Sept. 9, 2015
University of Notre Dame Football Media Conference
Q. Just going on the road, your thoughts on this team and its ability to be successful away from home?
Matthias Farley: Yeah, every time we go on the road, it’s exciting. You go into a hostile environment — I think it will be an incredible atmosphere. It’s going to be our first road game and going to be a challenge to weather the travel and all that kind of stuff. We’re all really eager and I think we’re going to have success wherever we play.
Q. You guys have not won a true road game at an opponent’s home field since Air Force in 2013, five straight losses. Why do you think that was and why do you think this team is different from falling into that?
Matthias Farley: I think this team is different because it’s a different team, it’s a different mind-set, it’s a different year. I think you ask every guy on the team, no one is focusing on anything in the past. We are focusing on one day at a time, one step at a time and moving forward this we’re.
Q. What makes the road game difficult?
Matthias Farley: Besides that it’s a road game — there’s a hostile environment but it also makes it exciting because it’s a change of pace. You’re the best friends in the world, but you experience other things and like I said, being in a hostile environment where you have to bring your A Game.
Q. A lot of talk last year about communication among the defense, after reviewing the film on Saturday, how much better was communication with the defense?
Matthias Farley: I think the communication was awesome. I mean, obviously the first game, there’s always going to be room for improvement but for a first outing, I think everyone communicated really well. Guys got the checks, really signaled things well when it got loud, which it did with our fans getting really loud.
So I think for the first game of the season, you know, and the second year in this new system, I think our guys did an incredible job, especially (indiscernible) — from last year, just a communication standpoint between the first game last year and first game this year is night and day.
Q. During the off-season, what things allowed you to improve communication besides just reps?
Matthias Farley: Well, in the off-season we have, you know, like players-only kind of things, like seven-on-sevens and things in off-season where communication is really ran by us.
We have to keep that standard of communication that we have when the coaches are around. So building that bond when the coaches aren’t around and just doing things together that aren’t necessarily on the field, watching film together and seeing things quicker in the film room and having that translate out on the field.
Q. On special teams, the new buy-in this year, can you talk about how that was initiated, were you getting some real front line guys? I know guys like you have been there throughout your career, but it seems that a lot of front line guys are now involved in the run team.
Matthias Farley: Well, I think the whole mind-set of things has changed with this team this year. And the focus, it’s always been a huge focus for the coaches, but I think this is a year where guys saw last year and the year before where special teams have huge impacts on games.
And there can be hidden yardage where you never see it, you don’t see the play. It’s not like a forced fumble on a kickoff or anything like that. But there’s field position battles that happen with every kick or change of possession.
So I think guys understanding that, understanding how much of an impact it has on offense and defense has caused everyone to buy in. I think everyone in years past has bought in, but I think this year it’s a little different in the focus that people have.
Q. Even guys like Russell — something we wouldn’t see from the starting cornerback. Do you see him asking, I want to be part of this?
Matthias Farley: Absolutely. Guys want to be, and especially on kickoff, it’s a huge thing. Everybody wants to be on there, you go a hundred miles in practice and guys are asking. I think in past years, can I not do this if I’m playing 90 snaps or whatever it may be. But guys really, really want to be in all phases of the game.
Q. You’re similar in that when you were recruited more as an athlete and figure it out once you get here. Curious what that’s like to go through as a process when you’re committing and signing with a school that you don’t really know what position you’re going to play?
Matthias Farley: I think it just comes down to trusting the coaches and understanding that they know a lot more about the game than you do and they have seen a lot more of the game than you have.
You come out of high school, I’m sure a lot of guys think they are set in their ways and think, oh, I’m the best at this and best at that. I think especially our coaches, they are identifying, you might be a better fit here, you might be a better fit there. And it’s not necessarily the first try it works out perfectly. Obviously he (ph) came in as a safety, played receiver and now he’s playing running back and having success. I think just trusting the coaches and understanding that they are going to put you in the best position to maximize your potential.
