Notre Dame coach Kelly explains how he decides to go for two

Brian Kelly had a justification for doing what he did late in the game against Clemson.
Joshua S. Kelly/Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Among the talking points after Notre Dame’s tight loss at Clemson last Saturday night was a decision Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly made early in the fourth quarter.

With his team trailing 21-9 in the first minute of the fourth quarter, Kelly opted to go for two rather than try a PAT kick. 

When DeShone Kizer’s pass to Corey Robinson went incomplete, the Fighting Irish remained down 12 rather than being within a touchdown and a field goal. The Tigers stretched their lead to 15 points with a field goal on their ensuing possession, which meant ultimately Notre Dame had to go for two again after scoring a touchdown with seven seconds remaining to make the score 24-22. 

The Tigers clinched their victory by bringing down Kizer shy of the goal line. 

"If you look at it after the fact, you can draw any conclusion that you would like," Kelly said during his regular Sunday press conference. "I wasn’t, I didn’t have any of the information that you have right now after the fact. All I had was we were down and we got the chance to put that game into a two-score with a field goal. 

"I don’t chase the points until the fourth quarter, and our mathematical chart, which I have on the sideline with me and we have a senior adviser who concurred with me, and we said go for two. It says on our chart to go for two. We usually don’t use the chart until the fourth quarter because, again, we don’t chase the points. We went for two to make it a 10-point game. So we felt we had the wind with us so we would have to score a touchdown and a field goal because we felt like we probably only had three more possessions. The way they were running the clock and probably get three possessions maximum and we’re going to have to score in two out of the three. So it was the smart decision to make, it was the right one to make. Obviously, you know, if we catch the two-point conversion, which was wide open, then we just kick the extra point and we’ve got a different outcome." 

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