Junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen and his fellow Irish captains met the media on Wednesday to offer their thoughts on Saturday's game at Michigan.

Captains Press Conference Transcript - Michigan Game Preview (Sept. 9)

Sept. 9, 2009

THE MODERATOR: We’ve got Jimmy Clausen, and Eric Olsen here at the front table. We’ll start with the questions from the media first before we take any questions from the callers.

Q. Was this a game that you watched much growing up? Do you remember watching Michigan Notre Dame?

Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, I watched a little bit. I would say that I watched the Notre Dame-USC more than I did the Notre Dame-Michigan game. But I watched it on TV ever since I was a little kid.

Q. Any memory that stands out in your mind?

Jimmy Clausen: Not really, not really.

Q. Eric, how about you? Did you grow up watching the game?

Eric Olsen: I was more of a hockey player growing up. When I was a young kid I was watching the Mighty Ducks and watching the Rangers. But I wasn’t much of a college football fan, so I can’t say that I have.

Q. You both played in the game, is this something that you feel a little bit there is something extra to the game?

Eric Olsen: Definitely. Just being a part of the Notre Dame tradition and being in school, you hear about the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry all the time. Both of us that have played in this game before. We know that they’re going to come out playing their best game plan as hard as they can. And they know the same thing goes for us, so it’s exciting for us as a team.

Q. You look at this as a game. You’re both 1-0. You’ve got a good start. Is this a game that can set the tone for the rest of the season for whoever comes out and whoever wins the game, do you think?

Jimmy Clausen: I think so. You know, to be honest, I think the team thinks we’re 2-0. We treated that Hawaii game as the first game of the season. But I think this is the next big step for us. You know, going on the road into Michigan, a hostile environment, 110,000 people there. It’s going to be a big test for us.

Q. If you guys are 2-0, that is a long break between games. That’s a long break. That’s longer than waiting for a bowl game. I’m just wondering in watching your perspective, I mean, when you went to Michigan the first time or your first road start which was Penn State. I mean, your head was probably just completely swimming in those situations.

Jimmy Clausen: My first start against Penn State I was just really excited to get out there and play. They had the first whiteout and everyone was excited. Especially me being 18 years old, 19 years old, going in there and playing in front of that crowd was just great.

And going to Michigan was kind of tough, you know Michigan fans are crazy, and it’s loud in there. I really didn’t know what to expect. But going into that game and getting beat up like I did was not real fun. I think this year’s going to be something special for us.

Q. Are you physically different than you were there or more mentally different than you were then?

Jimmy Clausen: Mentally and physically. But I think the biggest thing is physically. I was 190 pounds or whatever when I was a freshman.

Eric Olsen: You’re welcome for being physically better.

Q. Eric, we were talking to Coach Verducci yesterday, and he said prior to the game on Saturday against Nevada, his only point of reference was the spring game. In the spring game, the offensive linemen kind of reverted back to some old techniques. Do you know what I’m talking about? Can you explain what techniques were changed specifically? What do you do differently now than what you did in your previous blocking techniques?

Eric Olsen: There are a ton of things that we do differently now. But we’ve changed the way we go about blocking a lot of our schemes. I think the biggest thing that we might have reverted back to during the spring game and gotten a little sloppy on was just effort at times. It’s kind of tough to play all out in the spring game when you’re going against your own guys and you have been the whole spring.

But as far as technique wise and stuff Coach Verducci has taught us a lot of new things and given us more tools to work with. I think it’s just a matter of guys breaking bad habits or old habits that they have. And sometimes that’s tough to do, especially early like in the spring game.

Q. I’d asked him if you guys had now learned to play to the whistle, you know, right up through the whistle, play hard the whole play, and he said he wasn’t sure yet. He wasn’t sure whether that had become a habit for you guys yet. What is your perspective on that? Do you think that’s something that you don’t have to think about anymore now?

Eric Olsen: You know, I think that’s something that we’re striving for to be able to play every game for the whole game through the whistle. I don’t think that we’re completely there yet, but, you know, we’re trying to mentally as well as physically condition ourselves to be at that point. And, you know, it definitely takes a lot of work, but it’s something that we focus on every day in practice and work towards.

Q. Jimmy, if you can maybe explain how much your comfort level would be if the Notre Dame quarterback has, I guess, helped you on the field becoming a better player and more confident player?

