Sept. 3, 2011
COACH Brian Kelly
Q. You talked a lot about the focus of this team and how sharp they were in their dedication to preparation. Were you taken aback a little bit by some of the mistakes, especially by some of the veteran players?
COACH KELLY: Well, we say this all the time. You can’t start winning until you stop losing, and the things that we did today out there obviously go to the heart of how you lose football games. You lose football games because you turn the ball over. You lose football games because you miss field goals. You lose the football game because you have four personal foul penalties. The list is long. And given all that, you know, our kids put themselves in a position to battle the second half. There’s no quit in the group, but you can’t win playing like that.
Q. Obvious question: How do you handle the quarterback situation moving forward?
COACH KELLY: Well, you know, we didn’t expect to have to make this move, obviously, so it’s going to require us to obviously evaluate the quarterback situation and make another decision. This was a step back for us as it relates to where we thought we were going. We certainly did not believe or think that we would have to make the decision that we made today.
Q. And as much went wrong today, it was one game, so how do you emphasize, improve on other things that went wrong but also try to move forward a little bit?
COACH KELLY: You know, we’ve been down this road before. The disappointing thing is that we thought going into a year where we had some experience that we wouldn’t have to go through this. But it looks like we’re going to have to make sure that our players are understanding what it takes to win football games.
Q. What went into the decision? How did you go about making that decision to put Tommy in in the second half?
COACH KELLY: Production. We didn’t feel like we produced the way we should have. Mistakes were made. You know, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make that; it was difficult because it threw us into an area where we weren’t thinking we had to go to.
Q. What goes on during that two hour halftime? How did you manage that?
COACH KELLY: The two hours? I don’t know that there’s any perfect formula other than you’re just trying to keep your kids hydrated. You’re doing your best. We had something to eat. We tried to work them out as best we could. But no, it’s never an ideal situation, but both teams had to fight through it.
Q. Can you just put in perspective how chaotic the whole day just ended up being? I imagine you’ve never been through anything quite like this.
COACH KELLY: No. You know, the chaos was on the field for me. I thought our administration did a great job of making prudent decisions relative to the rain. I think the weather it’s obviously an incredible task to move 81,000 people in and out of a stadium. I think everyone that was involved in that should be commended. It was chaotic for me in the way we played. All those other things were left up to very capable people.
Q. Does Tommy need a game situation for his true assets to shine through, because physically he won’t ever match up with Dayne Crist. Does he just need that form in order to show his true assets?
COACH KELLY: He was 24 for 34 in a situation where they knew we were going to throw the football. I don’t want to put him in that situation. I want him to have the luxury of a running game which we had established when Dayne was in there. We just did not complete the circle relative to all the other things that needed to occur. We believe we can run the football. If Tommy has a good running game, if we decide that he’s our guy, that’s going to take a lot of the load off of him. He didn’t have that luxury in the second half, so it’s really hard to evaluate it per se.
Q. And obviously Theo didn’t look real comfortable back there on punts. That’s not a real natural thing for him, that’s something that he’s had to learn how to do and really improve upon?
COACH KELLY: He’s got to do it. I told him to get his butt back out there. If we’re going to have the kind of playmakers we need at that position, we don’t have a waiver wire, we can’t trade for anybody. We’ve got to get him to that position. The only thing I reminded Theo is he can’t let his disappointment or emotion show in the way he plays. He’s got to bounce back, and he’s going to have to bounce back for us next week and have a great game.
Q. Obviously Jonas Gray’s fumble was a huge turning point. Did that really impact your team that greatly from that point on the rest of the half?
COACH KELLY: No, it was the succeeding mistakes. We’re in the red zone ready to put one in and we threw another interception. It was the accumulation of mistake after mistake after mistake. It wasn’t that one particular play
Q. I think we’re saying the same thing. What I’m saying is did it then have a negative impact on the way your players played the rest of the half?
COACH KELLY: No, I don’t think so at all. I think it was our inability to do the things, especially if you look at all the things that occurred in that first half, it was obviously the touchdown our defense really played pretty good in the first half. We kept them to three field goals, and one of the field goals was off of a muffed punt on special teams and the other one was a poor punt that got returned to minus territory. So when I’m looking at it coming back in, I’m going, our defense is playing pretty good. It didn’t affect them, and then we march back down there again and throw another interception. It was just it was one mistake after the other that led to that, more so than took the wind out of their sails.
Q. I just want to ask you about their red zone defense, what they did once you got down to the goal line to stop you and how frustrating that was.
COACH KELLY: Poor coaching. Didn’t do a good job with our quarterbacks, obviously. That’s my responsibility.
COACH SKIP HOLTZ
COACH HOLTZ: I’ll just start by saying how proud I am of this football team and the adversity coming to battle through and all the highs and lows of this day with the weather and the two hour halftime and everything that we went through as a football team. It’s nerve wracking enough to come in here and play the tradition and everything else of this University, and for me a very emotional day to have the opportunity to come back. But to throw everything else up on top of it, just how proud I am of the way this team handled themselves, the way they stayed poised, calm. There were a lot of opportunities to flinch today, but really proud of the way they handled themselves.
We talked about what a great challenge this was for us coming in here as a young program being that only 13 years ago we didn’t own a pair of cleats or a helmet or football at South Florida, and to be the youngest program in the BCS and to have an opportunity to have a couple wins on the road with Clemson in the Bowl and Miami and then having the opportunity to come up here to Notre Dame and win I just think speaks volumes about the leadership that we have at this University with Judy Genshaft and Doug Woolard and our administration. I think it speaks volumes about these players and the way they have bought in and competed their tails off when so many people on the outside wouldn’t believe in them.
But you know, it’s bittersweet at the same time. On Monday we had a banquet and was talking with Leroy Selmon about how excited he was to have the opportunity to be here today and he was talking about how he had never been to Notre Dame. He was the one that started football at South Florida, and he just was so looking forward to this, and we got news yesterday that he has been hospitalized right now, which is where he still is, and our thoughts and prayers go to him. So it’s very bittersweet to have the opportunity to be here and not have the opportunity to share it with a guy like Leroy Selmon, who was kind of one of the founding fathers of this University. I give Coach Kelly an awful lot of credit. I think he’s got a very good football team. We were just able to turn and win the turnover battle today, and winning the turnover battle and capitalize on a couple of errors, capitalize early and have the opportunity to put some points on the board and at the same time capitalize on being able to take points off the board for them because we had turnovers in the red zone. I think we had one of them probably inside the 20 and one of them in the end zone I believe were two of them.
So just really proud of this football team. I can’t say enough positive things about them. It’s a great moment for South Florida.
Q. Could you talk about the big emotional turnaround, Notre Dame drove the ball down to the 2 yard line and then you get that big turnover?
COACH HOLTZ: To start the game? It was huge, because we came in and I thought Mark Snyder and Rick Smith and the defensive backs, they did a great job, and we took the mindset, bend but don’t break, bend but don’t break, let’s not give up the home run ball. I think Michael Floyd is a great player on film. I think he’s a lot better than he is on film. I think he is one of the special players in college football. I think he’s a difference maker. He is special. And because of him when we just turned and said let’s try and make sure we keep him in front of them. Even trying to do that he still caught one later. But the whole mindset was bend, don’t break. Our motto was make them snap it again, don’t just let them in the end zone, make them snap it again. I don’t care if it’s a 20 play drive. They haven’t scored yet if they don’t cross that end zone. Don’t let them in the end zone, make them drive the field, don’t give them anything cheap.
So when they got down there on the 2 yard line, I think it was Jerrell Young came up and made the strip and then just a great job scooping and scoring, kind of broke a little shoelace tackle, went and scored. You look up and they’ve had the ball and have driven the whole length of the field, had probably about 15 yards a clip, and you look up and you’re winning 7 0; hello, kind of a good feeling at that point with where we are. Kind of symbolized a little bit of the day, especially when you look at this game statistically.
Q. Were you surprised at all to see the change in quarterbacks?
COACH HOLTZ: The two quarterbacks are very similar in what they do, so it’s not like a running quarterback that’s all option and a drop back guy. You prepare for them the same way. I think he really impressed me with what he did coming out there today, the way he stood in there and some of the shots he took and some of the strikes he threw down the field. I believe he had a number of dropped balls, too, because he threw some great balls. I was really impressed with him. Was I surprised or shocked? No, you’re down 16 0. I certainly understand that mindset to say, hey, we’ve got to do something, we’ve got to do something to get a charge out of our football team.
I don’t sit in his locker room and make his decisions, but it did not shock me, no, sir.
Q. You’ve won a lot of big games here, but this one may be one of the biggest. Can you just put in perspective what this means for your program?
COACH HOLTZ: I think it’s huge. Notre Dame is, as I said, one of the most tradition rich programs. They have played football 120 years. We are celebrating our 104th victory today as a program. So when you talk about how young we are, I don’t think you can measure what a win like this for us means on the road with our youth.
I think we’ve had some big wins in our program’s history, having wins at Miami and Florida State and Auburn and on the road with Clemson in the Bowl game. We’ve had some big wins, but I think as I told the team last week, I’m much more concerned how we handle this game, whether we win or lose, than I am what happens to it, because we have had some big wins.
What we have not done is we have not been able to line up and play consistently throughout the course of a year and win a Big East Championship, and that’s the No. 1 goal that we have as a football team right now with what we’re trying to do.
Q. Did you wear Leroy’s number on your helmet?
COACH HOLTZ: I did.
Q. Whose idea was that? Was this game always going to be dedicated to him?
COACH HOLTZ: I think the numbers on everybody’s helmets, hat, shoes, there were stickers in the locker room, guys were putting them everywhere, and I think it shows the respect that everybody has for Leroy Selmon. I addressed it one time with the football team, and that was in our church service. That was the church service we addressed it, talked about where he was. But outside of that we didn’t talk about it in the locker room or at any point in time about to play, but I think everybody was grabbing the stickers out of respect for Leroy Selmon.
Q. I understand some of your coaches have referred to the lightning delays at your first scrimmage in training camp and how you kind of fell back on that experience.
COACH HOLTZ: When we went to Vero Beach, we were getting ready for our first scrimmage, and it was delayed about an hour and a half, and the players were getting antsy, saying, coach, what are we going to do. I said, just go in the locker room and sit tight. We’ll let you know when it clears, and we had about an hour and a half delay.
And that was the first thing I said to them when I walked into the locker room. I said, hey, we’ve been here before. I told them before the game, we knew weather was coming. I told them before the game, we’ll address it as it comes. Until then let’s just go play the game. When it came, I said, we’ve been here before, Vero Beach, we had an hour and a half. The players were in there saying, coach, we’ve been here before, we’ve got it, we’ve all right, we’ve been here before.
So an experience like that you can’t prepare for what either team had to go through today. I don’t care, you can’t prepare. The NCAA won’t allow you to with a 20 hour workweek, won’t allow you to spend an eight hour day trying to get one practice in. So you can’t prepare for it, but I think it’s little things like that, that it’s the maturity of this football team, it’s the desire, the want to, the passion. I think that’s where we were able to turn and handle it.
I don’t think I was a little upset at the first one because I was told we’d get a ten minute warning and the way we found out we were taking the field was when Notre Dame ran out onto the field. Our guys were laying on the floor and shoulder pads off and shoes off, and all of a sudden it was like, hey, let’s go. It took us about half a quarter, took us about ten minutes to turn and get it going and they got some momentum running there in the third quarter. We couldn’t slow it down. But then the offense put that drive together to go down the field that finished with a touchdown pass to Evan Landi.
So just really proud of the way the team handled it. They were extremely mature about it.
Q. That’s four in a row on the road. What have you been able to teach these guys about going into places where there’s adversity and coming out on top?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, I learned from one of the best. What did he have, 23 I think it was, a 23 game road streak I think it was at one point? You go play on the road, you’ve got to play together. I think that’s one of the biggest things about being able to play on the road. We talked about regardless of how this game goes we started fast at Florida a year ago and went right down the field and scored and started 7 0 and then threw five picks the rest of the game and ended up getting beat. We felt like we were good enough to play in that game but we didn’t give ourselves a chance.
We also talked about going to Clemson, and they go down and miss a field goal and then we throw an interception and we start slow in that game but ended up coming back to win it. We talked about the ebbs and flows that go through a football game, but the team that’s going to win it is the team that’s going to focus for 60 minutes and continue to play the game. And we just talked about sticking together, 75 guys in that locker room wearing a uniform, everybody was here for a reason, everybody had a role today.
Q. Can you just talk about the moment with your kids on the field where you were at the tunnel and you were just giving them a huge hug?
COACH HOLTZ: Yeah, I said all week, I have not alluded to in any way, shape or form me coming back to Notre Dame. This game to me was such a selfish, minuscule part of this big win for our program. I never talked about it, and I said, our players weren’t even born when I was here. It was that many years ago. And so I wasn’t going to make it about me, and we talked about them and the program and the opportunity and what we could build.
But just the comments from them was moving. We’ve got your back, coach, we love you, we thank you, we appreciate you, this one was for you, just the comments from these players that I never once talked about it because I didn’t want to make this about me. But it was an emotional moment for me, just to have the team respect me and to say the things that they did to me.
Q. Can you make it about you for one second and tell us how it does feel for you?
COACH HOLTZ: I don’t know that it’s sank in at this point. I mean, I didn’t know how I would respond running out there on the field. I’ve got an incredible amount of memories in this stadium, at this University, as a student driving around campus. As soon as the buses got here I took off and walked over to the grotto and lit a candle just because that’s how I got through college. I was lighting candles at the grotto. So I went over there and lit a candle and then walked back over here. A lot of emotional things, that was the dorm I lived in, going around, a lot of emotional moments for me.
But when we walked out on that line, as we’ve talked about, it was all that happens between the stripes, and I don’t get to go out there. So my job and my role today was to do everything I could to be a supporting actor for a great group of young men that went out there and put their heart and souls on this field in order to get this done today.
Q. Two things: Was your dad here today, and number two, you mentioned it’s hard enough to come here and play against the tradition and yet you just pointed out that your players weren’t even born when you were playing. Did the players feel that tradition or do they know about it?
COACH HOLTZ: You’d have to ask them that question. I certainly know about it, but I did not spend the week giving them a Notre Dame history lesson. I did not spend the week doing that. I kept the focus that I’m most concerned about what happens between the lines. I talked about we’re not going to put cameras around our neck and have a tourist trip up here. We decided to come up here and play a football game. It was a business trip for us, and that’s how we were approaching it, and I was concerned about what happened between the lines.
So never once did I talk about the history or tradition of Notre Dame. I did during the week when I talked about comparing the two programs from a tradition standpoint. My father was not here today. My mother, brother, sisters, I don’t know, about 80 tickets’ worth were here. We’ve got a pretty good clan. But no, my father was in the studio today. From what I understand they told him he wouldn’t have to go on the air when the game was on, so for eight hours (laughter) they probably thought that was a three hour commitment when they turned and made that to him, and here it was eight hours later he still had the opportunity to watch the game.
But again, it is great to come back to a University that has meant so much to me and so much to my family, and the respect that I have and the class of the fans and the people here and the positive comments from everybody walking over the grotto, the fans and everything else, Notre Dame is everything I’ve always believed it was, and it was great to come back, and I have great respect for this University and institution, but I’m really proud of South Florida and the way these young men came in here and the way they competed, and it’s a step in the right direction for us.
Q. Tommy, can you talk about this entire game for you guys? How are the emotions right now? Tommy Rees: Not very good. Today was probably the most strange game probably anybody has ever been a part of. Hats off to USF. They came out and played a good game. They were out here competing from the first snap. You know, we can’t think too much about how the situation went down, more just look how we can improve.
