Nov. 9, 2016
University of Notre Dame Football Media Conference
Q. Brandon is in kind of a different situation playing as a true freshman, red-shirting as a sophomore. What have you seen him gain out of that experience this year?
DeShone Kizer: Brandon and I talked at the beginning of the season about his mind-set going into the season, knowing there’s a good chance he’s going to be red-shirted. And I think he stayed true to what we talked about then and that was just to take this as an opportunity to learn as much as he can.
I think it’s really unique to go out and get thrown into the fire, see what it feels like to play in front of 80,000, and then you know, come back and evaluate that and also look from the outside in, our situation here to best prepare him.
I think this year is going to be very valuable for him and when he is called back out to perform for us, he’s going to be one heck of a player one day. So we all kind of know his arm talent because it’s power five ready to be a starter. And when his name is called, I’m very certain that through this year off of really learning the ins and outs of what we like to do here on offense that he’ll be ready to go.
Q. Your own experience red-shirting, how do you think your freshman year red-shirting maybe compares to what he’s going through?
DeShone Kizer: I think it’s very similar in the sense that my freshman year, I watched a great competition between Everett and Malik, two great quarterbacks who were challenging each other each day and I was able to learn from the dynamic of that competition. I think he’s doing the same thing, as Malik and I continue to compete each day.
Obviously it’s a little different because he was able to have the on-field experience that I got, not until my sophomore year, he was able to go through that already.
Now he’s in the position that he knows he can make the throws that he needs to make, and he has the confidence rather than having a question mark about whether he can carry over his high school success like I had at the time. So with confidence that he has, knowing that he can make the throws, along with learning from our competition, I think it will be good for him.
Q. You mention the last two years, working on your mechanics, is he almost — does he have less to work on throwing mechanics-wise than maybe you had?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, he rips the ball. He definitely throws one of the best balls on the team for sure.
As far as mechanics, I don’t see enough reps with him in game to completely be able to critique that, nor am I in a position to critique his throwing style. We’ll see what it looks like when his time comes, to come back out and compete to play here. Next off-season we’ll really be able to gauge ourselves and I look forward to competing with him whenever that time does come.
Q. Not asking you to reveal what you’re going to decide after the season, but if you do come back, what would the competition with you versus him be like?
DeShone Kizer: I think there’s going to be three guys here who all have the ability to throw the ball with the best of them. There’s going to be three guys who have had the experience in game, and that competition is going to be very interesting.
I don’t know if anyone has ever had a situation where there’s three guys as qualified as we are to go out and compete to start. I think that with my experiences playing the last two years, that I’ll have the ability to look back on some game stuff that they really haven’t.
But at the same time, as far as throwing the ball and understanding where we are, there’s going to be three true veterans who know what Notre Dame football looks like, so the competition is going to be great.
Brandon has a really live arm. Malik we know is a very good quarterback, and then with me and my experience, it’s going to be a very interesting off-season.
Q. Just being in bounceback mode again this week, what’s the mind-set in the locker room?
DeShone Kizer: We learned quite a bit the last week. We definitely learned how to value our possession on the offensive side of the ball. You know, six possessions, one punt and a couple field goals; and you would think that that would be enough in the sense of putting up as many points as we need to.
But obviously playing in that game, we learned that when we’re down in the red zone, and you can — seven rather than three, and when you have the opportunity to take shots, you’ve got to be successful with them, because your possessions are limited when you’re playing against a triple-option team.
I think that is something that we’re going to be able to build off of going into Army, having the understanding of how important a possession is. I think we’re ready to go. This team is very unique in the sense that no matter what the outcome of the game before, we’re able to come back and really push ourselves and compete and have the positive mind-set needed to go out and win games.
Like I said, consistently since that Duke game, there’s been a different vibe on this team, and I think that that vibe will maintain and continue to lead us forward in learning in these losses and the few wins that we have on how to prepare ourselves to win more games.
Q. What’s that like as a quarterback to only have six possessions in a game?
DeShone Kizer: It’s rough. You don’t even notice it. And the possessions that we had were so long; I think five of them were ten-plus plays. So with that, it was definitely a different feeling to be on the sideline as long as you are. You have got to re-warm your arm back up every time you go back out there.
But once again, now looking back at it, I’ll be able to truly value those opportunities that we do have, because they are limited when you play against a triple-option team. Last year we talked about it, we tried to prepare ourselves mentally but we were still able to go out and run 70-plus plays and have kind of a typical game on offense.
This past year, we talked about it. Kind of left it behind in the sense that I thought we were going to be able to get the plays that we needed to get, and it came back and hurt us at the end when we didn’t have the opportunity to go down and score a couple more points and a couple more drives.
Q. Is it more difficult losing by one possession each time? A couple of these games were blowouts, but the fatigue maybe wouldn’t be there as much.
DeShone Kizer: Losing is losing no matter how it comes; one point, a hundred points. I absolutely hate losing.
To experience the one-possession losses, definitely eats you up a little more because you can put a little more emphasis on those last drives when the ball is in your hand and you have an opportunity to score. It definitely eats you up a little more in that sense.
As a competitor, no matter how I lose, I’m going to hate it. I’d rather — to answer your question, I think I’d rather have the ball in my hand than have an opportunity to go win a game than to get blown out.
Obviously it does kind of wear down on you to be as close as we are consistently, but I would definitely rather have the opportunity to go down and put the game on the line with one possession, because I know that I have the confidence that when the ball is in my hand that, we’ll have the opportunity to score and we will score, to win games.
Obviously we haven’t had the success we wanted to this year but I still have the confidence that if it is the fourth quarter and the game is on the line and the ball is in my hands, we’re going to score a touchdown and win the game.
Q. Knowing that Army runs the same type offense and has the ability to eat up the clock like Navy, does that put pressure on you to speed up or try to score faster so that you can get more possessions?
DeShone Kizer: You have to take what the defense gives you. As similar as Army and Navy are on offense, they are completely different on defense. Army is very good at what they do in the sense that they are changing their looks consistently. They are blitzing from all over the place. They are three-down, they are four-down, they are two-high, they are one-high. They are all over the place. You have to be able to make sure you take what the defense is giving you.
Against Navy, you can consistently get a few looks; where you knew that when it was time to take a shot, it’s time to take a shot and you can kind of just feel the ups and downs of the game.
But against Army, it’s important that we maintain the patience needed to take what Army has given us. When there’s an opportunity to take shots, we have to take them. And that might be a fourth read on a play, rather than kind of looking ahead into the drives and knowing when the time is to take a shot; and you have to know within that one play that this might be the only look that we get to throw a post over the top. So that that’s the time to take it.
Once again, Army is very good at throwing a bunch of different looks at you, so you have to just block in on those opportunities that they give us.
Q. You’ve thrown to Durham Smythe in the red zone the last couple games. What’s your trust level like with him and how has that rapport grown throughout the season?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, last year we didn’t target the tight ends much in red zone, and this year we put an emphasis on getting to our veteran guys when we’re down there. Durham is a guy that when I throw the ball his way, in my mind, every time it’s a catch.
So if the defense is going to give us an opportunity to put a linebacker on a guy who has been here for as many years as he has and has the experience that he has, it’s my job to make sure that the ball gets to him.
There’s some design plays to the tight end that we were able to get to; just like that little leak out against Navy. And there’s going to be some opportunities again this week to take advantage of some matchup problems that might come with the linebacker being on a tight end like Durham.
That rapport is definitely growing and my trust in him it through the roof. So anytime we’re down there, and if there’s an opportunity to put the ball near him, with his size and his experience, I’m going to definitely throw the ball his way.
Q. I wanted to see if you could expand what you said that the vibe has been different since the Duke game.
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, you know, we as a team, really looked at ourselves in the mirror after that Duke game. We obviously — a tough loss against Texas, a tough loss against Michigan State. We still got the mind-set of we’re one of the better teams in the country, and then we go out and take a tough loss against Duke and that was an opportunity for us to really see who we are and how to go about the rest of the season.
And the answer to that was to have a new level of energy, a new level of optimism to truly pressure each win, each rep and that’s what kind of has driven us in practice now. We’ve got guys flying around, no matter what our record looks like. Every practice is a great opportunity for us to be a Notre Dame athlete and I think that you can feel that when you’re out there.
We are a group of winners, even though our record doesn’t show it, and we know that we believe in ourselves and we’re truly having a good time playing this game.
Obviously we would love for our record to be different, and we would love to be in a position to achieve the goals that we set out for at the beginning of the season, and instead, we’re not there. We’ve had to change our mind-set elsewhere.
And I think that we found that after the Duke game, that the best way to go about practice is to continue to compete and to show the drive needed to potentially go out and win games. If allow this season to dawn down (ph) you and wear you down, I think it becomes a lot more difficult than it is now.
I think that we have the mentality and the drive to go out each week and to treat it for the one-game season that it is, and try to get a victory through an optimistic mind-set and a new level of energy.
Q. I asked but this after the game, but Torii in the end zone, as you went back and watched the film, what did that look like? Where did that need to be a little bit better, or just one of those small things that turned out to be a big thing?
DeShone Kizer: Once again, it’s a throw that you don’t really practice. It’s not necessarily a specific read that I made to expect something out of Torii. It was more of an aggressive back shoulder throw that I wanted to make; that I’m hoping to connect with him on a level that isn’t necessarily what a practice look looks like.
The ball was a little high and outside. I think if that ball was more of a level ball and I had the back of his helmet, he’s able to make that adjustment. But at that time and place, I was throwing the ball downfield a little more. A little bit of a miscommunication with him breaking at a lower angle, which I would expect him to do; but by the design of the play, I could easily have dropped it down to a hitch right outside with the corner bailing, but I decided to take a shot in the end zone and try to throw a back shoulder ball.
Once again, he took a lower angle, which we have told him to do a thousand times, so I can’t put the blame on anyone but myself. Just trying to get aggressive and score some points in the red zone.
Q. So he’s running the route as designed, and you’re throwing the route as the coverage is played?
DeShone Kizer: Exactly. I think that’s a valid explanation. They brought the safeties to take away the inside route to the running back running down the middle of the field and I wanted to replace that safety by throwing a back shoulder ball. Once again, a miscommunication a little bit in terms of where I wanted him to be and where he actually was.
