Nov. 10, 2007
Notre Dame Head Coach Charlie Weis
COACH Charlie Weis: Fire away.
Q. He also seems like a guy that’s not too worried about what the score is or if the guy is after the ball or something?
COACH Charlie Weis: No, he shows very good composure for a young guy, for a freshman in college. He’s just into that drive.
So usually the first people, what Tim was asking before about consistency, usually with a young quarterback you see them getting flustered as the game goes on, and I don’t see that with him which is a very encouraging, encouraging, encouraging thing.
Q. Seemed like Stewart played all right on that touchdown drive. Was that just to get him a taste of the action or what brought him into the game?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, we’ve been playing him for the last few weeks now. We’ve been playing him more and more. You know, as Chris knows, I think that he was a guard that we moved out to tackle so he feels much more comfortable run blocking and pass blocking. And he knows in his future if he wants to be an every down player and play all the time, we’ve already had these talks about if he wants to get himself in position to be a starter here, that’s the area where he’s going to have to work on.
Q. The drop kick, did that catch you off guard, or has that been happening during the week, too?
COACH Charlie Weis: It was very, very surprising. It was very surprising and they were all over. It’s not like you sit there and say it’s just one person. I mean, there was a number of them. That was disappointing.
Q. Any thoughts on why they were able to run the ball so effectively?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, I think that formationally, you know, they did throw a nice little wrinkle on balance and unbalanced line and running their option to the unbalanced.
But realistically, I mean, they just, you know, kind of spread us out and they just played in space and, you know, made some guys miss. I think they just did a real good job of getting us getting us in space and then making some guys miss.
Q. How much different is this offense from the one you saw last year as far as execution?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, it’s a lot different in the fact that they first of all you see them in shotgun a whole bunch and in the shotgun, they have some of that read option element that you have when you’re in the shotgun versus last week where everything is under center; and it’s either give the ball to the fullback or call down the line one way or the other or run and toss.
They have more versatility and the fact that they are not afraid to get into the shotgun and run the flash boot and do some bootleg out of shotgun and roll out and hit a couple of guys, you know, I think that we didn’t we didn’t lose the game. We didn’t lose the game to that element, but I think that they have a lot they have more versatility in their entire package than Navy did. I think Navy is just good at doing what they doing.
Q. Anything on Sullivan; Sergio Brown left the game?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think he was walking around on crutches so I don’t know if that’s precautionary or real. Sergio had something wrapped up and who was the other one you said?
Sullivan was standing there when I was talking, so he wasn’t like hobbled over or anything, I’m not really sure. It was a little bit of a mash when I walked through the training room on the way over here because there were a few other guys getting things wrapped with ice. There were a few people in there who got a little banged up.
Q. You mentioned, talking about the streak last week with Navy, most of the guys were more concerned with getting the home win and last chance is next week, will that play a big part of the message you send to your guys?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, I think that, well there’s two parts to that. I think the first thing that you have to do is do all you can to win that game. You know, let’s go back to just going to win the game, end up with your last game at home with a win, because who is to say, who is to say that September 6 next year against San Diego State, okay, the players are going to know that they are going to win that game or feel they are going to win that game when they haven’t been winning games. You could sit there and go into the off season and say, hey, we’ve got it all fixed now, everything is fine now. Okay, but they need a little taste of it, they need a little taste of that.
Second, the emotion that you really do play on, okay, which is a little bit different than the first part, is the fact that for the seniors, it’s last time they are ever going to play; and I think that that alone should have enough impetus for the players to be ready to play for the seniors for the last time out there, they should want to play. And for anyone who is not a senior, they had better be playing for them, because this is the last time they are going to be able to walk out and play at this stadium.
Q. You expressed frustration, what was your message to the team and maybe more importantly, what was your tone with the team after the game?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, my tone wasn’t very pleasant, okay. My message is I think that I’m 51 years old; my greatest attribute professionally is as a teacher. That’s my greatest attribute. I’ve always been able to teach at a very high level, and the subject happens to be football. It’s just like a professor and a subject and my subject happens to be football.
