Dec. 1, 2013
Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly
COACH KELLY: There’s no moral victories. Very disappointed we weren’t able to come up with a play and win the football game. We didn’t come down here to play a close game. We have a lot of disappointed guys in that locker room. I feel for them. But we obviously came up a little short today. Stanford is a very good football team. We wanted to get into the fourth quarter with an opportunity to win the game. We got there, needed to make one more play. Couldn’t make the play when we needed to. Questions.
Q. On the first interception, was he thrown off his route?
COACH KELLY: They got collisioned. Dropped eight. You know, we had worked on trying to get the ball in the seam, got collisioned. Obviously the interception. Got another opportunity. Again, couldn’t make the play when we needed to.
Q. (Question regarding the offensive line.)
COACH KELLY: Gave us a chance to win really. You know what I mean? With Nick out, with Chris out, we were playing Steve Elmer. We were down a lot of bodies in there. But they battled and held their own. It could have been ugly. Stanford, they’re a veteran team, they battled. Gave Tommy an opportunity to make some plays. Ran the ball when we needed to.
Q. (Question regarding Watt’s injury.)
COACH KELLY: I wouldn’t want to assess that.
COACH KELLY: A little shaky in the first series. I thought he played well after that. Austin obviously had a very big interception for us. But I thought they played well. Some of our schemes we had to fit them in some of the run game. But I thought they played solid day.
COACH KELLY: He has to run consistently. He does some really, really good things. He’s coming. I mean, there’s a lot of good things out there for him. He does a really nice job. He’s just got to continue running his routes, and every single play is where his focus needs to be. Yeah, that’s the next level for him, is that consistency.
Q. Talk about Fox’s play tonight.
COACH KELLY: Back-to-back weeks. Just a different level of focus, a different level of being locked in to understanding how to play the game. He’s just been really, really good the last two weeks. I’m really proud of the way he’s played, taken that Mike linebacker position, which has really been a big transformation from the Will linebacker position, physical, tough, gritty. In this instance the seniors, bowl games and all those things, do you want to play, do you not want to play. I really can’t wait to watch him play one more game.
Q. Defense was a challenge in the fourth quarter.
COACH KELLY: I thought they hung in there, played hard, made some plays for us, gave us an opportunity to win. Our defense gave us a chance to win the game. Our offense kept us in it. God, we just needed to make another play. We had an opportunity; we just couldn’t get the ball to Will when we needed to.
Q. Did tonight’s outcome alter your post-season destination?
COACH KELLY: I don’t think so. I couldn’t tell you for sure. I think Jack would know better than I. But there’s going to be some opportunities for us that we’ll just have to sit and evaluate and find out. There’s a lot of schools that obviously still have an opportunity to take some of those spots that are there. We’re in a unique situation this year. We’re appreciative of any bowl that would take a good, hard look at us.
Q. Your attitude is the same in terms of leaving it in the hands of your seniors?
COACH KELLY: Yeah. I mean, I’m certainly going to have a say in it. But I’ve already met with our seniors and our captains. They want to play. So we’re going to play. They want to finish out with a win.
Q. Can you talk about how you thought Folston ran tonight?
COACH KELLY: He did a pretty good job. I thought he ran hard. Tommy did a great job of double-checking, checking. There were some things going on out there that I thought he was masterful in a lot of the things he did today. He had them on their heels at times and got us some really good looks. But I thought Folston did a nice job running the football.
Q. What did Stanford do offensively?
COACH KELLY: Well, they got us in dime twice and brought the tight end into the backfield. They got into three open split backs and ran the ball. They effectively schemed us up pretty good. We had to get out of dime personnel. So that canceled out our dime personnel.
Q. What is Tommy Rees’ legacy?
COACH KELLY: You guys asking this…
Q. From your perspective.
COACH KELLY: ‘Legacy’ is such a big word for me. I just love the way the kid competes out there. He’s not going to go in the College Football Hall of Fame. You know what I mean? He doesn’t have those incredible skills. But he just puts his heart and soul into what he does. As a coach, what you appreciate is when somebody gives you all he has. He threw that ball as far as he could throw it to Will Fuller. Can’t get it any further than that. That’s just Tommy. He gives you everything he has. I don’t know if that’s a legacy answer. He just gives you all he has. That’s all you can ask for.