Q. What have you sort of learned about yourself as quarterback this year?
DeShone Kizer: You know, last year, I was able to be a part of a very successful team, a very successful season. Get thrown into the fire. Bring us back in some fourth quarter games, be a part of a couple blowouts, be a part of a couple close games, and those experiences led me into a very good off-season and to have the confidence needed to go out and start in another season here. And now we’re here, and those experiences definitely helped me out in these fourth quarter times.
But I think that this season, the most important thing that I’ve taken from it so far is the ability to appreciate the rep to rep success, when you’re playing with a bunch of veteran guys last year, it’s almost expected for us to have the success that we had in those fourth quarters.
And this year really showed me with the younger core that we have in the skill positions, that each time you get an opportunity to step out there is a new opportunity for you to represent yourself and to show the developments that you’ve made throughout your career here and throughout the games that you’re stringing together.
I think through the losses, I’ve learned that they really — in order to be an elite quarterback at the college level, you have to understand and appreciate the success that you do have when you do have it. Because it can be taken away quickly with a couple aggressive throws, a couple bad checks, a couple balls that end up in the dirt.
And you know, for me, I think that I have definitely learned that so far this season and I definitely have a new appreciation for the opportunity that I have to step out and represent Notre Dame.
Q. You referenced a question about Brandon and next year and all that. Are you coming back?
DeShone Kizer: You know, at this point I’m so focused in on doing whatever I can to get us to a position to be Bowl-eligible, I haven’t really put the time and thought needed to make a decision.
I know that there will be an opportunity for me to play at the next level, whether or not it would be first round, second round, third round, we have no idea. Once again, I haven’t informed myself enough to make a good decision.
Right now I’m just focused on how I can better myself and what it takes for me to win games here. Obviously that next level is something completely different, and I don’t know where I fit in in that environment. I just know that right now, I fit in this environment pretty well and I’ve got to do whatever it takes to get a win against Army.
Q. Does what’s happened this season is and the successes and failures that you’ve had, will that inform the decision?
DeShone Kizer: Once again, I haven’t talked to my parents enough to really evaluate that. I’d say that I wouldn’t even accept this question if we were 9-0 and preparing for a National Championship, so I think that is one part of it.
But at the same time, it’s an experience that I’ll definitely look back on later down the road that will definitely help me out and teach me truly how to appreciate the wins that we get. Whatever comes next year comes next year, but for now, I’m just really focused in on whatever it takes to beat Army.
Q. Mike, curious how you kind of interacted with Brandon Wimbush, how much has there been from you to him given he’s redshirting this year and he’s a sophomore, not playing?
Mike McGlinchey: Well, Brandon is a good friend of mine. We’re very close. He’s done a great job this year of staying locked in and staying on task with what he’s supposed to be doing and learning our offense, because there’s going to come a time where Brandon Wimbush is going to be called upon to lead this team.
He has done a great job all year of sticking to it, staying positive, and helping the team whenever we need him to. He’s taken reps at scout team. He’s taken reps anywhere we’ve needed him to, and he’s done a fantastic job this year of being an unbelievable teammate and understanding his role in learning for the future.
Q. I think Coach Kelly mentioned, he complimented his leadership; says he knows everyone here, knows the janitor’s name. How does that speak to his personality, that he can not be playing and still be that engaged?
Mike McGlinchey: I think that’s who Brandon Wimbush is. He’s a phenomenal kid and we’re lucky to have him in our locker room. I can’t say enough great things about Brandon because ever since he’s gotten here, he’s done everything the right way, treats his teammates the right way and there’s a lot of great things to come from Brandon in the future here.
Q. Wondering if you were tuned in last night and what you made of everything, being the history guy that you are?
Mike McGlinchey: I actually took — one of my electives this semester was a political science elective called Election 2016, so I did stay up for just about all of it. I didn’t see Trump speak last night. That got a little too late.
But it was an historic night. I don’t think anybody saw it coming. It’s a trying time for America and I just hope that no matter who would have won, that they stand unified and help this country keep changing for the better. That’s all we can all hope for but absolutely unpredictable and wild election.
Definitely studying it this year. It was almost entertaining, and it’s not supposed to be; it’s a political election. We’re supposed to be finding out who the President of the United States is, and it was mind-blowing, some of the numbers and the things that were coming out that we had looked for all semester in school.
We had just talked two weeks prior that Clinton had a 90-plus percent chance of winning the thing, and in two weeks, something changed to the point where he got the W.
Like I said, just hoping for the best no matter who would have won and hopefully Americans can all stand together and help the process keep moving forward.
Q. Have you guys met yet this morning after your class?
Mike McGlinchey: We did, at 11:30. It was today. It was just kind of our professors were almost even in shock because everybody that was studying it and in the media about it kind of was dead wrong and they didn’t really understand why. There’s a lot of studies that have gone out about their predictions and polling and all that, and it just proved that it wasn’t where it was projected to be, and it was pretty mind-blowing last night watching it.