I’ve always been able to do a good job of getting my message across and regardless of the age of the student, I’ve been able to figure out in a classroom where there’s different levels of football intelligence what they needed to do to understand what we are doing, okay, and being able to take it from the classroom to the practice field, and then see it applied on the practice field on the game field.
It’s one thing when you see those things applied on the practice field but then it doesn’t correlate or you don’t see the corresponding thing on game day. And I think that that’s my biggest frustration where, you know, we didn’t all of a sudden put a package in and practice hit and come out to the game and you don’t have it right.
So as I always do, I told them that as a teacher, I’ll consider that as I’m not getting the job done. But as a student, especially a bunch of young, intelligent guys, you would like to think that there would be a direct correlation between the classroom and the practice field to the game.
Q. What about the older guys, the blitzes, is that more compounding that the seniors out there
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, I think that’s frustrating and once again, I had a coach that I used to work for when you would say to them, when you give the answer, the excuse, this is when I kind of learned about the no excuses type of mentality. “Hey, Coach, a hundred times I told them; we practiced it a hundred times.”
And I would sit there and say, “Well, obviously you didn’t tell them enough.”
So for me to sit there and call out those guys and say, hey, it’s just them, that’s one area where I feel very frustrated because I believe that that’s our responsibility as teachers is to get the product taught and then be able to get it executed.
Q. Aside from Clausen, is there anything else that you saw today that you can take out of this afternoon?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, you know, we turned the ball over a few times on defense. You know, we turned the ball over a few times on defense. The first half James is running his butt after, Armando made a few plays in the first half, as well.
And then the game, all of a sudden the game started to get away from us a little bit. Probably the biggest negative of all, you know, you say all of those things, but for the second week in a row, even though we got the game to 10 10, for the second week in a row we turned the ball over on offense on a fumble that ended up being a walk in touchdown in the first half. We did it against Navy and it ended up being a critical play in the game. And once again, we did it again and it was a critical play in the game.
When you turn it around, when you turn around and just hand the ball inside to the fullback, would you like to think the worst thing is going to happen is you’re going to get a couple of yards and you’re going to be playing second and eight.
Q. So getting back to your analogy to trying to figure out where the problem is, if so much of the teaching happened during the week and then their ability to execute doesn’t manifest on a Saturday, how do you determine where the problem lies?
COACH Charlie Weis: That’s really the question. I raised the exact same question when I was sitting there talking to the team. That’s the analysis that really has to take place is where, in fact, is the breakdown. Where, in fact, is the breakdown, and if I had that answer, we wouldn’t have the problem.
So I think that’s a good question but it’s one that I can honestly tell you I don’t have an answer to.
Q. Is there any way you can formulate any time of answer, or begin to formulate one in the next two weeks or does it take a lot longer than that?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, I think one of the problems even on this subject is that the answer to this at this point is subjective.
You know, you don’t know there’s too much subjectivity to sit there and say, he said, she said. It would be easy for me to get up there and say, hey, I told them what to do and they don’t do it, go talk to them they are coming in next, call them in, talk to them. But guess what, that’s my job. My job is, okay, we know what they are doing, here comes a weak corner, we have two to block two; you block him, you block him and the quarterback getting hit in the back, okay. So it’s partially your fault and partially my fault.
I don’t know if in two weeks I don’t know if I’ll be able to give you an answer to that. As a matter of fact, I don’t know if in two months I’ll be able to give you an answer to that. But I can tell you that in two days, I don’t think I’ll be able to give you an answer for that for sure.
Q. Your counterpart said with all your youth, it will be a different team in nine months?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, I appreciate that. That’s probably the politically correct thing for him to say after a game like that. It’s a classy organization. I mean, it’s a classy team. I mean, they stand for all the right things and I appreciate him saying that.