Jimmy Clausen: I’m comfortable being the quarterback at Notre Dame. Early on in my career, I didn’t know what to expect being the quarterback at Notre Dame. But now I do know the ins and outs of different things, you know whether it’s on the field or off the field. My confidence level off the field is high right now as well as the rest of the guys on the team. And I think that’s just going to help us.

Q. Is it higher than maybe it was at the end of last season, your confidence?

Jimmy Clausen: I say it’s the same. Just being confident each and every time you go out there, whether it’s practice or the games on Saturdays.

Q. With the whole leadership thing you talked about a lot during the spring. Is a lot of that your increased role in that because of the comfort level you have and just the maturity, do you think?

Jimmy Clausen: Not necessarily. I think I’ve been confident when I wasn’t in a leadership role like I am now. Like last year in the Hawaii game, I was confident going into that as well as the rest of the season. And I really wasn’t in a big leadership role like I am right now.

Q. If you could just discuss — I know we talked about last year, what is your relationship with John Ferrera?

Eric Olsen: He’s one of my best friends growing up. We went to middle school together. We had a bond right from day one walking in the door. We were both a head taller than everyone else in the class. That just kind of drew us to each other. We kind of parted ways through high school. Then through the recruiting process in college football we kind of met back up. Got back in touch. And we split ways again, and I’m going to say he made a bad mistake and went to the wrong team, but we still keep in touch.

Q. This weekend is the last time you’re in reality, probably ever going to face him on opposing teams. Do you think about that at all considering how you guys have come together through since sixth grade?

Eric Olsen: Yeah, I just look at it that it’s something special. It’s something we’ll share for plenty of years and tell our kids about down the road. You know, it’s just a good experience, it’s a great experience for both of us. It’s been fun, you know, for both of us at different times. But hopefully it will be fun for me at the end of this one.

Q. You’re pretty close with his dad, too, right?

Eric Olsen: Yes, I am.

Q. What’s that been like? I know he talked to you after the ’07 game?

Eric Olsen: His father and my father have a lot in common. His father was a police officer, and my father was a firefighter. So their jobs are a little different, but they kind of have the same mindset as far as the occupation. And we were raised the same way. So it was really easy for our families to get close.

Q. Jimmy, it’s rare to have one family with a son with a quarterback at the 1A level. Saturday we’ve got two. Did you have any history with the Forciers on the field or growing up in Southern California?

Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, I know the Forciers real well. We both went to Steve Clarkson which was our quarterback coach for a while. When they moved to San Diego they really didn’t workout with Steve too much after that, because they were so far away. But I know the Forciers pretty well.

Q. Did you ever play in a game against any Forciers high school games?

Jimmy Clausen: No, we didn’t. I didn’t.

Q. Not to rehash old memories or cause flashbacks or anything. But that `07 game, where would you rank that in terms of toughest, most difficult things you’ve gone through on the football field?

Jimmy Clausen: That might have been physically the toughest game I’ve ever played.

Q. Looking back at it, I mean, you probably won’t want to let on how much you were beat up. But how beat up were you the next day? Were you in the ice tub 24 hours straight or something or what?

Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, I was pretty banged up after that game. It took me almost three or four, five days to recover from that game. I’m just a totally different person than what I was against Michigan in ’07.

Q. Does that play into any — is there any motivation for you just because of that play and that game, how tough it was, this being the next trip for you? Does that play into this weekend at all?

Jimmy Clausen: To be honest, I really don’t think that I’m worried or thinking about that game or a lot of the guys that were on that team that played in the game, whether it was Eric or Armando, who was another true freshman that played in that game. I don’t think we’re even looking at that game or thinking of that anymore.

Q. Maybe just referencing that game a little bit, not thinking about the score. I know it gets loud here, but with the hype going into the big house, and the noise and intensity you guys having that experience already, is there anything that you’re taking from that experience in terms of that to help you guys?

Jimmy Clausen: I just know from our perspective on offense it’s going to be really loud when we go there in the first series. Especially, we’re just going to try to take the ball down the field and keep moving the ball throughout the rest of the game.

Q. Is there anything you’ve told the younger guys?

Jimmy Clausen: Not really. I think they have an idea how loud it can be when there are 110,000 fans screaming and yelling at you from the time you walk on to the field. So I think they have some idea. But I think they have to find out real soon.

Q. The last two games, Hawaii and Nevada, you guys haven’t faced a whole lot of adversity from the opponent. You just kind of went out and did your thing and ran away with the game. I would imagine you guys are expecting that to be a little bit different on Saturday. Can you talk about how you feel like this team’s maybe better prepared to deal with a team punching back than maybe you were last season?

Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, obviously every team’s going to try to fight back. We’ve just got to keep hammering away. Keep driving the balls down the field and scoring on offense and defense. Just keep getting stops and giving the ball back to the guys on the offense.

Our goal is just to go out there each and every play and convert on that play whatever it is. I think we’re going to do the same thing against Michigan or everyone that we play down the road.

Q. You’re going to feel like what the opponent is doing. Do you try to make that as irrelevant as possible? Is it more about your job?

Eric Olsen: Yeah, personally, it’s about my job, and the offensive line’s job and the offense as a unit’s job. We have faith in our defense. We don’t have to worry about what they’re going to do on the field, because we trust they’re going to do a great job. The biggest thing for us is we’ve got to score points. As long as we outscore the opponent, doesn’t matter how many times they punch back. As long as we outscore them, we’ll win the game.

Q. Talk about Armando yesterday and the wildcat a little bit. He insists if the play comes your way, that you’ll not hesitate to level a devastating crackback block. Do you ever actually practice that? And do you think about that ever happening?

Jimmy Clausen: No, we don’t practice it as quarterbacks. But I think it’s just an instinct and natural for when someone’s running at you you’ve got to throw a block for one of your teammates, so you’ve got to sell out as much as they sell out for you.

Q. What was it like getting into that set on Saturday? Splitting out wide, I’m sure the guys covering you out there didn’t think that would be an alignment that he’d be stuck in.

Jimmy Clausen: No, when I was over on their sidelines, the coaches are screaming double pass. Watch for double pass, things like that. But that’s just one of the packages we have. And I’m willing to do whatever I have to do in that package to help us.

Q. Have you given Armando any tips on passing potentially?

Jimmy Clausen: I’m trying to. He thinks he’s a quarterback. He thinks he’s Mike Vick, but I’m trying to help him out a little bit.

Q. I’m calling for Eric. Can you tell me where you feel you are after one game of moving from left guard to center?

Eric Olsen: I feel like I played decently. I’m not to where I necessarily want or hoped to be. But I feel like it’s step one of pretty much a marathon of the season. I think I’ve taken the first step.

Q. I was talking to John (Ferrara) the other day and he mentioned that two years ago when you guys had some struggles, he reached out to you and last year you reached out to him. I was wondering if you could share a little of what he said to you and what you said to him?

Eric Olsen: As a friend as far as our relationship off the field, I kind of knew what he felt like and what he was going through. I know how tough it is to go through a season where you don’t win nearly as many games as you want to or hope to. And you have to deal with the scrutiny of the fans and the media surrounding the program. And I just kind of gave him a heads up to keep his head on straight because that’s what it’s going to take.

Q. They said if he wins this weekend, he wants a dozen H and H bagels. What do you want?

Eric Olsen: If they win this weekend?

Q. Yeah, he wants a double H and H bagels.

Eric Olsen: So if I win, what do I want? A handshake and a hug from one of my best friends, that’s all.

THE MODERATOR: We’ve now got Kyle (McCarthy) and Scott (Smith) here. We’ll take questions from those in attendance before turning it over to the phones.

Q. Obviously, Coach Tenuta has always had a very aggressive approach to calling plays on defense. He seemed ultra aggressive last week. Is it to the point now with him that you almost expect — I mean, more often than not you expect to be aggressive in blitz as opposed to not, as opposed to sitting back and letting things happen?

Kyle McCarthy: Definitely. I think Coach Tenuta and Coach Brown have really brought a different mentality to the defense than we’ve had in my first couple of years. It’s definitely a go get em attitude, and we’re going to be the aggressive ones. Not sit back and let someone run the offense. So that’s just the mentality and the way we go about doing things.

Scott Smith: I think whether or not you’re blitzing or bringing pressure, everybody’s been taught to play downhill and play aggressive. So just the fact that being a defense that attacks the football, and just gets after it on every play, trying to force back the line of scrimmage and make things happen on their side of the ball is kind of something that is a big part of this defense.

Q. Do you think it puts offenses on their heels? Does it make them less, you know, in control of the situation because they are the one that initiates the play?

Scott Smith: Well, that’s the plan. I mean, obviously, we want to be aggressive and really the goal is to execute what the coach is asking, and to play our defense. But at the same time, you know, we definitely need to — with the offense coming up, their misdirection on offense type offense.

So just like last week, we had had to stay in our gaps and read our assignments. Not try to do too much. You can’t try to make the guys play next to you. You have to stay in your gap and do your thing. You know, that’s the key to being successful, I think.

