Sept. 16, 2015
University of Notre Dame Football Media Conference
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Q. Nick, when you have a quarterback starting for the first time when you switch quarterbacks and so forth, do you as a center try to take more on in terms of protection calls and things of that nature?
Nick Martin: First of all, DeShone is very intelligent. His football IQ is high. He knows the protection we’re going to be in for the most part. So I wouldn’t say I’m changing protection because he has to know where he’s protecting and where he’s not.
Q. As far as anything physically even physical things a little bit as height difference with him being almost of 6’5″, is that something you have to be cognizant of, the little physical differences and ways he likes to run the ball and things of that nature?
Nick Martin: Yeah, a little bit. You’ve got to get the snap up a little bit higher in his hands, but also it comes with an advantage because he can see over the line a little bit easier with his vision.
Q. What have you seen from him maybe from a mental and emotional standpoint as he’s gone through practice this week?
Nick Martin: Well, he’s definitely ready to step up, there is no doubt about it, and he’s preparing. He’s going to be very prepared for this game and all the games to come. There is no doubt about that.
Q. Will said after the game he was almost kind of shocked how poised DeShone was in the huddle when he had sensed that same kind of calmness and confidence from him?
Nick Martin: Absolutely. He was thrown in and probably the toughest situation he could have been thrown in and he handled it unbelievably.
Q. Why was that important for him to have that poise to kind of keep the offense together?
Nick Martin: Even as a young player when you’re a quarterback people look at you. You come in with that poise in that situation, it calms down the whole, not just the offense, but the whole team.
Q. Do you expect that from him?
Nick Martin: I did. We’ve seen him practice and I think it’s obvious.
Q. Someone told me on the sideline that after Virginia scored late and it was kind of on the offense to win the game you kind of let out a little bit of like a grin or a smile. How much do you relish the opportunity to go out there and win it when it’s really like on your shoulders?
Nick Martin: Yeah, we love it, and that’s why we play the game. The amount this team and really any team puts in, it’s a year-long sport, winter, summer, spring, that’s what you work for are those moments and those situations, a fourth quarter game. And when we all put the team on our back and go down and win in the last second, I tell you, that’s when emotions fly and it’s fun.
Q. You also kind of talked about Malik and just how he operates in the huddle. How is DeShone kind of different, and have you had to kind of adapt to that at all?
Nick Martin: Yeah, it’s a little bit different, but the one thing that DeShone does well, which Malik did a good job of it, his voice. Just the consistent and how loud his voice is and it’s commanding and that’s huge.
Q. Following up on that, Coach the other day said that DeShone is positive and enthusiastic, but how is he as a quarterback? How does he lead?
Nick Martin: Not enthusiastic yet, but every play he’s focused I would say more so. Because you’re not going to get that vocal enthusiastic, always positive, not saying he’s not positive, but the focus, you can see it in his eyes. He’s ready for every play. It’s going through his head like the progression and what he needs to do.
Q. With Malik out, is someone else stepping up and becoming that voice for the offense or someone filling in that void?
Nick Martin: I think this year this team has so many leaders that you don’t really necessarily see one guy step up and take that spot or replace it, but just the leaders come out and have always been there.
Q. Obviously you had confidence in DeShone when he went in, but when he makes the play he did to Will, how much more does that reassure that confidence when you guys saw that?
Nick Martin: It does, and that’s exactly what it does. It’s also good for him personally to be in that situation to know that he can do it and prove that he can.
Q. And Will, what can you say about a guy like him and how he’s able to help you guys with his ability?
Nick Martin: He’s an unbelievable player, receiver. When I saw the ball in the air, I looked over and saw No. 7 running after him, and I knew right then it was going to be a touchdown. And to have that confidence in a player to know that he has that ability, he has confidence in everyone in your offense.
Q. How much do you like to block for a guy like C.J. Prosise?
Nick Martin: Oh, it’s fun. It’s why you play the game. When five guys are on their blocks and on their man, and you see him spit out and break a few, get a few guards after he’s hit it, it’s just fun.
Q. Is it a mentality thing, a physical thing with C.J. Prosise that makes him adapt and be so special back there so quickly?
Nick Martin: Yeah, I mean, I guess so. It’s hard to explain. He’s a natural football player, unbelievable vision, and he works really hard.
Q. This weekend, two top 15 teams going at it inside their own stadium. How much fun is a game like that for you guys when you know it’s such a big game?
Nick Martin: Atmosphere here is always unbelievable. Obviously when you have two top 15 teams, it’s going to be (No microphone). That’s why football’s fun.
Q. The offensive line has dominated up front to the point of 5.5 yards a carry, but short yardage has been an issue. Is it something that you guys have been able to pinpoint? Is it probably something we don’t know? Are there different factors going into each situation, but I think it’s 1 for 8 on 3rd and 4, other than that you’ve been blowing people off the ball?
Nick Martin: Yeah, absolutely. As an offensive line we talk about where to find the obvious run and the obvious pass. And plain and simple we haven’t been good enough in that situation. Good thing is every week’s new, every week’s different. You can’t dwell in the past, you can only learn from it and move on from there.
Q. Is there something you need to harp on this week, or is it these are the things we did well and what we did poorly?
Nick Martin: Yeah, it goes back to what we feel like back to basics. In those situations, if you do the fundamentals and the basics correctly, you’re going to have success.
Q. Nick, how important is it to stay steady? First week it seemed like you guys were invincible. (No microphone)?
Nick Martin: Yeah, absolutely. You’ve got to take it week by week. You can’t look to the past, you can’t look to the future. You know, college football, really you’ve just got to be the best team that day and be the best team in the country. You can’t think about it, you just have to prepare and try to get a little better each day.
Q. Do you feel doubters? Is this a week that maybe gives you a little bit more (No microphone)?
Nick Martin: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s one thing this team does really well is stay together and play for each other, and that’s huge. When you know the guy to the right and left is playing for you and not for himself or for others, it’s huge.
Q. DeShone, have you had a chance to talk to Malik maybe in the past few days as he’s been recovering? If so, maybe something you could share from those conversations?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, I was over at St. Liam’s to see him on Monday, and it’s kind of hard not to talk too much football. That’s the last thing that’s on his mind right now as he’s trying to recover. But at that time he was getting back to himself. He was being the same goofy, loving, caring outgoing guy he’s always been. Only slight comments he’s talked about is, “It’s time for you to ball.” That’s all he kept saying, to get my mind off the extra stuff and just ball out as much as I can.
Q. How much has your life changed from spring when you were 13, not getting a lot of reps, going through some personal stuff, to now all of a sudden being a starting quarterback at Notre Dame?
DeShone Kizer: Obviously, it’s changed quite a bit. There’s been a lot of attention that’s been going my way in the last few days. But I’ve made it a point to continue going about my week and my everyday lifestyle the same way I have for the last couple months at Notre Dame. I’ve put a lot more focus on my studies, whether it be in the classroom or on Georgia Tech, and that kind of takes my mind off the changes that have occurred the last few days.