Q. Where do you guys move forward? What do you take away from this game? Tommy Rees: It’s definitely a learning experience because you’ve got to move forward. We’ve got Michigan next week. So tomorrow this has got to be behind us and just got to look forward to the next game.
Q. Two weeks ago Dayne was announced as the starter. Second half of the first game you’re in there. How do you approach that? How do you kind of keep it together and get out there? Tommy Rees: You know, throughout practice you’ve just got to keep competing and preparing like you’re going to get in there and you’re going to be the guy. All week both of us competed and prepared like we were going to play, and you’ve just got to keep your head about you during the week and if there’s an opportunity when you’re called upon, be ready.
Q. When did they tell you, at halftime right before you went on the field? Tommy Rees: No, I mean, they told us when the coaches came over and they pulled us aside and let us know. We just went from there.
Q. Did Dayne say anything to you? Tommy Rees: Yeah, you guys know how Dayne is. He’s been supportive of me from day one, so he was there on the sideline and he was here in the locker room talking me through stuff, and he was great.
Q. When you watch him struggle in the first half what’s going through your mind? You’ve got to be ready no matter what because there could be an injury, but were you a little more anxious then? Tommy Rees: You know, I try to support him as much as possible. I don’t try to think about my opportunities. Obviously I’m prepared and I’m ready to go if my number is called. But throughout the whole first half him and I were talking and I was trying to help him out with some of the things that were going on on the field. And you know, the first half a lot of things went wrong, but I’m proud of how the guys bounced back.
Q. How do you guys rebound from that? Can you explain why there were so many mental mistakes? Tommy Rees: I really don’t know what was going on. We were practicing really well and things were going really well, and a few plays here or there, and obviously the outcome speaks for itself.
Q. Do you feel the two hour delay helped you guys? Tommy Rees: Not only that, our guys stayed focused, our coaches did a great job of keeping us in the game. When we went out there after the first time, after the first delay after halftime, really our whole fan base was still here pretty much, and that was awesome to see. I felt like coming out of that we had the advantage with all the excitement and the fans, and it was a pretty cool atmosphere actually.
Q. Not knowing if you’ll be the starter for next week, how do you approach that? Tommy Rees: Yeah, nothing really changes. Dayne and I both prepare like we’re going to be the guy, so not much changes for me. It’s up to the coaches, and I’ll be ready to go and I’ll prepare like I’m going to play, and we’ll see what happens.
Q. When you got the news two weeks ago you weren’t going to be starting, what was your initial reaction? Did you call your parents, talk to Dayne? Tommy Rees: Obviously I was disappointed first and foremost. Everyone wants to be the guy, but the first thing I did is I found Dayne, talked to him, told him I supported him 100 percent. And we’re really close, so there was really no bitter feeling towards him, it was just more disappointed that I wasn’t the guy. But you know, yeah, first guy I went and talked to was Dayne.
Q. And your mindset going on the field during the rest of the practices, you felt the same way as before? Tommy Rees: Yeah, if you’re a competitor and you want to be the guy, just like last year, you never know when you’re going to be called and you’ve got to be ready to go because you’ve got all your teammates counting on you and you can’t let them down.
Q. How much did last year prepare you for this? Tommy Rees: I mean, completely. Getting plenty of time and plenty of experience has put me in a good spot.
Q. At what point did you find out you were going to go in? Tommy Rees: Pretty soon when we got in the coaches came and talked to Dayne and I, just like you normally do and let us know and we went from there.
Q. How did you prepare for that? Were you antsy at all to get out there? Tommy Rees: Anxious. You know, just play a half football. I kind of knew what to expect, but it was a long halftime, but I thought we did a good job of staying focused and come out ready to play.
Q. How weird was this day? Tommy Rees: I mean, unlike any other game we’ve been a part of, but like I said before, USF played a great game, and how the game shook out, there’s no excuse for the weather and all that. USF did a good job.
Q. Coach did a great job of making the quarterback not battle distractions during the preseason. How do you make sure it’s not a distraction leading up to Michigan? Tommy Rees: We have no choice. The quarterback is the leader, and you can’t have a distraction like that take over the team. It’s a long season, and we can’t let that get a hold of us.