Q. Red-shirted as a safety and moved to offense, you were reversed. When that happens when they move you over after red-shirt years, how do you react to that and are you sort of like, well, what did I just spend the last nine months on to move at this point. How does a player deal with that?
Matthias Farley: It’s definitely an adjustment, especially I was on scout team, so it wasn’t like I was learning a whole bunch of like week-in and week-out offense. So I think that kind of helped I guess in some ways because I didn’t learn a whole bunch of that to start from zero.
But it’s definitely an adjustment. You have people around you that think, like, oh, you’re a wide receiver, but no, you’re not. Or you go to your first meeting in the oppositions room, like you’re a safety and now you’re playing receiver, it’s kind of weird. Like I said, it goes back to trust and understanding that the coaches are going to put you in the best position.
Q. You’ve had to tackle a lot of different styles of running backs whether it be in practice or game. Prosise, how would you describe his running style, just trying to deal with it?
Matthias Farley: I mean, I think he’s very unique in his running style because he’s so big. He’s like 220 pounds. He doesn’t really look that big. He walks around, he doesn’t look that big, but when you see him in practice, you’re like, you’re a large individual.
He’s really, really shifty, which I don’t think we got to see too much of when he was at wide receiver because he runs around, catch the ball. But now you get the ball in his hands early and be able to make plays and make people miss. Obviously he’s incredibly fast.
So you can’t just — he’s not a power guy but he can run powerfully. He’s not like an I’m-going-to-make-you-miss-guy but he could easily make you miss. He has a lot of things that he brings to the table that make it difficult to bring him down.
Q. Obviously you have a lot of young guys playing on both sides of the ball. Have you had to kind of give them any advice on what a true road game is going to be like, or is that advice even necessary with this young group?
Matthias Farley: I don’t think it’s really necessary. I think everyone really understands the situation we’re facing. Any time you go into someone else’s environment that it’s going to be hostile, just understand that you can gain, instead of letting it take away from you. I think all the older guys, all the younger guys are very excited.
Q. Coach Kelly talked about how they have some big receivers and long receivers. From a secondary standpoint, does that change your preparation, or does that change any of your preparations at all?
Matthias Farley: Doesn’t really change our preparation. We have got Corey Robinson, we have Equanimeous, we have Allen, always had big guys to go against in practice. So I think we’ll be well prepared, especially on the perimeter, those guys who go against long-range receivers week-in and week-out.
Q. Curious how you guys watched the Virginia-UCLA game. Do you DVR it? Is it strictly watching film in the coaches?
Matthias Farley: So, yeah, so we watched just the film. We don’t watch the TV version because you can only see so much with that. And then there will be the same things we watch with the coaches, but also the CBs will get together, the DBs will get together and watch it in our own time or come in with the linebackers and see how different checks will be made, different things.
Q. Just how you felt on Saturday night, you’re probably a little apprehensive when the game starts. But was it comfortable on defense, and just knowing KeiVarae is back there and a couple of the guys are back that, okay, we are in a rhythm and things are working out for us?
Matthias Farley: Yeah, I don’t think there’s any real nerves that much. I think everyone is just really eager. We’ve been going against each other forever now it seems like, so to be able to go out and have all your hard work put on display and see guys playing around, obviously we mentioned before the communication; that people understand and really clicking. I think people are more comfortable in the new system and just guys being 100 percent bought in.
Q. I’ve heard the word “vision” a lot. I’ve seen #vision, and every now and then it pops up. Where does it come from and is that something that the team is really rallying around?
Matthias Farley: Yeah, in order to have success you have to have a vision. And to attain that vision, you have to work towards it every day and keep it in the forefront and not let your eyes go here or not go there. You have a mind-set or someplace and you try to refocus on that. And the team, we know where we want to be at the end of the season. And that’s our vision, that’s our focus and that’s what we focus on every day.
Q. Is that written or do you say it?
Matthias Farley: It’s a known thing.
Q. Obviously you have an experienced secondary, but when you look at Elijah Shumate, you guys have been together for a while. How have you seen him grow and develop to where he is now in his role?
