they handled themselves. I mean this is one of those games where you're moving the ball effectively and then you're making mistakes, where you start to -- you can easily, if you're not close, and there's not trust, that you can pull apart. There's no question about that. And that never happened.

But give you an example of when we've got great leadership. We had a fumble down, going to our end zone, and Nick Martin races 30 yards down the field and falls on the fumble. Just that kind of effort from your upperclassmen and your leaders just sets an incredible tone within your team.

So that culture exists. It's strong. These guys love to battle. That's why I have no hesitations about what they're going to do against Stanford. They're going to fight for four quarters and lay it on the field.

Q. You said KeiVarae is six to eight weeks. Would that mean have any chance of getting him back if you make it toy a playoff or National Championship game?

I think it would have to be closer to the National Championship game, more so. That's a pretty hard number, the six to eight because of the bone growth situation there. We're going to obviously do whatever we can. But I would think that it's probably more towards the Championship game than it is for a playoff game.

Q. And then who's likely to get his spot?

Well, it will probably be, you know, just looking at our guys, I think you're going to get three of them, Devin Butler, Nick Watkins, and Nick Coleman, I think all three of those guys will be playing over there. I don't know that we're going to lean on just one guy. I think all three of those guys are going to get an opportunity to compete in that position.

Q. I know you hate these questions, but I want to be sure, is it left leg for KeiVarae?

KeiVarae is his right tibia had been fractured. And it is the left ankle for C.J. Prosise.

Q. And are you confident he's going to be ready for the next game?

Oh, yes, yes, very much so. I think that's very doable and I think more than anything else we can make that statement based upon what we saw on the MRI. And unfortunately being, you know, seeing too many of these this year, we've got something to go off of and that we think that this is something we can manage.

Q. Where Josh is now, he had a great game yesterday, how confident are you that he's ready to take the load lead during this game?

Well, I think Josh has been solid for us. He certainly is a young player. But he is going to be counted on to play very well for us, and I'm sure he will. Dexter is going to have to play little bit for us, as well. And DeShone ask going to have to pick up the load, too, in the running game.

This is a run game, all in. So we'll do whatever is necessary to provide the kind of running game necessary to win. So it's all hands on deck in this situation.

Q. Could you talk a little bit I guess your level of confidence in Devin Butler and Nick Coleman?

Well, they all have some strengths. And certainly each one of them, Adam has had a lot of game experience, he started games for us. Nick Watkins is a bigger corner, he's got very good size, hasn't played a lot of football for us. We'd like to see his compete level pick up.

And Nick Coleman is a guy who plays the ball very well down the field, but he's raw. And so if you can take a little bit of each one of them I think that's kind of my point is that you'd like all three of those skill sets in one and you've got super corners.

I don't know that we want to put the pressure on one guy to say hey, you're the guy that's got to out there in the biggest game of the year and put it all on one guy. That's why I think we want all three of those guys to be what we do with the corner back position.

Q. The domino effect of getting Cage back, how much do you think that will help your defensive line, Isaac maybe will be back outside, and sort of getting back to where we were a month ago?

What concerns us the most obviously has been as pass rushing situation and the quarterback scramble. Other than the last drive, which is very disappointing in the two minute drive, you know, Boston College had nothing going, obviously, offensively, and again with the sudden change stops I think our defense did a great job.

But it makes a difference getting Cage back. It allows us to get back into the rotation that we want. So it definitely impacts us and helps that rotation that we have on the defensive line.

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