Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn was one of several players surrounded by reporters at Media Day on Monday, Aug. 9.

Football Media Day Player Quotes

Aug. 9, 2004

The Notre Dame football program hosted its 2004 edition of Media Day on Monday, Aug. 9. In addition to a detailed press conference from head coach Tyrone Willingham, the entire roster of Irish players (except freshmen) were available to media members on Monday.

A number players comments and subjects follow and you can access Coach Willingham’s press conference on the football main page of

Senior defensive end Justin Tuck On the team’s attitude heading into the season… “Coming off the season we had last year, we know we’re a lot better than that. We’re real hungry this year – you can tell from the look in people’s eyes. In the last days of training we were all real anxious. People want to get back on the field, get back out there. We’ve got a lot of leadership and we want to disregard last year and put it in the past. Last year was disappointing and we don’t want to think about it anymore.”


Senior DE Justin Tuck



On using last year’s losses as motivation… “We look at Michigan, we look at Florida State and we look at all those teams that absolutely dominated us on the field. They’re an extra driving force for us this off-season.” On his rehabilitation from knee surgery… “I think it was harder mentally more than physically. It was the first big injury I’ve ever had in my career, so it was hard mentally for me to have to go to rehab four times a week. That’s hard to do when you see your teammates on the field and you’re sitting on the side coaching.” Senior linebacker Derek Curry On the linebacker’s expectations for the season… “We’ve got really high expectations. Every year you go in and want to be the playmakers on defense. I’m really excited to play with Mike (Goolsby) again this year. I’m really looking for some good stuff out of everybody, maybe even some guys who haven’t been on the field much before.” On what Mike Goolsby’s return brings to the team… “He brings back something that’s really central to me, which is attitude. Mike and I have really big attitudes, and that’s one thing that I like that he brings back to the table. Courtney (Watson) was a mental energy guy. He didn’t talk a lot, but his actions showed he was a high-level player. When you lose that, you have to have something to counterbalance that and I think Mike, myself and (Brandon) Hoyte have the attitudes to take that place.” On his preparation for the season… “I’ve been working really hard, more on my playbook and watching a lot of film in the off-season to prepare me to be better than I was last year.” Senior free safety Quentin Burrell On the role of the younger players in the secondary this season… “They’re most definitely going to have a role this season. Guys like Tom Zbikowski and Freddie Parish are going to play a pivotal role in our success this year. We’re going to need them all and they’re all going to have to step up.” On his role as a veteran…


Quentin Burrell makes and interception in the endzone vs. Michigan State in ’03.



“The main thing is to stay consistent. Preston (Jackson) and I have the most experience and we have to stay consistent game in and game out. There are a lot of things I know from watching film that I can work on from last year. Hopefully I can just build upon last year and take my game to the next level. The main things I need to work on are run support, coming out of my breaks quicker, reading the quarterback and little things like that.” On the biggest challenge the secondary faced last season… “We didn’t really change anything from two years ago. Some people just let the hype go to their heads. Everything was still the same, but the ball didn’t roll our way last year. Last year we just didn’t get the breaks.” Senior linebacker Brandon Hoyte On his feeling heading into this season… “I owe this team so much and I believe, in my eyes, I didn’t realize my potential (last season). That’s something that has been poking me in my side since we stepped off that field at Syracuse. The amount of dedication that this team has put in this summer and in the winter is huge. When you have individuals around you that are working hard, there’s nothing else to feel but good.” On turning last season’s losses into motivation to get better… “You learn from them, first of all. It’s also a great time to reevaluate yourself and ask what your purpose is here, and then follow through on it.” On the linebacking corps’ leadership role this season… “The linebacker position is a leadership role, and we have the most experienced group on the defensive side of the ball. I’m excited because it’s time that we, as linebackers, step up. When you’re put in that leadership position, you have to follow through because you can’t expect other individuals on the team to compete at a high level if you yourself are not.” On Notre Dame’s challenging 2004 schedule… “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t (want to play the best). When it’s time to play college football and you call yourself a top player, you want to play the best. I wouldn’t feel comfortable if we didn’t play the best. Every season, we know we played the best, and when we win, we know we’ve beaten the best.” Sophomore defensive lineman Trevor Laws On the importance of quickness to the Irish defensive line… “It’s everything. Derek (Landri) and I have both been around 300 (pounds) before and the coaches want us down to 280 or 285 because the defense has a lot of movement, stunting and slanting. You have to be quick to move around the offensive linemen. The techniques we employ at Notre Dame make being quick a good thing.” Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn On being the starter from the beginning of the season… “It’s really not much different, but that’s how I look at it. I’m still out there competing and trying to get better everyday. You can’t get too comfortable with where you are. It can be a good thing, but it can be a bad thing if you don’t keep getting better.” On Notre Dame’s improvement on offense… “With the entire unit back for the most part, you’re definitely going to see some giant strides made this season. It’s going to be everywhere – the running game, the passing game, everything.” On what the offense needs to do to elevate its game… “We need to make more big plays on offense. That kind of stuff can change the momentum of the game and a lot of times, it could have been the breaking point against some of our opponents last year.” On what he has done to improve during the off-season… “I’ve been working on one-on-one routes and just getting with the wide receivers to get a feel for what they’re like and what they’ll do in certain situations.” On the speed of the game… “It’ll slow down even more this year, but right now it’s where I want it to be. It’s only going to progress as the year goes on.” On having a Ryan Grant as a weapon out of the backfield… “Ryan’s experience, leadership and work ethic are a big positive for the team. He makes me a lot more comfortable out there.” Senior offensive tackle Mark LeVoir On how the Notre Dame offensive line can improve over last year… “Basically, it’s just hard work. The only way to get better is through hard work. You have to be your toughest critic.” On dealing with last season’s struggles… “It’s always tough to lose. No one here wants to lose. Our goal every game is to go out there and win and all you can do is work for that. We know what the feeling was and we don’t want to let it happen again. We have to work that much harder to get where we need to be.” On Brady Quinn starting at quarterback from the beginning of the season… “It’s good because we can gel and develop chemistry. Everyone is on the same page. It’s definitely a plus.” On the team’s off-season conditioning… “It was more intense (than last year), because everyone knew that we needed to work harder. Everyone brought it, and it was fun. The coaches did a great job in trying to make it fun, but we also continued to work hard.” Senior offensive lineman Dan Stevenson On his goals for the upcoming season… “The big thing for us is to be consistent, especially from the beginning. We want to go out there and prove that we’re a dominant unit.” On playing against some of the nation’s top defensive units… “We’ve got to play every down. We don’t have any special approach to it, we’ve got to go out there and play every down.” Senior wide receiver Carlyle Holiday On switching from quarterback to wide receiver… “No offense, but playing quarterback, it’s a tough position, especially here. When you step out of the spotlight, it’s a sigh of relief. To just go back to playing comfortable and having fun out there on the football field.” On his comfort at wide receiver…


