Nov. 29, 2004
Brady Quinn – sophomore – quarterback
How beneficial would it be to end the season on a positive note with a win heading into next year?
“It would give this team a great deal of confidence to take into the off-season as far as training and working out. Last year coming off the Syracuse game we were obviously kind of down and maybe we had some different attitudes. If you ended on a win and get out of there with that I think you can definitely take some positive things into the off-season.”
Are you able to work more on the little things with so much practice time before the bowl game?
“Yeah, I would say so. I think it allows you to break down even smaller aspects and get even more reps at a particular look or a type of blitz defense. So I think it allows you to focus on the details more.”
This is the second time in a row that you’ve started fast against USC but haven’t been able to maintain that level, do they take it up a notch after you have some success against them?
“I wouldn’t say that they take it up a notch. I think they obviously made some adjustments to some of the things we were doing. But really we just didn’t make plays. I think when you look back at what our offense did we didn’t make plays when we had the opportunity.”
Was there ever any thought that going to a bowl game isn’t a good thing? Was it a given that you guys were looking forward to playing in one?
“It was a given for me, if there was an opportunity that we’d play in it because this team can only benefit from it. Just having that extra time to work together and even grow together as a team is vital at this point.”
Bob Morton said after the USC game that whoever plays you next better watch out because you will be ready for them and anxious to get back out there. Do you really sense that with this team?
“I think so. I mean, you know Bob, he likes to make those types of comments. I’m quieter about everything. I just think this team coming off of two losses is hungry for a win. But at the same time there are a lot of things we need to focus on within ourselves to fix some things that we weren’t necessarily executing to the best of our ability.”
You’ve never been to a bowl. Are looking forward to just the experience of it and being located on the game site for a week?
“Yeah, I think so. It’ll be a whole new experience but at the same time it maybe similar to something I did in high school. I’m looking forward to it.”
Derek Curry – senior – linebacker
With not having gone to a bowl game last year, how exciting for you is it to end your career in a bowl game?
“It’s really exciting for me. Like you said, I’ve had a chance to be here two years where we haven’t played in a bowl game. One year we went to the BCS and two years ago we went to the Gator Bowl. To be able to go back to a bowl game is huge for us and for me personally it’s really big.”
Tyrone said something about how the seniors would like to end their careers here on a positive note. Is that the way you are thinking about this as well?
“Exactly, we lost our last two ball games and that’s an unfortunate situation. We made our bed and now it’s time to go out and win a game, especially a bowl game. It’ll good for our seniors and good for our program going into next year to start with a win.”
Will it be a lighter atmosphere knowing that this is your last game and you have a month to prepare? Are you able to have a little more fun with bowl preparations?
“With the nature of our coach we generally have a lot of fun at practice anyway. But I think this is going to be a little more special, getting the chance to practice and then have some free time to hang out with your buddies and stuff like that, which is different than having to study for an exam. I think this will give us some more time to be cohesive and kind of get the younger guys more in tune to what this program is really about. It also gives us an opportunity to go out and win a game.”
As a younger guy did you learn a lot during bowl preparations?
“Yeah, I think I did. I learned about camaraderie throughout the bowl week because all you have is the guys who are there. Being away in Arizona that first year was huge because all we did was hang out together the whole time. It wasn’t like there were any other distractions or any thing else pulling us away so we had a chance for the whole group to do stuff together and have some events. It was pretty fun.”
How different is the practice heading into a bowl compared to a regular game?
“A lot of it is that there are more outside distractions. When you are here on campus everything is familiar to you and you are really comfortable here. But the second you get out of that and get to a different location and begin practicing there are other distractions. You realize you have some free time and the focus may be different at times. Also, being in a new and different environment you want to kind of go out and see everything so that’s another distraction that can occur.”
What do you try and do in the meantime before you start practice again?
“Try to sleep. I’m really not going to do too much football stuff this week. I’m going to try and get some rest and catch up on some class work that’s kind of been lacking the past few weeks and really just try and get some rest and get rejuvenated. Kind of like during the bye weekend and get excited about what we have to do.”
Were you one of the players that coach Willingham awoke yesterday with the news about going to the bowl game?
“Yeah, I was a little tired when he called me late in the afternoon and said that we had some opportunities to play in some bowl games and we accepted the Insight bowl.”
Is it important to end the streak of bowl losses at Notre Dame?
“Of course, it’s important. At Notre Dame we’re a program that’s built on winning and anytime you don’t win it’s a big deal and even if you do win it’s that you didn’t win by enough. So we are actually really, really intent on going out and winning this bowl game for ourselves just to finish up the season for next season for the guys coming back and all of the recruits and also for the program to get back to the dominance that this program has established is going to start with this win in the bowl game.”
Do you see yourself doing anything differently in practice in terms of getting the guys behind you ready for next season?
“Yeah, I think from a personal standpoint I think I’m going to try and help out the younger guys to really understand the system as a whole. Throughout two-a-days all you are really working on is the coach’s system. And throughout the season you kind of lose sight of the younger guys because there is so much you have to do in terms of game planning for that particular week. But one thing I want to do along with some of our other seniors is help the younger guys buy into the system because that is ultimately what is going to help us win here.”
Ryan Grant – senior – running back
Fans tend to turn their nose up at certain bowl games. How do players look at a December 28th Insight Bowl?
