Sept. 19, 2015

Recap | Final Stats | Notes | Photo Gallery

Notre Dame vs. Georgia Tech
Saturday, September 19, 2015

Brian Kelly

COACH KELLY: Obviously my staff, coaches, I thought we had a very good plan. Our players executed it and beat a very good football team in Georgia Tech.

All those things have to come together when you’re playing a team like Georgia Tech, in particular a team that is prolific offensively.

I think our defensive plan was outstanding. I think our team executed it up until maybe the last couple of minutes where we probably lost a little bit of our focus. But all in all, just a tremendous performance by our football team.

Overcoming a lot offensively with a freshman quarterback going in there, playing well, DeShone, opportunistic offensively. Running the football effectively when it was difficult at times to run the football.

It was a program win today. Having to overcome injuries, playing a very good football team in Georgia Tech this early after two very difficult teams.

Really pleased with the way our kids executed in all areas.

So with that I’ll open it up to questions.

Q. I know you mentioned the players executed the game plan. Can you revisit Bob Elliott’s role in getting you ready for this?

COACH KELLY: Again, I think we talked about researching it. But a lot of the work was on the field. I’d be remiss without mentioning our swag team. Our swag team was really important. Our swag team is known as students with, what is it, attitude and game. That is our triple option team. They named themselves swag.

It’s been kind of this thing that’s gone on since camp started. They wanted their own identity. They did such a great job of preparing our defense from when we started running triple option. They got a good sense of where they needed to be and where they sit.

Coach Elliott did a good job of researching. Coach VanGorder did a great job of coaching, coaching the coaches, then our players did a great job of executing.

Q. Matthias Farley strips the ball first play in. Update us on what you know of Drue Tranquill’s injury.

COACH KELLY: It’s a knee injury. Doesn’t look very good right now. We’ll get an MRI here. We only have a manual exam to go on right now. The manual exam was not a good one. But we’ll get an MRI tomorrow morning and then we’ll have definitive results. But we’re not optimistic at this point.

Matthias went in there and was the next man in again. Unfortunately losing Drue, Drue played very well in the first half, very well. He was on point with his keys, fighting off blocks, making tackles. They wanted to run counter option based upon what we were doing. We did a great job of stringing it out, fighting off the extra hat.

Matthias was then put into that position, early on in the third quarter made a big play getting the ball out. Obviously he needed to continue to do that the rest of the game.

Q. Your evaluation of Kizer’s first start?

COACH KELLY: I thought it was good. There’s a lot to get better. He was a little off with his platform at times. The ball came out low. We got to get better there. We changed his footwork during the week, trying to get accustomed to that. I wanted the ball out quicker today.

Consequently it changed his platform a little bit. But I thought he threw the deep ball very well, did some really good things in managing the offense for us. Cadence was a little off. That’s why we had some false start penalties. We got to clean that up.

We’re operating with a new signal caller in there, so there were some first-time issues we got to clean up going into next week. All in all, I love his presence. I love his confidence. He’s very sure of himself. Our guys like playing with him out there. There’s really a good group of guys that believe in him out there.

Q. What was your game plan to stop and contain Justin Thomas today?

COACH KELLY: Well, we wanted to be very aggressive. I think we were probably as aggressive as any defense that we had watched on film. Being very aggressive was an important element within the plan itself. We wanted to show different looks. They had to use a number of timeouts as you obviously saw. Giving him different looks he had not seen before. Moving the fronts around, giving him different edge looks. We needed to mix it up. We didn’t believe we could line up in one or two fronts and give him vanilla looks. That was not going to work for us. So moving around a little bit and, again, being aggressive with our defense.

Q. With Kizer, it seemed like every time he was coming off the field, he came straight to you. What was that communication like? What were trying to emphasize with him between possessions?

COACH KELLY: Little details of the management of the offense. It could be little things like footwork. There were a couple things relative to cadence where he was not consistent with his cadence, so it was drawing some of our guys into those penalties.

Then just reminding him of doing the ordinary things well. He didn’t have to do extraordinarily big things for us. So it’s just constant communication, making sure he was locked in on the things we needed him to do. I thought he was doing a very nice job. Just keeping him calm, too.