Q. Did the weather have any effect on the game plan in the second half? Tommy Rees: Not really. We didn’t think the weather it didn’t really affect us too bad. It wasn’t pouring rain or anything like that, so we just stayed with our game plan.
Q. Are you a guy that is much better when the game is out there like once you get on the field maybe versus practice situation? You seem to just rise to the occasion when you’re out there? Tommy Rees: I’m not really sure. When game time comes I like to think I’m prepared, and I’m prepared through how I’ve practiced. I don’t know, but a game is a lot different than practice in my opinion. Going out there I don’t know how to answer that question to be honest. I practice hard and I practice like I’m going to play the game, and when the game comes, you’ve just got to be ready to make plays.
Q. (Inaudible.) Tommy Rees: Obviously just getting the mental aspect of it down, not turning the ball over, and we’ve just got to hit the film room and prepare for Michigan and put this one behind us.
Q. I know this is a tough one to answer because you really can’t, but do you think you should be the starter next week? Tommy Rees: I really don’t have a comment. We’ll let the coaches decide that. It’s up to them.
Q. Were you surprised at the change? Tommy Rees: You know, not surprised but not I wasn’t necessarily expecting it. Obviously we had our fair share of problems in the first half, but I was just prepared and ready to go, and if my number was called, I would be ready to go. Not surprised, not expecting it, either, but somewhere in between.
Q. Which coach told you? Tommy Rees: Coach Kelly came in and told us.
Q. What did you do during the two hours? Tommy Rees: Just focused on the game, focused on football, not letting any distractions occur and just mentally get prepared to go out there.
Q. Did you talk about it or watch film or Tommy Rees: We were just some of us talked about it. We had so much time, a lot of different things went on during that time period.
Q. How weird is that, though, for you because you hadn’t played yet? You’re waiting to go in? Tommy Rees: Yeah, it’s a little different. You almost treat it like the start of the game. You have that much time before the start of a game and that was kind of my mindset. I’m like, I have a half of football to play, so let’s go out there play just like before a game.
Q. They only gave you like four minutes to warm up once you got out there. Was there enough time? Tommy Rees: No, it was fine. No complaints with how it was handled. Like I said before, it’s not an excuse or anything like that, it’s just USF played a good game.
Q. You’ve worked with Tyler Eifert a lot down the stretch. What did you see from him that he was getting open, and how much confidence do you have in him? Tommy Rees: I mean, he’s a great player. He’s a big target, athletic, great hands. All of our guys out there, T.J., Theo, Cierre, Mike, Toma, Goody, everyone that was out there I feel comfortable with, so if we get a match up that we like or if we get a look that we like, it doesn’t really matter who it is, we can count on them to get open. Tyler stepped up and he played extremely well down the stretch for us.
Q. When the starter was the season for announced, I’m sure you figured you’d get your opportunity at some point, but you probably weren’t expecting it to be two quarters into the season. Tommy Rees: Right. It was a tough situation. Obviously I wanted to be named the starter, but I had to keep focused and prepare well during practice. I knew it’s a long season, your time is going to come, and I didn’t know when it was going to come, but I knew I had to be prepared for when it did, so I just took it like that.
Q. How did you react to the news of Dayne being starter for the first game? Tommy Rees: Like I said, I mean, I was obviously disappointed. Everyone wants to be the starting quarterback. But as soon as we found out, I went up to Dayne and told him I’m behind him 100 percent, I’m not going to hang my head and be that guy. I’m going to come out here every day ready to work and push him to be better and he’s going to push me, and I told him I was 100 percent behind him. We’re so close that there was really no hard feelings or anything like that.
Q. And then in the second half did he communicate with you? Tommy Rees: Yeah, absolutely. Like I said before, you guys all know how Dayne is. He’s one of a kind guy. He came up to me, and having his support after that was huge.
