Nov. 17, 2012

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An interview with: NOTRE DAME COACH KELLY

COACH KELLY: We have a paradigm for winning. It’s something we talk about actually in our locker room. It’s called four quarters of winning. It starts with getting off to a quick start. We talk about getting off to that quick start how important that is in the first quarter. Second quarter is attention to detail. The third quarter is effort and enthusiasm, and the fourth quarter is finish strong. I think that came together in this football game more than any game we’ve played this year.

So four quarters of winning for us are those exact pieces that came together today. Getting off to a good start offensively I thought was going to be paramount for us so we can play with a lot of enthusiasm and not have to press and have all of the things that we’ve talked about during the year of not playing our best at home.

But we played very well today. We saved our butts for the last home game. The goal for all of us was to be undefeated this year at home. We’re able to achieve that goal, so our guys are pretty excited about that. We’ll really good about the accomplishment.

Q. I was going to ask you about the second string, third string quarterback pecking order, but I’ll move on.

COACH KELLY: Thank you.

Q. Do you feel like your team is getting better at this stage? Have you seen them surging?

COACH KELLY: I do. I think we’re playing really good football at this point offensively and defensively. Our special teams have been okay, but I think offensively we’re growing. We’re very explosive. We had nine explosive plays in the first half. I think if you can match with what we’ve done defensively, we’re playing pretty good football.

Q. You mentioned Thursday night you thought Everett had a really good week of practice. Talk about how he pulled that into today, and where you see him going still this year?

COACH KELLY: Obviously, he’s a guy that makes explosive plays. He’s got the ability to throw it. He can run the football. He’s elusive. I think we’re seeing a guy that’s growing each and every week. Now he made some mistakes that a young quarterback has a tendency to make. We’ve got to kind of slow him down a little bit. But he’s definitely on the right path to providing us the offense that we need.

Q. I don’t know if there’s a position that captures the essence of Notre Dame football more so than the tight end. Today Tyler sets a program record for receptions. I know you’ve talked about him ad nauseam. But is there a way to capture him and describe what he’s meant to this program ask what you see in him?

COACH KELLY: Well, I think it’s been a number of things in terms of what he’s meant. First of all, coming back, not going into the draft. Coming back to get his degree says so much about the Notre Dame football player and how important it is to have their degree, but to also play at the level that he’s played, to break the kind of records with the great tight ends that have been here at Notre Dame is an amazing feat.

Today we tried to get him the football, made incredible plays, as you know, down the field. So I think it’s a combination of a guy that understands Notre Dame, understands the value of a great education, and wanted to be on a championship football team. I think he epitomizes in terms of what we look for as a Notre Dame football player.

Q. You have pretty steadily focused one week at a time. But as it gets later and you played better, does it not get harder to think big picture and all that’s going on out there?

COACH KELLY: It’s easier now because we have one game left. So for us the focus and all of those things, not looking ahead, we don’t have to worry about that anymore. We have one game left on our schedule. Our guys know what’s at stake now. This is about an undefeated season. They cannot do anything else but beat USC. The rest is up to other people to decide. But they can clearly focus.

I told them tonight I’m proud of them. I voted them number one in the country for a reason because I think they’re the best team in the country, and I think they played like that tonight.

Q. Where do you start in terms of managing that energy and what’s at stake in one game?

COACH KELLY: Yeah, I understand the question. I think with one game left all their energies are focused on one goal, and that is to beat USC. This isn’t a group that plays with extra pressure. We’ll make sure they are able to go out and play the game the way it’s meant to be played. They haven’t done it all year. They haven’t played that way. They’ve played to win, and we’ll make sure we play to win on Saturday.

Q. You talked about giving Manti a sendoff there. Is there anything you said to them as they came off the field?

COACH KELLY: Yeah, I wanted to make it a special moment for the seniors on defense. They have been obviously the rock. They’ve carried us while we were trying to find ourselves offensively. It just seemed to me to be a pretty good gesture to allow us to honor those seniors.

Q. Can you talk about Cierre Wood, and what he’s brought to you as a football player?

COACH KELLY: Yeah, Cierre continues to do the job we ask him to do. We ran North and South, which that is the one thing that he’s continued to work on as a football player. He’s getting better. I mean, he’s got a long way to go, but he had a great night tonight.

I think we blocked well up front. He saw the things necessary to put his foot in the ground and play North and South. He’s a better football player when he goes North and South. I think he’s starting to understand that as well.

