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Notre Dame Notebook: Brian Kelly Talks Beating Stanford, College Football Playoff

Brian Kelly talked about the Notre Dame win over Stanford and the College Football Playoff

Notre Dame finished the regular season with a 45-14 victory over Stanford, improving the Irish to 11-1 on the season. Following the win head coach Brian Kelly had a number of things to say.

On the quality of this team even if doesn’t play in the College Football Playoff

“We're gonna play BYU next Thursday in Las Vegas. Jack set the game up. He didn't want to come in here and just steal everybody's thunder," Kelly said jokingly. "No, you're right. It wouldn't change anything. It really wouldn't change anything because this football team has grown and developed and matured in all the areas that you want to see your team mature, right? From an offensive standpoint, consistency standpoint, defensively. You saw how well they tackled tonight. We were a sieve at times as a tackling team. So, it's really easy to evaluate this football team and see the growth. I have officials come up to me, that had us earlier in the season going, 'I've never seen a team get to this level later in the season.' So it's not just us. It's not just me. Then, you know, we just have to wait and let other people make those decisions.”

Why Ramon Henderson left the game

"Hamstring. We had two. Isaiah Pryor went down with a hamstring and there you go, right? Other guys just stepped up and came in and played.”

On Kevin Austin’s improved play during the season

"Look, and the question is valid, but we probably put a little too much on him after not playing for really almost two years and heaped a lot of that pressure on him and maybe him on himself in terms of what he wanted to do. I think it weighed heavily on him. He relaxed. He worked hard in practice and then he started making some plays and that confidence came back. I think we saw the real version of what Kevin Austin can be and will be moving forward.”

On Braden Lenzy’s play

The speed on the perimeter. Obviously, he slips on the reverse, but that kind of confidence and speed that we have with him — he's been really a quiet, consistent performer for us the past month and a half. It's really helped us. When we lost Avery, we had to rely on more balance throughout that entire receiving core. It couldn't just be, 'Lorenzo, go be Avery Davis for us,' it had to kind of spread out and that's where it picked up a lot for us.”

On Kevin Austin and Braden Lenzy playing better together this season

I think more than anything else when we came into the season, it was, and I said this publicly, that we were going to rely on those guys if we were going to have the kind of season that we wanted. They were going to have to step up for us. We were consistent with our praise and confidence. Gentlemen, we had to be, because we were going to be reaching into some youth if we didn't and we just stuck with them and were confident and we got them the ball in their areas where they can be effective too. I think Tommy did a hell of a job of finding ways to get those guys the ball where they're really good. Kevin Austin, one on one in third down, is a nightmare matchup and he consistently goes to him in third-down situations to move the chains. I think Tommy deserves a lot of credit for being really smart in the utilization of those guys.”

On running back Chris Tyree being healthy

"The speed. We missed him on the up. We got him matched up. He's been electric, we felt, even in practice the last two to three weeks. Really good to see him going."

On getting better at tackling this season

“Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. We do practice. Do you know that? We just don't show up on Saturday. We do this for a living. A lot of work. Marcus (Freeman), every day, starts off practice with run support and tackling drills and he's committed to it and we have to be committed to it. We weren't really good early on in the season and those guys are really sure tacklers now. You saw Houston Griffith made some really fine open-field tackles. He was not making those tackles earlier. That's a commitment on his part to really be 1% better in the areas that we ask them to be. Good for Houston. Those kids really took to it and worked hard at it."

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On the decision to throw the ball so much against Stanford

"They were in a double eagle front. They really pressured the run. They didn't want us to run the football today. I think they felt like this would have been out of hand quickly if they stayed in their three-down front. They sunk both ends down into three techniques, walked up the outside, and gave us cover one and favorable matchups across the board. It's one thing you give up, you gave us something else. Then when we went to Buchner, they jumped back into four down and gave us some favorable looks there and we were able to run the football a little bit more effectively.”

On what makes this team special

“This one has unique features in there that there's a young group of players, freshmen that played prominent roles and seniors in one instance. In two, there's a sixth-year senior and he's a prominent captain on our team. To have a sixth-year senior and midyear enrollees mesh together is unique in that it doesn't always work well. You have a freshman that comes in with his resume from high school and he thinks that because of the success that he had in high school, with that resume, that works when I go to college. Then you have a sixth-year senior who's been in this program, who's had success and has won to our standards, and he looks at him and goes, 'That doesn't work here. The stuff that you did in high school. You do it the way we want you to do it.' Bringing those two together is a tricky feat. This one went seamless, and that was the dynamic of this team that was really neat.”

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