Q. How is Ellie doing these days?
DeShone Kizer: She’s doing all right. Ellie and I are no longer together, but we keep in touch quite a bit. She’s doing good. She’s right around 95% in her recovery process, and I wish her the best.
Q. There were a lot of people that felt like when you were in high school and you were playing for Central Catholic that you’d eventually be a basketball player. That that was probably the route. When did football kind of take over for you when you knew that that was really your future?
DeShone Kizer: Nowadays, the recruiting process starts so early, and you have to make a choice when you’re put in position to what to do with your summers. Nowadays, recruiting happens a lot in AAU basketball. When you’re at the NFTCs and the Elite 11 and things like that, you have to make a decision on which route to go.
After receiving some offers for football after my freshman season, not even seeing the varsity field yet, I had to make a decision, and the decision, obviously, led towards football because I didn’t necessarily have the attention I had in football in basketball at the time.
Q. Last one for me, when we saw you come out for the first practices in August, you looked completely different guy from what we saw in the spring. Obviously, opportunities were different. You were able to play with first or second-team players rather than third team all the time. But what was your summer like? What did you do? What were your intentions over the summer to try to put yourself in a better position?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, you know, I believe playing the position I play has a lot to do with being comfortable. Over the summer I was able to get out and throw to all the guys as much as I possibly can, and I got quite a few reps in. When it came to seven on sevens, I was working with the ones and twos rather than working with the incoming freshmen I was working with last year. With that preparation and all the reps, it allowed me to gain a little more confidence in my game. Obviously, that kind of carried in the fall, and that confidence is now at its best going into week three.
Q. DeShone, obviously you’re a very confident guy. But when Malik gets hurt and you’re running right out there, were there nerves for you as you took the field and went into that huddle?
DeShone Kizer: Of course, but the good thing about the situation I ran into was the first play I got in was the touchdown. Those nerves kind of went away right away. I got a little bit of a break, and Virginia went on a drive. But after that that kind of settled me down a little bit, and I was able to talk to Coach Sanford on the phone, and also talked to my teammates and they kind of settled me down and got me going a little bit.
Obviously the next drive didn’t go as hot as we wanted it to go, but from there I got a little more accommodated to the situation and got it rolling a little bit.
Q. I know it’s a totally different situation, but early in the game when you guys do the fake field goal, how exciting was that and how much fun was that to have that type of success on that play?
DeShone Kizer: It was pretty cool. We spend quite a bit of time working on it and figuring out the best way to go about that fake. Obviously, that was kind of my highlight I was waiting for. I knew we were going to run it eventually, and honestly after we scored on it, it was kind of disappointing to think we can’t run it again. It was a very cool play, and I was glad I could be a part of it.
Q. When you did that play, did you think in your mind anyway possible that you would actually have a bigger highlight in that game?
DeShone Kizer: No, absolutely not. I thought that was going to be the only opportunity for me to step up and make a play for the Irish other than holding the field goals and keeping Ian in the right mindset to knock down some extra points.
Q. When you make the pass to Will, he brings it in and you’re running down that field, what went through your body when you were running down there?
DeShone Kizer: I was blank. I didn’t even know how goofy I looked until I saw the pictures and the videos afterwards. I knew I wanted to go celebrate with him and got down there as fast as I possibly could and ended up doing like a little soccer slide into the end zone. I had to slow myself down before I got to him. I didn’t want to run him over.
But I kind of blanked out. The adrenaline was pumping as fast as it’s ever pumped before. Obviously, it was a really cool feeling. Got back out there for a two-point conversion and settle myself back down.
Q. Will that be your signature touchdown celebration?
DeShone Kizer: I have no idea. I have no idea. Let’s just worry about throwing touchdowns before I can worry about the celebration after.
Q. You mentioned getting comfortable. When did you get comfortable? I know the first play handoff touchdown helps, but then you have to go in and you have to punt. Was it getting the fourth down run, getting hit? The throw to Corey looked very comfortable. Do you know when you got comfortable in that drive?
DeShone Kizer: I can’t say I’m completely comfortable now, so to sit here and say there was a specific moment when I was comfortable is kind of different. Stepping up in the pocket and really feeling pressure in that second drive was a very good moment for me. I didn’t necessarily make the throws on the targets that I wanted to make, but to feel the rush and to feel the rotation and defenses and things like that has kind of helped me out going forward in the game.
Q. Obviously as a number two you’re locked in knowing you might have to go in, but how much of a shock to the system was it that now I’m in and knowing you were staying in too? You probably knew pretty quickly you had to stay in because Malik was out?
DeShone Kizer: I didn’t know it was as serious as it was until after the game, but it was kind of weird. I had a conversation with my mom the other day about the same situation, and it just kind of happened. It wasn’t really a thought process. It was too quick to think. You just quickly throw your helmet on, put in the mouthpiece, warm up a little bit and get out there. The quickness of it allowed me to settle down and really get going.
Q. The last couple days, have you started to feel what it’s like to be the Notre Dame starting quarterback? Have things changed dramatically for you?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, there’s quite a bit that’s been going on on social media and the role that you have on campus. But I think I’ve done a fairly good job of trying to ignore it as much as I can, once again kind of push myself in my academics and my football life as much as I possibly can and get those things off my mind.
We’re doing a really good job in our preparation so far for Georgia Tech, and obviously I’m just trying to take it day by day and continue to improve so that when Saturday comes around I’m as prepared as I can possibly be.
Q. You’re only as good as your last drive. Your last drive was pretty special. But for you your next drive is probably even more important just to set the tempo to gain confidence, maybe gain confidence with your team?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, I think the first drive of the Georgia Tech game will be a pretty good one. It’s going to be pretty big for me and gaining the trust and becoming comfortable with my team and rolling down there. But like I said, it’s all in the preparation, and I believe that after yesterday’s practice and what today’s practice holds for us, that we’ll be as prepared as we can possibly be for the game.
Q. As a group, the quarterbacks probably compete against each other, but at the same time work together. Your relationship with Brandon? Now he’s the back-up. But is that a situation where you’re trying to get him ready at the same time too?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah. I talked earlier about being comfortable back there, and Brandon and I have always had a tight relationship. As a QB room, we have a good relationship and we have a really good QB room. We’re all good friends out of the room and off the football field, so that kind of settles in really well when it comes to preparing Brandon and preparing myself as much as I want to bring him along.
I’ve got a game to plan Saturday, so I’ve got to put as much attention as I can on him and myself in making sure I’m prepared. To get Brandon comfortable, we’ve had quite a few conversations about just ripping it. You’ve got to be yourself out there. When you start getting your mind wrapped around everything else you tense up a little bit and your ball might not be the best, and then once your ball’s not the best you start getting that in your mind and sometimes it can become a downhill movement.
But we’ve had quite a few conversations with him helping me and me helping him when it comes to ripping the ball and having fun out there.