Matthias Farley: I can’t say enough about him. He’s one of my best friends and also he’s grown up a lot in the game and understands it a lot more. I think he’s had ups and downs and he’s gotten some pressure and he’s used that and become an incredible football player. He’s working (ph) on his own, like I’ll walk by and he’ll be in there watching film or asking questions or doing something to better himself.
You know, he came in and played safety very young, which is a big ask I guess, and you have to communicate, maybe when you wouldn’t be as vocal because you’re one of the younger guys. But I think now that he’s grown up and obviously a senior now, he’s more comfortable in that leadership role and making sure of the calls and communicating.
Q. Wanted to ask you about something Coach touched on with protections and add just a minutes on line of scrimmage. How often is it on you, or if you have a younger quarterback, is there a challenge in hurry-up situations where it has to go to the quarterback?
Nick Martin: You know, it’s on Malik with the protections. In a hurry-up situation, it’s a different front, I can call it. But for the most part it’s on the quarterback.
Q. On the line —
Nick Martin: I give the fronts and the calls but I get it from the quarterback and I relay it.
Q. When you are breaking in three running backs who don’t have a lot of experience at the college level, how much do you as the offensive line take it upon your shoulders to make it as easy for them as possible?
Nick Martin: As an offensive lineman, it’s a sense of pride to run the ball, but. I guess really for us it doesn’t matter who is running the ball as long as we execute and establish the line of scrimmage, we should be able to run the ball.
Q. Is there anything different about blocking for a guy like Prosise that you have to do differently?
Nick Martin: No, pretty much block the same way.
Q. Just talk about the challenges of going on the road and what that brings.
Nick Martin: First of all, it’s fun. Love playing at home obviously, there’s nothing better. But to go out in someone else’s place and be able to compete in that kind of environment is awesome. We do a great job and Coach does a great job of preparing us for that.
Q. You haven’t won in an opponent’s home stadium in five straight games. Why do you think that was and what can you do to make sure that doesn’t happen again?
Nick Martin: We just have to prepare every day, take one step at a time, get a little bit better each day and get ready to play when the game starts.
Q. Why do you think that has happened over the last couple years that you were not able to be as successful on the road?
Nick Martin: Obviously playing at home has its advantages, but when it comes down to it, probably execution.
Q. Coach Kelly talked about how VanGorder and Virginia’s defensive coordinator cut from the same cloth. As an offensive line and captain does that give you comfort knowing that you’ve kind of faced these NFL-level defensive schemes?
Nick Martin: Yeah, absolutely, especially going against our defense, scheme-wise and personnel, we’re very lucky. You’re not going to be a better three (ph) than Sheldon Day or linebacker like Jaylon Smith, who we are going against the best every day. And we also see all types of fronts, all blitzes through fall camp. It’s very helpful.
Q. You’ve got some young guys, McGlinchey who has only had one start and Quenton. Obviously you faced a pretty strong offensive line against Texas but Virginia’s strength is also the offensive line. Your success against Texas, does that give you confidence heading into the road?
Nick Martin: I think it does. I think it boosts our confidence for the young guys knowing they can play in a game in a lot of situations but at the same time it’s a different week, new week and different scheme and you have to prepare for that.
Q. What makes a guy like C.J. Prosise able to transition from safety to receiver and now to running back seamlessly?
Nick Martin: You know, I’ve been asked this question a lot and as simply as I put it, he’s a football player. He’s a guy that when he’s on the field no matter where he’s at, he’s going to make plays.
Q. With Josh Adams — for a lot of freshmen, pass protection can be difficult to pick up when you get to college. What allowed him to just step in there on Saturday and have the night he did?
Nick Martin: He’s a smart player. He took advantage of his reps in practice, which obviously showed and also he’s naturally a bigger guy which obviously helps.
Q. What type of runner — how would you describe Josh?
Nick Martin: He’s hard, he’s fluid, and again, he’s just a natural athlete.