Q. They did spring a couple of plays up the middle on you. Does it ever stem from being maybe a little too over aggressive in running yourselves into a mistake?

Kyle McCarthy: Obviously, last week we had a successful game. But the saying is the eye in the sky doesn’t lie. And we know we made some mistakes, but that’s the way we come out every day. We work hard in practice to get this corrected.

So we know what we have to work on, and we’ve really taken it to heart with Notre Dame and Michigan. We’re doing everything we can to get better and improve on Saturday.

Q. For both of you guys Saturday probably wasn’t one of your, as a whole, better tackling days. There were some missed tackles. Is that the kind of thing — is it almost like a hitter in baseball early in the season just kind of needing extra at bats in order to get into a groove? Is it the same thing in terms of being a consistent tackler?

Scott Smith: I mean, I think, you know, when you’re going to make a tackle, you have to come to balance. Bring your feet. Try to use your shoulder pads, so I don’t think it really has to do with a hitter in baseball finding their rhythm. Because we’ve gone full speed at times during camp against our offense, which is pretty talented.

So things happen during the course of the game. Maybe taking a bad angle or lunging a little bit too much. But during the course of the game you kind of get that corrected and you move forward because that’s being more of a focus.

Q. Kyle, what do you think?

Kyle McCarthy: Probably to answer that question — I mean, obviously game speed’s a little bit different than the speed you get in practice. But, obviously, we’re not going to make any excuses. We know that we need to improve. We know that we didn’t do our best and tackle our best. So, you know, obviously, that’s an area that we’re working on. But we know that we have the guys in the locker room that are going to get that situation fixed and move on.

Q. Kyle, you grew up a Notre Dame fan, didn’t you?

Kyle McCarthy: Yes, sir.

Q. Any memories of the Notre Dame-Michigan game that stands out growing up?

Kyle McCarthy: Yes, actually, my first Notre Dame game ever was a Notre Dame-Michigan game. I don’t know what year it was. It might have been 1994. I think it was Derek Mayes got a touchdown in the end zone. And Michigan came back and hit a 40-yard field goal to win in the end.

So my first Notre Dame football game was Notre Dame-Michigan, and it wasn’t one that I enjoyed all that much at the end. But it was obviously from a young age you could tell the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry. And, you know, I’m just so, so happy and so humbled to be a part of it.

Q. Does it have a different feeling than some other games just because of the history or the — you know, the closeness of the games in the past?

Kyle McCarthy: Yeah, absolutely. Notre Dame and Michigan are two of the most storied programs in college football. You know, we take every game, seriously, and each week we treat each game the same. Then again, not every game is Notre Dame-Michigan. So this is definitely a game that we’re fired up for.

Our team’s going to be ready for it. The tempo, and the heartbeat of the team is up, so we’re excited to play this game. And, you know, there’s not much more to say. It’s Notre Dame-Michigan.

Q. Scott, did you grow up a Notre Dame fan, too?

Scott Smith: I did, but probably not to the extent that Kyle was.

Q. Any special memories of the Michigan games? Do you recall them at all?

Scott Smith: To be honest with you, not really. I just remember seeing it on TV, and seeing the games, you just knew that there was something special whenever Notre Dame played Michigan, because you’ve got the Big House and you’ve got Notre Dame Stadium. And you’ve got two teams that have been at the top of college football it seems forever. So every time you get those two teams together, it’s going to be something special.

Q. Is it something you’ve talked to the freshmen about or is it that you assume they can kind of feel it because the way everybody else is acting?

Kyle McCarthy: I think the freshmen know what’s up. You know, just the mood in the locker room, the tempo of practice. I think they realize that they came to Notre Dame for games like this Saturday. So they’re going to be ready to play. And if they’re not, when they go on the field for pregame and you get all those 100 and however many thousand Michigan fans screaming in their face, they’ll know what time it is.

Q. After last year’s game, couple players mentioned that Coach Weis was kind of — gave a pretty good speech before the game. Do you recall that at all? Was that something that got a little emphasis last year?

Scott Smith: Obviously, I don’t really remember exactly what he said. But it was obviously one of the most fired up I’ve seen coach. I think that energy just kind of brought us up to another level in getting ready to play.

Q. Scott, I think Kyle mentioned freshmen going out there in Ann Arbor, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly what it’s about. What do you remember about your experience up there? I mean that was the first playing time you got in your Notre Dame career, and I think you were in on a tackle on one play.

