Sept. 27, 2008

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Notre Dame Player Quotes

Junior OG Eric Olsen
On the play of running back Armando Allen:
“He has great strength for his size. He’s a powerful guy. Once he gets his legs moving it’s hard to bring him down.”

On Notre Dame’s touchdown drive to start the second half:
“It was definitely an important drive. We needed to get points on the board. If we came out and sputtered, it would have given them the ball right away, and with their high-powered offense, anything can happen.”

Senior DE Pat Kuntz
On Robert Blanton’s interception returned for a touchdown:
“I turned around and saw him make the play. That was a great play by a true freshman. I just tried to throw a block after I saw him catch it. He’ll talk about this one for the rest of the season; he’s just that kind of guy. He’s a little bit like me in that respect. As long as he keeps making plays, he can keep talking all he wants.”

On holding Purdue to just seven second half points:
“Our players fed off of each other. We feed off of the offense and the offense feeds off of us. The great play of the offense in the second half helped our defense out a bunch. We were playing with emotion and it boosted the whole team.”

On starting the season 3-1:
“We haven’t nearly reached our goals yet, but we are playing much better. As for being 3-1, it’s better than being 0-4, but that’s about it. We still have to get ready for next week.”

On Purdue’s ability to move the ball:
“They have a good offensive scheme. Our kickoff coverage was great today. It gives the defense flexibility when we pin them deep in their own territory. We should have done a better job with those opportunities.”

Sophomore WR Golden Tate
On Notre Dame’s offense against Purdue:
“I think we played really well. The receivers played fantastic and the running backs had some nice breaks. Armando Allen rushed for over 100 yards and that’s one of the struggles we’ve had this year.”

On his 38-yard catch:
“I knew I had it in my hands and I knew it was a legitimate catch. Then I hit the ground and I was thinking I had dropped the ball and it was an incompletion. I was kind of upset that it got out of my hands.”

On the team’s play during the third quarter:
“We just turned into a different team. We felt we could throw the ball at any time and run the ball at any time. We just went out there and did it.”

Junior RB James Aldridge
On having multiple wide receivers and no-huddle offense:
“I just get in there and figure things out and whatever Coach calls is fine with me.”

On having multiple wide receivers:
“Having them out there really helps spread some things out for us.”

Junior OG Eric Olsen
On Allen’s runs in the third quarter:
“That was awesome. Any time you can get a big run like that, it makes everybody feel great. Sometimes there are games when you just have to throw the ball the whole time and the defense can just tee off on you, so any time you can run the ball it’s great.”

On how the passing game impacts the running game:
“Obviously, any time you’re throwing the ball well the defense is going to start teeing off on you. It really starts getting the running game going first because then you get the defense trying to get up in the box and get as many guys as they can to stop the run and that helps with the passing game.”

Senior WR David Grimes
On having a young team:
“We expect guys to come out and make plays, whether they’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior.”

On the offense showing what they are capable of:
“We came out and played pretty well. They guys pushed themselves and we challenged our defense and our offense to come out and make plays.”

On quarterback Jimmy Clausen:
” I thought he improved a lot. He was coming up to the line of scrimmage and calling plays just like Brady (Quinn) used to do. I think he grew up a lot today. I’m proud of him.”

Senior FS David Bruton
On the defense stopping Purdue:
“A stop is a win. Any time you can get them 3-and-out, that’s momentum shifting our way and the offense can feed off of that.”

Sophomore RB Armando Allen
On his third-quarter performance:
“We went out there today, with the offense a little more spread out, and it really felt comfortable. It really gave me the opportunity to go out there and do what I can do best.”

On his performance:
“It feels great. We went out there and showed people that we really can run the ball. We always hear that we can’t run the ball, so to go out there and run the ball effectively is great.”

On the offense:
“It’s a great offense. With Jimmy throwing the ball as well as he can, it obviously opened up the running game a lot.”

Sophomore PK Brandon Walker
On talking to Coach Weis before the successful kick:
“Well, obviously, it worked so I guess I should like it. It’s [treating it as an extra-point attempt] easier said than done, but obviously he’s absolutely right. He said, ‘Your PAT’s are going right through, and you’re struggling on field goals, so just kick everything like a PAT. It’s different hearing it from someone else, but it makes complete sense. “

On the significance of the field goal:
“For the game specifically it made it a three-point score, so that was the most important part. It boosted my confidence, the coaches’ confidence, and the players’ confidence in me, so it was a relief.”