Q. (Question regarding the 8-4 season.)
COACH KELLY: That’s not where we want to be. Losing is unacceptable. 8-4 is not where we want to be. We lost some tough games. But those are all excuses. We want to win football games. We come to Notre Dame to win football games. You know, we could sit here and talk for 10 minutes how we got 15 guys that are injured. Sam getting an IV on Friday. Those are excuses. We got to win football games. But, you know, it is what it is.
Q. In some of your losses you’ve been pretty upfront saying you didn’t play well enough or didn’t deserve to win. Was this different?
COACH KELLY: Well, I mean, for me the markers have been pretty clear. Turning the football over, we turned it over today, but we were able to overcome that.
Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees
Q.(Question regarding the offensive line.)
Tommy Rees: Played their tails off. We were doing a ton of checks. The way they played was awesome.
Q. How close is DaVaris to where he needs to be all the time?
Tommy Rees: He’s a great competitor, great player. Obviously has a lot of talent. I’m excited for him and his future.
Q. How tough were the checks they were doing and everything you had to change?
Tommy Rees: Yeah, that’s just part of the game. The coaches put a lot of confidence in me to call some things at the line. We were able to communicate well and get some things going that worked out for us. Obviously they’re a great defense. Hats off to Stanford. They did a bunch of stuff, tried to counter some of the checks we were making. Really proud of how the offense handled all that.
Q. Coach Kelly mentioned Friday you had an IV?
Tommy Rees: Yeah, that’s part of the season. A bug going around every once in a while. Didn’t affect me today.
Q. No bad turkey?
Tommy Rees: No, no bad turkey.
Tommy Rees: Getting jammed up a little bit. Work the safety over. We know Fuller can run. He got behind the corner. Corner made a nice play. But just we were trying to take a shot there at the end.
Q. How do you digest an 8-4 season?
Tommy Rees: Not good enough, obviously. Proud of the guys. Proud of my teammates, how they fought all year. But you don’t come to Notre Dame to be 8-4. Everybody understands that. We’re not going to make excuses. We’re going to look for solutions going ahead. We only have one game left, we want to leave a good legacy.
Q. (Question regarding bowl game.)
Tommy Rees: We’ll see what it comes to. For us, it’s about playing our last game, finding a way. Wherever we are, we’re going to prepare, be ready to play.
Q. What’s the highest motivation? Do you want a strong opponent? Good weather?
Tommy Rees: We just want to play. For us, we don’t have much decision about where we’re going. We just want to play another game. We’ll get that opportunity. We’re just ready to compete.
Q. Even in the loss, feels like you’re playing better than you were earlier this season.
Tommy Rees: There’s no moral victory or anything like that. Stanford is a great team. You got to be ready to play. We come, expect to win games, no matter the situation. Proud of the way the guys fought. We know it wasn’t good enough.
Notre Dame OT Zack Martin
Zack Martin: It’s tough. Chris is a tough competitor. A very good friend, as you all know. Again, we had guys step up and they were ready when their number was called.
Q. Big matchup today for you. How do you think you held up?
Zack Martin: I thought we did okay. But we didn’t make enough plays when we needed to. We were a play or two short.
Q. What are your emotions, some of the things going through your head?
Zack Martin: It’s tough to play a team like this, which we love playing this team, I know they like playing us. To lose a close one, it’s tough. We wanted to come out here and win, so it’s very tough.
Q. Given all the guys you’re missing, how does 8-4 sit with you?
Zack Martin: Not good. The whole country is dealing with injuries, it’s not just us. We’ve never used that as an excuse and we never will. We got to deal with it, play with the guys we got. I know no one came here to be 8-4, so we got some work to do.
Q. What do you think the seniors’ attitude will be in terms of bowl destination?
Zack Martin: I mean, we want to go and win our last one. We got one more game together. This team has worked too hard to not go out and play the right way our last game. We’ll go where they send us. But we like to go where it’s sunny out.
Q. How do you think the new starters did?
Zack Martin: To have four guys in the O-line, first-year guys, on the road, speaks volumes to them, the way they prepared. I’m very proud of those guys for stepping in.
Q. How important was Tommy in getting them the right looks?
Zack Martin: I think he was unbelievable tonight. A lot of our big plays were checks. It’s a chess match out there, especially with these guys. Tommy was up to the task.