Scott Smith: It’s definitely one of those experiences you’ll never forget. And being on the sideline, and I see Corey Mays running off the field. I still don’t know to this day what the exact reason was. Just running in there and having all these emotions run through your head. You’re like, all right. I’m at Michigan.

There’s what seems like a million people in this tiny little place. So it’s just something that is really special for me. I feel pretty blessed that I get a chance to go back there. This will be my third time going back to Michigan.

Q. Do you remember how that play unfolded? Did you feel like you even knew what you were doing? You were just running around looking for the ball?

Scott Smith: It seemed like just high school. Running around and trying to tackle whoever had the football. There wasn’t much thinking involved. There were certain times during the course of the game where you just can’t think and you’ve got to let your instincts take over.

Q. Do you share that with some of the freshmen this week?

Scott Smith: I don’t think so. I think everybody is going to kind of get the chance. Those guys that are playing, to kind of make their own first memory of being at Michigan. Just like they had the chance to kind of savor their first time running out of the tunnel last Saturday. It’s just something that I think they need to experience themselves. They don’t need to hear something from the old man of the team about when I was a freshman. This is what I got to do. So I’ll let them kind of figure it out for themselves.

Q. As far as, you know, last week, you go against the most experienced quarterback you’re going to face all year to this week, maybe the least experienced. How much does that factor into how you prepare a game plan, you know, what you set out to do? When you’re facing a quarterback who essentially has one game under his belt?

Kyle McCarthy: I don’t think it affects how we prepare too much. Obviously, last week we had a whole bunch of games to review the quarterback and see what he does. The challenge this week is we really only have one game to evaluate these guys that play quarterback. From the game that I saw, they’re obviously more than capable of running that offense and have very talented kids.

It’s going to be a challenge for us to shut down that offense, as you guys saw last week. I think they’re really clicking on all cylinders. But, that’s a challenge for our defense, and we’re excited to really take that to heart. We’re out there working to try to stop them.

Q. What did you see from Forcier when you watched tape? What did he do so well that impressed you?

Kyle McCarthy: One thing was that you couldn’t tell that it was his first collegiate game. He really ran that offense well. You see plays where his instincts kind of took over after the play broke down. I think his first touchdown pass, the play broke down, he just scrambled and hit his receiver going across the field. And that was a play that he created himself.

So he’s got the ability and talent to take a game over. But I think our defense is pretty good. So it will be fun to watch on Saturday.

Q. From the brief time that Robinson was in there … can you talk about what you saw there?

Kyle McCarthy: First thing when you watch him on film is he has phenomenal speed. You know, anything — he can take a ball and his first touchdown run was, I think, a broken play.

So those guys have the ability to make something out of nothing, which is pretty special. But like you said before, with both guys we’ve got to play within ourselves. We have to play our defense and I’m confident that we’re going to do well.

Q. Can you practice broken-down plays? I mean, is that something you work on?

Kyle McCarthy: No, that’s just something that you, as a football player, your instincts have to take over, and in that situation, we just need to, you know, attack the ball and break down and move our feet and get the guy on the ground.

Q. I’m curious about Brian Smith. You can just feel his presence out there on the field. Can you talk about what he brings to the defense and your unit?

Scott Smith: I don’t think in the time I’ve been playing football I’ve ever met somebody who enjoys playing football more than Brian does. That’s just something that if you’re around him enough and you feel his in energy and feeling his presence, it just rubs off on you. Just the way he approaches every game, and the intensity that he plays with. You know, it’s something that’s part of what makes him so good.

Q. You touched on it a little bit. How much of that has rubbed through you guys in his three seasons here?

Scott Smith: I think he’s one of the emotional leaders of our team. I think you have to look at Brian as one of those guys. Although he might never seem to shut up, that’s part of who he is, and that’s part of what makes him special is the fact that he’s willing to put himself out there and be that guy to try to maybe push our team through days where we’re, you know, maybe not feeling as great as we were the day before.

But he is just the same guy all the time just looking to make plays and be aggressive. Every time he’s on the football field, he has a whole bunch of fun.

Q. Kyle, how has Corwin maybe changed? His role has changed a bit, but have you noticed differences in him in the past six months?

Kyle McCarthy: Not really. I think he’s still pretty much the same guy. What you see is what you get. Maybe he can spend a little more time with us, with the defensive backs. And, I think that really has benefited us.