Q. You went back and watched the tape of Saturday, how do you feel like the offensive line played? Were there things that caught your eye on film after a second look that maybe you didn’t notice on Saturday night, just your overall evaluation of the group after a closer look.
Nick Martin: For the most part, we kind of knew going in, after every save (ph) come back and talk to us. We kind of knew everything, we also did see them on film. On the whole I thought we played well. Obviously not fully there yet, first game of the year, never will be. But we thought we gave the majority of the play a chance, which is our job.
Q. I know the goal is 100 percent of the time but what sort of threshold, if you’re grading out at 90 percent, that’s fine?
Nick Martin: Yeah, I guess the biggest thing is what we call play stoppers. At one point we gave a play a chance and at what point do we as the offensive line have the play. Like I said, you strive to be perfect. Is that realistic? No. But you always strive for that.
Q. What do you think good week is generally, if you only have five play stoppers; is that acceptable?
Nick Martin: Yeah, I think five, if you’re running — I think we ran six or something plays. If you have five play stoppers, yeah, that’s a good week.
Q. Curious, with Virginia being kind of a blitz-centric defense, you’ve played Arizona State, they blitz from everywhere all the time. When you sort of settle into a rhythm and you know it’s coming all the time, even if you don’t have it identified immediately, does that help at all that there’s a rhythm there an offensive line can settle into?
Nick Martin: Any time you can get into a rhythm, it helps a ton. Obviously with teams blitz like that, you catch them in it, you’re going to make a big play.
Q. What do you think the biggest challenge will be for Quenton going against a defense that likes to pressure and bring a lot of guys?
Nick Martin: I think just stay calm. Obviously as a player, as any player, things are going to happen and we as a group have to move on. We can’t dwell on mistakes. Just have to go to the next play.
Q. How did he do in that department on Saturday?
Nick Martin: I think as a whole really well. Like I said, we had some play stoppers, but you can’t change it. You’ve got to be able to assess it on Sunday and figure your mistakes out there right after it happens, but you’ve the next play and you’ve got to go forward.
Q. Was that easy for you as a younger player?
Nick Martin: I think it was easier. I was fortunate to have Zach and obviously Chris and they helped me. I was fortunate my first year starting, I had them to my left, so it was easier for me to move forward.
Q. Could you just talk about Ronnie Stanley and just him coming back and what a difference maker he is? It seems like he’s extremely talented.
Nick Martin: He’s an unbelievable athlete, unbelievable football player. And his biggest thing is consistent and as a football player, some of the best comments you can have are really given to you.
He’s one of those guys you know he’s going to get the job done and you don’t have to worry about him. Beyond that, he’s been a great leader, way more vocal this year than he ever has been which is huge.
Q. Does it go beyond football? Have you seen him do other things besides just block?
Nick Martin: A lot of talk. Haven’t really seen much, but he always talks himself up.
Q. What does he say — basketball?
Nick Martin: He talks a lot about basketball. He played, came from a high school and I think was pretty good at most sports. Like I say, I don’t really see him much outside of football.
Q. How about Malik, how he was and how he is in the huddle? Is he a no-nonsense guy? Is he loose? Business-approach when he’s in there and giving instructions?
Nick Martin: Yeah, absolutely. His voice is the biggest thing, it’s consistent, it’s loud, and just when you start with that, just a loud, commanding voice, it’s huge and it’s every play. He doesn’t take a play off no matter what happens. He comes back and he’s in the same guy in the huddle every time.
Q. Curious if you watched the Showtime show, I know they are all over the place, cameras are every place and see if you guys watched that and what your impressions were.
Nick Martin: Yeah, I know I did watch it. I know some other people, we watched it together a little bit. It’s kind of funny just to see on TV. Busting on each other for the most part.
Q. You’re probably asked a million times leading up to the season, if you expected the pass rush to be better and D-Line to be better and all that stuff. How good does it feel to actually see that improvement and to be able to kind of see that work come to fruition last week?