Still, the players have to have some evidence of that. To sit there and say on paper, you have a bunch of good players that are all going to play great next year, that’s great. That sounds good and everything.
But you have to have some evidence. There isn’t anyone in this room right now that wouldn’t think that the quarterback was a bright spot. Do you think that the quarterback was a bright spot? Well, that’s one player. Guess what, you need 12, and throw some specialists in there and backups, and all of a sudden you need 50. We need to see evidence that more people are going to be playing at a higher level.
You’re last, so how many parts to the question? You’ve waited patiently so I’ll go ahead and get it.
Q. As far as Clausen is concerned, how did he come out of this physically, and what would you like to see from him in these last couple of weeks?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, coming out physically, you know, other than bumps and bruises, there’s no injury, which that’s the first thing. He’s not one of the people in the mash unit. And he probably got hit as many times as anyone, so that’s an encouraging thing.
I sat there and talked to him at the very end of the game. I called him aside and we talked about, you know, the program and next week and the future. And I think that one thing he understands is we took a baby step at his position, okay, but the thing is now the team needs to take one.
And my correlation to the team was, okay, you have to take one step at a time but as a team, the first step is winning a football game. And you can’t sit there and isolate 50 things in a game, hey, that was a good play, that was a good play, that’s a good play. The bottom line, the final score was 41 24. That’s still the bottom line.
So I think that he feels that he’s taking a baby step but that’s not good enough right now for us. It didn’t put us in position to win the game.
Q. Last teaching analogy here, you’re a teacher but you also learn a lot of things, what’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned form this season?
COACH Charlie Weis: That’s a big question. I think that you need to understand as a coach, okay, you need to understand that there’s many different many different personalities and psyches involved within a hundred players. And dealing with an 18 year old isn’t the same as dealing with a 23 year old, okay. There are different sets of things going on in their lives. Okay, first time you go through midterms, first time you have a weekend off. I mean, you know, there’s a lot of things that are changing.
And I think that as you’re going to play a bunch of young players, if you’re going to play a bunch of them, they need to understand that being young, is no reason or no excuse for not being on the same page as the older guys. And somewhere along the line, you have to find that blend, that mesh of 18 year olds and 22 year olds that, combination of personality wise that gets your team to play a hungry, aggressive style of football with a lot more efficiency than we’re playing right now. That’s the best I can do on that one.
COACH Charlie Weis: Actually his last kick in practice on Thursday, pulled so he wasn’t benched at all. It was the last kick in practice on Thursday if you want to talk about bad luck. He can’t even hold. You notice it was announced the holder, so he couldn’t even get down into his stance and couldn’t get into his stance.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports …
Notre Dame Player Quotes
Senior TE John Carlson
Q. Just talk about execution wise
John Carlson: I don’t know anyone gave up physically. I think it’s been a common theme throughout this season that execution, obviously, has not been crisp and has not been consistent. But I’ve never questioned the effort of anyone.
Q. Charlie was talking about an analogy about teacher and student and wondering if he’s not doing a good enough job teaching or players are not picking it up. Where do you fall into that equation?
John Carlson: To be perfectly honest, it’s hard to obviously with his pedigree, we know that he’s a great teacher and being that players on this team are students at the University of Notre Dame, you would think that we are all fairly intelligent individuals. So something obviously is not clicking, but I don’t know what it is.
Q. What’s left for this team in the last couple what’s left, especially the seniors?
John Carlson: Pride. You know, obviously you can’t make a Bowl game. We don’t have a post season hope. But you know, I know I’ve spent five years here, and it’s had it’s ups and downs, but overall it’s been a tremendous experience and you know, I’m proud to be a player here and a student here.
You know, I’m really going to be sad next week when it’s all going to be over.
John Carlson: Yeah, obviously it’s cold out there, but this is weather we’ve played in before. So that’s not an excuse and that doesn’t make it okay.
Q. You talked about the five years, it’s had its ups and downs, but the 1 9, no way you could ever expect that.
John Carlson: No one expected that. No one on this team expected that and I don’t think any of the fans expected that.