Junior OC Dan Wenger
On the mood of practices after the loss at State:
“We still believed in ourselves. It was more business-like; more intense. It was more motivational for everyone individually because everyone wanted to get better. Everyone knew that wasn’t us playing against Michigan State. That wasn’t the Notre Dame that we know we’re capable of. It was a great week at practice, and we showed it at practice and it showed on Saturday.”

On winning at home:
“It’s a great way to get things rolling again, and to get some confidence back in the guys. There’s no better feeling than winning at home.”

On the strategy after the half:
“We were moving the ball on them, and we weren’t finishing the drives. So we took it upon ourselves to finish those drives, and that’s what we did. And that’s the third quarter. It was good for us.”

Junior RT Sam Young
On emotion in the game:
“Anytime you can get the run game going, it’s positive for the offensive line. It’s a fun game, and it’s meant to be played with emotion. So as an offensive line, we came together and said, ‘We’re going to passionately find a way,’ and we did that. We were able to move the ball, and that’s a good thing. We’ve been working on it all week. That’s something that’s been preached to us since the beginning-just get after it.”

On Armando Allen’s performance:
“Brilliant. He did a great job of reading holes and getting through. He saw the holes and ran right through them. He ran really tough.”

On the momentum after the half:
“We were able to make some plays and built the momentum up, then just fed off that.”

Junior LB John Ryan
On Blanton’s interception:
“It was huge. At the time, we were down, and they almost made it a two-score game. Blanton’s interception put us right back in the ball game.”

On the performance of the defense:
“It was a better game for us as a defense. If you look statistically, there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement. We forced one turnover, and that was good, but we’ve definitely got a lot to do.”

On this week vs. last week:
“We came out this week more focused. We left that one [the loss] at Michigan State. We came out and got ready for Purdue. It’s good to get back on track. It was big for us today. You always want to right the ship and get going back in the right direction. So obviously for us it was big today.”

Purdue Player Quotes

#6 Desmond Tardy – Sr./5th — WR
On having a big day personally, but in a loss …
“It hurts, I mean if I would have had a horrible day and we won, I would feel a whole lot better right now. I’m happy I had a good day, but I wish it came with a win.”

On getting the opportunity now to play and contribute…
“You know, as an individual I guess its good but we’re a team and that’s what it is about. Its about the team getting a victory and today we didn’t.”

On the game plan coming in…
“We knew they do a lot of man [coverage] on third down and that works in our favor and I was able to get open, but later in the game I had a couple of drops on third and on the fourth down. I think we had a good game plan, but they just made more plays than we did. We just tried to play our game and our tempo and we didn’t make enough plays. We were working on playing with more consistency, playing to our strengths but it just didn’t happen.”

On his touchdown, initially ruled down at the one-inch line but overturned for a touchdown upon video review…
“I dove and I kind of rolled and I looked at our cheerleaders and they weren’t getting excited and I was confused, wondering if maybe I didn’t score. So I looked at the referee and he signaled that I didn’t get in, but I knew I hit the pylon! It went to review and of course I got in, so they got it right and I was pretty excited. It was a perfect throw, right when I cleared the safety I reached up and it stuck and I took off hoping they couldn’t catch me.”

#21 Greg Orton – Sr. — WR
On the offense overall…
“It’s been the same thing all year, not being consistent in the red zone. It’s frustrating, but we have to fix it and move on. Notre Dame played a great game, they are a great team but we just need to capitalize when we need it most. I think we just have to move on, look at the film, and get ready for Penn State.”

On RB Kory Sheets’ injury…
“I recognized when he was sitting there that I think it was his right shoulder. They popped it right in. I was talking to him just now and he said he’s going to be fine. He opens up the passing game and he’s definitely a valuable accent to the running game.”

On WR Desmond Tardy’s performance…
“[Desmond] played a great game. We knew from the film that he was going to have a lot of shots to be open, and Curtis and him capitalized and he played a great game. That slot in the offense definitely [creates] the potential for big plays with the routes, so I think he did a great job, capitalized on it, and played a great game.”

#7 Brandon King – Sr. — DB
On Notre Dame’s ability to pass the ball…
“Their receivers are all very athletic, all big-play guys. They have a really nice package.”

On Notre Dame’s ability to run the ball…
“I know we haven’t been able to play the run very well this season, but the game plan was to hone in on stopping the run game. The first half we did it, and the second half we kind of let up.

