Brian Kelly Post-Game Quotes

January 1, 2024

ReliaQuest Bowl: Wisconsin vs LSU
Monday, January 1, 2024
Tampa, Florida, USA
Raymond James Stadium
LSU Tigers
Brian Kelly
Postgame Press Conference

LSU 35, Wisconsin 31

BRIAN KELLY: Exciting football game. I thought Wisconsin played outstanding football today. I thought as an opener today at noontime, an exciting game to watch. I don't know if my comments were heard over the loud speaker.

Our team was down at the half. You could tell that it was one of the lowest points all season. I could sense that. We had to take it as a learning moment and what kind of adversity we were under, let's see if we could bounce back from this. This would be a great learning experience for a lot of younger players especially on the defensive side of the ball and a quarterback who has obviously taken over for a Heisman Trophy winner. There was a lot to prove in the second half.

I thought they did a great job. Outscored them 21-10. Had some key stops. I thought we controlled the play in the last six minutes, which when you're looking for the margins of victory in close games, you obviously want to be able to control the end of the game. I thought we finished strong.

Really proud of our football team in a game where two teams really wanted to win the football game. There was no doubt about whether these guys wanted to be here or not. Both teams wanted to be here. Both teams wanted to win.

I'll open it up to questions.

Q. You're down 14-0 nothing, 28-14, with a backup quarterback. There was no panic in what you were doing. How proud are you of that?

BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I think what I told our football team, and I continue to echo, is there's different pieces to a football team that you look at. One of them is you have to have a consistency in your performance. You got to keep playing. It's one play at a time.

It was uneven at times. But if you just keep playing, you just trust your process, then eventually it's going to come together for you. They didn't panic. They didn't get outside the lanes. They just kept playing. They played one play at a time and the tide started turning for them.

Q. When did Nuss turn the corner in the game?

BRIAN KELLY: I think when he felt much more comfortable. I thought Wisconsin did a great job of changing up coverages. I think when he really started identifying some of their trap two and three, the mixtures, did a really good job of protections, I don't know if he was sacked at all. I think once he got a good sense of what was going on out there, the speed of the game. You saw him later in the game make some really good checks. He changed protections. It just took some time for him to get there.

I knew eventually he would. It was just a matter of eventually we needed to slow them down on defense, and we did. He was able to get our offense going.

The big throws down the field, the 98-yard drive was the big one, that's what he can do. He can get the ball down the field.

Q. How important was it for him to have this opportunity with that line, those receivers?

BRIAN KELLY: It's huge. I can't underestimate how important this win is for not only him but our entire football team and our defense. They needed some confidence. They needed some key stops. All of this builds towards confidence and evaluating what you need to do in the off-season to be the kind of defense and offense to win a championship.

Q. What does that say about him, goes 98 yards to win the game, a guy that really proved himself, right?

BRIAN KELLY: Absolutely. Look, he hasn't had many of those rehearsed situations. I think our two-man drill puts him on the 35 yard line with less than two minutes to go in the game, he's going against his own teammates. This is a little bit different.

His ability to manage the moment, his ability to be calm in those situations, speaks of a guy that is going to only excel and get better as he plays more football.

Q. How important was it for you to have a second straight ten-win season?

BRIAN KELLY: I think it really stabilizes the program. Stability within your program, stability within the ranks of your recruitment. For us, it's been recruiting, development and retention. You do that, but you can't do it when you're really effectively, say, 3-9, 4-8. When you have to back-to-back 10-win seasons, and you're doing it with bowl victories, as well, that builds on it going into the off-season, it certainly helps a lot.

Q. As you head into the off-season, where are you with the evaluation of your defensive staff, especially now?

BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, now that the season is completed, I'll do a full evaluation of all of our staff members. Obviously we got to make some decisions on offense, where we are. We do not have an offensive coordinator, as you know. Then full evaluation of our defensive staff.

I wanted to finish up recruiting, finish up the season. I thought it was most important that we maintain continuity through the bowl game, and we did, and get a victory, which we did. Now my focus will be on 2024. 2024 will be the staff and putting our staff in the position to take this team to a championship level. So that will be my focus moving forward.

Q. Talk about Jayden Daniels and his traits. Do you see a lot of that in Garrett, too?

BRIAN KELLY: Certainly. Look, again, I don't think you win a game on athleticism. You have to have the things necessary to overcome a deficit, overcome being a first-time starter. You can't just get by on arm talent. You've got to be a guy that is confident in your ability, has a great process that you trust.

He's got a lot of the same traits that Jayden does. Obviously he doesn't run, have the escape-ability. You didn't see any of that today, where Jayden created a lot of yards for us there. Nuss can do it in other ways. I think he's going to continue to do that for us.

Q. How did Joe do as a play-caller? What do you like about working with him?

BRIAN KELLY: I think it's Joe and Cortez and really the whole staff. Today was really about a cohesive group. Brad had great suggestions on adjustments on the offensive line. Frank is doing a great job. You saw his rotation of backs in there. That all feeds into what you're doing offensively.

It doesn't fall on one shoulder, or shoulders, if you will. The plays came down from the box. There was some input. I thought Joe and Cortez managed that end of it really well. Then we had great adjustments from our entire staff to be an efficient offense in this transition.

Q. The defensive pressure you dialed up in the very end, talk about that a little bit.

BRIAN KELLY: So we got out of our dime and nickel package. We got back into some base. The guys were wanting to get into some base. We got into some base defense. Got into some trail coverage. Made it difficult for them to have anything available.

Really, our base four-man rush got home. The last play was our win blitz where we overloaded blitz at the end of the game because we knew it was one throw. We're not going to let them stand back there. That was an overload blitz to make sure that, again, they didn't have time to get the ball off.

Q. Malik breaking the record, speak to that.

BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, I mean, first of all, here's a guy, I'm not up here to evaluate the receiving core going to the NFL, but I think he's the best receiver in the country. Plays in this game. He wanted to do it for his teammates, for LSU. He wanted to do it because he wanted to break the record. There's nothing wrong with that. I think that's awesome.

Once he got the record, I told him, That's it, you're done. You've done everything and more than we've asked you to do. He fought me a little bit on it. It was an easy decision.

Q. Where do you think you are at the end of year two?

BRIAN KELLY: A team that's won 20 games over the last two years, has a good foundational base of what LSU football teams' expectations are. This is a team that year in, year out should be competing for championships.

You can't do that when you come in with 35, 36 scholarships. You have to stabilize it and build that from within. I think we've done a really good job the first two years of stabilizing, put a strong base on it.

Now as we go into 2024, I feel really good that this team, this program is stabilized and now ready to really ascend as we move forward.

Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports