Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 11, 2021

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

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30 SEPT. 11, 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY … On persevering in the end: "We found a way to win. Dif- ficult game, opener on the road. Again, I think what's most im- portant here is going on the road, winning the opener against the team that presented a lot of challenges and we found a way to win the game. "We know we got work to do, but I like this team. We will get better and will make a lot of improvement in week two." On defensive woes in the fourth quarter: "When [quar- terback McKenzie] Milton came in, we double zoned every- thing. He's so accurate. You saw us in man and we wanted to be in much more of a nickel, three down, double zone, and you got to be really good in your gaps and we let the ball get outside us a couple of times. "In an opener, you got to be so good when you're double zoning out there and try to take away a spread passing game that is pretty good. That's where we got to get better." On if the defense was worn out in the second half: "I'd have to look at it a little bit more closely to be definitive. We were on the field a lot defensively. We could have controlled the ball a little bit. There was five and a half minutes to go. "I thought we were going to control the clock at the end, and we didn't. We put our defense back on the field too quickly." On the officiating: "Here's what I would ask the media, what do you have to do to get a roughing a kicker call? The guy got spun around. I guess they just don't protect them anymore." NOTRE DAME GRADUATE STUDENT QUARTERBACK JACK COAN … On his first Notre Dame start: "It's extremely emo- tional. It's a dream come true for me and my family to play for this university, to play at an iconic place in college football. "It's unbelievable, and I'm extremely thankful for it." On sophomore tight end Michael Mayer: "He's our guy. He's one of the best tight ends in the country, if not the best. He does his thing and I trust him with everything, no matter if he drops one of makes a mistake. "You know he's going to respond. He's an absolute gamer." On senior wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr.: "He's an amazing athlete, amazing competition, great receiver. I al- ways trust him in one-on-ones. "He's a guy not many people may know about right now, but he's a special player." NOTRE DAME JUNIOR SAFETY KYLE HAMILTON … On the challenge of facing Florida State: "Having this competition this early with a new defense and a new quarter- back, a lot of new guys playing on offense and defense, this was probably the best thing we could have had happened. "Tough game, on the road, come out with a [win]. We get to go back home feeling good. Get some rest. But everyone got to see what it's like to be in this environment. Hopefully we settle in from this moment on because we're just getting started." On facing two quarterbacks: "Obviously they both of- fer very different strengths, but No. 13 was doing a hell of a job all game. He kept us on our toes. He's probably one of the shiftier players we've played since I've been here. He's a re- ally, really good athlete and was all over the place for them. "Then obviously McKenzie Milton came in, and it's good to see him back on the field after his injury. I think everybody was happy to see him out there. He's a really strong passer and kind of more of a game manager." On blowing a 38-20 lead: "It's a game of runs. We had our fair share of stops, then they had their fair share of good drives. They're a really good team. They're not going to give up, especially at home. A home opener. There was some emotion behind the game too for them. I think it's just as much on them being really good as it was on us not doing what we need to do. "Obviously we need to get some things fixed. I'm sure Coach [Marcus] Freeman and the whole staff will assess what we did good and wrong, and we'll come back next week and the rest of the season even better." — Tyler Horka and Patrick Engel FROM THE LOCKER ROOM Notre Dame improved to 10-2 in season openers under head coach Brian Kelly, who noted room for improvement on both sides of the ball but was pleased with his team's ability to find a way to win in a difficult environment. PHOTO BY ELLIOT P. FINEBLOOM/COURTESY FSU PHOTO

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