Oct. 9, 2001
By Ryan Lockwood
Notre Dame fullback Tom Lopienski started Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh and played a key role in Notre Dame’s option offense that ran for 249 yards.
His bio states he is a self described “intense” player on the field. Tom is a senior in the Film, Television and Theatre department. The following is an interview with Lopienski where talks about the highs and lows of the Irish’s season so far.
Was the Pittsburgh game a step in the right direction?
“The Pitt game was a big step in the right direction. At practice everybody is at a more up-tempo pace. When you lose, you start criticizing yourself and you try to look at what you can change. Anytime you win, things start to go a lot smoother at practice.
Personally, on a Saturday night after a loss, you have a hard time sleeping and you are thinking about the game all the time. Then Sunday comes and you are still thinking about the game, like what I could have done here or there. But when you win, you are not as critical. The Pitt game really boosted the confidence level of the team up and we are going to try and make a run. “
Is the offense excited about Carlyle Holiday, especially with the game he had against Pitt?
“Anytime someone makes a big play like the 67-yard run he had, it can get everyone going. It’s like ‘If he can make a big play, why can’t I?’ Everyone feeds off that big play. If Carlyle makes a good play, or if Givens steps up and makes a big fourth down catch, it builds momentum. Just like the team winning, it builds momentum.
You were heavily involved in the Pittsburgh with the return of the option. Your blocking led to some of the big plays this past Saturday. Do you feel under-appreciated because those stats do not show up in the paper?
“I consider myself an offensive lineman. I do what it takes for us to win. The blocking is just part of my position, the fullback position is a blocking position. The Tailbacks get the Press and the touchdowns, but the guys on the offensive line work just as hard, if not harder. I don’t mind blocking that much, I am just out there doing my job and playing football.”
How is the team dealing with the outside criticism this year? Has it been worse then prior years?
“It is just bringing the team closer together really. The coaches and players are coming together and trying to get through this. When the adversity hits, we are staying together and not separating.”
What is the outlook for the rest of the season?
“We are looking to win games here. Hopefully the rest of the season goes our way. All you can do is work hard at practice and work hard in the games and things will turn out well.”