Q. When you were in high school and committed to Notre Dame, when did you dream of being the Notre Dame quarterback? How far back does that go?
DeShone Kizer: It doesn’t go too far back honestly. I wasn’t necessarily the die hard Notre Dame fan that you find throughout the locker room here. But it was definitely something I knew if I had the opportunity I had to explore it. It wasn’t until late in my recruiting process that Notre Dame even opened the doors for me. At the time they weren’t planning on taking a quarterback in my class.
Once my recruiting got rolling a little bit, and I gave Coach Allison a call and I turned to Coach Martin, and he got in within the next week, the process happened really fast. To put a time limit or time line on when I really got the mindset of being the Notre Dame quarterback wasn’t until late in my junior year and obviously going into my senior year.
Q. Do you try to avoid the noise? I’m sure there are a lot of distractions this week, but the game in front of you has to be your main focus?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, avoiding noise is exactly what I’m trying to do. Like I said, I’m just trying to bury myself in my studies in the classroom and also bury my studies on Georgia Tech. And to be honest with you, going to the University of Notre Dame, that in itself is very time consuming, so there is not much time outside of that other than to get some rest to allow those outside distractions and noise to get into my mind.
Q. Your parents weren’t able to be there for Saturday’s game. I read somewhere where I wanted to see if you tell me where they were?
DeShone Kizer: They were actually at a friend’s birthday party at the time, and they were over having a couple wings and doing whatever watching the game at a local wing spot in Toledo. They said that the place erupted. And my mom at the time I called her, which wasn’t until about an hour after the game, she was still just in crazy shock and tears running down her face. It was a really awesome moment to call her once I got back on the bus.
Q. I assume they’ll be here this weekend?
DeShone Kizer: Yes, of course, my family will be in town.
Q. Just quickly, you got your first scholarship offer before you played your first high school game?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, there were a couple offers at the time. We had some connections through our high school with some guys at Syracuse and some guys at Bowling Green.
Q. They just because the coaches told them that we have a kid here that you want to look at or how does that work?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah like I said, the recruitment process is so fast nowadays, especially when it comes to quarterback. Most schools only take one. If you can get your hands on one early, it’s probably the best thing for you, especially the schools that offered me at the time.
So when they came on and watched me throw with the younger guys and Coach Dempsey had a good idea that I was going to be the guy the next year, it was purely off potential, and I ended up pulling the trigger quite early.
Q. They were talking about earlier how you might have been a little down last year not playing. How tough was it to come in and find you’re deep in the depth chart?
DeShone Kizer: You tell yourself out of high school you don’t go to school to play right away. You go to school to compete and allow yourself the best opportunity to play. I got my mind wrapped around that when I committed here. I knew I was coming into a tough situation with two studs in front of me. It didn’t settle in the way I would have liked it to set in at the beginning of the process, when you go from being a quote/unquote elite athlete in high school, and you get sat down and don’t get the reps you expected. It’s a little rough like it is on most freshmen.
But after a while I took it for what it was and accepted a year of not playing and took it and tried to allow myself to learn the game and become more comfortable with the speed of big-time college football.
Q. How prepared do you feel you are right now?
DeShone Kizer: There’s still quite a bit we need to do with Georgia Tech. I believe that within the first couple of days of preparation for them I have a good grasp of what their defense likes to do and hopefully we can continue to improve in that preparation and prepare ourselves as much as we possibly can. And by Saturday I think I’ll be ready for whatever they can throw at me.
Q. Not too beat the recruiting story too far into the ground, but Coach said when you first threw for Coach Martin it didn’t go very well, and you called him up and said I want to throw again for you can you come back? What do you remember about that and the motivation to get Coach Martin back to throw for him again?
DeShone Kizer: Well, when Coach Martin came at the time, I mentioned I was never really a true quarterback football guy like some of these guys are nowadays. I didn’t have a quarterback coach. I didn’t go to all the camps. I didn’t spend the time I needed to spend on being an elite high school quarterback.
When Coach Martin came in the first time I was just raw. I was a big guy, big arm, really, really long motion of a baseball player, so that didn’t really go the way I wanted it to go. Didn’t throw the ball well at all. He left, and Notre Dame left, and I kind of just X-ed them out. But once I continued to grow and my stock began to grow and I became — figured out how to become a quarterback, I decided to give Notre Dame a call.
At the time it was my last call. I was getting ready to narrow down to a select few schools, and I was like you know what? If there’s ever a school that could adjust this list and hop into this list it would be Notre Dame. So I gave them a call, and it obviously ended pretty well.
Q. You guess you mentioned they could happen in there. But why could they have hopped in there? What about Notre Dame did you want that attracted you?
DeShone Kizer: During my recruiting process we saw the formula of how we were going to go and evaluate schools and academics were one, coaching staff was two, and style of play was three, and then there was campus and things like that at the end of that. And Notre Dame from day one was by far the top of all of those.
We knew Coach Kelly runs the style of offense I wanted to run, and he did a really good job of setting his offense to the style of quarterback that he had. That was something that we really liked as a family. The academics obviously speak for themselves here. We got on campus and fell in love with the campus. So whenever we — if they wanted to step into the picture at any point in time, we knew we were going to have to take a very good look at them. So they came in late, and just as expected, we hopped on the train.
Q. Were you a pitcher in high school?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, well, I was. My dad shut down my arm my sophomore year just because we saw what was happening with football, and wanted to make sure none of the Tommy John or shoulder issues ever came up.
Q. When you were starting to play quarterback, were you almost throwing it like a pitching motion?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, yeah, there are a lot of things that I still deal with now that have to do with my pitching motion and locking up my front knee. In baseball you’re really driving down into the ground off the mound, and obviously that’s something you can’t do. You have to stand on a level playing field, you have to have your shoulders level in football. So I still to this day have to deal with things like that. But like I said, motion has completely changed since my sophomore year.
Q. You roomed with Malik last week on the road before he got hurt. What were some of those conversations like with him? Whether it was you picking his brain about being ready or you giving him a pep talk or anything of that nature?
DeShone Kizer: Malik and I have been rooming together since last year, and we’ve been really tight since last year. We’ve taken a couple road trips together and gotten along really well. The way that we go about staying together in hotel rooms before games is always try to stay as relaxed and calm as possible. We talk about football here and there. But when you are preparing all week and coach gives you time to get away and rest and get your mind off of things, we make sure we take complete advantage of those opportunities.
So when Malik and I were together last week, we didn’t really talk much football until right before the game where I started quizzing him a little bit, and he started quizzing me a little bit. Obviously it got going. We got towards the game, and we kind of go our separate ways. He gets into his mental zone to go play the game, and I went on my own and got in my mental zone to try to prepare if the time ever did come up for me to go in. Obviously the time came, and what he told me and the way we prepared all weekended up becoming a reality for us.