But that’s the reality right now and we can’t change what’s happened in the past and starting to sound like a broken record but we’re going to keep working hard. We’ve got two weeks left, and like I said before, we’ve got a lot of pride on this team and we’re not going to give up.
Q. How bad do you want that win next week, for so many different reasons?
John Carlson: Next week is going to be tough emotionally because it going to be last time I’ll get to play in this stadium. But I want to win every week and I know this team wants to win every week. So I don’t think it will be much different in that respect.
Q. What happened on the first pass?
John Carlson: You know, I caught the ball and I just didn’t secure it well enough and they made a good play.
Q. Once you find yourself a quarterback — going forward — inaudible?
John Carlson: I say it every time I’m asking a question about the quarterback. I’m not a quarterback coach and we’ve got a lot of confidence in him and I thought he played well. From my perspective, I think he played well.
Q. Being a young team, a work in progress
John Carlson: It has been difficult mainly because we know that we’ve got a lot of talent on this team. You look at the recruiting class besides that we’ve seen people make plays in practice and we know that we have capable guys on this team; and we know that we have talented players on this team; and we know that despite the repeated mistakes; and we know that we’ve got a coaching staff that’s one of the best in the country, they have it a great future in the game, and for some reason it just can’t come together.
And it’s frustrating, because I know I don’t know why it hasn’t worked out. And I’m sure if the coaches knew exactly what was wrong we all want to fix it, but it’s not like we know that this specific thing and wrong, we just haven’t been able to fix it. We continue to work in practice but it just hasn’t come together.
Q. Do you respect what Air Force does, smaller players, man on man, maybe they are not as big as you guys but still they come out as a team?
John Carlson: I’ve always had a lot of respect for the academies, for many reasons. First of all, they play hard the whole game. And obviously the fact that they defend our country, I’ve always had a great deal of respect for these guys.
Q. First play of the game — did you feel like — was there a feeling like, “Here we go again?”
John Carlson: You know, it was an unfortunate play. I caught the ball and I didn’t secure it well enough.
But then our defense held and stopped them and held them to a field goal. So I think we obviously you don’t want to start the game with a turnover, so that was disappointing and that was tough to get over, but our defense played well.
I don’t have an answer. None of us wanted to drop the ball, but that doesn’t make it okay but it happened.
Q. Did the cold play a factor in the drops today?
John Carlson: You know, we’ve played in this climate for many years now and we’ve played in a number of cold games. It was cold but that’s not an excuse.
Q. When you had tied the game up, what did you feel at that point?
John Carlson: I thought that we were back and it was 0 0. We had gotten over a rocky start, and I thought we would maintain that momentum and hoped we would start rolling.
Q. What do you feel now that this game, like so many others got away, and I know you’re not going to quit but
John Carlson: Well, you never get used to losing and you never accept losing. Like you said, we’re not going to quit. There are a lot of players playing for pride on this team and we have two games left, two weeks ago and we’re going to work hard and try to make corrections and finish strong.
Q. How badly do you need to go out with a win?
John Carlson: I want to win every week and as a team we want to win every week. But considering everything that’s gone on this year, it would be really special to leave the place with a win.
Q. Jimmy took that time off and came back, did you notice a difference between the Jimmy before USC and now?
John Carlson: You know, I haven’t watched the film yet and I’m not a quarterback coach, but really, I never assess another position than my position. We’ve got confidence in Jimmy; we’ve got confidence in Evan. From what I saw, from my perspective on the field, I thought he played well. But like I said before, I’m no expert, but I think he played well.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports …
Sophomore HB James Aldridge
On how tough it was out there today…
“It’s tough. We’re trying to work on something.”
On how frustrating it’s becoming…
“I guess there’s a reason behind all this. The coaches are going to continue to teach us, and eventually something is going to work.”
