Oct. 1, 2016

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Syracuse vs. Notre Dame

Saturday, October 1, 2016

MetLife Stadium | East Rutherford, N.J.

Postgame Quotes

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly

On DeShone Kizer’s numbers: “He was much better in the second halfââ’¬¦ he tried to do too much. He took us out of field goal range and that to me was the conversation we needed to have. I told him, DeShone we need to get three points there, look, you’re trying to do too muchââ’¬¦ he has a tendency to want to do too much, he puts too much pressure on himself. And he’s got to stop doing that, I told him hey, you do enough, and I thought what I liked about him in the second half is that he dropped the ball down, took the easy completions, made the smart decisions and I think he needs to continue to do that. I thought the second half showed the kind of things that I was looking for him to do and he needs to continue to do that.”

On the importance of upperclassmen: “Yeah, they had to do their job too. You know I thought Jarron Jones and Daniel Cage and obviously we had big Pete (Mokwuah) ready to get a chance then he gets hurt on Thursday. But all of those guys, the whole rotation of guys contributed. You know, (Nicco) Fertitta, he wasn’t getting any reps and he played a significant role in what happened out there. So it was a good team defensive effort with a lot of guys playing.”

On moving forward defensively: “We have so many young players that can’t sustain 70 or 80 plays. They’re going to be good for 20 or 30 plays and we need to keep rolling guys in, we have a lot of depth. You know Greer Martini’s got to play, we’ve got a lot of really good players that deserve to get on the field and that’s the kind of defense we’re going to be. We’ve got a lot of good players playing in this defense. I think we’ve got to tighten up some things in terms of our basic coverage and basic fronts. I thought we did a couple of good things today that you probably saw that you haven’t seen before. We did a little bit more 3-4 defense, you know so a little bit more tightening up things.”

Notre Dame junior QB DeShone Kizer

On how he’s getting back to having fun in the game: “ It’s 100 percent attitude. The whole team has had smiles on their faces. We’re dancing on the sidelines and we’re smiling. We’re getting back to what we should’ve been doing this whole season, which is playing the game.”

On what was better in the second half: “ In the second half we were able to put together drives. In the first half, we got a bunch of highlights. One play, two play drives. What we need right now is a way to be sustainable in our defense and offense. The second half was a good example… This is the sloppiest 50 points I’ve ever been apart of. The sloppiest 400 plus pass game I’ve even been apart of but were having fun and a good time but there’s still so much room for improvement.”

On if he thinks the defense if getting better: “ I think we really evolved as the game went on and that’s going to stay with us as we move forward. In that second half defense, we were just out flying around, playing the way they play is what we’re going to see consistently. The second half showed that [the young guys] are able to learn from their mistakes [in the first half] walk in, and stop them from scoring.”

Notre Dame senior defensive lineman Isaac Rochell

On what was changed after half time: “ Just the attitude. We knew we were going to just come out and play and enjoy what we were doing. That’s what we did and we played really well.”

On Syracuse’s tempo: “ I mean, I think it’s one of two things. One, tempo and two, playing a lot of stuff and them spreading you out. But I would say tempo is the biggest factor.”

On the defense: “ Yeah it was an interesting week but it think we did check a lot of boxes. The biggest thing that killed us early was penalty. I had two offside’s and two other defensive linemen had offside’s, so that kind of stuff doesn’t help but I think we did a good job. We have a lot of positive takeaways.”

On the snap count: “Yeah, it was an interesting snap count. You just have to watch the ball, you can’t listen to it.”

Notre Dame sophomore wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown

On what kind of day he thought he had: “Oh, I think I had a pretty good day today. “

On big plans in the game plan: “ We always try to take shots on the field. That’s just what type of offense we are. We have great receivers that can go deep and get the ball. So, we always take our shots and are expected to make the plays.”

On what he’s trying to improve: “I usually try to work on my blocking and being a more consistent blocker.”

On what it has been like for DeShone and how he has handled the last months: “ I think he’s been really composed. He’s expected to be the leader of offense and the team, so there’s a lot of pressure on him and he’s done a great job.”

Syracuse head coach Dino Babers

Opening statement:

“There are going to be so many small mistakes that turn into big mistakes when you’re playing a team with the caliber of athletes that the University of Notre Dame has along with the fine job Coach Kelly has done. It’s going to be extremely difficult to beat a team like that when you make as many mistakes as we made. Those guys were a top-10 team when the season started. Their record may not show it, but they still have the same personnel and the same coaches. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t play a better game.”

On the first quarter:

“I don’t know about streetball, but I have been in games like that. They have a very dynamic offense and when they come out it’s a big splash. They’ve got personnel that can do things-stretching vertically, a big quarterback, a NFL quarterback, tremendous offensive line, huge guys. It takes a while to get around them. So the answer to your question is yes. I’ve been in games that have opened up like that before. I don’t know about streetball because I think there is a lot of guys that can run intelligently and try to find ways to score points and stop and turn.”

On Dontae Strickland:

“I can’t remember all his numbers. I though Strickland played a solid game. I don’t know what the rushing numbers are or anything like that. I think he’s done a lot of things besides just run the football for us. I feel really good when he’s in there.”