Q. What were some of the road trips you guys have taken? Where have you gone, back home to Ohio?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, yeah. We went to visit some friends at Ohio State a couple times. I came back from Toledo and driven through blizzards, driven through hail storms, we’ve done it all together.
Q. Who does the driving?
DeShone Kizer: Malik does the driving. I can’t stay awake long enough. He does the driving. I’m the co-captain on trips.
Q. Did you know him at all in high school?
DeShone Kizer: No, no, I actually didn’t know about him at all. I heard about him — well, I went to Elite 11 as a sophomore, and I got to see him throw and competed. I was with his group and didn’t know much about him. But I learned a lot about him when I was with the Elite 11 and Coach Dilfer explained the type of guy he was and type of athlete he was, and how elite he was with his legs and his arms and how wise he was. I didn’t get to know him until I got on campus here and we spent the summer together.
Q. Just clarify, I read something about when you gave Coach Kelly your word about committing, Tom Brady got on the phone or someone at the Patriots facility?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, Coach Kelly just happened to be in New England at the time and was sitting in the quarterback room with Tom Brady talking some scheming stuff. When I called it just happened to be at a time he was there and I was on the speaker phone and Tom Brady was there to listen to me commit to Notre Dame.
Q. Is that one of the cooler recruiting stories you get to share in the locker room and stuff?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, that was pretty cool. That was definitely a fun time.
Q. Did Tom Brady say anything?
DeShone Kizer: No. There wasn’t much at the time. I was just focused on letting Coach Kelly know that I was all in.
Q. You said there was a lot going on social media. What are you talking about?
DeShone Kizer: Just when situations like this happen, people love it. Notre Dame fans are some of the best in the nation and everyone was kind of just trying to get to me and let me know that they trusted me and they believed in what I can do. Obviously it’s pretty cool to go about that. Everyone is trying to make up some sort of a nickname for me. And the Kizer Soze thing is starting to get going. So we’ll see how that continues to go.
Like I said earlier, I’m trying to stay as much as I can, as far as I can away from that and once again kind of just throw myself into Georgia Tech and my studies during the week.
Q. So it hasn’t been negative stuff?
DeShone Kizer: No. Well, I haven’t been on it enough to see. There could be some negative stuff out there. But from what I understand the response has been pretty good from the Irish Nation.
Q. You were talking about being nervous, but you looked so calm out there. Have you had problems with nerves in high school or were you always finding a way to stay calm?
DeShone Kizer: I like to consider myself a mental guy. I like to stay within myself and keep things as simple as I possibly can. There’s nerves have never really been an issue for me. Normally when there is a mistake out there, it’s mechanical or something to do with my foot work.
So when it comes to nerves and playing in big games, I’ve always been pretty calm in a leadership role, and I’ve always been taught that everyone’s going to look to you when times are rough or when times are great. So I’ve always tried to keep myself in a really level playing field and a level mindset to make sure that I can lead my team or get with them and make sure that we’re heading in the right direction at the time.
Q. I’m curious, talking to people around Central Catholic, could you describe what impact going there had on you not just as a player, but as a person and sort of getting you to where you are now?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, Central Catholic was an amazing school. They’re a college prep school. When it comes to academics, I definitely feel like I was very prepared for them and the connection that Coach Dempsey makes there, and the college and the elite football that’s played there has prepared me quite a bit for being in the position I am here now at Notre Dame.
Q. I just want to clarify the throwing for Notre Dame part. Do you ever end up throwing for them the second time? Was that on campus at Notre Dame or how did that end up playing out?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, I had to throw for them again. I can’t tell you the exact time line of it, but it was pretty quick. I called Coach Allison on I believe it was a Thursday. Next Wednesday Coach Martin was in. The following Wednesday I was offered. Set up a visit week the following week to see Notre Dame on Sunday, Bama on Thursday, LSU on Friday, cancelled all my trips by the Monday after I went on Sunday, and I was committed by the following Wednesday.
So it was all really a good experience because I knew there was no other place I wanted to be.
Q. Talk about that sequence where you’re coming into the game after you’re starting quarterback going down? What was your mindset in that drive to keep yourself focused on what you have to do to win that game?
DeShone Kizer: I’d like to consider the two-minute situations are times where I can kind of settle in. When you’re out there trying to put together drive after drive after drive, you kind of put a little extra pressure on yourself because everyone’s expecting you to drive down and put together 10, 11, 13-play drives to score a touchdown. But when you were in two minutes, only focus is getting the next yard. You’re just trying to get into the zone where you can tie up the game.
But that kind of mellowed me out and allowed me to focus on getting to the next play and getting the ball into the playmakers hands. And obviously, C.J. Prosise made some key blocks. The offensive line was perfect. C.J. also made obviously a great catch and great run after a roll out play and got the ball out to Will a couple times and ended the way that we wanted it to end.
Q. Talk about getting a phone call from Tom Brady, and also another quarterback from Notre Dame like Joe Montana. It wasn’t like having that this week or saying that was part of the lure at Notre Dame?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, you expect nothing less from an institution like this. The top of the line people in the world are going to be around here, and thankfully are fans of the Irish. So when you’re dealing with big names like that, it’s kind of expected.
I’ve prepared myself. And I’ve seen Everett meet the guys he’s met, and I was around as a recruit when Tommy was out dealing with the role of being quarterback here. Obviously I’ve prepared myself mentally to be in this and to keep myself very — try to stay as level-headed as I possibly can, and try to understand that there is a lot that comes along with being a quarterback at a university like this.
Q. What is your understanding as you go into this? Do you have a long leash? Have the offensive coaches said it’s yours to run or don’t look over your shoulder, anything along those lines?
DeShone Kizer: Honestly, there hasn’t been much of a change at all. We’re running the same offense we’ve always run. We’re game planning the same way I’ve always seen us game plan, and we’re running the same offense that we’ve obviously run for the last couple years now.
When it comes to having a leash, short and long, it’s not really any different than when it’s ever been here. We’re going to run the ball, we’re going to throw the ball, we’re going to kick the ball and do the things that Irish have been doing for quite some time now.
Q. Where were you when you found out definitively that Everett Golson was leaving?
DeShone Kizer: I was actually in an exam at the time, and my phone was blowing up and I was trying to figure out all these variances. I had no idea why my phone was going crazy. So I got out and read that he was gone. It was obviously shocking. I honestly didn’t expect this.
Q. You didn’t have any inkling or any understanding that he might be?
DeShone Kizer: No, he was a guy who was kind of the same way at all times. Whether he liked it, whether he didn’t like it, whether he was happy or whether he was sad he kept a very stern and calmness about himself, so I had no idea he was heading out. I was preparing to learn from him another year and watch him and Malik battle it out through the summer and see who was going to be the guy next year. So I had no idea.
Q. Did the thought ever occur to you that man, I got short changed here because you would have gotten those reps had he made that decision prior to the start of spring drills?