On the first drive of the second half…
“It changed the momentum. We came out in the second half all fired up just like they did, and for them to go in and make the score, it really takes a lot of momentum out of the team.”

On Notre Dame’s success…
“They just make plays. We knew coming into the game that they were going to take shots down the field. In the first half they did it a couple times and in the second half, they really took a lot of shots. That’s how they got the lead. If you would have asked me two days ago about what I thought, I would have told you that we were going to kick their butts. It was shocking to me that they were going to be able to come out and move the ball so well. I thought we played a hard game. The effort was there, but in the second half we weren’t there mentally.”

#12 Curtis Painter – Sr./5th — QB
On attempting 55 passes…
“We had a lot in there. We were moving the ball well by throwing it. When something is going well, we’re going to keep doing it.”

On the interception to Blanton…
“They [Notre Dame] were playing man [coverage], he [Blanton] made a good play. We actually had him beat, but then he closed under it. It was a huge momentum play by them to be able to run it back. It wasn’t a good play on my part.”

On throwing deep against the Notre Dame defense…
“We wanted to take some shots, we thought we had some good matchups. We wanted to be able to attack them deep and keep them off us, keep them honest.”

#42 Anthony Heygood – Sr./5th — LB
On pressuring Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen…
“We had a couple more blitzes in our game plan today, trying to change it up. We weren’t effective in our blitzing; I don’t know if it was because of us blitzers not getting to the ball or if it was that they [the Notre Dame offense] just did a good job of picking up the blitzes.”

On the loss’ impact to Purdue’s season…
“It’s a loss, we’ve got to take it like any other loss. We have to go over it tomorrow, see what we messed up on, get it out of our way, and get ready for Penn State in practice.”

On giving up 38 points…
“It’s frustrating because we can play much, much better than we played today. There are a lot of things we can learn from this. Our main problem on defense is that we gave up way too many big plays. We have to go out and practice hard and get ready for next week, because Penn State is a really, really good team.”

On Notre Dame’s offensive output in the 3rd quarter…
“It was very frustrating, especially being a defensive leader. I hate when our defense gets scored upon at all, especially with two touchdowns. We’ve only been giving up two touchdowns, but they came out in the 2nd half and buried us.”

Purdue Head Coach Joe Tiller Quotes

Q. (Asking about Kory Sheets)?
COACH TILLER: His shoulder. He’s had his shoulder that slips on him every now and then. It did that. It didn’t come out all the way. That’s good news. He’s in the locker room and he’s improving now. He’ll be sore this week, but hopefully he’ll be back.
I don’t anticipate missing anyone. Pender hurt his back, too. But he’ll be back, so I think we’re okay.

Q. Joey played in the first half. Were they doing anything different to get in gear offensively or defense having problems with certain things?
COACH TILLER: I didn’t think they did anything different. I thought they executed extremely well. We couldn’t get off the field defensively. Offensively, it looked to me like we were going to get caught in a ping pong game and we had to match their scores every single time.
When we went down there we moved the ball pretty well. Then we went down there on the fourth down, we go four and don’t make it. That’s huge, you know. But I didn’t think they did anything different. I thought they just executed better. The fact that particularly their first drive where they made a lot of that yardage with big chunks of yards. I think it’s different.
I think when you’re making three or four yards a play versus 14 yards or 24 yards a play, I think it’s different. Because when you get it in big chunks, the whole team picks it up, you know? When you’re working for it, everybody’s working and not thinking about big plays. They’re thinking about just trying to make the plays.
Thought momentum really changed, obviously. We needed to match it offensively, and we couldn’t do it.

Q. Are you glad that this is your last game at Notre Dame?
COACH TILLER: No, Coach Weis invited me to come back as a guest coach next year, so I’ll probably be here.

Q. It seemed like a lot of the plays in the passing game for them (no microphone)?
COACH TILLER: Well, there were some good catches, you know? I liked their receivers. You know, I like all their receivers. The guys make some plays on the ball. And gee whiz, they caught a couple of balls out of bounds that were phenomenal catches, too.
So I think when you’ve got a quarterback that’s getting the ball this close to the receivers, you’ve got potential to make big plays particularly with the talented receivers. And I thought the quarterback did a very good job. He’s much improved over the quarterback we played against a year ago.

Q. Can you evaluate Curtis’ play today?
COACH TILLER: I thought he played better this week than he did last week, And that’s what we ask of him. We wanted him to get better. You know, I thought he had a couple of errant throws that certainly could have helped us. But for the most part, he was on the money.