Q. With Everett and the explosive play that you mentioned, this was probably his best game with those plays. How has that materialized in his development?

COACH KELLY: Well, there are a number of things in terms of his development. He’s certainly seeing the field better. He’s getting the ball out on time, and he’s an elusive player. He can make plays out on the perimeter. He’s a very dangerous player if you’re trying to defend him.

We showed some option and you saw the way he connected in the option game. He will now be so much more difficult to defend, and we will as an offense be much more difficult to defend when you have those elements of play making outside the realm of your offense.

We’ve still got a ways to go. We made some poor decisions with the football, but he’s learning every day.

Q. Seeing Manti come out of the tunnel for the last time, what did see and feel from him?

COACH KELLY: They were loose; they were relaxed and excited about the game. We had talked about it all week playing with enthusiasm and let the emotions happen after the game. You could see the focus and all of our seniors had a great sense and feel that they were ready to play, and they were not going to be denied today. They were going to find a way to win the football game.

Q. Specifically Manti? What did you see from him?

COACH KELLY: His typical preparation. I didn’t see anything different, like being overly emotional or anxious or too hyped up for the game. The normal Manti Te’o is what I saw today.

Q. Beyond getting some of the seniors out that you talked about. Can you talk about being able to get some of those other guys in at the end of the game?

COACH KELLY: Yeah, it was really important for us to get a chance to see some of these guys that haven’t gotten a lot of play, because we haven’t had many games of this magnitude where we could get some guys in the game.

But Ben Councell getting a chance to play a lot, and Jalen Brown, guys that are still progressing, again, Romeo Okwara, you’ve got some freshmen, Nicky Baratti, we had a lot of true freshmen out there battling too. So it was good to see that at the end of the game, because that usually means you’re doing pretty good.

Notre Dame Player Quotes

Manti Te’o, Sr., Inside Linebacker

Q. Talk about what you’ve got on there?
Manti Te’o: A lot of love.

Q. From a lot of people?
Manti Te’o: Yeah, people that matter the most.

Q. So at this point, your thoughts on being undefeated?
Manti Te’o: It feels great. I don’t care about anything else other than winning and being part of this team. It feels great. Have to work on USC and beating USC.

Q. How was that senior walk? Was it what you expected?
Manti Te’o: Oh, yeah, everything and more. There was that moment, and then when coach took me out, that was another moment. So definitely two things I’ll always remember the rest of my life.

Q. Describe that moment when he called the timeout, and you and some of the other guys had to come out?
Manti Te’o: Just Magic. Like everything’s come full circle, just very grateful. For coach to do that, he could have easily taken us out and not even put us on the field. But it was a TV timeout, and he said I’m going to send you guys out there, and then I’m going to call a timeout, and one by one I’m going to sub you guys out. So that’s the type of coach that Coach Kelly is. I’m just very lucky to play for him.

Q. Is it a relief to finally get a game like this at home on Senior Day?
Manti Te’o: It’s just a relief for us to win in the fashion that we did, you know, just clicking on all cylinders and everybody is playing with a lot of enthusiasm and energy just on all sides of the ball and just getting after it.

Q. What came through your mind coming out of the tunnel for the last time?
Manti Te’o: I can’t believe this is the last time I’ll be playing here.

Q. When you talk to your dad or gave him that hug during that senior walk, was there anything he said to you in particular?
Manti Te’o: Just said he loves me and he’s so proud, and my mom, too. They’re just very proud, very, very proud.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
Manti Te’o: There are no words that can describe what this place means to me. I never thought that I’d a place besides Laie could be my home, and this has been my home and more. Just the love and everything that this community has done for me and for my team and for my family, really. I’m definitely very blessed to be here.

Q. Tears coming out on the field?
Manti Te’o: No, I was emotional, but I held it in and managed to hold it in. But I shed a few tears when I embraced my parents.

Q. Can you think of a better way to end your season than the last ten games as a shutout?
Manti Te’o: No, no. That’s the great way to end my career playing here in Notre Dame.

Q. Is it important for you guys to get a win in this manner?
Manti Te’o: I think it was just important for us to win. We can’t predict the score, but we can prepare in a way that will help us predict the score. Obviously, we wouldn’t have thought that the score would have been what it was. But we went to work all week and we’re going to continue to do that.