Q. As far as playing that chess match, was tonight above and beyond what Tommy normally does, one of his better performances?
Zack Martin: I mean, he’s been great all season. But, yeah, tonight you really saw. Hats off to Stanford, they’re a great team, well-coached. You have to bring your A game, especially at Tommy’s position. Very proud of him.
Q. Not happy with 8-4. What do you think went wrong big picture-wise?
Zack Martin: Just execution. You look at the games we lost, it was stupid mistakes. It comes down to execution. We preach that. It sounds clichÃƒÆ’Â©, but we preach that. At the end of the day you have to take care of the football, score when you’re in the red zone, little things like that.
Q. One more game left in the program. How do you think the state of the program is going forward?
Zack Martin: I think that’s one thing that’s good. The senior class did a great job in leading them in the right direction. We’re very confident in the younger guys. We know Coach Kelly has this thing going in the right direction.
Q. 8-4 is not a disastrous season; there’s certain things you can take away?
Zack Martin: Obviously you’re never happy at 8-4. Disappointed with the season. But, you know, we got the right guys here and the right guys that bought into Coach Kelly’s system. As long as they do that, they’ll be fine.
Q. Previous losses this season you guys have felt like you left something out there. Did this feel different?
Zack Martin: No. We left plays out there. At the end of the day, we didn’t expect to come out here and get beat. We expected to win against a good football team. At the end of the day, Stanford made more plays than us. Executing a situation here and there, may be different. But hats off to them.
Q. How much better were you tonight than last time you were out here?
Zack Martin: Very proud of our young guys. When you’re out there in the third and fourth quarter, we have four guys who never started this season, on the road against an opponent like this, speaks volumes to the way they prepare. To see what they did, it’s very good.
Q. Where do you want to play a bowl game?
Zack Martin: Wherever they send us really. Like most people, don’t want to play in the snow. But if we play there, we’ll be happy for it.
Q. Did you talk to Watt after the injury?
Zack Martin: Definitely. Don’t know his diagnosis. Hopefully he’ll be better. He’s a great competitor. I know he would have been going if he would have been healthy.
Notre Dame WR T.J. Jones
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Didn’t look like you were playing your best ball.
T.J. JONES: I mean, I don’t know if there’s much you can take away. We made a lot of mistakes. I don’t know if I would consider this our best ball, this particular game. It’s a loss. Like I said, there’s no moral victories, nothing positive we’re looking to take from a loss.
Q. (Question regarding the bowl game.)
T.J. JONES: Whichever one we choose to play in, it’s another game, another chance to get a win, our last game in a Notre Dame uniform.
Q. Coach Kelly consulted the seniors about that. Have you dealt with that issue?
T.J. JONES: With what issue?
Q. As far as where you go from here bowl-wise.
T.J. JONES: He said he’s going to have a meeting with us on Thursday morning once he figures more of where we’re going to go.
Q. What is your sense of what the senior class wants? He’s talked about you being rewarded.
T.J. JONES: Definitely not to play somewhere where it’s snowing.
Q. That would be New York.
T.J. JONES: Yeah. Other than that, we’ll go wherever. We’ll play wherever we can get the win.
Q. What do you think is the next step for DaVaris in terms of knowing where to be all the time?
T.J. JONES: I think it just comes with maturity, with understanding the offense and the defense, understanding our schemes, understanding what defenses are going to try to do to stop him. That will teach him how to get more open on a more consistent basis.
Q. Does he get that, that’s the next step he needs to take?
T.J. JONES: I think he does. I think you’ve seen late in the season, he’s made more plays, getting open more. He’s being more of a go-to guy. It’s something you can see that’s going to grow in the future.
Q. How do you digest an 8-4 season?
T.J. JONES: 8-4. You’re not great. You’re not terrible. A little better than average. 9-4 will sound better at the end of the season, though.
Stanford Head Coach David Shaw
THE MODERATOR: Coach Shaw.
COACH SHAW: First I have to say, can’t say enough about our seniors. Fourth- and fifth-year guys, undefeated at home again. Another 10-win season. Beaten five ranked opponents. About to play our sixth. USC, ranked after they play us, make that seven. To come and fight every single week. Puts this program amongst the elite. You have to say it now, we are amongst the elite, to have this many 10-win seasons in a row. Every single week against really tough competition. Can’t say enough about those guys, the way they’ve put this program. We have to rest up, get all our bruises healed and get ready for one heck of a football game next week.