Senior WR Carlyle Holiday



“Right now I’m very comfortable at receiver. I’m to the level where you don’t have to learn as much as someone coming in playing receiver from high school, or something like that. Right now my comfort level is very high. I enjoy working out with the receivers. I look at it as a very competitive group and I see a lot of bright things in the future.” On if his professional future is hurt being a converted wide receiver… “I don’t think so. I may not have some of the advantages a receiver had playing four years of college, but I feel that I’ve worked hard, I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve learned by watching by example, strengthening my value at that position.” Senior running Back Ryan Grant On his performance last season… “Last year was not a representation of what kind of back I am. I know I can go out there because I’ve done it before.” On his confidence going in to the season… “It’s high because I know myself and the type of person I am. I feel like I know how to play football, now I just have to go out and do it. I’ve put in the work, and I know I can do it, so it’s just a matter of going out there and doing it.” On how his confidence rubs off on the rest of the team… “I think last year, you look at films, you look at games and you can just see the demeanor of the team, as the season went on, just started to deflate. There are going to be ups and downs to a season every year. We need to come together. What stems from that is the leadership. We need guys stepping up. Whatever happens, what ever the case may be, we need to come together. That’s football. That’s part of the competition.” On the leadership of sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn… “Brady has matured. He’s a great leader on and off the field. He is way ahead of his years. He will do whatever it takes and be someone for the offense to stand behind. I’m impressed with the way he carries himself on and off the field. That’s what you want out of your quarterback.” Junior wide receiver Rhema McKnight… On the experience of the team… “Right now as a team we have a lot of experience coming back. Whether they’re returnees, or freshman that started right away. Like Brady (Quinn), he’s a freshman returnee and he’s ready to step up and make big plays. Myself, Ryan Grant, Maurice (Stovall), Carlyle (Holiday), Derek Curry, Mike Goolsby – I think veterans play a big role this year, and hopefully we can come out and make plays and win.” On the high or low expectations affecting this season and the previous two seasons… “People say it’s pressure, but I don’t think it’s pressure. I think it’s a challenge that we need to step up to. I don’t look at it as pressure because sometimes pressure is a good thing. I look at it as a challenge and I think we’ll turn it around.” On the advantage of having played every year, coming into his junior year… “It does put me at an advantage and I’m going to take every advantage I can take. If it’s my third year playing or whatever it may be, I’m going to take advantage of it.” On opening game opponent Brigham Young and the success against them last year… “It’s not a matter of past success, it’s just a matter of knowing you are going up against a great team. BYU is a good team and they’ve got a good defense. We’re just looking forward to the challenge.” On the second opponent, Michigan, and the lack of success against them last year… “Personally, right now, all I’m looking at is BYU. I’m not worried about Michigan or anyone else.” Senior defensive end Kyle Budinscak On helping the defensive backs… “Any time the quarterback stands in the pocket and completes a pass after five seconds, you better not be looking at anybody but yourself. We absolutely can help them and we plan on doing that. But I think they are going to help us also, get us a couple of those coverage sacks.” On last year’s absence of Mike Goolsby… “Yes, absolutely it hurt. Anytime you have a guy like that, that is a good leader and will put himself out in front. I think a lot of people look up to him and he’ll bring a lot with his play.” On the improvements of the offense from what he has seen in practice… “What I see is that they are a little more confident. There’s a young offensive line there. It’s their turn to be Notre Dame offensive linemen and I think they are on the path to being a lot more mature. Of course we have Brady Quinn, and we have a lot of great, great receivers. We have some good running backs and those guys have all the tools too.” Senior defensive tackle Greg Pauly On the necessity of speed and quickness on the defensive line… “We run a lot and it’s kind of hard to be almost 300 pounds and run as much as they expect us to. On his leadership and getting young players ready to play… “Two-a-days are no fun and we try to make them as enjoyable as possible. I think we can help them with that aspect and getting them to start working hard.” On the attitude of the defense two years ago compared to last year, and his expectations for the attitude of this year’s unit… “Two years ago we were making the big plays and getting those fumbles. Last year wasn’t working out that way for us. When you get those two things working together, you’ll see it.”