Sheldon Day: It was good seeing everything that we went through over the summer, spring ball and fall camp, the way Coach Gilmore has been on us about pass rush, and how much we beat our work (ph) with the pass rush, and just to see it kind of come together and be successful at it.
Q. The guys next to you, as far as Cage and Tillery, how do you feel they played? And as the senior leader, do you say anything to those guys during game are were they pretty good to go?
Sheldon Day: It’s all about keeping emotions down and making sure that they are locked into the game. So it was all about staying on them and making sure that they got it each and every play and that they were confident in their abilities.
Q. What is the focus this week? Seems like they are trying to establish a power running game.
Sheldon Day: Well, especially on D-Line, it’s about dominating the offensive line, so we are definitely focusing on get off, hands and footwork and so we are definitely trying to make sure we work our technique this week.
Q. Coach Kelly said it’s only one game what you did against Texas but what you saw last year compared to this year, is the success you had against Texas more sustainable than what you had last year early season?
Sheldon Day: For sure. I would say that we are trying to continue to grow and build our game from week one. So we are trying to make sure the D-Line is focusing on our performance each and every week, and make sure that we go to practice with a different mind-set every day.
Q. Why can you sustain this? Was there something that stuck out against you against Texas that you feel like, okay, we can keep doing this throughout the next 11 games?
Sheldon Day: Just the way our culture is in the defensive room, just trying to make sure we have a dominating performance every time we step on the field.
Q. Did you happen to tune in to see yourself on Showtime?
Sheldon Day: I actually did not. We don’t have Showtime so it’s kind of come in and get the show. I’m definitely trying to find a way to look at that.
Q. Do you have a memory of the hit put on McGlinchey?
Sheldon Day: So I have definitely been working on that move all summer and first time I got to do it, it was definitely exciting.
Q. Did he take a dive for you?
Sheldon Day: No (laughing).
Q. In the show, I guess they showed Jarron getting injured. Wanted to see maybe the mood when that happened and how he’s doing and how you’re supporting him knowing that he wants to be on the field?
Sheldon Day: It was definitely shocking when we first heard the news. The fact that you lose a brother on the field, we definitely support him through his process. And then to see him just happy around the team again and making sure that the young guys like Jerry and Kay (ph) are on top of their work and he’s pushing them to do the little things right each and every day.
Q. Talking about hunger, you guys played so well, it’s easy to get full of yourselves. Do you have to reset maybe when the week starts and say we are not good enough, we have to pick this apart and do all those things to make yourselves better instead of just showing up and laying an egg?
Sheldon Day: For sure. It’s definitely easy to get complacent but we haven’t really did anything. So we are always trying to do what we can to get better each and every day, especially in the D-Line room, so much room for improvement.
Q. I was asking Matthias about the word “vision,” just what that means to you guys and I hear it every now and then it just kind of pops up. Just what does it mean?
Sheldon Day: It’s something that’s so big — we want to win a National Championship for sure. And just we are trying to do anything possible to get there. So there’s no room for complacency. But we are always trying to fight and do everything right and get the little things taken care of so that we can have a big picture.
Q. As a veteran, going on the road must be kind of fun. I don’t know if people throw things, but they are definitely yelling at you and as you go out, you kind of feel that, us-against-the-world maybe?
Sheldon Day: For sure, going on the road is definitely special. It’s a chance to fire up the crowd. Playing in a hostile environment, it’s something the defense loves to do.
Q. Tackle stats can be inaccurate, but how do you grade yourself on Saturday night or how did VanGorder grade your performance Saturday night?
Sheldon Day: So like last year, I almost (indiscernible) I definitely left some sacks out on the table and working on fixing my footwork to make sure that I’m not diving to where the quarterback was, where he’s going to be, and just cleaned up my footwork.
Q. Did you feel good about your performance based on the disruption? VanGorder talks about how sometimes sacks are a little bit overrated and moving the quarterback around is underrated. Did you evaluate yourself in that way?