On coaches continuing to teach until it sinks in…
“That’s how I’ve learned everything. Besides being athletic, people teach and you have to learn no matter how they have to teach you. You just have to pick up on some things.”
On the numbers continuing to snowball negatively and how it affects…
“You don’t want to sit there and dwell on it, thinking ‘man, we’re losing, we’re losing.’ That’s what’s overwhelming. That’s not a good situation. You don’t want to have a negative mindset going into each week. You want to stay positive so you can get better.”
On playing for the seniors next week…
“We need to pay our respect. We’re going to go out and play for them.”
Junior FS David Bruton
On how much is the players’ responsibility and how much is the coaches’ responsibility…
“I really couldn’t tell you. The coaches coach; they coach their butts off to do everything and the players need to translate it onto the field. They need to take it from the classroom to the field. They need to take notes. We need to just do every little thing that we can to get better. If that means that some players need to do a little bit more, than some players need to do a little more. It’s give and take.”
On frustration of not being consistent…
“The consistency is a big issue. You can see we have spurts of good plays and then we have bad plays. We’re really inconsistent, but at the end he (Coach Weis) does teach. He does what he can and it’s not solely on Coach Weis; it’s on us as players as well.”
On difference after positions with success and positions without success…
“They just had some plays that hit us where we would probably be weakest at. There were a couple of calls that might have been suspect, doing what they were doing at that point in time. We still have to come up and make the play, or at least make the stop and not let them get a big gain.
On needing a taste of success…
“I feel it’s a huge necessity to have a taste of victory so we can have momentum and not go into the off-season doubting ourselves. Also for the fifth year guys they came back to try to help the team and we’re just coming up on the short end.”
Senior DE Trevor Laws
On the frustration of the season and dealing with it…
“It’s tough. Right now probably the biggest key is trying to keep your head right. I’ve never really been a part of anything that’s really gone like this. Something that you put a full effort into, and it just goes so terribly wrong. It’s frustrating. We need to find a way to just get through the rest of the season.”
On taking the teaching to the field and where the loss is in translation…
“If I could tell you, we’d be winning a lot more games. I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know why we only have one win this season. I’m sure if somebody could answer that question we’d have a lot more wins.”
On having a good season individually while no one around him is…
“People are playing hard out there. We just lost to Air Force and it doesn’t feel very good. That’s pretty much all I know right now.”
On what he wants to get out of the final games this season…
“I’d like to win and have fun. I play football to have fun out there on the field. It really hasn’t been that fun this season. I’d like to go out my fifth year, my last time playing college football ever, with a couple of wins and some good memories with my best friends on the team.”
Junior WR David Grimes
On moving around a little better in the second half…
“We started to get things going. I think it just started clicking for us. We tried to make some adjustments at halftime and it just started clicking.”
On amount of dropped balls and if it happens in practice…
“No. We pride ourselves as receivers in catching the ball, no matter where it’s placed. There are no excuses.”
“It’s unacceptable. Obviously guys are not out there trying to drop the ball. It’s something we’ll work on and try to prevent from happening in the future.”
On if (freshman QB) Jimmy (Clausen) took a step forward today…
“I thought he played pretty good. We need to watch the tape, and then the coaches will do an evaluation of that.”
Sophomore OL Dan Wenger
On Notre Dame’s pass protection against the Air Force defensive line…
“I can’t tell you exactly (what happened), or give you a straightforward answer. If I knew the answer, I’d let you guys know. It’s something that I can’t really evaluate when we’re out there. And seeing certain things and doing certain things, even from the sideline, I’m not going to sit here and criticize anyone. I’m not going to do anything like that.”
On the team’s frustration in not being able to pick up a win in recent weeks…
“It’s very frustrating. We come out every week, we work hard, we do whatever it takes. There have been multiple approaches that players and coaches have taken, and it’s just something that hasn’t caught on yet. But I speak for myself and many of the other guys in there that we’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep coming out and we’re going to keep doing it until it’s right.”