He’s, like I said last week, he’s been to the next level. He’s done what we all want to do. So we really respect him. When he speaks you’re going to listen, because he has some insight to some film break down that you might not see as a young player. He’s just got a tremendous football mind. I’m happy to play for him.

Q. He’s obviously given you a lot of teaching points throughout his time here. Is there anything specific that stands out? Any specific examples?

Kyle McCarthy: Probably just he really encourages me to be a vocal guy on the field. You know, my first couple of years I really wasn’t too much of a vocal guy. I just kind of went out there and played. But he told me from the beginning if I was ever going to play safety for him, that I was going to need to speak up and line the defense up. And I’ve worked with him at that, and I think it’s worked out.

Q. How exactly did he do that? He was yelling at you and you had to yell back?

Kyle McCarthy: Well, if I didn’t do what he said he just put me on the sideline, so I listened.

Q. You guys mentioned Robinson has speed. I guess kind of a jokingly type question, the fact that the guy doesn’t tie his shoelaces, how bizarre is that to see a guy do that?

Kyle McCarthy: Well, I don’t believe it can be done, so we’ll have to see on Saturday.

Scott Smith: I mean, I’ve got nothing.

Q. Yesterday Coach Weis singled you out as one of the guys who has kind of taken Manti under his wing. What is that process like and what specifically have you been trying to show him?

Scott Smith: I think the first thing everybody really notices about Manti is how physically ready he looks to play. And ever since he got here in the summer, you know, every day through the workouts and studying film on our own and kind of learning the playbook, he’s just put in as much effort as anybody to try to get himself ready to go.

So I think a lot of the credit has to go to him and just the fact that he’s really worked hard to try to put himself in a position to play. Being one of the older guys, it’s kind of my job to kind of guide him through that learning process. So, you know, just whether or not I’ve taken him under my wing, maybe something that I thought of doing, but he’s done enough on his own that he deserves the majority of the credit for everything he’s done.

Q. Kyle, talk about now being a captain. How important or what mindset did you come into the season with given your progress, and also kind of the state of the team the last two years? Did you feel like there was unfinished business to attend to?

Kyle McCarthy: I think the mood of this team is different than I’ve had in years past. This group of guys has really been through a lot. We’ve seen the successes and the failures in the last two seasons. So I really haven’t done much.

I think it’s been a team effort where we’ve really come together and worked hard in the offseason. We know the type of talent that we have in the locker room, but having high expectations doesn’t translate to wins on Saturday. So this team’s really taken it upon themselves to work hard both on and off the field, and try to get wins on Saturday. We’re not going to try to talk too much, we’re just going to try to go out there and perform.

Q. You mentioned after the game Saturday how much Harrison helps you maybe break the mold a little bit. Do you feel like there are the other guys on the defense that allow you to maybe maximize your talent more so than if you just kind of played the role that the position gives you?

Kyle McCarthy: I don’t think I quite heard everything you said. But as far as the other guys on the team really helping us out on the defensive side and really opening up our defense, this defense definitely has a different face this year. We have so many guys that are athletic and can play so many spots that it gives Coach Tenuta and Coach Brown the ability to game plan a little bit differently, and maybe put guys in positions to make some big plays.

So with the new guys that we have this year, we’re confident that we can really make the big play this year, and I think our defense has improved.

Q. Given your family’s history, was there any other school than Notre Dame that you envisioned playing for? Also coming from Youngstown, it’s a town that’s prided itself on work ethic. Do you kind of take that into how you play football?

Kyle McCarthy: To answer the first question, I absolutely considered other schools probably the school that came in second was Ohio State. So I’m sure Michigan fans would like that. Then my younger brother was actually probably down between Notre Dame and Michigan, because Michigan wanted to play quarterback. So that would have been a good story.

To answer the other question, being from Youngstown and growing up in a blue collar town like that means so much to me. You know, it’s really I know where my heart is. And everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from the people in the Youngstown area, and I’m just so proud and so privileged to be from that area.

Q. I was just wondering. Obviously, you’ve got a lot of confidence from the opener. I was wondering what a win against Michigan would do both for your confidence and the momentum?

Scott Smith: I think coming out of the opener we’ve gained a lot of momentum and confidence in our team. Looking at all three phases, offense, defense and special teams, obviously we realize this weekend at Michigan is a huge game, and they’re going to bring their best effort, and we’re going to bring our best effort.

So like we did in the first game it’s all about showing up and performing on Saturday, and going out there and giving everything we’ve got and hoping for the best.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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