Q. Seemed like they were throwing a lot of different edge pressures on you early on. How important was it for your offensive line to continue to chop away at them? How did DeShone handle those different looks?

COACH KELLY: I thought he did a pretty good job. We tried to get in as many different formation looks to try to find ways to run the football without putting DeShone in too many situations where he had to hold on to the football and run himself. Didn’t want to get him out there and put him into high-contact situations.

I think where it changed is when they tried to press Will on the perimeter and we hit the big pass down the sideline. That seemed to get them off us a little bit and put them more in quarter coverage this allowed us a little bit more breathing room relative to running the football.

I think it was probably then where we felt like, you know, we could start to run the football with more effectiveness. That’s when we stayed really more towards a run game philosophy.

Q. With the exception of the turnover, you seemed to hit behind the pressure. How important was it to get that stuff out there?

COACH KELLY: It was. Their backers are so aggressive, we wanted to get right behind them. We felt we had some space in there. If DeShone hits Torii Hunter in stride, maybe he’s still running to Elkhart now.

We felt like those are the areas we wanted to get the ball into. We felt like there were some areas that were vulnerable. We were going to pick our spots because we still felt like defensively we were doing some good things.

I did not want to put us in a situation where we were going to give a short field up to Georgia Tech.

Q. Big picture for you and Coach VanGorder, what does a chess match like this mean to you guys?

COACH KELLY: Oh, we enjoy this. This is what we do this for. We love playing a great team in Georgia Tech, spending the time during the week to put in the game plan with a freshman quarterback. I mean, we live for this stuff (laughter).

For us, the plan and developing the plan and then the execution of the plan is really the fun part of it for us. I don’t think it’s fun when you don’t see the execution part work as well. But seeing it come to fruition, seeing it come together, seeing your kids really play with confidence. That’s what we asked them to do, to play with some confidence today. I think that was the fun part today.

Q. I know it’s early in his career, we haven’t seen much yet, what are your thoughts on Justin’s play so far?

COACH KELLY: He’s solid. He’s a freshman kicker that is going to go through some ups and downs. But I like his demeanor. He doesn’t get rattled. He’s still working the big jump from AAA to the big boy league. There’s some nerves there. I really like his makeup. He’s a great worker. His attention to detail is excellent. I only see him getting better and better as a kicker.

Q. Brian, DeShone, after he threw the interception, we heard so much about his poise from his teammates after the Virginia game. He throws the interception, comes down the next drive, gets the touchdown. Is that kind of where it really showed itself?

COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think so. What I liked about him is he immediately takes ownership. He’s not a guy that’s looking to say, Well, it’s his fault, or, I didn’t know this. He clearly knew they bracketed him. He got duped. We saw the press on Corey, his eyes got big, on the goal line. I’m throwing that one up there. It was a presnap, postsnap decision. He didn’t take his time to see that they bracketed him.

A great learning experience for him. As I was coming in, Malik had this big smile on his face. He goes, Coach, they got him, didn’t they?

What are you talking about?

They got him on the bracket. Remember, they got me earlier?

They see the same things. He immediately said, I got it, and moved on to the next thing. That’s what I mentioned earlier. I love the way he is able to move on and process it and get back to playing the game.

Q. What do you think a win like this says about your team and how good they can be?

COACH KELLY: Well, I wasn’t worried about where we were going to be win or lose. I mean, I want to win and these kids want to win. What I like about it is it’s a program win because it says that you can overcome injuries, you can overcome adversity and still be a team that’s beaten two SEC teams in the last few games, has had a great run here. Top 15 team in the country. All the experts picked Georgia Tech to win this game. Didn’t faze our team at all.

So I think it’s more about where the program is. You can sustain some injuries, some key injuries, and still play at a high level. I think that’s what is for me most revealing.

Q. I know you said you couldn’t be vanilla, you had to move things around a little bit defensively. In terms of assignments, what didn’t work previously that you didn’t want to use again?

COACH KELLY: Well, we couldn’t stay in one high. We had to play two safeties. We had to play single safety. We got exposed a little bit against Navy playing just single safety. So playing two safeties.

Then I don’t want to give up too much because we’ve got Navy coming up. But really what was most important was making sure that the quarterback had different reads each time that he came down. He needed to be a bit tentative in what he may or may not get, if he was sure of what he was getting. He’s a very difficult player to defend.