DeShone Kizer: No, not really. I mean my reps were going to be my reps. I was going to take them how I took them. After you red-shirt, your first year is over and you don’t play, you’ve got to change your mindset to now there is no excuse for me not to be on the field. So I was going to take the reps that I got and prepare for them to put value in whether I was going to be third string or first string.
Q. Did you ever communicate with him after his decision to leave?
DeShone Kizer: No, I have not.
Q. You have not spoken with him?
DeShone Kizer: No.
Q. When you guys have a running game that’s been as dominant as it’s been the past couple weeks, how much does that kind of ease your transition into this job when you know how much support you have in that regard?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, it’s awesome. As a quarterback I understand that with the play makers that we have to my right and to my left, and the great offensive line that I have in front of us, any given play, any given down, whether it’s 3rd and 10, 1st and 20, we can run the ball for some yards. I have complete confidence in obviously the game plan we have set aside.
Where it really comes into play, people like to get the 7th man in the box for us because they need help in stopping the run game and it opens up the opportunity to stop the pass game. So as long as we continue to read the defense and the way they want to go about their schemes, I think we’ll be very successful in the upcoming weeks.
Q. I believe you went through what he has going on now. You had surgery on your wrist before the Pittsburgh game?
Matthias Farley: Yeah, yeah.
Q. In 2012. And I know it took a little bit for you to get over, but then was the mental — can’t even talk about the physical pain but obviously was there a mental hurdle involved that at some point you could use that hand for football related activities and you could go play?
Matthias Farley: Absolutely. What helped me is most is Zeke Motta, he broke his thumb in the same place in high school. After I got injured, I missed a couple of tackles in the first half of that game, and he came up to me and he said, Matthias, your hand is already broken; right? He said, it’s not going to get worse; it’s already broken. He said, don’t think about it. If it’s broken even worse, they can put it back together.
Q. I was going to follow up with a Zeke quote and he said he told you you weren’t going to die.
Matthias Farley: He said, it’s already broken; right? I said, technically, yes. He goes, okay; it shouldn’t matter. Don’t think about it. So I just went out and didn’t think about it. Definitely it’s like anytime you have an injury that involves surgery, it’s invasive, and I remember sitting there looking at my thumb, and I was like, it’s never going to move again. But it’s fine now, so it’s just getting over that mental hurdle.
Q. Last season you didn’t play much against Navy for whatever reason, but then you got in late, and I think you had five snaps in like four big plays in a row. Is it something where you really forget about that last year, but that you so much you do understand the concepts, you do understand what a triple option team is trying to do because seemed like you’re immediately in tune, coming in cold from the bench.
Matthias Farley: Yeah. I think they were — it was the last part of the game, so they weren’t really running triple option at that point. Yeah, it was a comfortability factor with having seen it multiple years, you know, playing Air Force, playing Navy in the past. So I think having that experience and having seen it before helps, but obviously, you know, there’s — it’s a bear every time. It’s never easy. Technically you have to be sound, and your eyes have to be perfect every play. So there’s a lot of mental stuff that goes into it, but there’s definitely a comfortability factor having gone through it before.
Q. First career start at linebacker; right?
Matthias Farley: Yeah. Still close. But same stuff. You gotta read your cues and ^ react, and it’s one of those games where everybody has to do their job because it’s so vital to stopping it. Very, very approachable option time.
Q. Just a little cleanup work type question, I guess. Coach Kelly referred to you having an ankle injury that was similar to Malik’s.
Matthias Farley: Yeah. I had bone spurs that were — you know, my ankle was basically broken my freshman year.
Q. Okay. So it was freshman year?
Matthias Farley: Yeah. And they had to go in and clean it all up.
Q. Just as a basis for comparison, how long was your recovery?
Matthias Farley: So I got surgery right after the season in 2011, and I was practicing spring. I was able to do a lot of the spring workouts leading up to that. Not fully, but it was — you know, by the end of spring I was 100 percent.
Q. So all things being equal —
Matthias Farley: Yeah.
Q. — he’s going to have a lot more time to recover from that?
Matthias Farley: Yeah. Absolutely.
Q. I asked some guys in the last couple of weeks about head trauma. I don’t think that I asked you about that. And that’s in the news. There’s a movie about that, and obviously it’s something that you guys have to deal with. Chris Borland retired from the 49ers after one year. How do you put all of that in perspective? Do you worry about that? Have you had concussions? How do you deal with that?
Matthias Farley: I’ve had a concussion, but it’s not something I can say I’ve thought about or worried about. Injuries are part of the game. There’s guys who get concussion because they hit their head on the ground diving for a pass. It’s not necessarily all running into a person or getting in a head-to-head collision. It’s definitely part of the game, and obviously it’s picking up steam in the media with Borland and people taking a big interest in it. I personally never think about it. I just think a lot of guys on the team don’t think about it either. It’s a known thing, a known risk, but there’s a lot of risk involved.
Q. When did you have that one concussion?
Matthias Farley: In the spring.
Q. What was your experience with it? What was your recovery? What was the degree of how bad was it exactly?
Matthias Farley: I don’t think it was that bad. I don’t know how I would compare that to somebody else who had a concussion. But you know, the trainers and the doctors here, they took everything very, very slow getting back. You know, it was one of those things it was very frustrating, obviously, because you can’t just like go get some stim on it and go out and be okay. So but we took the stims very slow, and I haven’t had any residual symptoms from it.
Q. Coach VanGorder is a guy known for constantly putting in, installing something new. At your position and your responsibility, what is that like? Frustrating at times, I’m sure? Is it exhilarating to constantly be mentally challenged by his schemes?
Matthias Farley: I think it’s awesome. I think we’re learning a whole lot that a lot of guys in the country don’t get the opportunity to learn because we can learn it and we — you know, it’s hard at times because there’s a lot on your plate, but I think that’s the exciting part and that’s the challenge of it that guys really look forward to and enjoy because week in, week out we can get entirely different, you know, system or deal which is exciting to be put in a position week in, week out to be the best.
Q. It may not be as exciting to some as it is to guys like you that can pick that up pretty easily.
Matthias Farley: I think everybody has done a really good job of picking it up. You know, I think being second year in the system, it’s not as fresh and brand new, so I think guys have a comfortable ability with it now that they didn’t have last year.
Q. And the notion that it’s an NFL-type defense, I mean I’m sure that appeals to a lot of you guys that have aspirations to go on to the next level.
Matthias Farley: Absolutely.
Q. Matthias, I was wondering if you could talk from a defensive back perspective, the challenges of playing a triple option team where you won’t necessarily see more than 8, 10 passes per game, just from that perspective, what it’s like.
Matthias Farley: You know, it’s really an eyes and focus game. Each play you have to start from zero. You have your key whoever it is on that play or call, and you have to be locked into that, because what they do affects what you do and then if you don’t react in the way or manner you should, then that messes somebody else up. And 11 guys have to do their job and just their job each and every play and come back and reset, refocus each and every play.