On the play of (freshman) QB Jimmy Clausen…
“He did a great job once we gave him protection. He threw the ball downfield and we made plays. It’s as simple as that. Everyone saw it.”
Senior S Tom Zbikowski
On the inconsistency of the team’s progression this season…
“It’s on us. Coaches don’t play – we’re out there. We’re supposed to be making plays. From my standpoint, I can’t speak for anyone else. We’re just not making enough plays out there to win.”
On the final two games on the schedule…
“We have to win these last two games. We have to keep playing. As long as there are games to be played, we’re going to try to win those games. (Today) was definitely a tough loss. We know we can play these next two teams well as long as we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, I think we can win.”
On falling behind by two scores early in the second half…
“We definitely can’t start off like that. Especially when you’re down, you have to come out and be strong and hopefully get a three-and-out, if not a turnover and get a good field position for the offense.”
On the play of Air Force RB Chad Hall…
“No question about it, he (Chad Hall) is a good ball player. He’s undersized, but he’s really quick and he’s got good change in direction. They’re competitors and outplayed us today.”
On what he wants to accomplish over the next two weeks…
“We’ve got two more games that I’m going to make sure that we win, especially the last home game. We want to get that win. There’s no part of me that doesn’t want to be out there. It’s another opportunity to play football. We are the select few that get to play college football every Saturday and we should be proud of that fact.”
Senior ILB Maurice Crum Jr.
On Notre Dame’s current losing streak…
“That (the losing streak) is what makes this whole situation so hard, is that you search and search and search, and guys are coming to work and you’re just not finding the answers. It’s rough. I just don’t know what happened. I’m in disbelief, still. I just think it’s a dream and that I’m going to wake up one day.”
On the development of younger players on the Irish roster…
“I’m not with each and every guy. I try to take my group (of linebackers), because those are the guys I spend the most time with, and I try to mentor them and teach them how to watch tape and do as much as possible for them. I’m kind of a tape junkie. I’ve always liked to watch tape. That’s just what I was raised on.”
On Notre Dame’s recent losses…
“I could care less (about our record). I just want to win. I don’t care where I win, or how I win. I just want to win.”
On the continued fan support…
“They’re the same fans that have always been there. They’re behind us, they’ve always been behind us. And they just want to see us get it right more than anyone.”
Air Force Head Coach Troy Calhoun
COACH TROY CALHOUN: Well, overall, I thought it was a great team effort. That’s really the way we played here over these last six or seven years. That’s the way Air Force Academy, you have to play. Our play, it was quite evident today. We’ll never let’s say never, we might maybe in four or five years down the years recruiting wise but right now you can see size wise and you can see how much speed wise, there are not a lot of teams that are going to match up with us, at least one on one. So what we’ve got to do is rely upon heavily the character, the fortitude of what has so well built in the young people at the Air Force Academy, that’s the young men that are there. I thought we did that.
You know, I thought we went for it on fourth down, 10 3, they took the short field and went 50 yards to score a TD. You look back really the only time our defense relinquished touchdown drives were on condensed fields, one where we went 4 1 where we probably didn’t so to answer that drive, right at the end of the first half, and to come out and knock it right out of their hands the second half, those were key.
Q. What did you expect (of the quarterback) coming in?
COACH TROY CALHOUN: You know, I had a chance to watch him when he was in high school, and I just thought he was an extraordinary talented poised, bright quarterback, and ladies and gentlemen, just frankly, it’s hard for a freshman, I mean, it is. For a freshman quarterback, he’s never red shirted. What you see today is probably not what you’re going to see in the future. He has the ability and that’s part of some of the growing pains that happens whenever you have the turnover that they had personnel wise.
Q. How well was your running game working?
COACH TROY CALHOUN: You know, really well. I thought under the circumstances, that we had the two turnovers, which for us, both ended up being vital plays. It would be interesting to see, I mean, you look, ever since the first October, we’ve had one guy that maybe has inaudible from anybody. And there’s some lanes that are happening up front where he’s got some creases to run in.