Sheldon Day: I’ll all about evaluating myself with my finishing ability. So I would definitely say I didn’t grade out that well personally.
Q. Curious in terms of the defense overall, Texas struggling offensively, does that influence the way you look at the performance of your defense?
Sheldon Day: Well, we are all just trying to be technically sound, so the way Texas played, it doesn’t have really anything to do with us as long as our technique was good.
Q. On Saturday you said you would not be able to evaluate Daniel and Tillery until you saw the film. Can you just evaluate them now?
Sheldon Day: Oh, man, they played out of their minds, just running around for the ball. Jay, first time playing, didn’t look like a freshman at all, just watching him fly around, make plays, have fun, finally see some excitement with football. Definitely good to see him and Daniel play well, kept his gap and did everything we asked him to do.
Q. All off-season you were talking about Keith Gilmore and the different drills he brought in for pass rushing. What were you able to see on Saturday that might have been different than last year?
Sheldon Day: The way we attacked the offensive line. It’s crazy how much he’s changed us and improved our game. We definitely saw a lot of improvement from our first year to this year.
Q. Following up about not being an almost guy, do you have stat benchmarks you want to hit at the end of the year that maybe you’re not thinking of week-to-week, but at the end of the season, you want to have X amount of tackles?
Sheldon Day: As a defensive lineman, we want to have at least four sacks a game amongst the D-Line group. So any way possible we can achieve that.
Q. Personally do you have anything or is it team-wise?
Sheldon Day: Team-wise.
Q. You talked about it being fun to go on the road. You guys have struggled a bit on the road lately. Why do you think that’s been and what do you do to make sure that doesn’t happen this time around?
Sheldon Day: Oh, man, I don’t have an answer as to why it’s happened but this team is different. You can definitely tell, the aura and the culture around this team is something special. So it’s all about growing together as a band of brothers and making sure we do everything we can to get this win.
Q. Can you just talk about Ronnie Stanley? I think Nick was talking about just incredible athlete and when you go against him, what is it that he does that makes scouts turn their heads and probably makes you guys turn your heads in practice?
Sheldon Day: Very athletic. Everything he does, he’s trying to master his craft and it’s about when he punches and what he doesn’t punch and when he shoots his hands and what he tries to grab on to. It’s all about trying to get Ronnie to get his feet to move and stop his feet and things like that. It’s a rare occasion when that happens but just a blessing to go against somebody so good every day and make sure that you can get the best out of each and every rep.
Q. He could have as easily been a captain, and the respect he has for the team and the experience he brings, when he’s in the locker room, he probably just has a presence about himself?
Sheldon Day: He definitely carries a high presence. Just being in the locker room around him, you get goosebumps being around him. Just brings a game atmosphere in the locker room and make sure everybody is locked in and ready to go.
Q. You have a couple young guys playing next to you, you’re going into a hostile road environment, have you given them an idea of what to expect or is it necessary?
Sheldon Day: I don’t think it’s necessary, but I feel like once you get there, it’s all about how you embrace the environment. I feel like everybody is different and everybody embraces the situation differently. So it’s all about how they embrace it. If they need help, I’m there with them, and if I feel like they are too jittery or they are too loose or something like that, I’ll definitely get on them.
Q. Has that been a challenge in being a captain is figuring out how you need to talk to each different person?
Sheldon Day: I would say so. You have got to learn your teammates and learn what makes them tick and what makes them get over the hump and things like that.
Q. How do you go about that? How do you find a way to talk to Daniel?
Sheldon Day: Just being around those guys. We stay in camp together. We go out to dinner Monday nights. We go and do a lot of things together just to make sure that everybody knows each other.
Q. Coach talked about with Malik just doing ordinary things extraordinarily.
Sheldon Day: Yeah.
Q. You mentioned Daniel — just to fill the gap. Is that something you need from those two, too, is to do the ordinary things, and if they do anything else, it’s just like gravy?
Sheldon Day: For sure. It’s all about knowing your role, and then just seeing those guys take their role to the next level and be dominant within their role.