Q. Can you talk about the emotions of today and going into next week?
Manti Te’o: Yeah, it just gives us more energy knowing this is the last time. Not only is it the last game, it’s a game where we can actually do something and take this program to a place it hasn’t been in a long time. We understand it’s going to come down to the little things, really getting better every day. Not jumping two Saturdays, just every day getting better.

Q. What does it feel like when people chant your name?
Manti Te’o: Like I said, there are no words that can describe this place and how I felt at that time. Just pure joy, that’s joy.

Q. Looking at Facebook and Twitter, there are so many local people back home in Hawaii watching this game, and it’s because of you. You wanted to have an impact, and so many little kids. Do you have a special message that you want to say to them for their dream?
Manti Te’o: To the kids, dream big, dream big and go after it. Don’t let anybody say you can’t do it. If you really want to do something, go after it. There is nothing that can stop you. As long as on the way you keep proper and always listen to your parents. If it wasn’t for my parents and it wasn’t for my heavenly father, I wouldn’t be here. So I’m just really dream big, keep the faith, and always listen to your parents and you should be fine.

Q. One last question about Robby. I saw you go next to him on the senior day alma mater, closing it out with him by your side. What was that like?
Manti Te’o: It was the best story ever. To have my best friend here, my brother, I call him my twin. We obviously don’t look alike, but we’re basically the same person. To have him here and to see the joy in his eyes and to also send him out with a victory like that on his senior game was something that was really fulfilling for me.

Q. Did you get in the Gatorade bath?
Manti Te’o: Yeah, I’m the one that actually hit Coach Kelly. I was part of the cooler that actually got Coach Kelly. There was another cooler that got me and Cap. That was our way of showing our appreciation for our head coach.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
Manti Te’o: No, just all from my family. I had a Hornet flag on, but that’s back in the locker room.

Q. Can you talk about what’s coming up with USC? It’s a pretty special time right now.
Manti Te’o: Yeah, we understand it. There is no next week. It’s USC. There is no game after that. If we take care of USC, we’ll be fine. All we have to do is take care of USC and prepare the right way. USC is a really good team, as we all know. The USC Notre Dame game is always a battle. So we understand that and we’re going to prepare the way we know how.

Q. Pretty fitting for you because you started in a game between Notre Dame and USC, it comes down to that?
Manti Te’o: I just want to do whatever it takes to help my team win. At the end of the day, whatever that looks like, as long as we win, I don’t care.

Q. What was the biggest moment today for you?
Manti Te’o: Oh, man, there were a lot. Just running out there, going on the walk, knowing it’s my last time in the Basilica, a lot of lasts. Every time I hit one of those last moments, it’s chicken skin.

Q. Are you going to watch Oregon tonight?
Manti Te’o: I hope so. I’m hungry. So my family and I are going to go eat, and then hopefully I can lay down, relax and watch the game.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
Manti Te’o: No, I saw a lot of leis.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
Manti Te’o: No, I didn’t see that. That’s pretty cool though.

Q. Of all the lasts that you were talking about, what was the one that got you the most?
Manti Te’o: I think it was a tie between when I embraced my family and when I ran off the field for the last time. I entered the field for the last time, and I exited the field for the last time, those two moments.

Q. How would you sum up your four years?
Manti Te’o: A lot of highs and lows. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. These are the thing that’s money can’t buy this, what I’m wearing. It’s just an example of love. I’m just glad that I was able to make my family proud and bring Notre Dame to where it’s supposed to be. College football is a lot better when Notre Dame is good, at least that’s what I heard. So it’s definitely great to be Irish.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
Manti Te’o: We’ve got to take care of USC before we can be talking about what to do. We’ve got one more game to go. If we don’t beat USC, there is no need to say whether you deserve it or not. You have to beat USC first. You can ask me that question after.

Q. Do you have more leis here or at graduation?
Manti Te’o: No, at graduation, you’re covered. I wouldn’t be able to talk. I’ll have leis on my arms too. That’s very special about Hawaii.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
Manti Te’o: No, not really. Just another step in my life, and just another experience and another accomplishment.

Q. Do you have a quick prediction for (Indiscernible)?
Manti Te’o: Man, all I can say is I love both places. Good luck to both. It’s always nice. It’s always going to be a good game here, you know that. I’m a local boy. Raised in Koo Koo, but I will always go with the blue and gold. I have family on both sides. I can’t really say.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
Manti Te’o: It’s improved. It’s definitely become part of us. It’s not something we have to go out there and preach like get to the ball. It’s just something that’s part of us. Everybody sees the ball, everybody’s going to go. It’s something that’s really been the defense just going out there.