Q. Curious about the pass rush, you put a lot of pressure on.
COACH TROY CALHOUN: One thing we do, we were very aggressive. We’re going to attack; we’re going to blitz. That’s what we tried to establish from day one in spring ball.
It was effective today. I also thought they did an outstanding job of pass protection. And the reason I say that is there were circumstances throughout the game where they knew they had to throw, and I thought they still did a pretty good job of holding us down. You know, that really helped.
Only thing I’ll say, what we’ve got to do a little bit in college football is at some point we’ve got to get away from you know go out and kick off, and what’s announced is this officiating crew is from Mountain West or this replay guy is from I think what we’ve got to do at some point and I’m going off a little but here. We’ve got to get to a point where you go play a game that there’s no residue at all. There are no messages.
It’s like last week, we played a game at home, and you know, we’ve just got to get out of that. And I don’t want to take anything away from the football team, that’s why we’re here, but at some point inaudible goes to play at Michigan, Mountain West conference. I just think it would really help and enhance maybe the overall, just a little important integrity wise.
COACH TROY CALHOUN: Now, you know, early, they had a good game early. I think with that structure that we utilize, I’m sure they had, you know, somewhere along the line they had some experience coaching wise. It was a — that was a key play. You look here, ever since October 13th, the first series of defense you can go right on down the line.
The next Michigan play, we played at home, and to have that happen today, we call those boomerangs where something happens one direction and not the other.
Q. This is your first year after being in the NFL, kind of a bigger picture question, but is there a difference?
COACH TROY CALHOUN: Well, it’s a at our place, it’s easier. Every one of our kids is going to make 18 extra hours. They are taking classes that I can’t even explain the name and I had a heck of a time getting through them, too. So, you know, there’s some balances here and there that has to be taken into consideration.
You know, and yet at the same time, our guys, playing football, some of you heard me say this a few times, we don’t have a single guy that plays for board and room and books and tuition. Each one of our guys plays football because they love the competition. At our place, it is entirely different. Our place is probably a little bit unique.
Q. Watching the players — inaudible?
COACH TROY CALHOUN: Well, any time you have an opportunity to come in, it’s a special trip, and I wish there was a way I could Notre Dame is a phenomenal institution and I wish there was a way that down the road, you could schedule campus to campus. We don’t have to go play in professional football venues. I love the NFL. It’s just that if there’s a way where we could keep that treasured among the two schools.
Also, our guys have played pretty good, and really have played fairly well here over the last really over the last month and a half. That was something and I thought these kids did a phenomenal job of developing with one another and growing a little bit closer and that’s been fun to watch, the growth and development of our guys.
And the other part, we’ve won here before. You know, I’ve got a bunch of assistants, and, you know, this is a game where we’ve had some good times. We’ve had a few that weren’t. We don’t have guys who are coaches who have gone crazy and doing cartwheels on some of the players.
Q. Can you give us your thought process — when that backfired?
COACH TROY CALHOUN: You know, I think part of it is when you try and develop a mentality amongst your guys, you take enormous pride, in those situations, if you punt it, sure. You go back and kick yourself in the back side and I felt like really there was a very good chance we could get the yardage; and our defense, even if you don’t, you have to be ready to respond. In that case, we did not, but there’s a little bit of it that’s by and large, that’s an optimum play the execution, yeah.
Q. Talking about Chad Hall the last couple of weeks, your thoughts on his performance and also the plan going in?
COACH TROY CALHOUN: Well, I thought coming in here, my hunches were this could be a low scoring game. They always turn out this way anticipation wise. He’s our one that comes as no surprise. I feel like the later you get into the year, you know it’s his senior year and there are not a whole lot left. He’s wearing a little heavier harness and we are going to ride him a little. That’s something that we are aware of.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports …..
Air Force Player Quotes
Chris Thomas, Sophomore, SS
On the experience…
“It was a great experience, they were a great team with a lot of great athletes. We came out from the start though, and I thought we set the tempo really well, especially on defense. We were getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback.”
