Sept. 11, 2008
Q. Mo, defending Michigan’s offense, what are the keys to it? Playing against one or two option teams pretty much every year, is there any benefit to that at all?
Maurice Crum Jr.: Yeah, I think so, just from a standpoint of just the speed of the game and how you adjust to it `cause you can’t really get used to it. But a guy like myself who has played against option football, I know the speed of the game and how fast it is. Also you have to be sound in what it is you do, make sure you tackle well.
Q. With all due respect to Navy and Air Force, is this like the option with really good athletes?
Maurice Crum Jr.: It’s a little different, depending on how they do things. Essentially, I mean, it’s trying to get your players in space.
Q. Coming out of the game on Saturday Coach Weis said in some ways the jury is still out on this team. This weekend, do you feel like one way or the other we’ll know what kind of team you are?
Maurice Crum Jr.: Personally I think it’s just a matter of getting off to the fast start and doing the things we know we can do on a consistent basis. When we do that consistently, then that will show the kind of team that we are.
David Bruton: I believe the same thing. What we show on Saturday will basically showcase what we can do, what we can be. And hopefully it will be for the best.
Q. Did you get a scouting report from Ken (brother is a tight end at Miami (Ohio)) on Michigan?
David Bruton: I’ve talked to Ken a little bit. He was like, “Watch me on the wedge, on kickoff.” He really didn’t give me many hints or anything. He said they’re pretty aggressive on defense. He just wished me luck.
Q. Mo, obviously when we talked after the game you were already getting ready for this game against Michigan. Talk about what this game means to you, being the final time against them.
Maurice Crum Jr.: The first thought that comes to mind is just, Notre Dame Michigan. Nothing else needs to be said. It’s gonna be hyped up. It’s two teams. It’s just a storied rivalry. So, again, a guy being around here for a while, knowing what the game’s about, I always look forward to it.
Q. Obviously a game you want to win based on the fact the last two have not gone the way you would have liked, not to go out with three straight losses, I assume?
Maurice Crum Jr.: Yeah, definitely. For me, it’s the next game on the schedule. It just so happens that it is Michigan. So it adds that extra oomph to it. So always trying to get a win.
Q. Talking to Terrail (Lambert) last night, he was talking about when you were freshmen, your true freshman year, that was after the 38 0 loss. You could see all the amazing emotion. Can you talk about that?
Maurice Crum Jr.: Yeah, I think that was what opened my eyes to this rivalry, being in that situation, just trying to continue the tradition.
Q. Do you talk to the younger guys about that game at all, the previous games, in terms of trying to make them realize it’s that big of a game?
Maurice Crum Jr.: I think everyone pretty much knows. I guess everyone has their own moments, but I think everyone pretty much just knows.
Q. David, your thoughts on this rivalry?
David Bruton: It’s Notre Dame/Michigan. It’s one of the biggest rivalries out there. If you don’t get excited for it, something’s wrong with you obviously. It’s big. You got the maize and blue, then the blue and gold. Just going at it and trying to win. The guys on the team, they all know about the rivalry. Everybody’s excited for it. You don’t really have to try to give them a rah rah speech because they know what this game is about.
Q. Deep down do you use last year’s result as motivation for yourself to turn this around?
David Bruton: A little bit, yeah. Last year we didn’t play as well. We didn’t get off to a fast start. But this is a new year. We got a new mentality for the team. We’re more positive. We’re trying to reach a goal. We’re all in it together.
Q. Looking at Michigan, how hard is it to prepare for a team that could have three different guys at the quarterback position?
David Bruton: You just got to know what each guy can do. One guy might be a better passer. One guy might be able to run the ball a little bit more. One guy might be thrown in on specific situations. You just got to be aware of what’s going on in the game.
Q. Is it easy enough to tell when one guy is in there versus another, realize who is there and what’s going on?
David Bruton: Yeah, one guy in particular just usually runs because he’s the real athlete of the bunch. Then, you got the other two quarterbacks who are generally throwers. So we’ll have a beat on what they’ll be doing.
Q. I know Coach Weis and you are assuming that Carlos is going to play some quarterback. Have you seen any actual footage of him playing that position?
Maurice Crum Jr.: Yeah, just a snap or two. We know he was kind of beat up, so we don’t really know how much that had to do with it. I mean, if he’s there, we got to be ready for it. Again, it’s Notre Dame/Michigan, so everything’s on the line.
Q. I know how you’re going to answer this, and I know you’re not looking at last year, you’re looking ahead. Could you comment about the feeling after the game in the locker room and Coach Weis saying you were going back to training camp. What were some of the first thoughts that came to your mind?
Maurice Crum Jr.: I really don’t remember, to tell you the truth. I’ve put pretty much everything behind me. It was just a rough time. But you got to take from it what you can and try to learn from it and move on, which is pretty much what we’ve done. We’ve done a great job of putting the past behind us and focusing on the team that we have this year.
David Bruton: Yeah, I really don’t remember much. I just remember a sick feeling to my stomach, just real upset that we played as poorly as we did. It’s a new year and we’re looking to get off to a fast start and not really worry about the past.
Q. Because of the approach that was taken in practice from that point on, is that not necessarily a turning point, but is that kind of a demarcation from then to now?