Q. Coach, you beat five ranked teams. It’s hard to imagine somebody giving you this much of a fight as Notre Dame did tonight. What were they doing? What was the problem against them?
COACH SHAW: Was there a problem? Tyler Gaffney rushed for 190 yards. They’re really good. Stephon Tuitt, one of the three top defensive linemen in the nation. He’s phenomenal. Best defensive lineman in the nation didn’t play tonight. They’re really good up front. We knew we had to keep pounding, we knew we had to keep fighting. We knew they were going to come back. They’re that good of a football team. I can’t say enough about what Devon Cajuste was able to do in the first half. Change of field position twice, make a huge, unbelievable catch for a touchdown. I thought in spots Kevin Hogan was phenomenal. Missed two throws, they made us pay for it. But we came back, we fought. We knew it was going to be a tight ballgame. This is a really good Notre Dame football team. We knew it was going to come down to the end. Thankfully Wayne Lyons ended the game for us.
Q. Was there ever consideration considering what’s at stake next week to rest guys?
COACH SHAW: With the guys we have that are nicked up, it happened anyway. You saw Zach Hoffpauir come in there play the nickel to give Owusu some rest. Owusu had been beaten up a little bit. You saw Aziz Shittu get in there. Henry Anderson has been nicked up. And then Josh Mauro, we thought he would be able to come back. Couldn’t push off that leg. Got aggravated in practice. We thought it was going to be fine. Couldn’t play today. We had to play a lot of guys anyway. I would love to see the look on my seniors’ faces if I said I wanted to rest them for next week. If you could imagine asking Shayne Skov to rest against Notre Dame, I’d have to ask and get out of the way. These guys wanted to end the season right at home and be undefeated at home, and they did that.
Q. You talk about tangible evidence. Did you talk about that, the trophies?
COACH SHAW: Absolutely. It was first team meeting. First team meeting on Monday I showed them a picture of the trophy. Freshmen hadn’t seen it. It was here for three years, then it was gone. I wanted to make sure they looked at it. When we talk about it, people can jump on and off our bandwagon, tell us they love us, tell us they hate us. But when there is a trophy on the line, you win the trophy, all you do is point to the trophy. There’s no defense. There’s nothing you can say, they can say, we can say about it. You win a game, you get a trophy. There it is. Put it in the Hall of Fame, and you’re happy bit. Actually the Hall of Fame is going through some renovations, maybe we’ll keep it in my office.
Q. Do you think at that point your defense decided to control the game? What was going on those last three possessions?
COACH SHAW: I’ve been called conservative. I’ve been called other things, which is fine. I love my staff. I think we do a good job. When we get a lead, we don’t mind if you know it. It’s going to be the offensive line, Tyler Gaffney and great defense. It’s tough to play the whole field and hopefully make a team one-dimensional against our defense. They’re down a score with not a lot of time left, they have to throw the ball. Our pass-rush was good tonight. We didn’t get as many sacks as we wanted to. But we put pressure on the quarterback. We made it hard on him. I thought Coach Mason did a great job mixing up coverage, between man and zone, trying to disguise some looks, hopefully put the quarterback in some tough situations. The kid came out and threw the ball well. He made some great throws. But thankfully our guys got hands on some balls. Thought both our corners played really well. We gave up a touchdown. Both those guys came back and battled. Made some big tackles, but also made some big plays on the ball.
Q. You were in this position last year. Different team, different year. How do you feel after everything you’ve gone through about how your team is entering the title game next week?
COACH SHAW: We talked earlier in the week about the road matters while you’re on the road, but if you get to the final destination, then what you went through is worth it. We talked the beginning of the year about being in the PAC-12 championship game. That’s all we talked about. We made it there. We had ups and downs, we had bumps and bruises. We lost some guys, had some guys step up. We lost a couple games. But when you look up, we’re where we wanted to be, a 10-win team in the PAC-12 championship game, and it’s going to be a heck of a game next week.
Q. Will you watch the Arizona/Arizona State game?
COACH SHAW: I don’t know if I have the emotional energy to watch another football game. I’m going to have some dinner with my family. I’ll see that game early in the morning and I’ll be able to rewind it.