Q. The way you approached the game, the football part of it, how big is your preparation before the game?
Manti Te’o: Oh, it’s definitely big. The majority of the game is mental. I try to settle my nerves and my emotions. I just really settle down and relax to have that just controlled rage. That’s what I try to get before every game.

Q. You have a lot of fans in Mexico. Lot of kids playing high school football, college football. In terms of football practice, do you have any special message for those kids?
Manti Te’o: Take every day to get better. It takes every day. For me, my success on Saturday doesn’t come on Saturday. It comes throughout the week. Saturday should just be a celebration, a celebration of all the work you put in throughout the week. Saturdays should be easier than the week. So, for us, that’s what we try to do every week. When they step out on the field and they notice that the game seems to be moving slow for them, that’s because they’ve put in the game throughout the week.

Q. At the end of the week, how big is it for you to play on Sunday?
Manti Te’o: For me, to be honest with you, I’ll worry about that when the time comes. I’m more worried and focused on USC and making sure that we take care of USC. The thing on Sunday will come.

Q. How hard is it now with the BCS?
Manti Te’o: I think personally it’s easy because all that noise can’t be possible if we don’t beat USC. So when you think of it in that aspect, it’s pretty easy to just avoid everything.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
Manti Te’o: You know, I’m not going to worry about it. I could literally just go eat, go to sleep, and wake up tomorrow and figure out what happened. I’m not too concerned.

Everett Golson, Soph., Quarterback

Q. Give us the keys to the game?
Everett Golson: I thought everything came together today. There were still some things that we’ve got to work on collectively, and I’ve got to work on with myself. A couple of throws out there, like the one that Eifert did get, it could have been a pick but it actually should have been a pick. But you’ve got one of the best tight ends in the country out there with Eifert going up there and getting it. So I was pretty grateful with that.

Q. Coach Kelly came out of practice Thursday and couldn’t wait to say your name when we were asking about guys continuing to make progress. What did you do this week to make him so happy and make him think you’re ready to take the next step?
Everett Golson: Actually, Wednesday night I was kind of acting like a little like Peyton manning and stuff like that. I wanted to emulate that the next day in practice. I think that’s what he was so proud about is making the correct checks and showing that we’ve been getting the concepts.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
Everett Golson: Definitely, definitely. This is one of the most important games for us. We’re not going to move ahead at all. We’ll just focus on USC.

Q. After all these close games at home, what’s it mean for you and the team to finally have a game like this?
Everett Golson: It means a lot. Like I said, Wake Forest presented a challenge to us. It required a lot of film study and different looks like that. But it’s really as a team, we really prepared this whole week and we came out and executed tonight.

Q. How much do you think you’ve grown over the course of the year?
Everett Golson: That’s kind of funny. Me and Theo were talking about that later on in the game. He reminded me there were times in the beginning when I wanted to grab the play clock. I wanted to wear out the play clock, and I was rushing and everything. But I think I’ve progressed a lot and that’s with the help of these coaches.

Q. When did it click for you?
Everett Golson: I don’t know. I can’t really put an exact time period on it. Like I said, I think I progressed throughout the year. Just coming from where I was in the beginning to now, just working with Coach Martin and Coach Kelly. They’ve been very helpful.

Q. Do you feel as an offense you’re starting to carry your weight and helping the defense on the field a little bit?
Everett Golson: Yeah, being that I am on offense, but you want to kind of pull your own weight. But like I said, my development with the help of Coach Martin and Coach Kelly has come a long way. I think that comes to how we play and how we execute.

Q. With your explosiveness (Indiscernible)?
Everett Golson: Yeah, I think so. I think we’ve got too many athletes that can throw pitch and catch here and stuff like that. If we have the talent, I think we should come to play.

Q. How exactly do you emulate Peyton Manning in practice?
Everett Golson: I was just going through checks. Most of the checks are something that we’ve never gone over or things like that. But just like I said just showing that I actually had the concepts and knowing where I wanted to get the ball, that’s what he was so proud of, me kind of progressing. Like I said, he saw all that progression and what they instilled in me.