Q. In terms of the battle of the interior linemen.

COACH KELLY: We won that. We won that. So we were able to get out backers over the top. We were able to do some things to string it out a little bit and buy some time to get through those A back blocks which are so crucial.

Jerry and Isaac, in particular, played very well inside.

Q. Did you have a specific plan? In the first half, Thomas carried six times for minus one. Were you willing to concede the pitch and maybe force them to go along the perimeter more so than anything it’s tough to defend everything.

COACH KELLY: The structure was to run the alley and get the ball out certainly. But you’re put in a position where you’ve got to fight through some blocks.

We felt like we were going to put a little bit more pressure on Isaac and Jerry inside so we could get out to the quarterback. We needed to get to the quarterback.

He’s a game wrecker. So I don’t know if that answers your question. But the quarterback needed to be both inside-out. We needed to be inside-out and outside-in on the quarterback.

Q. Was it more difficult in the second half because they ran a reverse pivot?

COACH KELLY: It was counter option in the second half. They wanted to run counter option because our inside-out player takes longer for him to get there.

Thank you.

DeShone Kizer

Q. Is it relief, joy? What are your emotions right now?

DeShone Kizer: This was a very fun week of preparation. Obviously we came out there and we performed pretty well.

Obviously wasn’t the prettiest of games. When you can come out and be up 37 at a time we were in the fourth quarter against a top-15 ranked opponent. We’ll hope to get things cleaned up.

Q. How much confidence did you have in yourself coming in?

DeShone Kizer: I had quite a bit. It only took one good drive to get me to settle down and to enjoy the Irish nation. From here we’ll learn from it, strive forward. That confidence and comfortness will continue to grow as we get another home game, then a big away game.

We’ll learn from it, we’ll prepare for UMass next week.

Q. The way you came back from the interception and threw the touchdown pass.

DeShone Kizer: Obviously a miscommunication between Corey and I. He was expecting a different look and he was right. Completely my fault. A freshman mistake out there. We talked about it on the sideline and moved forward. That’s the way you have to go about it. Obviously the next drive is not going to be the best.

Came back out and had a pretty nice drive.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: Yeah, unbelievable. I mean, when it comes to C.J. almost by himself the amount of yards that Georgia Tech, triple option team, has all together, it’s unreal.

He’s a baller. He’s fast. He’s strong. He does everything that we needed. Real patient when it comes to the offensive line.

Bringing up the offensive line, you don’t have those types of rushing yards without an amazing offensive line.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: A lot better obviously. Got time to prepare, got time to really feel what it was like to be a quarterback for Notre Dame. With a few days to prepare for a team, obviously it makes you a lot better out there.

They came out, and we game planned really well. They ended up doing exactly what we expected. The offensive staff, the way they prepared and had us ready to go. Now next week once again we’ll get back in there and hopefully we can game plan just as successful as we did against Georgia Tech.

Q. You looked pretty comfortable out there today.

DeShone Kizer: It gives me a lot of confidence. It was my first walk as a starting quarterback. That was my first bus ride over as a starting quarterback. It was my first week of school as a starting quarterback. To get all that behind me, to see how it feels to be a quarterback at the University of Notre Dame, it’s going to help me immensely next week and when we continue to go into different atmospheres like Clemson in two weeks, have my first rivalry games, things like that.

It’s all going to be a first from me, and hopefully I can learn from it and be more comfortable as we move forward.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: Yeah, it was unbelievable. Look back at it, it’s crazy. At first when you look back at that game, you see fans cheering for Notre Dame. Now when you come out here, people would single you out, cheer for you as a quarterback, your performance, it’s kind of cool. You can never dream about something as big as last week was. Now putting a game together like tonight that complements that performance next week, hopefully it can lead to bigger and better things for myself and the Irish.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: Awesome. You pretty much got to throw it up for him. He’s going to come down with it. You throw it high, he’s going to jump a spectacular way and get it. To have a guy out there that saves you…

He’s not the only safety net out there. You got a kid that can jump a 40-inch vertical and (indiscernible) on the other side. When it comes to having safety nets, I feel like they’re all safety nets. We had a bunch of threats out there and it’s hard for defenses to game plan for both sides of the field. So continue to prepare and find where the weaknesses are in the defense. I think we’ll continue to be successful, I believe.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: You know, I’ve always pictured myself to be in this position. My family has done a really good job. My dad played professionally overseas, and also played basketball at Bowling Green. He’s been there, done that.