“We’re excited. We didn’t take care of business to put ourselves in the best position but we are excited at the opportunity we have to play in a bowl game. From what I’ve heard and in learning more about the bowl game Virginia Tech and Cal played in it last year and I have a friend who plays for Cal and he said it was a nice bowl. It’s just an opportunity for us to get better as a team. There are things that we want to do for the season next year, to end the season this year especially with our seniors going out on a win will start things right going in to next year and for the program. I just think it’s a great opportunity for us to get better.”
What does it mean for you personally to walk out of here with a win in your last game?
“It means a lot. This is it for me. I think that for all the seniors with everything that’s been going on with this program you want to end on a strong note. We owe it to ourselves with all of the preparation we’ve had and we owe it to the program to start things for next season and get them on the right track.”
Do you feel you are where you want to be health-wise at this point in the season?
“I feel good. I do feel good health-wise. It took a long time, but I do feel good. My leg was frustrating but I’m glad that it’s healthy now and I’m glad I do everything pretty much full go now. I’m just trying to help the team whichever way I can.”
When you walk out onto the field for the bowl game you’ll be comfortable saying that you are 100 percent?
What do you enjoy most out of the bowl-type setting?
“I’ve only been to one so I guess from two years ago you get a little bit of time, especially the break you get before you start practice in preparation for the game. I think that’s an opportunity for guys to get healthy, come back and get their mind right, so that’s one thing. I think it’s a different setting for the most part the majority of the bowl games are in a nice area with nice weather.”
Do you put a lot of importance on the fact that you guys can end the streak of losing bowl games at Notre Dame and kind of take it off the back of the next class?
“Absolutely. That’s one thing that we definitely want to end. That’s one thing that we’ve known about and it’s being reiterated right now the fact that we haven’t won in a long time so that’s something we definitely want to end. One of the things that we really take pride in is to end the season with a win. You never want to end your season with a loss because that can carry over and you want to start things right for next year.”
Kyle Budinscak – senior – defensive end
Being a veteran of the bowl experience what kind of knowledge do you share with your teammates?
“That’s kind of a broad question. You take every bowl opportunity that you have on kind of a case-by-case basis. You’re not always in the same situation each year. This year more than anything there is a lot of things surrounding this program right now and I know a lot of people are saying a lot of different things. I’d have to be on an island by myself not to hear some of the things people are saying and the problems they are talking about. I’m a football player and I have a chance to play in a great game to try and show people what I can do. I think a lot of guys on this team feel like that and that’s something that I want to communicate to the guys more than anything. It’s a football game and it’s going to be a pretty big stage because it’s a bowl game. Regardless of any situation we are in with our record and things like that, let’s go have fun, let’s go play a football game and let it all out.”
Would you say there is a lot of frustration among you guys the way this has turned out this year?
“Yeah, there is a ton of frustration. This is a time when guys usually start talking about this and that and should’ve, could’ve, would’ve and all that stuff. Where our focus needs to be and where I think it will be is again let’s just go have fun and play a great game and leave everything behind us. We can’t dwell on what’s already happened.”
Do you guys feel like you should have had a better season?
“Absolutely. The expectations at this place are high and rightfully so. I think we expected to do a little better than we did this year and I couldn’t talk to you any other way than that. Certainly there is a little bit of disappointment in that but, again, there’s no point in looking back to yesterday.”
How much would it mean to you individually to walk out of this game with a win?
“I would love to leave this place on the right note with a big victory and a dominant victory. We’ve been saying that’s our goal the whole year. Certainly you don’t ever want to leave a place behind, where you’ve spent so much time, on a bad note. I’d love to end on the right note.”
What do you say when people say Notre Dame should only go to a bowl game when they are 8-3 or better?
“Again, I’m a football player. I understand people talk about those types of things and there are a lot of issues regarding those types of questions. My policy is not to deal with it I get to play the football games and I don’t worry too much about that.”
As we asked Derek Curry, do you approach these next couple of weeks of practice any differently in trying to help the guys behind you ready for next season? Do you see it as more of a teacher role?
“No, we are going out to win a football game and there is no mistake about that. Certainly there may be times in a situation like this for guys to develop a little bit. But the number one focus is to get ready to play a football game and have two great weeks of game preparation.”
Does the desire to end the streak of losing bowl games make this game a little more important to you guys so you can get it off the back of the next class?
“Absolutely. The fact that we haven’t won a bowl game in that long is something that I don’t even want to think about. Absolutely, let’s go win this game and hopefully get these guys off on the right note for next season and build it back up to where all of our expectations are good.”
Do you care who you play?
“No, I mean I’m sure it’s going to be a worthy opponent. It’s going to be the number four Pac-10 team or something like that. UCLA and Arizona State … they are all good football teams so I don’t really have a particular choice.”
Would Oregon State be a good team to see?
“That would be kind of ironic. Phoenix, Oregon State, yeah that would be a little more to talk about certainly.”
What do you remember about facing Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl?
“I wasn’t playing at that time but certainly you were very much a part of what was going on out there. It was not a great memory, the game itself. There’s another reason you don’t want something like that to happen again. There’s another motivating factor to think about.”
Is there a different kind of anticipation in a bowl game because you normally don’t play that team?
“I think there is something to the fact that you are playing a team that you’ve never seen before or haven’t even seen on game film watching another team play. It’s one of those things that you don’t come across too often so there is some uncertainty surrounding those games and the preparation. But football is football and when you break them down and look at them it becomes just like any other game in terms of what you want to do and how you prepare for it. It’s not so much of a big deal.”