Q. You’re running up and down the line?
Everett Golson: Yeah.

Q. What did he say about that?
Everett Golson: He was just like I said, he was just proud.

Q. I noticed today after the interception you went straight to the sidelines and got the head set on. Who were you talking to?
Everett Golson: Usually I talk to both Coach Kelly and Coach Martin. After the interception, they basically told me I agree with it. But you can’t look back. You’ve got to keep going and progress.

Q. You were trying to get every senior a touchdown, weren’t you?
Everett Golson: Yeah, I actually was (laughing).

Q. (Indiscernible) that tip to Cierre, was that almost like a confidence builder?
Everett Golson: I don’t think so. I think BC played that different than the way Wake Forest played it. They were kind of slow, but at the end of the day they were getting to me. Where BC they slow played it. I was able to run it.

Q. It seems like they played (Indiscernible).
Everett Golson: Yeah, I think that’s an important piece of my game. I think that’s what the coaches see in me. If something does happen to break down, that I’ll try to make a play and try my best to make a play.

Q. How much of a span has your play in four years or four months ago?
Everett Golson: It’s tremendous. It’s starting to open up a lot now. You go back to Wake Forest and like goals and slots, they’re starting to open up a little bit. I guess they have the confidence in me now that I can handle all of that.

Q. Talk about not winning what you were supposed to win by or being in close games and not having (Indiscernible)?
Everett Golson: I don’t really get into that. I mean this year we don’t really have style points and things like that. But one thing we do is we have a way to win games.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
Everett Golson: I think that was me just kind of being not really understanding what they wanted to do. But as the season progressed, I really kind of hung in there myself and learned that I had to kind of modify and listen to what they were doing.

Q. Do you take it to heart more? Do you listen differently? How is it different?
Everett Golson: I think it was honestly probably thinking of myself a little bit at the beginning of the season. But now it’s different because I see the end results and gotten so close.

Q. What developed that habit or got the light on? What changed?
Everett Golson: I mean, I think the players, like I said, the players just building that confidence and letting me know they have my back and stuff and coaches also.

Q. Coach talked about getting offense, 31 0 in the first half, you must have been happy to live up to that?
Everett Golson: Yeah, I was pretty happy for the success. But at the same time, I was kind of mad about a couple of throws that I could have made. Talk about that interception. It was a terrible decision, really terrible decision. I kind of came to the line and looked like a rookie a little bit.

Q. As one of the young guys on the team, what do these seniors mean to you to send them out this way?
Everett Golson: Oh, it means a lot. You know, you’ve got on the offense, you’ve got the O line, those guys have really rallied around me and really helped me. Many times we’ve been in the film room together and shave shown me things, and I feel like I’ve paid it back to them a little bit more.

Q. You guys probably embraced this one more game. You always talk about winning the next game. But do you feel like it’s a little bit bigger this week?
Everett Golson: As far as I’m concerned, my head is down. My foot’s on the gas. I’m never going to look up and lose focus. My thing is just keep your head down and keep pushing it.

Q. When you were a young guy and in a low scoring game (Indiscernible)?
Everett Golson: I think it was. I think you’re not in high school anymore. So I think my high school team, they were pretty good. Kind of spread the ball and put up a lot of points.

Q. When did it turn?
Everett Golson: It wasn’t really a time period. It was just with the help of Coach Martin and Coach Kelly (Indiscernible) and them showing me everything I need to know.

Q. There was no frustrating examples being at home wondering what’s going on? (Indiscernible.)
Everett Golson: I think it was. Like I said, my teammates are what got me here. (Indiscernible) having those guys around me, really did help.

Q. Do you compartmentalize it after you leave the game?
Everett Golson: No, not really. I do everything I can do.

TJ Jones, Jr., Wide Receiver

On the upcoming game against USC…
“You just treat it like it is every other game. You can’t think of it more, you can’t think of it less; you just go into USC like we have every other week. We prepare the same way, we practice the same way; we don’t do anything different. I just think we can’t think about it too much. When you start to worry about that and you start to do things that you weren’t doing all year long, that’s when you get out of your game and you’re playing a way you haven’t all year. I just think we could maybe practice a little harder and be more focused, pay more attention to detail in the film room, small things like that. As far as the bigger picture, there’s not much to change.”

On the USC scores announced over the loud speakers during the game…
“A lot of times you don’t even really hear it. I mean, you’re thinking about the play on the field, you’re talking about things to change; you’re talking about what’s happening. You don’t really pay attention to the scores you hear and all that.”