On the defense:

“There’s always a level of concern. Those guys got so many freshmen, so many guys hurt, and we want to judge them like they’re 17 and 18 year-old kids. Let me back up. That is a very, very young defense with a lot of young players on it, and they’re going against 21 and 22-year old guys. You have to give them time to grow up. Just because it’s 2016, it doesn’t make them 22-years old. There’s some 18 year-old and 19 year-old guys out there going against grown men. Some of you guys would have a hard time going against them at your age. We just have to give them time. They’re not going to get older just because we want them to. “

On key mistakes being made:

“They’re all small mistakes. You guys wouldn’t see them. It’s things that kill drives, little things. If we eliminate those little things, we’ll be able to do more big things.”

On how to eliminate the small mistakes:

“Keep practicing. The big thing that has been happening to us offensively and defensively is with the injuries. You’re going to have to reteach, reteach, reteach. We had a play that I won’t talk about early in the game when we were going for a touchdown. And a new guy, who I’m not going to mention, who did something he wasn’t supposed to do and it ends up being a 4-yard loss. It was on a play that we were saving the situation. It was right. It was absolutely perfect. You guys can see the obvious things. You can see guys drop balls. It’s more than that. There are other things that are happening internally that are really affecting the game. We’ll get better. We’re just young.”

On Brisly Estime:

“I wouldn’t say ‘have to’ the way you phrased it. I think Brisly is a good punt returner and that’s the reason why he’s still back there. That’s the reason why we gave him opportunities. This was a game that we felt we needed to have him back there if we were going to have a chance to win. I’m not anti-Bris. I think he’s dynamic, and obviously he showed it again today.”

On special teams:
“We lost special teams today. It’s been one of our strengths. It was one of those things we knew we had to win today. I’m not throwing those guys under the bus. I think overall they’ve probably been our strongest unit, stronger than the offense, stronger than our defense the entire year, but obviously not today. We’ll get better. We just had some breakdowns. And then the things you have to remember is when we play teams like Notre Dame. We have guys on scholarship and non-scholarship guys on our special teams. They have four-star and five-star guys on their special teams. It’s going to happen when you’re playing teams like that.”

On the team after five games:

“It’s harder against some opponents than other opponents. But when you think about five games in, we have to think about our weakest links. People are like ‘Oh you’ve got Amba! Oh you’ve got Dungey! Oh you’ve got Zaire!’ Football is not like that. It’s not like basketball where you get Jordan and Pippen and one more guy. Everybody is looking for everybody’s weaknesses. Everybody is attacking everybody’s weaknesses. And you’re only as strong as your weakest link. And we’re trying to bring our younger people along so that they are stronger in their profession, in their jobs, so we have an opportunity to use them more. Right now, there are some positions we’re covering for instead of just letting them go out and play because they don’t have the knowledge, strength, size, or the speed to go out there and do it on their own. We’re not fighting fair now. We’re not using both hands in our fight. We’re protecting some areas that are hurt as boxers. As we continue to grow this season, those weaker points will get stronger. As we continue to grow as a program, those weaker points will get stronger. We may get a chance one day in the future, if I’m lucky enough, to come out here and fight with everything I’ve got. It will be fun.”

Syracuse sophomore quarterback Eric Dungey

On not scoring at the end of the first half

“Right before that I went up to Zaire (Franklin) and said ‘get the ball back’, and we did. Then I felt like we got into a pretty good position, but we just have to execute”

On offensive progress game-by-game:

“There’s definitely progress. It’s just small things being on the same page with Dino (Babers), knowing what I’m going to do and everybody knowing what I’m going to do. It’s being on the same page, but like Zaire (Franklin) said, Notre Dame’s a great team so props to them.”

On playing at MetLife Stadium:

“It’s an awesome experience out here, it’s a beautiful stadium, crazy atmosphere”

On not throwing to Amba Etta-Tawo often:

“It’s the way things are going. I’m not going to force something because it’s just one guy. We have a lot of playmakers on the field. If you try to force one play, things aren’t going to go well.”

Syracuse junior linebacker Zaire Franklin

On communicating with the young defensive players before plays:

“Kenny (Coleman) and Josh (Black) have done a great job of knowing exactly what to do. Really, I think it was more of an assignment type of thing, we went against a really, really good offensive line today. I think that’s more so what it was. I remember a play when Josh (Black) had a really good play and he was just doing what he was supposed to do, but they just have a really good offensive line.”

On playing at MetLife Stadium:

“I think it’s definitely just an amazing opportunity to play. I think this is the closest you can get to playing in the NFL at the college level. Especially with the environment that a team like Notre Dame can bring. I think it’s awesome to be put in types of positions, but at the same time we’d definitely like to play in the Carrier Dome more than we don’t.”

On the defense:

“I think it’s a lot of give and take. The thing about defense and football in general, 90 percent is really just the defense and someone not exactly doing their job. Granted, they are very talented, especially the offensive line. Most of the time, it’s just someone not being over in the gap or some little technique thing they could have done better that the offense took advantage of.”