We always talk about preparing yourself for who you want to be, not what you are. In high school I prepared for myself to be in this position, to be here in front of you guys, talk about a great university. Now I’m here.

With the mindset of that in high school, it kind of makes it a little easier here now at the University of Notre Dame.

Q. (Question regarding the first touchdown pass.)

DeShone Kizer: Yeah, you know, it’s all about executing what the coaches throw out there for you. You take a shot. They gave us all go’s. Will Fuller is one of the best go route runners in the country. Threw it up for him, make it happen. There’s nothing I can say I did amazing about it. I tried to execute and put the ball out there for him and he came up with it.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: Yeah, yeah, completely. It doesn’t necessarily make it I need to make the next pass, rather I want to make the next pass. It gets you going, blood pumping a little bit, feel what it’s like for the fans to cheer for you.

If we’re moving down the field the way we did today, we’ll be pretty good.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I couldn’t see my first start being any better than this. Obviously the performance wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be. So many things we need to polish up. That first turnover comes up from an interception in the red zone. That’s nothing I’m proud of, I’ll tell you. We’ll go back, learn from it, move forward.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: Completely flush it. Honestly we went out there, we had another set of plays we needed to get out there. Get on film, get Georgia Tech to buy into. We came back out and completely forgot about what happened and moved forward.

Q. What was the feeling like when they announced your name?

DeShone Kizer: It was awesome. It was awesome. That’s something you think about all week. Finally it was there. Unfortunately I’ve been saying it all week, I’m trying to get myself away from it, trying to block it out. It kind of hurt me. When you block it out, don’t think about it, it jumps on you all at once. That was really a moment. It just kind of fell onto me.

Getting out there, getting a couple snaps, communicating with the line, seeing everything is going to be all right, the comfort level definitely went up.

Q. Was that moment where everything came to life when they announced your name? When was the moment?

DeShone Kizer: When they announced my name and I heard the response from the crowd, that was a pretty special moment.

Q. Reading body language, it looked like you were very comfortable pregame. How did you feel?

DeShone Kizer: Completely comfortable. Coach always says excellence, the way you go about your game comes from preparation. We prepared really well. We game planned really well for this team. Their defense ended up doing some of the things that we prepared for. When they’re out there doing exactly what you’ve been seeing all week, you have no choice but to be confident.

Q. How would you describe the game plan?

DeShone Kizer: Like most ACC teams they like to get an extra guy in the box. Couple run-pass options out there. When they were dropping an extra guy in the box, we let some of our skill guys work.

When that was being executed the way it was, throwing the field north and south, back them up, make them play a little coverage, then we start gashing them in the run game.

When you’re controlling the offense, what the defense caused, there’s not much you can do.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: 100%. 100%. Really, like it was a very safe game plan in a way. There wasn’t much that Georgia Tech could do that we didn’t have an answer for, whether it be throwing to the backside, bringing a tight end in and going max pro on the ball. We had a great game plan. That was great for me in my first start to be really comfortable.

Q. The pick in the end zone, are you expecting Corey to get beyond him?

DeShone Kizer: It was completely a bad read on him. They were bracketing him. Corner is playing outside. I threw the ball outside. Corey is going inside because the corner is playing outside.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: We have a concept on the other side of the field that is perfectly set up for the defense that they ran. It was 100% on me. I didn’t read the safety route as I was supposed to read it. I was trying to do a match-up play. He ran the route he was supposed to run. I threw the ball I wasn’t supposed to throw.

Q. One you’ll never repeat?

DeShone Kizer: Never repeat. I hope. I hope.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: I know, I’m getting there. I’m getting there. The team is starting to roll towards me and learn how to be a player underneath the quarterback like myself. So my leadership is definitely starting to set in pretty well. The team will continue to learn and move forward as I move forward. Hopefully the games that come up with that will end up pretty well for us.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: I had no idea who was chosen in this game. I tried to keep away from who chooses what.