On getting pressure on Clausen…
“We saw on the film that they had some protection problems and everything. Our coach and our corners did a great job calling and making plays and getting pressure on the quarterback.”
Whether the defense’s job was easier because of the offense…
“That was great having our offense keep the ball from Notre Dame’s hands. That was a great force.”
Fourth quarter stop within inches…
“They had already converted on a couple fourth downs. We heard them calling; I forget what they were calling but we knew it was a QB sneak right of the bat so all the linebackers were playing up.”
Carson Bird, Senior, CB
On the experience…
“It was one of those feelings like… coming to the game people were doubting us, of course. And people have done it all year, and we’re also ok with it because we don’t mind being the underdog. People know how hard we’re working and how capable we are. And we felt very confident coming to the game, we knew that we could definitely play with them, at least. We knew if we started playing well like the defense did, and make a couple sacks early, and get the offense the ball, that sparks would fly. And that’s the way we felt, and the way we played. We definitely had some mistakes but some big plays and big stops is really what it came down to.”
Whether the subdued celebration was born of expectation…
“No it wasn’t really an expectation. It’s still Notre Dame at Notre Dame. At the same time, a lot of people don’t realize it, but that’s eight wins. Last time we had eight wins, it’s been a while. So, being able to beat Notre Dame with eight wins, it’s big for us, especially as a senior class and with the frustrating last couple of seasons we’ve had, to come back and win these games, it’s been huge for us.”
Knowing Clausen was starting…
“We had seen the offensive line struggle a little bit, but to be honest we weren’t sure who was starting. The coaches weren’t really particular, they showed us both quarterbacks. We were just kind of ready to bring pressure; that’s what we do. We bring pressure to every game. Regardless of who it was, we were going to do our best to get in that backfield. And we did, early and often so I think that was a big part of the game.”
Rattling the Notre Dame offense early…
“I think it kind of let them know what kind of day it was going to be. I know he did his best to put it out of the back of his mind, but he took a couple pops early, and I’m not sure how many sacks we ended up getting, but we definitely got plenty of hits on him today. The coaches stressed that, and so I think we did a pretty good job of doing it.”
John Rabold, Senior, LB
On fumble return for touchdown …
“The ball was up in the air and the tight end was trying to block me. I decided to go after it and once I had it all I had to do was beat the quarterback and I couldn’t let him stop me. I was just hoping I didn’t trip up or anything.”
Trying to bring pressure on ND …
“It was definitely our plan to bring pressure. We were really successful with our stunts and we were able to confuse their offensive line and get pressure on the quarterback.
Chad Hall, Senior, WR/RB
Overall Comment …
“You have to have some confidence coming into a game like this. You have to give their front seven a lot of credit because it was tough to move the ball but our defense played great. To win here is big. They didn’t play like a 1-8 team at all. They played with a lot of heart but it was a great team effort for us. All of our players can make plays when necessary.”
On running the offense out wide …
“It was working early so you keep going with what works. You have to give credit to our wide receivers because they stayed out their blocks and I was able to get around them.
The kick return after ND made the score 31-17 …
“That was big. We went three-and-out the possession before that and then Notre Dame went down and scored. We were going to put our hands team in there but Notre Dame came out with their kick off team. To get the ball onto their side of the field, if anything, put us in field goal position. We were also able to control the clock for about four minutes.”
Shaun Carney, Senior, QB
Overall Comments …
“It’s special for this program and this football team, especially the senior class, to come in here and win. It is something we will always remember.
The rushing attack …
“We are top five in the country so it is nothing new for us. The guys up front played great today and they played poised. To play a game without any false starts in a hostile environment is something special.”
Chad Hall’s Effort …
“He is a spectacular and special player. Even if he didn’t have the ball in his hands, he is a great decoy and was key in helping us spring some reverses and other plays. You always have to worry about were he is at on the field.”