Q. How is your preparation when you play a team like Navy, or Georgia Tech in this case, different than when you play another team?
Matthias Farley: Well, that’s the biggest difference in the triple option team. It’s different than most things we see, and the way everything fits from an offensive standpoint is a lot different. The way the defense fits is a lot different. There’s a lot less, I think we could do as far as, you know, play calling, whatever it is, because of the triple option team. It’s not something we see week in, week out.
Q. Matthias, I wanted to ask you about C.J. You played alongside of him when he was on defense and probably faced off against him now that he moved to offense. What makes him so versatile and what has allowed him to succeed regardless of the position he’s been in?
Matthias Farley: I think a lot of it comes from being a freak athlete, and then he’s smart and he’s willing. I think a lot of times someone could get down and be like I don’t want to do this, but every position he’s been moved to or from he’s really bought in 100 percent, and I think that’s showing and is very apparent in him playing running back, he’s bought in 100 percent. And he’s also big and fast and strong and all those other things, but I think mentally his ability to just adjust and adapt to a new position and excel at it.
Q. And it’s a top 15 matchup this weekend. How fun are games like that when you know it’s a huge game that can change the landscape?
Matthias Farley: I mean I honestly don’t think about it.
Q. It’s fairly well known that there’s a “Win One For the Gipper” mentality around here. Has there been a win one for Malik moment or win one for Durham or Jarron —
Matthias Farley: Yeah, absolutely. Injuries are obviously a part of the game, unfortunate part of the game. So those guys are with us in spirit when we’re out there. You know, it’s terrible to see them go to St. Williams and they’re in a bed or whatever it is because they were just healthy and just fine. So they’re definitely in there with us in spirit, and you know, I think Malik, he still brings energy, even though he’s only a couple of days removed he’s been keeping everybody positive, keeping everybody up. So I think there’s absolutely one of those mentalities for everyone who’s been hurt.
Q. You described a couple of injuries that you’ve had in the last few years. When you’re out rehabbing, do you still feel like you’re part of the team or — obviously you’re missing something.
Matthias Farley: I feel like it’s one of those things where you feel like it’s, you know, unfortunate or whatever it is, but the team here is so incredible that you don’t really — you feel a disconnect from maybe playing or, you know, unfortunately my injuries didn’t come while I was playing and my hands you could play with. But it’s one of those things where the team is so close here, you know, guys who in and out of St. Williams when I even got thumb surgery a couple of years ago or ankle surgery when I was a freshman. So guys do a really great job of getting things signed for them. There’s a really team aspect. So I don’t think anybody even has the opportunity to slightly feel like they’re not a part of the team. They might not feel, you know, like they’re contributing as much on the field, but there’s definitely no disconnect from the team standpoint.
THE MODERATOR: We good? All right. Thanks everybody.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We have Sheldon Day here. Guys, fire away when you’re ready.
Q. I know you face it every year, but what makes it so tough going into the option?
Sheldon Day: Man, you have been to be disciplined. It’s a different kind of offense that is run in college football, and it’s so assigned driven that it’s different than more offenses than not.
Q. And is Georgia Tech’s much different than Navy?
Sheldon Day: There’s some similarities. The offensive line is definitely bigger. Seems like they have a lot of skills guys that are fast in space.
Q. Sheldon, we just kind of the game different than you guys obviously do with the coaches. Do you feel you guys dropped off significantly defensively or was it more a little bit of a drop off with a hot quarterback, wide receiver combination that really kept things rolling?
Sheldon Day: Man, it was definitely a challenge for us, and we feel like we need to work on some things, and we’re definitely going to get back to it and make sure that we clean up on the things that we messed up on.
Q. I guess unique week with Georgia Tech coming in. Is it difficult to build on your successes and mistakes, because I mean it’s a different defensive scheme. It’s a much different scheme and different alignments and everything this week or is it kind of like a one-off week that you guys have been building for?
Sheldon Day: We’ve definitely been working on it and making sure we’re on top and we know our assignments. We kind of put it in here and there and make sure it’s still fresh in our mind from week to week.
Q. Like the bulk of your defensive principles carry over at least from regular game week to Georgia Tech and Navy?
Sheldon Day: Well, for the D line I can speak for them it’s definitely the thing as far as get off the offensive line and create a new line of scrimmage.
Q. Sheldon, can you just go back to Malik getting hurt and the emotions that was going through the locker room at that time?
Sheldon Day: It’s always sad to lose a brother on the team especially a guy like Malik who’s always so happy and having a smile on his face and to see him kind of tear up and be sad about something, it kind of hit us at home. And the next man in mentality, but it’s always hard losing a brother.
Q. You guys have lost five guys to season-ending injuries already. How do you get over that and move forward when it’s so early in the season?
Sheldon Day: We all stick together. Brotherhood and we preach that since springtime, just hanging out with each other, making sure we’re comfortable with each other, building chemistry in and out. And to see how much those guys being around the team and seeing a smile on their face, how much that encourages us.
Q. Do you guys still believe you can achieve the things you want to achieve despite all these injuries?
Sheldon Day: Yes. We have a vision and we’re sticking to it.
Q. And then finally for me, just you know, how big this game is, top 15 team. What’s that like going into a game like that, that type of environment?
Sheldon Day: It definitely has a little oomph to it, and it’s going to be a big one and we have to play technically sound if we want to win.
Q. I don’t know how many times you’re going to match up against their right guard, but he’s listed 366 and they say he’s 385.
Sheldon Day: Yeah.
Q. Have you ever gone up against a guy of that size?
Sheldon Day: I haven’t but they say small guys pack a punch, so I’m ready for it.
Q. You do play — I mean I don’t think you could find a guy that plays harder every snap than you do. Where did that come from? Has that always been who you are or did you have an influence early in your career that prompted you to play with that level of intensity?
Sheldon Day: Oh, man, it goes back to conditioning in my high school days. Every day my high school D line coach preached run, run, run, and we spent the first 15 minutes of every practice just running, so it kind of build a motor in me and making me want to play hard each and every play.
Q. Did you have the stamina to play that hard every snap when you were a freshman here?
Sheldon Day: Not at all. College football is definitely different, so I had to adjust to it.
Q. Coach VanGorder installs a lot for you guys, and I would think — Joe Schmidt said the greatest adjustments in responsibility come with Mike linebacker first and foremost. With all the variations that he has on a regular basis, how much does that impact down line men?
Sheldon Day: Oh, man. A lot. He expects us to know what everybody does and vice versa. So we install each weekend and we make sure we’re clear on everybody’s assignments so we know who’s supposed to be doing what, with a where we’re supposed to be to make sure the defense runs smoothly.
Q. So is it exciting, exhilarating, frustrating at times?
Sheldon Day: Man, depends on the day of the week. Mondays, it’s like, oh, my gosh, what did he just do, but then as we get into the week and we start to run them and take reps at it, it kind of clears up.
