Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 22 of 47 FEBRUARY 2020 23 NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY … On playing in the Camping World Bowl after a 10- win regular season: "Those are things that are out of our control. All we try to do is [play] the games that are in front of us. "… All we can control is how we prepare, how we play, and then others make those decisions." On the mentality of this team: "We knew that the way they played against Virginia Tech after the Michigan game what the identity was of this group and who their charac- ter was and truly who they were as a football team. That was the case each and every week. They didn't complain about what they didn't have. "They knew what they had, and that was they had each other and a chance to play another game together. It wasn't we had our fan base complaining about where we were going. We were happy. "We love Orlando. Every time we come back here, we have a great experience." On his takeaway from the season: "Anytime you win 11 games, that's an outstanding football season. … There's only one team that can win a national championship. I can measure it by what our kids did at the end of the season, and that is, they got back up, they went out and competed and overcame adversity. "As a football coach, you hope that they are able to take away life lessons. And all these kids that are sitting here and in that locker room are going to be able to take away what it's like to overcome adversity." On how the offense performed under quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees, who called plays during the game: "I thought it was well orchestrated. Anytime you can go direct snap, play-action and hit a wide-open tight end, I think that's a unicorn today in college football. The ability to run the football downhill, synced up with play action, then the ability to spread the field, take shots down the field, get the ball into the right guy's hands, [No.] 83's hands [Chase Claypool], and find matchups that worked for us. "I thought the ball was spread evenly and then run ef- fectively. We rushed for over 200 yards as well, so that's an efficient offensive performance. Everybody on the offensive side of the ball did a really good job, including Tommy." NOTRE DAME SENIOR WIDE RECEIVER CHASE CLAYPOOL … On his Notre Dame career: "I appreciate everyone, speaking to my family, my friends, everyone who sup- ported me throughout the years to get me to this point. For a long time, something like this was a dream, and it's something that was a dream that couldn't be reached. "But I hope I'm an example and live an example of someone where if you just keep on dreaming, then that dream will come true." On how the defense performed against Iowa State: "We feed off each other, us and the defense. They tell us they're going to get us a stop, and then we have to go score for them. So it's a give and take. I was happy we were able to put something on the board right after that turnover and then continue that. "The defense kept giving us good field position, good confidence, because once we get a lead we can start open- ing up our playbook a little bit." NOTRE DAME SENIOR DEFENSIVE END KHALID KAREEM … On how important his teammates are: "Football, it's a very trying sport. You have to really lean on your brothers and your coaches and just your circle, because everyone's story is not the same. "I struggled early, and I just leaned on my brothers and they really pulled me through. And those are some rela- tionships that I literally will not forget. I feel like that's the biggest thing taking away, just the friendships and all the relationships that I've made over the four years here." On what he will remember from the Camping World Bowl experience: "I would say just the fun that we had throughout the week. Practice is a little tough. I will say that. But just the fun and, like I said, the relationships that we've made this whole week, going to Universal Studios, just having fun with the guys — because, at the end of the day, that's what it's all about. "I haven't had fun like this since high school. This is what it felt like, just out there, playing on Friday nights. That's legit what it felt like, so that's what I'm taking away from it." — Andrew Mentock and Vince DeDario FROM THE LOCKER ROOM Brian Kelly improved to 5-4 in bowl games during his Notre Dame tenure, tying Lou Holtz — who also went 5-4 from 1986-96 — for most postseason wins by a Fighting Irish head coach. PHOTO BY JAMES GILBERT

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