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. We could be playing against the Philadelphia Eagles. Everyone in the world could choose the Eagles. What matters is the way we prepare, execute, come out and there and refuse to lose. It doesn’t matter who picks us to win, who doesn’t. We’re going to come out and play good ball and be confident in what we do.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: As a quarterback, you got to be the same guy. If you’re changing as the vibes of the game change, no one is ever going to have complete trust in you. They’re never going to know what they can get out of you. I can get aggressive and I can get goofy. I want to maintain some sort of a balance. Everyone is out there looking at how I felt in my first start.

But you got to remember, there’s 10 other guys out there who played a lot of football. You got to notice how they feel with the new guy. I had to be myself and allow them to be comfortable.

Q. Was it easy to still be the same guy?

DeShone Kizer: Far from easy. When you’re executing the things you’ve been doing all week in practice, kind of the only thing you can do. There’s not much more I could change about tonight’s performance when you’re out there doing exactly what you’ve been doing all week.

Georgia Tech didn’t do too much different. We didn’t have to change the game plan, the style of play. We did exactly what we expected to do. We performed exactly how we expected to perform.

Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson

COACH JOHNSON: Clearly we were disappointed with the way we played. You have to give Notre Dame credit. Their kids showed up, played hard. They played a good football game, did what they had to do to win the game.

It thought right from the start we kind of got rattled a little bit. When it wasn’t going good at first, we didn’t respond very well. We got young guys, skill guys. We just didn’t play very good.

I think you have to give Notre Dame some credit. They had something to do with that.

The first half was awful. We gave up two long pass plays, our kicking game was atrocious, missed two field goals, punt the ball sideways a couple times, then we can’t do anything offensively.

It was disappointing the way we played. Go back, try to correct it, move on, get ready for conference play.


Q. Anything going on with the Notre Dame defense?
COACH JOHNSON: We were not doing a very good job. It was like popcorn. One guy you’d get fixed, then the other guy would mess up. Against a good defense, and they’ve got some really good players, No. 9 is a tremendous player, No. 91 was a good player. Against good players, you can’t have missed assignments or whatever.

Just like in the first half, we got third and two, we go the wrong way. Catch them in a slant to the field we were trying to catch them, then you got to go play fourth down instead of going the right way.

Pass protection, they’re too good for that, they don’t need our help doing those kinds of things. I’ve never seen so many guys slipping and falling. Every time we pitched the ball, the guy would fall down.

Just got out of control a little bit and we’ve got to do some things fundamentally a little better. But, yeah, we had a hard time blocking the linebackers again.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH JOHNSON: In the first one going towards the locker room, we were in zone coverage, three-deep zone. We didn’t get any pressure. Guy had a long time to stand back there. He threw up a jump ball really.

I thought they were kind of pushing each other. But, you know, the kid is a good player. He makes plays. There’s no way you can double cover him unless you turn somebody lose. We were in zone coverage, yeah.

Q. What were your impressions of DeShone Kizer for Notre Dame in his first start?
COACH JOHNSON: I thought that he played very well. I thought they had a good plan for him. I thought that he executed the plan. He threw the ball well, picked up some hot reads well off of some zone fires, hit some guys. When we were backing out of coverage, he was smart enough to throw the pitch routes and stops.

We had a hard time getting to him pressure-wise. They sprinted him some. We missed some opportunities to sack him.

But he was elusive. I thought he played well.

Q. I know you haven’t had a chance to study a lot of teams this year, but based on what you see in the ACC, do you think Notre Dame is a team worthy of a top-10 ranking?
COACH JOHNSON: Certainly nobody’s beat ’em. I think they fit in our league. I don’t know that it would be a lot different than some of the top teams in our league. But certainly they would be one of them if they were in it.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I thought he ran the ball really hard. His stats are going to be skewed because he had a 91-yard run. You got to give the kid credit. I thought he ran the ball well.

Notre Dame is very good I think up front. Their offensive line is big and long and physical. I think that’s probably, with a couple of those guys I mentioned on defense, and the receivers, the strength of their team.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH JOHNSON: I was disappointed. But at that point we weren’t playing well. I mean, it’s like we’d struggled. Yeah, I mean, you’re right back in the game if you score that touchdown.

