Oct. 31, 2007
Q. Can you talk about where you’ve gone on your bye week, and how it helped mentally and physically?
Travis Thomas: I did absolutely nothing. I left the house one time on Friday to watch my cousin’s game. But it just helps refresh and you prepare you for the second half of the season.
John Carlson: I went home to the great state of Minnesota with my fiancee, Danielle Herndon, she was a volleyball player here. We went fishing, spent time with my family and relaxed.
John Sullivan: I went home, got away a little bit. And tried to refresh myself and get ready to get back here.
Q. How much was that time off for you guys as fifth year guys, how much would it help having some days away to regroup mentally?
John Carlson: I think the bye week’s important no matter what your record is. Where you can kind of restart your batteries, prepare yourself mentally and physically while we can push (no microphone) where we’re at.
Travis Thomas: I think for myself, it’s even more important to prepare mentally with experienced guys it’s just to get away from football and try to recover a little bit, and (no microphone) what’s important for the team.
Q. Obviously, you guys you’re looking to the last four games and improving a lot of things; can you talk about that a little bit.
Travis Thomas: I’m looking to finish strong and go out on a positive note. There’s no giving up. We’ve done it all year, and we’re still working hard like we’ve done since week one. So we’re out there preparing the same trying to get better and find a way to win.
John Carlson: We didn’t plan to be 1-7. We didn’t anticipate that. We didn’t expect that, that’s not where we want to be, but that’s where we’re at. And we have four games left, I certainly don’t want to just move on to 2008, because I’m not going to be here then. We’re not going to be here. And this team has too much pride and too much character to cash it in, and we still have a lot to play for.
John Sullivan: I think the last four games are very important for next year. And I think that if we get on a roll right now and starting this weekend, hopefully through the end of the season, that will help with 2008. So I think we’re playing for a lot. The fifth year guys can be part of that the rest of this year, and that’s what we have to do. After this year’s gone, we’ll all have moved on, but it’s important for the other younger guys to get on the ball for next year.
Q. Even though you guys won’t be here next year, do you feel like the contributions that you make to help the team get ready for next year, that you’ll be part of that success in any way? Have you taken anything away from that?
John Sullivan: There’s a long tradition at Notre Dame. Everybody that’s ever played here, that’s coached here, people that are part of the university. I’m sure guys that played here, those guys feel like they’re part of the team, and they are. That’s just part of being a person here at the University of Notre Dame. Especially next year, speaking for myself, I’ll definitely feel like I’m part of next year’s team. That’s why I feel a lot of responsibility right now to help them move into next year on a positive note.
Q. Another guy, Trevor Laws, just talk about the season he’s had. I know a lot of people had asked about him throughout the year. But just leading the team in tackles eight games into it is, I would think, pretty remarkable.
John Carlson: I don’t know much about playing defensive tackle. But he’s had a good year. He’s worked hard in the off season, works hard in practice. That’s a testament to him and his commitment to this team. I’m grateful that he’s given everything he’s got. I don’t think he’s the only one. But, yeah, Trevor’s having a great year.
Q. (Speaking of Trevor Laws) Is he different in any way as a player, with the attitude, did something just kind of click for him this year? You know, he’s been able to do it?
John Sullivan: I don’t know. That’s probably a question that Trevor could answer the best of anybody. But he just, he’s making plays. He’s made plays in the past, so that’s not all that much different, but it seems like a lot.
Q. Of all the inane stereotypical questions that you get, where does the question regarding the streak against Navy fit in?
Travis Thomas: We’re not oblivious to the fact that there’s a winning streak there. We’re not oblivious. But that discussion’s not carrying on in our locker room. We’re trying to figure out how to win the game, how to win our first home game. I don’t think there’s conversation going on in their locker room about it either. I think they’re thinking how can we beat them to end the streak.
Q. I know you have so much to worry about in your own game plan, but is it a burden in any way?
Travis Thomas: I don’t think so.
John Carlson: I don’t feel it’s a burden.
John Sullivan: We’re a 1-7 football team. We’ve got bigger things to worry about than what’s happened in the past, like trying to get the 2007 Notre Dame team going. We’ve got Navy this week, and we’re going to look to it to try to get it going the way we want it to.
Q. This opponent, above all, is probably more important to sustain drives and take advantage of drives. Is there some anxiety when you’re playing a Navy team, because you know that you’re not going to get as many touches as you would?
John Carlson: First of all, we have a lot of confidence in our defense. We know that Navy’s offense is potent, and they’re very capable of scoring points. But at the same time, we understand that the possessions are going to be limited, and our efficiency is more important this week offensively than any other week. So there is more of a focus this week on being efficient on offense.
Q. Do you anticipate maybe Coach taking more chances maybe 4th and short? He’ll be going for those a little bit more often because of the importance of maintaining possession and taking advantage of the few possessions that you have?
John Carlson: I can’t speak on behalf of Coach Weis. You know, 4th and 1, going for it in situations like that, that’s a situation by situation decision, and ultimately, that’s up to him. We’ll do whatever he wants us to do. And we understand that we need to produce on offense.
Q. How difficult is it to beat any team — I know you haven’t been part of that, but think about that — 43 straight games, 43 straight years. A little mind-boggling?
John Carlson: I think that’s a testament to the players that have played here before us. It’s not so much an issue that concerns us, because we’ve only been part of it for four years. There have been a lot of players before us that sustained that streak. That being said, as Travis said, and I believe John alluded to, the streak isn’t what’s important this week, we need to focus on ourselves and improving and making sure that we come off fast and play well. We know that they’re going to play hard for 60 minutes. There is no question about that. And this streak has no impact on this game as far as I’m concerned.
Q. Just wondering you talked about how you didn’t anticipate or expect this season. If you knew then what you knew now, would it have changed your decision to come back for a fifth year?
John Carlson: Yeah, that’s a hard question to answer because hindsight’s 20/20. After something’s happened, you can always look back and say I could have done this or I could have done that. Am I disappointed in the season and our record so far this season? Of course. Am I disappointed in my decision to come back? No. There’s been a lot more that’s happened this year besides us winning one game and losing seven thus far. And the decision was made for a number of reasons. Of course, I’m disappointed that we haven’t won more games, but, overall, I think I made the right choice.
Q. Talking to a lot of NFL scouts in the last week or so, I’m just wondering — your production’s down because the offense has struggled. But talking to a lot of people in the league they’re not grading you down. Is that gratifying to know that even though your numbers may not be where they were last year, that there are still people out there complimenting your ability to succeed at the next level?
John Carlson: Well, to be completely honest, right now I’m concerned about Navy. We have four more games here. We have one this week that we’re concerned with. Of course I want to play in the NFL some day, that’s definitely a goal of mine. But right now my responsibility is to this team, and I need to do whatever I can to help this team win, and that is where my focus is. So the NFL is something that I’ll deal with when the season’s over.
Q. Could you guys just talk a little bit about the opportunities you see this week because of the Navy defense struggle? It’s no secret that they’ve had a really hard time stopping teams.
John Carlson: Well, if their defense has struggled, you also have to look at the fact that our offense has struggled at times this year. We know that they’re going to come and play hard. And we understand that we need to be more efficient. Something’s going to give this week, and hopefully it will be in our favor. But that is something that will be revealed on Saturday.
Q. (Navy) Coach (Paul) Johnson said when you guys look at Navy films, you probably can’t wait to get on the field. Is that not true?
Travis Thomas: We’re excited to come out every week, and have the opportunity to play on Saturday. To have the opportunity to perform, execute well and win a game. So this week is no different in that respect.
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