Q. What are you anticipating now as you go into next week? Do you feel like you’re the starter now? Tommy Rees: To be honest I’ll just let the coaches decide. I don’t have any say. Whatever they decide, I’ll be 100 percent behind. If it’s my way or his, I’m here for the team and will prepare as if I’ve got to be out there.
Q. When you came here did you know all about the history of Notre Dame? Tommy Rees: I knew how big Notre Dame football was and all that, but I wasn’t a fan and it wasn’t a huge thing for me. Once I got here and found out what it’s really about, I was really happy to be a part of it.
Q. Do you think teams are intimidated by the aura or do you think that’s something from the past? Tommy Rees: I think everyone gets up to play Notre Dame. Everyone gives it their best shot, and that’s something we’ve got to be ready for on a week to week basis.
Notre Dame Player Quotes
Michael Floyd – Sr. – WR
On the turnovers in tonight’s contest…
“It’s the first game and people make mistakes all the time in the first game. But we try to limit them as much as we can. And unfortunately making the mistakes is the way you lose games.”
On his performance and setting a reception record…
“I don’t mind that at all. You know I just go out there and play. Whatever the records are that doesn’t bother me. I don’t really care about them too much. My main focus is to help this team win in anyway possible.”
On how surprised he was to see Tommy start the second half…
“Not surprised. I mean we have two great quarterbacks and it was Coach’s decision. He had to do whatever he had to do and we went with it. “
On whether he knew about it before he got on the field…
“No I didn’t know. It just came about to the whole team and we went with it.”
Kapron Lewis-Moore – Sr. – DE
On moving forward after this game…
“We’ve got to bounce back. We’ve got Michigan next week, so we have to do that. We need to make corrections from the film and we have to move on.”
On dealing with the rain delays…
“I’ve never been a part of anything like that since I’ve been here. That was something to get used to. At the end of the day, they had to deal with it too.”
On how South Florida performed …
“You’ve got to give South Florida credit. They came up here and won the game. That’s it. We’ve got to look at this film. We’ve got to move forward. We’ve got to think about Michigan.”
On playing through adversity…
“You’ve got to keep responding. You’ve got to keep going. No matter how the game goes, we have to still go out and do our thing.”
On the Notre Dame atmosphere…
“I didn’t know much about Notre Dame before coming here. This is a great place. I love it here. There’s no place like this. It’s special. It’s indescribable. You’ve got to be here. You’ve got to feel it to get it.”
Harrison Smith – Sr. – S
On moving forward after this game…
“This week is over now. We’re on to Michigan already. That’s all we can focus on.”
On coming out flat…
“I wouldn’t say we came out flat as an offense. We soldiered down the field pretty solidly. We had that turnover so I think that kind of pushed the momentum over to them. When something like that happens, you can’t get flat off that. As a defense we need to do something to spark everybody and say all right let’s keep rolling.'”
On dealing with the rain delays …
“That was kind of bizarre. It helped us out a little. It stopped their momentum. It was almost like a two-a-day for us. A lot of guys were saying it was like playing in high school when we came back out, which is kind of a different thing.”
On how USF’s offensive play affected their defensive tactics…
“Two of those (penalties) were mine and they were facemasks. I wasn’t trying to, but I did. I just can’t do that. Sometimes, especially the first game of the year, you just get caught up in the game. If you’re a good defense, you want to make plays. Part of that is being aggressive. We just need to eradicate the other stuff from our defense.”
Manti Te’o – Jr. – ILB
On evaluating the performance of the defense overall…
“I mean I think defensively we did okay. There were times where we could have made some more plays, but you know it’s a team. We’re going to win or lose as a team. So, we’ve just got to come back in and get better.”
On the delays and if the coach had tried to prepare the team for these types of delays…
“I don’t think you can ever anticipate what’s going to happen in football. It’s the first time for me that this has ever happened, but it happened. I’m just thinking about the game, not really thinking about the weather.
“I mean I think the most we knew was it’s going to be hot. We knew it was going to be pretty warm out. But yeah I don’t think anybody was expecting all of those delays.”