Maurice Crum Jr.: I think it’s just a statement saying we have work to do. We still got work to do. We got to get back to the basics and the fundamentals.
Q. Today is 9/11. Where were you when you found out?
Maurice Crum Jr.: I was in my algebra class actually. We got a message over the intercom, put the TV on. I was almost in disbelief that it could just happen, something like that happened on my home turf, just being a witness to it. Watching it on TV, I couldn’t really grasp the fact that something like that could actually happen.
David Bruton: I was actually in an orthodontist appointment. I heard about it on the way back. Me and my mom were just wondering what was going on, just worried.
Then I get back to the high school and nobody knew about it. I ended up telling my class. The TV was on. We was just watching it. Then we go home after school and there’s the sonic boom that flies over Dayton, because I guess planes were leaving Wright Patt. It was just a big state of shock. My mom kept me and my brother in the house for a couple days, not wanting us to go do anything.
Q. How old were you?
David Bruton: I would have been a sophomore.
Q. 20 year celebration of the national championship, Lou Holtz. You see Lou Holtz on TV all the time. I’m sure Coach Weis has something planned. Has he indicated to you what is planned? Is he going to address it at the pep rally?
Maurice Crum Jr.: Yeah, (Coach Weis) probably do that today at practice, let us know what’s going on with that.
Q. You guys don’t remember 20 years ago. Have you had an opportunity to visit with any of these players that won a national title in the last few years?
Maurice Crum Jr.: Just listening to stories of people who were around and stuff. It’s special, you know. When Notre Dame wins a national championship, it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of guys buying in. I think just from that standpoint, we kind of try to, you know, take their advice `cause those guys have been in our shoes before. Just try to learn from them.
Q. Two things that you liked about what your defense did last Saturday?
Maurice Crum Jr.: For me personally, I think the number one thing is just our attitude, the way we played for one another. Everyone was always calm. Everyone was pretty much on the same page. For me, I think that was probably the biggest thing that I liked about Saturday. And the second thing is probably just the way we flew around, just ran to the ball and stuff. I was really pleased with that.
David Bruton: Two things. Our confidence on the defensive side of the ball. And, two, just how we overcame adversity, especially being down, being able to make a play, get the ball rolling, be able to shut them out the rest of the game.
Q. Is there any player from the `88 team that either one of you particularly want to meet or know more about over the weekend?
Maurice Crum Jr.: Personally, any one of those guys `cause they got something that I don’t have. Obviously they’ve been in a situation that I’ve not been in. So to be able to be in the presence of any guy who has a national championship says a lot.
David Bruton: Just anybody, you know. They played great. I actually read the book. My high school coach had bought me the `88 championship book. I read through the whole thing. I was just in awe about how they went about it, how they faced adversity. Hearing about the Miami Notre Dame game, watched highlights of it. I was amazed how well they played, how they did things together as a team.
Q. As you know, that team beat Michigan without scoring an offensive touchdown that year. Do you see yourselves being opportunistic and perhaps making the kind of plays you don’t have to rely on offense as much?
Maurice Crum Jr.: For us, we always pride ourselves — I mean, on Saturday you don’t know what’s gonna happen. I mean, the game can go anywhere. So we try to depend on one another, whether it be us, the defense, having to step up. Whatever it takes to get the win, then it’s our responsibility to do, whether it be the offense trying to pick us up, having to score more touchdowns. Whatever it is. Special teams coming through trying to change field position. We depend on one another. We all know we’re all human so we’re going to have our up and down days. We just got to be ready to step up for whatever challenge may present itself.
Q. Mo, does your dad have any memories of the `88 Miami game?
Maurice Crum Jr.: We’ve talked about it a couple times (laughter). From those games, he has a lot of respect for Notre Dame, what the whole program was about. That’s kind of when I was getting recruited by Notre Dame, he was very pleased. Just being in those games, you know, brought a lot of respect to him about Notre Dame. Once it’s over, you get a chance to step back, you know, once he’s finished playing, then he kind of realized what the situation was.
Q. Defensively you talk about flying around with the ball, that being a big positive. In any way against an option team do you have to check that?
Maurice Crum Jr.: The first thing we got to do is make sure we all do our individual responsibilities first, and then secondly get to the ball, which is what we preach. You check your responsibility. No matter where the ball is, you got to get there.
Q. Coach Brown was talking about, as a defensive player, if you just do your responsibility, if you just follow the rules, everything will fall into place. Is that a hard concept to wrap your hands around initially?
Maurice Crum Jr.: I think so just because everyone wants to try to make a play. What you don’t realize is trying to make that play can put someone else out of position. Now we have multiple people out of position, allowing the offense a chance to make a play now just because you’re trying to make a play when in all actuality, what you have to do, if you do your job, you’ll make your plays.
I think especially for a lot of guys who are inexperienced, they just get so excited being in the game, being in the game situation, you kind of lose focus. You need to make sure you stay in your responsibility.
David Bruton: Rules govern us. He always preaches us, always tell us that. You can’t just go around the field just trying to make every single play. You got to let the opportunity come to you. When it presents itself, you’ve got to seize the moment. You can’t be a deep middle safety, abandon to the flat because you think the ball’s going there. Next thing you know, the band is striking up for the opposing team. You got to take care of your responsibility. When your responsibility’s taken care of, everything will be all right.
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