On saving the best game for last…
“I think it was, I think at the end of the season we are peaking and that was the plan all along. With every game we are just getting better.”

<>>On Coach Kelly’s words after the game…
“He just said way to play, way to play hard. Celebrate tonight, come Monday, even tomorrow, we start thinking about USC and preparing for it.

Louis Nix III, Jr., Nose Guard

On first shutout of the year…
“It felt great. From the beginning of the year, to just coming in as a freshman, coach always wanted us to be dominant. Dominant is what we strive to be and tonight I guess we did.”

On the defense…
“Like I’ve said before, there’s a lot more to clean up; a lot of opportunities for us to get to. We still have a long way to go; just strive to be the best defense, and be at that number one spot. We’re not there yet though.”

On the Notre Dame offense…
“I think as a team we are just improving every week and I guess you can see that. Everett is playing better, guys like Chris Brown and all those guys coming up, that’s just a whole defense and whole offense as a team we are developing.”

On the upcoming game against USC…
“You know, it’s a big game every year. It’s a big rivalry. They beat us last year and we want to come back with a vengeance. You take every game one at a time and it’s the last game so we want to play our best, give it our all, and just go 12-0.”

Danny Spond, Jr., Outside Linebacker

On the defense playing well…
“Especially on senior night, that’s the way that you want to go out. You try to bring as much glory as you can to these seniors, they lay it on the line every day and that’s what we came to do.”

On the seniors as leaders on the field…
“They’ve taught me, they’ve taught all of us how to play the game, and as a rising senior next year I’m going to do all I can to finish the season the way they’d want.”

On seeing Manti’s leave the field on his last game…
“I couldn’t be happier for the kid-I was so excited. We’re all brothers out there and I couldn’t be more excited or happy for him.”

John Goodman, GS, Wide Receiver

On the attitude of the seniors at the end of the game…
“The vibe on the field is definitely different this year because we’re 11-0, we’ve got one more game to play, and it’s USC at USC. We all knew it was our last game but it kind of sunk in during the fourth quarter when guys started coming out. But we realize we’ve got a lot left to play for this season.”

On what the offense showed today…
“We showed our explosiveness and what we could do on the field. We had a lot of spurts throughout the season but I think really tonight it showed throughout the whole game.”

On taking it one game at a time…
“Tonight really showed what we could do overall and we work the whole season to be able to do that every single play. It’s just we really put it together tonight and we really looked good and hopefully we can continue that through the next few games.”

On Everett Golson’s performance…
“Everett, man. He played the best game of his life and it just shows how much he’s grown as a person and as a player…He is taking his coaching and taking his leadership and he’s the guy that we want to lead us to the promise land.”

Zack Martin, Sr., Offensive Tackle

On executing the game plan…
“We’ve talked all year and this is the first game at home that we really started fast, finished strong, we were sold in the middle. We put it all together tonight and played a great game today.”

On the vibe before this game compared to others…
“You’re always going to have some extra emotion for Senior Day and you want to go out there and play as hard as you can for guys when it’s their last game, and that’s what we did tonight.”

On the offense establishing itself…
“We’ve talked all year about that. The defense is great and they do their job and we’ve got to be doing something besides doing “just enough” to win the game. All the coaches have been harping throughout the season that it’s going to click and I think it’s finally starting to do that. And this is definitely the time of year for it to start clicking on offense.”

Kapron Lewis-Moore, GS, Defensive End

On the turnout of the game…
“Going undefeated at home is always a big deal, but we now have to get ready for USC and right now that’s the most important thing.”

On what it felt like coming off of the field at the end of the game…
“There were all sorts of emotions-happiness, joy-I’m just happy I didn’t cry. It’s awesome-thinking about where I’ve been in the past five years and where we are now, it’s surreal.”

On whether this game was the best of the season…
“I’m not sure. I mean, we’ve still got one more game, so hopefully we can make the next game our best game.”

On finally being able to focus on the USC game…
“It’s nice because I can finally say that USC is the next game and we’ve got to focus on USC. It’s going to be a dog fight like it always is, and we’re excited to go out to California and get a good night’s battle with them.” It’s USC so you really don’t need to get everyone riled up; when it’s a rivalry you don’t need a lot of talking to get people excited about this game.