I told our guys at halftime, as poorly as we played, I don’t know we can play any worse, we’re six points down. What do we do, come out and fumble the ball. That’s kind of the way the game went.

Q. Justin’s play, what did you see?
COACH JOHNSON: He’s played better, I think. There’s got to be guys around him helping him, too. But probably wasn’t one of his better games.

Q. At the time it didn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but how big was D.J. White’s interception?
COACH JOHNSON: It was huge. I turned the momentum, turned everything. We got the ball, hit a couple nice running plays, got it down there and scored. It was also equally huge that after we scored, they took it back down and scored. They kind of grabbed the momentum back a little bit, yeah.

Q. It’s been a while since a lot of that guys in the locker room had this feeling, losing. What was the message to them?
COACH JOHNSON: Sometimes when you’re winning and you’re winning big, you hear the corrections and you hear people talking, but it doesn’t register. Sometimes it has to take one of these to register.

We’ve got a lot of really young guys, especially the skill guys offensively. The first two weeks we played teams that were out-matched. We jumped on them. Those guys would fly around and have some fun.

Today, their eyes got real big, especially from the start. They struggled a little bit with going the wrong way, falling down, man coverage, just kind of running and stopping, all those things that young guys do sometimes.

But it wasn’t just the young guys. Our old guys didn’t play very well either.

Q. In terms of making adjustments, what do you take away? What can you build on?
COACH JOHNSON: I think you just got to get better at what you do. When we look at the tape, I don’t think there’s going to be a whole lot we would want to do differently. We felt like we got in our formation, we had angles. We just got to play. Outside relief, block the linebacker, cut off the backside, play. We were our own worst enemy.

Q. Skov handled all the scoring for you. How do you see him as a receiver?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, they were playing man-to-man, delayed blitzing the linebacker, so they had nobody for him. We tried it early in the third quarter and couldn’t get it off.

But he did some good things. Also he’s going to see the tape and see a lot of things he could have gotten more out of inside, too.

Q. Going forward here, most of your goals are still on the table for your team. Is this kind of the learning experience, a corner-turning moment like you had with Duke and Carolina last year?
COACH JOHNSON: We’ll see. Like I said, we start the conference next week. We got to go on the road again. We’ll see how much we grow from this week to next week.

Again, we got to go play a team that’s a good defensive football team, that’s sound, don’t beat themselves. We have to play better. If we play like we played today, it won’t be pretty.

Q. The third down performance wasn’t very good at all.

Q. Is that a function of not playing well overall or anything in particular?
COACH JOHNSON: I think it’s a function of early on getting behind the chains a little bit. But then it’s just like I said, I mean, you got third and two, you got the play called against the defense you want, they do exactly what you think they’re going to do, they go the wrong way.

We made it on fourth down. There was another third down where we had a drop in the first half. What happens, it starts to snowball. You end up in some third and longs. Not very many people are going to make many third and eights, third and nines.

What happened, when we tried to throw the ball early, if you don’t complete them, you put yourself behind the eight ball. Nobody could make a play. Nobody could make a play in the passing game. Couldn’t even shake loose. Couldn’t throw it where they could catch it, whatever.

Right before halftime was critical. They fumbled the ball. We looked like the Three Stooges trying to pick it up. If anybody picks it up, they’re going to run it in. We got about four guys, knock ourselves down. We finally get the ball, then we take a sack. We got a freshman receiver that don’t go hot. You have to throw the ball away, not take a sack. We don’t get any points out of it, which was also a killer. Missed a field goal, it was a long one, but one he can make. I think he had the distance.


Notre Dame Player Quotes

Will Fuller – Junior – Wide Receiver

On DeShone Kizer’s starting debut at quarterback…
“I knew he was going to play great. He’s a really composed guy, has a lot of energy and practiced well all week. I knew he was going to play well. He played really good for us.”

On comparing Malik Zaire to DeShone Kizer
“I haven’t changed the way I run anything at all. We just got to do our job. They get the ball to us and we catch it.”

Greer Martini – Sophomore – Linebacker

On defending against a triple-option offense…
“I think it’s really significant, because you need to become more familiar with the triple option. We did a bunch throughout summer camp and fall camp. I think that was really important for us just to understand and comprehend it better.”