Q. Does it ever lead to confusion that is a detriment to what you guys try to do?
Sheldon Day: I wouldn’t say that. It’s definitely exciting to kind of see things fall into place and see how well things work.
Q. I know every game, the next game is the most important, but do you consider this a defining game with so many things going against you right now, with injuries and question marks?
Sheldon Day: I wouldn’t say that. I would say that this game is very important to us, of course, and it’s our next game. So we’re definitely all out on Georgia Tech. And just knowing that we have a mission and we’re trying to do anything possible to get to that mission. So I wouldn’t have an excuse or anything like that for this.
Q. Do you feel like maybe there’s a little bit more resolve, especially after giving up some points, giving up some yards last week? Do you feel that in practice maybe?
Sheldon Day: Oh, yeah. We definitely have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because we didn’t play as well last week, so we’re definitely trying to make a statement this week.
Q. Have you had the opportunity to talk to da shotgun and if so, what have you said to him, because you know, obviously going into a game like this, nerves can get to him. Have you had an opportunity?
Sheldon Day: Me and DeShone, we always joke around. He was a guy that came in and kind of had, I wouldn’t say trouble when he first got here, but was still trying to find his way early on and just seeing him grow and seeing him just kind of mature within the program. So I’m just always kind of making him smile or try to brighten up his day and just trying to make sure he stays positive. So I said a couple of words to him, trying to say we’re all behind you and things like that just to get his spirits high and things like that.
Q. Can you give me an example of kind of what you do to ease his mood or something you said to him to ease his mood?
Sheldon Day: Yeah. For example, last year, seeing him kind of walk around, I wouldn’t say with his head down, but just seeing him not getting as much reps in practice and just saying your time is coming, things like that to make sure that he knows he’s next within or next man up pretty much.
Q. What you went through last year, you had a bunch of injuries, you, Joe, all these guys go down. Do you feel like what this team went through last year maybe like battle hardened you guys? You know how to deal with this kind of stuff?
Sheldon Day: I didn’t think of it like that, but now that you say it, definitely we’ve been through it last year. We know the changes we have to make from last year to this year and that’s within our leadership and things like that. So I definitely say we’re prepared for something like this to happen.
Q. And then discipline is a play, obviously a swing word, you’re playing a triple option team. Is that something that you can really hone in on in a week’s time or is that something that really started preseason that you guys had to develop that?
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say that started in spring ball just knowing your assignment and knowing that we’re one of 11. You need to do your job, and knowing what your job is is pretty much what discipline means to us.
Q. Your first college game was against Navy. Right? So what kind of advice did like Kapron or Stephon or Lou kind of give you about facing cut block?
Sheldon Day: Oh, man. I don’t think it was more of cut blocks. It was more don’t let the big play happen to you, whether that be me not tackling Dove on veer block. It was more of staying on top of my assignment.
Q. Have you given Jerry kind of similar advice?
Sheldon Day: Yeah. But Jerry’s unique. You know, he does things Jerry’s way, and so it’s always a push-pull with Jerry. So the cut block, you tell him about the cut block and he’ll play it this way, and then it might not work for us, but it works for Jerry. So it’s always about finding a way for Jerry pretty much.
Q. Is Jerry able to do that because he’s 6-6, 300, but plays with some kind of ridiculous level of athletics?
Sheldon Day: For sure. Jerry’s body — I don’t know if I can say that. But Jerry’s body does some unique things, so that’s why we let Jerry get away with a lot of things. (Laughs).
Q. Do you guys get together to watch the Showtime episodes when they come out each week or do you have more important things to do?
Sheldon Day: Yeah. So we don’t get to watch them on Tuesdays because most people don’t have Showtime. We try to wait until I think it’s tonight where we try to get together and watch it.
Q. Well, if you hadn’t heard, I mean we saw that you roomed with Tillery on the road. What’s that like? I mean a lot of people talk about what a unique individual he is. Inside the mind of Jerry Tillery, what’s that all about?
Sheldon Day: Well, last week me and Jerry we just talked about our lives and trying to get to know each other on a deeper level, and I think last week’s conversation was about his family and how he’s kind of found his passion to be a nurse and things like that. And it’s kind of cool about how his background kind of led him into his career path.
Q. You said before, I think you said that DeShone had some trouble when he first came in. Like in what way?
Sheldon Day: Oh, just, you know, coming in as a freshman, you want reps, and it’s just hard to kind of go through that freshman phase where you redshirt and you don’t get all the reps that you think you deserve. So everybody goes through that stage and we sometimes call it the freshman wall or whatever you want to call it but it’s all about keeping your spirits high.
Q. Is he a pretty serious person or emotional or how would you describe him?
Sheldon Day: Oh, man. I’ve never seen him cry, so I don’t know if he’s emotional. But I would definitely say he’s very passionate. Yeah, so just for example, last week after he through his touch down pass he’s running down the field. You can tell he just pours his heart into the game and the way he studies film and how much he’s dedicated to the game.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? All right. Thanks, guys. Should have Matthias Farley up here in a few moments.
THE MODERATOR: All righty. We’ll start with questions here. We’ll get going right away.
Q. Joe, before coming to Notre Dame, how much option had you prayed against, like in high school and youth football? Did you have much experience at all?
Joe Schmidt: So I actually ran — I ran a version of the option my eighth grade year. I was the quarterback. So I was the quarterback until my freshman year of high school. I broke my hand. Surprising. And then I moved to linebacker. So I defended it — I ran it then and I defended it all through high school. One of our big rivals ran triple option, and then let’s see. Who else. I mean a few teams we’ve played every year I feel like played option. But yeah.
Q. Had you stayed a quarterback, who would you have competed with at your high school?
Joe Schmidt: Well, it would have been — well, Barkley was ahead of me. I was a sophomore when he was a senior. So then my junior year one of my best friends, actually, Max Wittek, transferred in from Connecticut. So that would have been my competition, I guess.
Q. Do you think you could have beaten him?
Joe Schmidt: I 100 percent could have beaten him. Whoever can tweet at him, make sure you tell him that.
Q. The other thing is, you know, you obviously suffered an injury playing against option last year. Did you feel like that was related to the cut blocks, just kind of your take on all that?
Joe Schmidt: Yeah. I really don’t think so. That’s the game of football. And injuries happen. So I would never put it on a scheme or a player. It wasn’t malicious. You know, the people from Navy were not malicious. They were just playing the game and I was playing the game, and things happen. So I mean I’m really — I don’t think of it that way.
Q. I know there’s a lot of installation with Coach VanGorder’s defense, and I’m sure it does am come very easily for you, but what’s that like on a daily basis? I’m sure it’s challenging. I’m sure it’s exciting. I’m sure it’s probably frustrating a little bit at times, too, because you can’t quite get ahead of the curve, so to speak.