On the shutout…
“It’s awesome. With defense, you want to keep the points off the board and tonight we kept the points off the board. We want to keep taking small steps forward and being the number one defense.”

Tyler Eiffert, Sr., Tight End

On his record-setting reception…
“I was really happy to have it, and just happy I don’t have to think about it anymore. Coach Kelly said to me, ‘If you drop this, we’re not throwing it to you for the rest of the game,’ so I made sure I caught it.”

On the upcoming game against USC…
“We started thinking about it as soon as the game was over. As you can tell, no team has been easy to beat this year so we wanted to make sure that we took care of Wake Forest, but now we can get to work on SC. We know what’s at stake and how badly we want it, so we’re just going to go out there and lay it on the line like we have all year and make it happen.”

On the highlight of the game…
“When they told me I was done and I looked up into the student section and they were starting the third down chant. I was just looking up and thinking, “I’m not going to get this chance again.” Everyone’s been telling me to take it in and that’s what I did.”

An interview with: WAKE FOREST COACH GROBE

COACH GROBE: How about questions?

Q. (No Audio)?

COACH GROBE: Yeah, that hurt us. I thought one of the things we needed to try to do is hang in there in the first half, and we got too far behind and that certainly didn’t help. That put us down 14 0 with the next drive. But this was just a day where Notre Dame was too much for us to handle.

I’d like to say that Josh’s fumble got it going the wrong way, but they played great today, and we just weren’t enough for them.

Q. Was it a case where they had everything working offense, defense, and the whole package, really?

COACH GROBE: I think so. We knew coming in, we were going to have issues with their defense. Everybody has. They might be the best defensive football team in the country. We’ve struggled this year offensively. So we knew that was going to be a challenge for us coming in. What we needed to do is make more plays defensively and try to stay in it.

But they had four or five individual efforts going for passes that were just phenomenal efforts, where we were around and had a chance to compete but didn’t make a play.

I thought that Wood ran the ball very good today. The quarterback was very loose, gave us a lot of problems on the perimeter and couldn’t contain on bootlegs. They just played great football today.

Q. Were you a little happy you were able to control it in the second half? You didn’t score, but at least you guys held in there a little bit.

COACH GROBE: Well, I think they had the good lead and they didn’t need to get real flashy. They took it easy on us. I told our guys in the locker room after the game that I couldn’t be more proud of how hard they played. I thought we played classy. We didn’t get chippy. We got behind, and I thought our guys gave great effort there in the second half.

They got to play a lot of players. We got to play a lot of players, and I think a lot of kids got a chance to get on the field today. But by halftime they pretty much closed us out. We hoped to come out and start the first drive of the second half. We felt like if we could get a score on our first drive and got a couple of first downs and had to punt the ball back. But we just never could make it a game today. They played great.

Q. I wondered if you could talk about Everett Golson, his play, and did he surprise you at all?

COACH GROBE: I tell what you impressed me with that kid today is how accurately he threw the football. We knew that he was going to be a problem for us with his feet, either running the football or making plays out of the pocket. I was just I couldn’t be more impressed with how accurately he threw the football, especially two or three of the deep balls.

A couple times we felt like we had a chance to get off the field, and he threw a couple of out routes that were money. I thought the kid played great tonight. I think what impressed us as much as anything is how well he threw the football. They had some pretty good guys to throw it to too.

Q. Along the lines of pretty good guys to throw it too, talk about Tyler Eifert and his impact in the two years that you’ve had to scout him and figure out a defense to contain him?

COACH GROBE: What we find so often in tight ends is they’re one or the other. They’re big guys, really good blockers, or they’re undersized guys that can run and catch a football. He’s the perfect combination. He’s a good blocker. He did some good stuff in the run game, very athletic, and has some great hands. A couple of times tonight they had really, really good coverage. They just went up and took the ball away from us. A great player, and one of the few tight ends that I’ve seen that has the ability he’s got to not only block but kept the football. Really, really fine receiver.

Q. From your perspective, if Notre Dame can close out next week, should Notre Dame be in the National Championship Game?

COACH GROBE: Yeah, no question about it, but maybe there are a couple others that should be too. That is kind of the deal right now. We’ve played three Top 10 teams. All of them great teams: Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame. I can’t imagine anybody from what I saw today, playing better than Notre Dame. But I think there are some other really, really good teams.

So they’ve impressed me today. I guess there will be a lot of other people that make that call. But I think they’re as good a team as anybody in the country.