Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly was back at the podium in South Bend roughly 12 hours after he left the podium in Tallahassee.
The Fighting Irish escaped Florida State with a 41-38 victory in overtime. Kelly touched more on what happened in the season opener while looking ahead to Saturday’s home opener against Toledo.
Here are important moments from Kelly’s press conference.
On bouncing back from blowing an 18-point lead
“When you’re up 38-20 on the road and you give that lead up, many teams do not get out of there with a victory. Our guys hung in there. We came up with a big stop when we needed it defensively.”
On the players’ mood after the game
“When I called them up, there was no outward feeling of satisfaction. Which, I think is crazy. Winning is hard. It’s difficult. We put in so much time. We had to fly with Covid protocols. We were intense out on the parking lot in Tallahassee eating our meal. There is so much that goes into this.
“We had to fight through overtime. We got back this morning at 4:30 in the morning. My point is: winning is hard. Enjoy the victory and then critically analyze what we need to do to continue to get better. I want our guys to enjoy winning because it is so hard to do. And then understand if we want to get to where we want to get to, and that is be part of the playoffs, we certainly have a lot of work to do.”
On the offensive line’s pass protection
“I thought we protected pretty darn well. We were pleased with the protection. We had a couple procedures penalties. We had an assignment error on a sack where we just flat out went the wrong way on a slide protection. But overall, pretty pleased from what we did from as protection standpoint.”
On where Notre Dame needs to improve
“I think you start with the basics. Tackling. The 89-yard run, our safety is in a fit position to make that tackle. We have to make that tackle. Forcing the football properly. Just the basic fundamentals. We’re not talking about big-picture items here. We’re talking about being in a good football position and making a tackle.
“I think from an offensive standpoint, they’ve got 10 men on the field, we’ve got to pitch and catch. We’re in a great position to do so. These are just matters of fundamentals more so than we lack personnel, we lack the ability to make that play. I’ve been in that position before, and I don’t have great answers for those. These are, ‘Let’s get back out there. Let’s rep these. Let’s get in these situations again. Let’s execute at a higher level.’ Certainly, we believe we can do that.”
On Kyle Hamilton’s second interception
“There’s only a few people that can make a kind of play like that with his length and his size. When you watch it again, we have the end zone copy, I don’t know how he got to the ball. I won’t say any more. I won’t say any more … I would have taken my helmet off to. I mean, that was one heck of a play.”
On Saturday’s home opener against Toledo
“We need our fans to be as loud and as excited about being in that stadium as we are. Just welcome us back from a long layoff. We expect that so I’m not challenging anybody, but this is big for us. We haven’t experienced this kind of environment in quite a long time. It’s a big game. It’s the first opportunity for us to show out home crowd what we look like. We just want them to be out there in full force.”
On the week ahead
“This is really about our preparation and how we prepare and having an eye towards, we have to change up our routine a bit this week. We can’t go in there tomorrow and have a 24-period practice. This was a physical game. They were physical. We’re not going to go out there and have a normal Tuesday practice. We have to adapt to the circumstances and be smart and then they have to adapt to us relative to how they take care of themselves this week. They have to re-double their efforts in preparing themselves. They have to trust us that we’re not going to put too much load on them as we work them through the week but still prepare them for a really good Toledo football team.”
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