Joe Schmidt: Yeah. Tuesdays are always a lot of fun. They’re frustrating and fun. You know, like we put in, you know, the game plan for the week; right? So Mondays is kind of a scout input day and Tuesdays we put in everything. So it’s good because we kind of all just do it at the same pace, and Tuesday, you know you’re going to make a few mistakes, but you gotta make sure we’re working intensity that day. That’s why coach calls it intense Tuesday. So I really enjoy the opportunity to kind of go through all the different schemes that he comes up with and try to run them and try to be perfect on Tuesday because that’s what we’re shooting for; right? Lofty goal. But I like it, and that’s one of the reasons I really enjoy this defense and playing for him.
Q. Does one defense or formation build off of another? It’s not like you’re starting from scratch with each new install?
Joe Schmidt: No. Really he teaches conceptually. Right so Coach VanGorder I think likes to talk in terms of concepts. So once you understand, without getting into scheme, but like once you understand like how to play this play out of this coverage, like it just kind of all builds on each other. So you understand inside zone and you understand outside zone and you understand, it just kind of — it’s easier to do because then you stop memorizing, you just play from a central point of understanding.
Q. And where within the defense do the greatest adjustments need to be made? I mean it would seem like up front those guys are doing what they do generally? Is it linebackers or all the way at the back end of it?
Joe Schmidt: I’d say just as a general rule, the positions that do the most alignment in checking, alignment assignment checking would be the mic linebacker and the safety positions and I think that’s been kind of well documented.
Q. Who’s the worthy successor to you as both brains of the operation?
Joe Schmidt: I mean there are so many. I know you’re looking for one guy, but I mean —
Q. Well, name a couple.
Joe Schmidt: I mean you got — I mean everybody. You got Nyles, Jarrett, like Jalen is incredibly intelligent. You got James Onwualu. We really learned together. I named all the linebackers there, but you could say anyone at the back end, too. So I think Coach VanGorder does a really good job of we learn the defense together; we learn the concepts together, and that allows for — it’s almost like a seamless transition from player to player. So when I come out and Nyles goes in, there should be no difference, and I don’t think there is a difference. And so like you know, I think that that’s how we try to build it and that’s how, you know, Nyles and I and Jarrett and I, and Nyles and Jarrett, that’s how we talk to each other and that’s how the guys at the other positions talk as well.
Q. Georgia Tech wasn’t stopped often last year when we got on a roll offensively, but when you did see some hints of it in your scouting report. Is there a common theme? It’s first down defensively (indiscernible)?
Joe Schmidt: Yeah. They weren’t stopped much last year. I think they were 11 and 3, and they have one of the best offenses in the country. So I think that some people did some good things against them, and you know, we’re learning from them hopefully. But you know, really I think we’re trying to focus on what we’re trying to do and kind of assessing what we find to be their strengths and weaknesses.
Q. I talked to the former defensive coach. He kind of laughed when I asked if stopping first down was more important against the option. He said it’s important against every offense?
Joe Schmidt: I was going to say when you want to be first down efficient against everyone.
Q. Is putting the offense behind the chains something obviously what you mentioned (indiscernible) you’re putting an option behind the chains a little bit?
Joe Schmidt: I would want to put anyone behind the chains. If you can get ahead, you know, early in the series, it makes life a lot easier. And I think, you know, especially against an option team. But really, it goes for any offense. If you can win on first down, second down and put them into third-down situations, I think that’s what really any defense is trying to do.
Q. Joe, what were the emotions like, and you know, how much did you feel for Malik when what happened on Saturday?
Joe Schmidt: That was tough. Having been there and felt that pain, and it’s not even just the physical pain, because breaking that bone is incredibly painful. But the emotional pain that he was going through was really hard to swallow and hard to watch for me, because I remember it. I remember the feeling, and you know — so I still feel for him. I’m going to go see him tonight and talk to him, and I know Malik will be Malik, so — but it still doesn’t make it any easier. It’s still hard because he’s one of us. And it doesn’t matter who you are on our team. If you get injured and we lose you, it’s a tough pill to swallow.
Q. You guys have had five season-ending injuries already this year. How difficult is that so early in the year to deal with?
Joe Schmidt: You know, I really — I think that as I said, you don’t like losing anyone, but at the same time it makes you feel blessed to have, you know, a plethora of solid talent that Coach Kelly and the staff has brought here and Coach Long on his staff have done a great job of kind of developing that talent into game-ready people. So I think that we have a lot of guys that can step into those roles, and as you saw last week with DeShone and C.J., I mean those are two guys right there. I know it doesn’t matter what position across the board, I have full faith and confidence in everybody to do their job when they’re called upon.
Q. And do you guys still have that same confidence, that same belief that you guys can achieve big things this year?
Joe Schmidt: Oh, yeah. I mean I wouldn’t — you know, and it has nothing — that’s not in any way meant as a slight to Malik, but I believe fully in everyone on our team. It does not matter — I believe that there’s no indispensable man. So there really is — it doesn’t matter who you are, where you play on the team, but that’s what I believe, and if your time is called upon, you gotta step up and make plays.
Q. And finally for me, the top 15 show down at Notre Dame stadium, you don’t get opportunities like that too many times. Just talk about how big of a game this is and how exciting that will be to be a part of.
Joe Schmidt: I mean it’s so fun. This is one of the reasons coming to Notre Dame, you know, this is one of the reasons you play football, and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to play Georgia Tech and to play one of the best offenses in the country and really one of the best programs in the country. I think they do a great job there. And so we have a ton of respect for them, and this is why you play the game. It’s going to be a great atmosphere here, being at home it’s going to be so much fun. So I can’t wait.
Q. This is a little bit off tracks, but players of your generation, when you come in here to this place, how much are you involved in the history of the place? Do you actually study, do you have to watch Knute Rockne all-American and “Rudy”? Where does all the past fit in with the present?
Joe Schmidt: So I think you have to respect the tradition of this institution when you come here. I think it varies on the level of understanding of that tradition. Everyone that comes here knows that what Notre Dame stands for and what the people before us have kind of laid down. But at the same time you need to write your own — you need to write your own story and do everything you can to build upon that legacy. So me personally, I think I’m — well, I’d like to think I’m very familiar with the tradition of this place, you know, growing up a fan and kind of just starting from that side of things, that kind of understanding. So then there are some kids here that kind of are learning as they come here because they found out about Notre Dame in high school or something. So I think that that’s kind of where I see the tradition and legacy of this place being.
Joe Schmidt: It is. I was waiting for one of you to say that. I was hoping it wasn’t you, for tuna.
Joe Schmidt: “Rudy”? Embarrassingly enough, I guess. Like two or three weeks ago we watched it, at the house. I actually, I think it’s a great movie. It’s kind of funny. But one of the greatest sound tracks of all time. As a movie sound track, you’ll argue? Where are you going to go from there? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a super Notre Dame fan then. Oh, we’re going to end on that? I hear “Rudy” coming out and these guys just go into a typing frenzy.
THE MODERATOR: You can go to class, young man. Thank you.