Sept. 10, 2004
Today’s game with Michigan is a special one for all of us at Notre Dame. The rivalry between the two schools is one of college football’s best. The game is always a measuring stick for us and I think it’s the same for them too.
One of the most important things about this game is that both teams know that whoever wins this game has a good football team with a chance to be great. But there are other reasons why I am looking forward to this game. I guess the main reason is that it’s a chance to show the nation that Notre Dame football is on the way back.
Being the Notre Dame quarterback is a privilege and honor. Meeting former Irish quarterbacks like Joe Montana really made that clear to me. Joe occasionally visits our team and, over the last year or so, we’ve spoken several times about the Notre Dame experience. He’s really helped me deal with the enormity of being the quarterback here – both the good and bad of it. Having the greatest quarterback of all time helping you out is an amazing thing.
I played a lot last year in my first year at Notre Dame, but I really feel this season is my chance to be a true leader for this team. When I talk about leadership, I’m not just talking about being a vocal type of player. I am more of a person who tries to lead through action while always being a teammate who can be counted on both on and off the field.
I have made some progress in the leadership area this year through the offseason. I want my teammates to know they can count on me when they need direction on the field or a friend to talk to when they may be struggling off the field. There have been several times this year where I’ve been able to be that kind of teammate. As time has passed, I have become more comfortable in my role. And, I think my teammates are more comfortable with me, as well. We are building a special chemistry with this team this year that will only improve as the season develops.
When I came to Notre Dame, I really didn’t imagine taking over the starting role during my first season on campus. I didn’t come to Notre Dame just because I thought I could take over and start right away. I chose Notre Dame because it just seemed like I belonged here.
During recruiting my high school coach, Mark Crabtree, told me I would know when I was at the right place for me. He also told me that there’s a special feeling at Notre Dame that is impossible to describe. I really didn’t get that feeling until my official visit during my senior year. It just seemed like I belonged here – and it will probably always be like that for me.
Enjoy today’s game – Go Irish!!