On preparing for Georgia Tech
“It was an intense week. We had to be mentally and physically prepared for this. It was going to be a battle and we knew it.”

CJ Prosise – Senior – RB

On his 91-yard touchdown run…
“You know, I was just doing my job, working my fundamentals the whole day and it just opened up. I saw the crease and I just took off. I mean, definitely a great honor to have that and my name be in here forever.”

On the drive that put the Irish up by two scores…
“That was a drive that just kind of gave us the confidence. Now it’s time to step on their throats and end it here. It was important because it gave us a cushion. It gave our defense a little more confidence to get a stop.”

On Notre Dame’s offensive line…
“I mean they’re always key. They always do a great job for me, and I can’t thank them enough for how they’re getting me to the second level.”

Isaac Rochell – Junior – Defensive Lineman

On Coach Brian VanGorder during practice this past week…
“He’s always hard-nosed. There’s really nothing else to say. He’s always intense. We knew it was going to be a fight. I haven’t been this sore in a really long time. It really is a game that’s won in the trenches. He matched that with his attitude.”

On Notre Dame’s adjustments vs. the triple option…
“Our thing is, we’re going to come off the ball and we’re going to attack. Coach VanGorder’s has always been aggressive, so he didn’t really want to just sit back and just try to not get cut. He wanted to get out there, so we just stuck with our aggressive attitude.”

Nick Martin – Center – Graduate Student

On teams struggling to cover Will Fuller
“He’s just an unbelievable player. He’s fast and when you see the ball is thrown to him, you know the play is about to be made.”

On adapting to different looks…
“When a play is called, you’ve got to execute upfront. When there’s five guys, you have to be five-for-five each play, and C.J. (Prosise) is an unbelievable back, so he’s one of the guys you want to block for.”

On Prosise development as a running back
“I’ve seen him play and what he can do. He’s a natural player, and when he gets the ball in his hands, you know he’ll make the play.”

DeShone Kizer – Quarterback – Sophomore

On gaining confidence…
“It really only took one good drive to really get me to settle down and enjoy the Irish Nation. From here, we’ll learn from it, strive forward and have confidence, which will continue to grow as we play another home game. And then we’ll get going into some of the big away games too. Once again, we’ll learn from it, and we’ll try to beat UMass next week, too.

On coming back from an interception to throw a touchdown pass…
There was an obvious miscommunication between Corey (Robinson) and I. He was expecting a different look and he was completely right. It was 100 percent my fault – a freshman mistake out there. We talked about it on the sidelines, made sure it wasn’t going to happen again and moved forward. That’s the way you have to go about it.”

Georgia Tech Player Quotes

Patrick Skov – Senior – B-Back

On his mindset due to offensive inefficiencies
“We didn’t execute. We had a lot of great opportunities to put some great stuff on film, but we did the opposite, we put some bad stuff on film. All we can do now is move on and learn from our mistakes, and hopefully we can put a better foot forward next time, next week.”

On Notre Dame’s defensive performance…
“They were disciplined. They are a very quality opponent. But at the end of the day, the way our offense looks at it, it’s about what we do. I agree, they did some quality stuff but at the end of the day we didn’t execute, we didn’t do our job and I personally didn’t do enough.”

Adam Gotsis – Senior – Defensive Lineman

On the Notre Dame offensive line…
“They are just one of the good offensive lines you’re going to go against. Good group of guys. I think they had three seniors and four returning starters, so we knew that coming in it was going to be a dog fight up front. We felt like we did pretty well against them. They busted a few runs, but that’s football.”

On the atmosphere in Notre Dame Stadium
“It’s a great environment. It’s not too bad, I don’t mind playing on the road on defense. It’s nice and quiet, so you can communicate. It’s tough on our offense, but at the end of the day, you have to execute on both sides of the ball.”

Tyler Cooksey – Freshman – Linebacker

On the play of the Georgia Tech defense…
“I mean, there’s no excuse. We played good and then there were (bad) plays here and there. We can’t do that. We’ve got to play a complete game and execute every play.”

On Georgia Tech’s defense compared to its offense…
“I can’t really point a finger on anything. We all need to play better as a team and as a unit. The defense definitely had their mistakes out there, and we just need to get better for next week.”