Q. Could you evaluate how your line and your quarterback handled Notre Dame’s blitzing of pressure?
COACH TILLER: I thought we did pretty good. How many sacks did we give up? Did we give up sacks? I don’t know if we did or not. Yeah, how about that? I thought our guys did pretty good against the multiplicity of blitzes. We prepared hard for it picking it up.
A lot of that has to do with the quarterback, too. Because whether you turn your protection to one side or the other, depends on what he wants and the direction he’s going to go with the ball. So he did a good job with the audible checks, and our front did a nice job.

Q. Coach, what are you going to learn from this game that will help you make the most out of your season?
COACH TILLER: Like I said to the team, let’s finish what we start. You go on the road, and it’s a great environment to play in. So personally I like coming here and playing. I wasn’t playing, but I enjoy coaching here.
You know, I think it’s a real test for your football team if they can measure up in an environment where, obviously, everybody’s against them. So you’ve got to pull together and execute.
I thought we executed our no huddle offense. We weren’t quite as quick as we wanted to be. I think we were quicker this week than we were last week. So I think we continue to improve as a team offensively.
Defensively, I don’t know if we need to take more chances or what, but we can’t have a team control the ball that much against us and expect to be successful.

Q. Can you talk about Desmond Tardy’s performance, and what he showed you today?
COACH TILLER: Like I said from the start this season, Desmond Tardy, he’s a senior. It’s his day and he’s finally responding. He played pretty well again today, and we hope he continues to do so.

Q. Last week you said you figured you wanted to throw 60 times, you came awful close today. Was that a carry over part of the game plan coming in?
COACH TILLER: That was part of the plan coming in because of the pressure package, you know. Your team that’s going to blitz as often as Notre Dame does or like Central did last week, they’re going to really, really push the line of scrimmage.
So unless you’re going to disclosure formation up where you can get more halves or more bodies, you’re going to struggle running the football.
So we came in saying our primary goal in this game offensively was to execute our sport. Short passing game felt like we treated it just like a run. If we made four or five yards on a pass, we were okay with that.

Q. The kick return game has been real good for you. Today the ball took some crazy bounces to Sheets back there. Ended up two or three times with poor field position. Was that just him mishandling it or was the ball take something crazy bounces?
COACH TILLER: Well, I think they kicked the long short one a couple of times. I don’t know if they were intentionally trying to squib the ball along the ground or trying to drive the ball deep. Sometimes the kicker misses the ball or sometimes that’s the way he wanted to hit it.
But I thought there were a couple of kicks that were extremely difficult because you had to play them on the bounce, and that puts you out of rhythm a little bit. Otherwise, I thought, you know, I thought Kory made a poor decision on one. He backed it up with a great run, so I guess it didn’t matter too much. But, overall, I thought that we did some positive things, and some things not as well as we’ve done in the past.

Q. You mentioned the defense couldn’t get off the field. Just kind of comment on their running game. This is a team that struggles running the ball, and like you said, they seemed to get yards in big chunks tonight?
COACH TILLER: Yeah, well, they ran the ball good against us. So they may have struggled early in the ballgame.
You know, I think I could be wrong. I’m not in the Notre Dame locker room day in and day out, but I think that, you know, they had a really good balance today. And I think invariably if you’re throwing the ball well, you know, particularly off the play action pass or what have you, you’ve got a chance to run the ball pretty good. And vice versa, if you’re running the ball pretty good, you’ve got a chance to throw it pretty good. And I thought they had really good balance both running and throwing the football.
You know, there’s no big secrets out there in college football today. We’re playing undermanned at the linebacker position. We’ve got one linebacker who played for us last year in Joe Holland who was recruited as a safety, and you don’t even put a third backer on the field. We’re trying to get one on the field in Golding, and I think that will help us down the line.
But we played an awful lot of nickel defense. And if I’m coaching against a team that’s going to play nickel all the time, I’m going to run it. At least I’m going to run it more than I normally run it.

Q. Were you surprised that you weren’t able to get a lot of pressure on Clausen? I think you guys really almost only had him a few times?
COACH TILLER: Yeah, I thought we’d knock him down a little bit better than we did. I thought he did a nice job moving in the pocket. He took off a couple of times. Avoided pressure when we did knock him down. I thought he did a good job.
Just, to me, he’s maturing as a quarterback and he’s making better decisions. I think that accounted also for the fact that we didn’t get the pressure on him like we’d like to.