FULL INTERVIEW: Coach Brian Kelly responds to his team's loss
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The following is a transcript of Coach Brian Kelly's comments following Notre Dame's loss to South Florida on Sept. 3. The final score was 23 - 20.
Q. You talked a lot about the focus of this team and how sharp they were in their dedication to preparation. Were you taken aback a little bit by some of the mistakes, especially by some of the veteran players?
COACH KELLY: Well, we say this all the time. You can't start winning until you stop losing, and the things that we did today out there obviously go to the heart of how you lose football games. You lose football games because you turn the ball over. You lose football games because you miss field goals. You lose the football game because you have four personal foul penalties. The list is long.
And given all that, you know, our kids put themselves in a position to battle the second half. There's no quit in the group, but you can't win playing like that.
Q. Obvious question: How do you handle the quarterback situation moving forward?
COACH KELLY: Well, you know, we didn't expect to have to make this move, obviously, so it's going to require us to obviously evaluate the quarterback situation and make another decision. This was a step back for us as it relates to where we thought we were going. We certainly did not believe or think that we would have to make the decision that we made today.
Q. And as much went wrong today, it was one game, so how do you emphasize, improve on other things that went wrong but also try to move forward a little bit?
COACH KELLY: You know, we've been down this road before. The disappointing thing is that we thought going into a year where we had some experience that we wouldn't have to go through this. But it looks like we're going to have to make sure that our players are understanding what it takes to win football games.
Q. What went into the decision? How did you go about making that decision to put Tommy in in the second half?
COACH KELLY: Production. We didn't feel like we produced the way we should have. Mistakes were made. You know, it wasn't a difficult decision to make that; it was difficult because it threw us into an area where we weren't thinking we had to go to.
Q. What goes on during that two hour halftime? How did you manage that?
COACH KELLY: The two hours? I don't know that there's any perfect formula other than you're just trying to keep your kids hydrated. You're doing your best. We had something to eat. We tried to work them out as best we could. But no, it's never an ideal situation, but both teams had to fight through it.
Q. Can you just put in perspective how chaotic the whole day just ended up being? I imagine you've never been through anything quite like this.
COACH KELLY: No. You know, the chaos was on the field for me. I thought our administration did a great job of making prudent decisions relative to the rain. I think the weather it's obviously an incredible task to move 81,000 people in and out of a stadium. I think everyone that was involved in that should be commended. It was chaotic for me in the way we played. All those other things were left up to very capable people.
Q. Does Tommy need a game situation for his true assets to shine through, because physically he won't ever match up with Dayne Crist. Does he just need that form in order to show his true assets?
COACH KELLY: He was 24 for 34 in a situation where they knew we were going to throw the football. I don't want to put him in that situation. I want him to have the luxury of a running game which we had established when Dayne was in there. We just did not complete the circle relative to all the other things that needed to occur.
We believe we can run the football. If Tommy has a good running game, if we decide that he's our guy, that's going to take a lot of the load off of him. He didn't have that luxury in the second half, so it's really hard to evaluate it per se.
Q. And obviously Theo didn't look real comfortable back there on punts. That's not a real natural thing for him, that's something that he's had to learn how to do and really improve upon?
COACH KELLY: He's got to do it. I told him to get his butt back out there. If we're going to have the kind of playmakers we need at that position, we don't have a waiver wire, we can't trade for anybody. We've got to get him to that position. The only thing I reminded Theo is he can't let his disappointment or emotion show in the way he plays. He's got to bounce back, and he's going to have to bounce back for us next week and have a great game.
Q. Obviously Jonas Gray's fumble was a huge turning point. Did that really impact your team that greatly from that point on the rest of the half?
COACH KELLY: No, it was the succeeding mistakes. We're in the red zone ready to put one in and we threw another interception. It was the accumulation of mistake after mistake after mistake. It wasn't that one particular play.
Q. I think we're saying the same thing. What I'm saying is did it then have a negative impact on the way your players played the rest of the half?
COACH KELLY: No, I don't think so at all. I think it was our inability to do the things, especially if you look at all the things that occurred in that first half, it was obviously the touchdown our defense really played pretty good in the first half. We kept them to three field goals, and one of the field goals was off of a muffed punt on special teams and the other one was a poor punt that got returned to minus territory.
So when I'm looking at it coming back in, I'm going, our defense is playing pretty good. It didn't affect them, and then we march back down there again and throw another interception. It was just it was one mistake after the other that led to that, more so than took the wind out of their sails.
Q. I just want to ask you about their red zone defense, what they did once you got down to the goal line to stop you and how frustrating that was.
COACH KELLY: Poor coaching. Didn't do a good job with our quarterbacks, obviously. That's my responsibility.
(Source: This was a press release from ASAP Sports)