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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Kelly, Campbell exchange friendly remarks in pregame press conference

Ahead of Notre Dame’s matchup Saturday against Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl, both Irish head coach Brian Kelly and Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell exchanged compliments of each other’s teams, and discussed the strengths of their opponents.

Kelly was quite complimentary of the Cyclones early in the press conference, saying that their offense presents a number of matchup difficulties, and they are overall a hard-working team.

“I think when you look at it offensively, the size of tight ends creates matchup problems,” he said. “Purdy as a quarterback is such a great competitor. The freshman running back has gotten better and better. I just think the balance on the offensive side of the ball — they have been able to score lots of points against really good football teams.”

Kelly also had good things to say about Iowa State’s defense.

”Defensively, they create problems because of the uniqueness of the scheme,” he said. “You’re not really sure exactly what it is at times. And maybe that’s part of the whole thing, because they do such a really good job of creating a different look against different teams but a unique structure defensively.

“But what I think when you talk about Iowa State, it’s a team that plays hard for four quarters. And you can see some teams on film that in the second half, they start to wear down. This football team plays stronger in the second half.”

Campbell was similarly complimentary of Kelly’s squad, contributing to the air of respect both coaches seemed to have had for each other’s respective programs.

“I think watching Coach Kelly’s teams — no matter where he’s been — I think they’ve always had a very common denominator, and that’s great fundamentals, great detail,” he said. “And then you look at this year’s Notre Dame team and the size, you know, defensively, the size and discipline across the board, the ability to create turnovers with that defensive front and the ability to have length in the secondary, to be able to close the passing windows, is really impressive on the offensive side of it.”

Campbell named a number of other things he said make up Notre Dame’s strengths as a team.

“Again, the size of the offensive lines, the wide receivers, the tight ends, certainly I think the great understanding of the offense at the quarterback position and the detail that he plays with and the ability to make things happen with not only his feet but his arm,” he said. “It’s really impressive. So I think all those things combined, and then you throw in special teams, it's just a really well-coached football team that never beats itself.”

Kelly went on to say that Iowa State's 7-5 record may be deceiving to those outside the walls of the Big 12, and he said the Cyclones deserve a lot of credit on a national stage.

“I think nationally they haven’t certainly gotten the credit that they deserve, but I think those that watch football and understand the game know this is a team that has a number of traits that you don’t put down on paper,” Kelly said. “As I mentioned, they play physical for four quarters. They play with confidence.”

This attitude contributes to Iowa State’s success, Kelly said.

“They play with a belief that they’re going to find a way to win, and they play with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” he said. “And maybe that’s because of the conference that they’re in, that they don’t feel like at times they get the kind of notoriety that that they deserve. But you can just see the way they play with the disdain of, ‘We don’t care what you think about us.’

“And I think they’re back in that same position. That’s why it’s a very difficult team to play because they play so hard with that kind of demeanor. So their traits really trump talent in that sense and make for a very dangerous football team week in and week out.”

Kelly also commented on the importance of the seniors heading into a big matchup like this, saying they contribute to the squad’s consistency, which is key towards the end of the season.

“I would say consistency in our process. Three years of 10‑plus wins, [it’s] very difficult to continue that process year in and year out as you kind of go through the program,” Kelly said. “So anytime that you have a group of seniors that have stuck together, that have listened to the message and have come back the next year and have doubled down again on your process and have stuck with it, and then have brought others with them, that’s really the key ingredient here. They have brought others with them to the point now where your program is in a position where they have touched all the others in the program of how to do things the right way on a consistent basis.”

The Camping World Bowl will kickoff at noon Saturday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.