On what he tells the defense to get ready for next week…
“I just say keep doing what we’re doing. You know, learn from our mistakes and come back Monday and just make sure that things are all right. When an opportunity presents itself to make a big play, to make a game changing play, that we’re in the position we have to be to do what we need to. “
On what he thinks defense was successful with against USF…
“I think overall we just we played a pretty good game. But at the end of the day South Florida won. That’s all that matters.”
Cierre Wood – Jr. – RB
On the running game…
“I felt we made a presence. We did great. I think we just have to try to keep that going. We want to keep working on it from last year, but the big picture today wasn’t good and that’s what matters in our book. “
On the turnovers…
“I think we can work on the turnovers. I mean, those happen in a game and I think we can work on it.”
On staying focused…
“The game wasn’t over so we knew we still had things we had to do. Everyone was locked in 100%, from the minute the game started to the time it ended, we know what we have to do. The game was not done yet so we knew we had to keep going. Next time we have to start out better so we don’t get ourselves in such a hole.”
On the turnover at the goal line early in the game…
“That fumble was just a moment that we had. I don’t look at that as a defining moment, just an obstacle we have to overcome. The first half was a disaster, period. The second half we came out a lot stronger. When teams come in, you have to do what you have to do and put points on the board and we didn’t do that today. “
South Florida Player Quotes
B.J. Daniels – Jr. – QB
On coming back from the first delay …
“It was important that we came out kind of slow after the rain delay. It was important for us to put up a touchdown, not a field goal. I joke that field goals don’t count.”
On what this win does for the program …
“It’s big, it really is. To play Notre Dame is an honor. We had the opportunity to do it this year and we came out with a win. That helps us make that next step to do what we can to be a competitive team.”
On the fumble recovery …
“It took a lot of pressure off of us. They were moving the ball pretty fluidly and to pick up that ball and take it the way Kayvon did was very important.”
Evan Landi – Jr. – WR
On…having more players back this year
“It feels great, especially for someone like D.J., to look out there and see weapons all over the field. Sterling and A.J. both had numerous catches, big catches, and for them to come back and play like that was outstanding.”
On…the touchdown catch
“The line blocked well and B.J. made a beautiful throw and all I had to do was catch it to be honest. I saw it coming, and me and B.J. we click a lot and I knew where he was going to put it to be honest.”
Jon Lejiste – Jr. – DB
On turnover control …
“That was something the coaches emphasized. They showed us where we were ranked nationally as far as turnovers and that we needed to get more this year. We had four. It shows that we practiced all through camp getting the turnovers. If we don’t get a certain amount we have to run. It really paid off today.”
Quenton Washington – Sr. – CB
On the importance of play at the goal line …
“That’s one thing that our coach always says. In the red zone, the most we can give up is three, but try to give up none if you can. That’s one thing that we focused on.”
On feeling of Notre Dame coming out with nothing after driving all the way down …
“We had a don’t break mentality. Every time they would get down there, everyone just had the mindset of ‘I’m not going to let my teammate down’. Everyone stood up and did their responsibility and made the plays. When we do get one of those big stops, it’s a game changer.”
On the meaning of this game for Coach Holtz …
“We were aware that it was a big game for him, but we also know that every game is a big game for him. He prepared us just like any other game, and we went out there and executed the task.”
On the importance of turnovers …
“Our coaches stressed ‘turnovers, turnovers, turnovers,’ that’s what we want you to do this season. The coaches emphasized turnovers and just getting our hands on the ball. Try to get strips, interceptions, anything we can do to change the momentum of the game.”
On meaning of this game as a captain and senior …
“This was my last, first game for South Florida. This was a big game. I am just excited about the win, having great teammates and coaches. I couldn’t be happier.”
Kayvon Webster – Jr. – CB
On running down that sideline…
“I’m just happy to be there, catch the ball without tripping down the sideline and run it in for a touchdown.”
On sending Notre Dame away with nothing…
“Our team came out and helped each other. We focused on doing our job.”
On getting out of the gate…
“To have the momentum is something special. We came out and executed the plan the coaches laid out for us. Notre Dame’s a good team and our defense and offense just made plays.”