Q. If you had lost this game, that personal foul call against Alex Carter would have been a big play. What did you think of the call?
COACH SHAW: It’s one of the biggest plays in the NFL and in college. I talked to the officials about it. It happened last year in the NFL, I can’t remember which game. You don’t want to hit a guy high. You don’t want to hit him in the head. You set a target for the middle of his body. As you’re coming to him, you start to engage the tackle, the guy slips and falls. So that wasn’t intentional helmet to helmet. It happened. The referees have to throw a flag. They have to. My question to them is, What do I tell my guys? That’s all I care about. I understand the flag got called. What do I tell my guy who is trying not to hit the guy in the head, he’s going lower to hit him in the chest, the guy slips and falls, we hit him in the head. I think it puts both of us in a tough situation. The rule was there for protection, and it has to be called. I understand it, but it’s hard to tell our guys what to do.
Q. You watched the way that Alabama lost. Williamson had a chance to go for a 52-yard field goal. Did you even think anything about that?
COACH SHAW: First of all, I didn’t really see it. Somebody told me about what it was. Everybody was screaming about something. I didn’t know what it was. No, that wasn’t even a question. We said 50 maybe if the game was on the line. But we weren’t going to try a 50-yard field goal, not with where he is right now. He’s good closer in there. He’s been kicking the ball really well. By the time we get to the bowl game, he’ll be back to his normal range. But we’re not going to do that this week or next week.
Q. Did you think this was Tyler Gaffney’s best game at Stanford?
COACH SHAW: Boy, that’s so close. What he did against Oregon I thought was phenomenal. Didn’t have the same amount of yards, but the way he carried guys, those four-yard runs were unbelievable four-yard runs. But this one was pretty special. He knows what it’s about. When we get a lead, we get into the fourth quarter, they know what’s coming, we know what’s coming. That last run might have been his best run ever. That last run, there wasn’t a big hole. He squeaked through it. There was a guy after the hole. He took that guy for a ride. Can’t say enough about him. Every time I look at him, thank goodness he didn’t stay with baseball.
Q. You said before you’re called conservative when you keep the ball tight. Do you have a conversation with Derek during this, Go ahead and run the ball, my defense is going to take care of this?
COACH SHAW: No. We had a quick conversation about that fourth-and-one, whether or not to go for it, try to seal the game. With a seven-point lead, I didn’t want to take that chance and give them good field position and momentum with only a seven-point lead. So we were going to punt that. That was the only time we talked about it. Everybody knows what our mode is. We get a lead at the end of the game. Now, we took a couple shots on third down versus man coverage. We kind of under-threw one. There was some contact there. But their defensive back made a heck of a play for the interception. Tried Ty on another one. Had another chance. But we’ll still do those. If people are going to press the box on the third down, give us a chance to take a shot, we’ll take a shot. But for the most part we get in the fourth quarter with a lead, we’ll run the ball downhill. I got to say this, too. I thought Anthony Wilkerson played a heck of a football game. He was fast. He was physical. He ran through arm tackles. Excited to see him go out as a senior against Notre Dame very well.
Q. You got pretty heated with the ref after Hogan’s interception. Was that because you thought it hit the ground?
COACH SHAW: We were just discussing hand fighting and what should be called and what shouldn’t be called.
Q. With Josh Mauro, is he expected to be back next week?
COACH SHAW: Yes. I expect it. The trainers expect it. We’ll be cautious with him early in the week again. See if we can get him up late in the week. It was close. He was probably 80% or so. But Josh plays so hard, there’s no pulling back. It’s not that big. It’s not that bad. But it was bad enough to say, You know what, let’s be smart here. Hopefully we’ll get him back for the next two games.
Q. Davis Dudchock had two catches in his career entering the game. How big was he at establishing Hogan’s rhythm in the short passing game?
COACH SHAW: Awesome. You guys know in particular around here how much we value the tight end position. Davis has had great practices all year. We haven’t put him in a lot of situations. But he’s been so good the last few weeks we put him out there and just let him play. He made two catches. One of those balls got tipped. He jumped up, made a heck of a play. We trust him. He’s done a great job. Can’t say enough about him once again. Playing a senior game against Notre Dame, made some great plays.