Nov. 21, 2009

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An interview with:


COACH EDSALL: I’m just so proud of those kids over in the locker room and those assistant coaches. We persevered today, and ended up making just a couple of plays at the end that we hadn’t been able to make in some of our other games against what I think is an outstanding football team.

We’re just thankful that we were able to finally put together a win, so now we can take a game ball and send it down to Joe, Angela and Henry and David, and the Howard family. Because I know one thing, that little number 6 was up there looking down on us today. He gave Blidi and Dwayne something special today, because those two kids played very, very well against some outstanding receivers.

Like I said, it’s just to come out here to Notre Dame, and to play in this stadium which I can remember our kids really don’t remember, but the history, the tradition that goes with this place and to be seven years at an FBS school, just a remarkable feat by those young men.

We’re just very, very proud to win and know that we have to stay humble and stay hungry because we still have other things that we still would like to accomplish.

But there is no doubt that this is the biggest and best win that we’ve had so far in the short time that we’ve been an FBS school. Any questions?

Q. Can you describe what that locker room was like afterward when you went in there?

COACH EDSALL: Well, you know, it was happy. But we expected they expected to win. They did. They had the mindset that we were going to come out here ask win. It wasn’t, to me, it wasn’t an upset. It wasn’t an upset to our kids. We knew we could come out here and win if we just went and executed and did the things that our God given ability would allow us to do.

So it wasn’t, I don’t know, it wasn’t off the charts. There was one where they were happy and very excited. But not surprised.

Q. Can you talk about your running game getting going late in the second half and in the overtimes what got it going for you?

COACH EDSALL: Well, we just I think our offensive line did a tremendous job. They just did a tremendous job. Then when you have Jordan and you have Andre, two outstanding running backs that want to carry the ball and want to touch it as many times as they can and follow their blockers, and they’re patient, that’s what happens.

We just feel like we always can get stronger as the game goes on. I think that’s what happened with our offensive line. I think we got stronger as the game went on, and I think we might have wore them down a little bit in the second half.

I know this, I got to say this, too. Coach Richardson, we love you. We know you buried your mother today, and I think those kids, Jordan and Andre, ran a little bit harder today with his absence.

But those two kids have been great. Anthony Sherman and Anthony Davis did a good job of blocking you know, we’re a team that’s going to run the football. We run because we think you have to run the football. Especially in those situations, it proved to be true.

Q. You said it was important for Zach to stay with the game plan. Do you think that he did stay? How did you evaluate him?

COACH EDSALL: I thought he was very nervous to start. I thought he had jittery feet, which would be understandable. But as the game went on I thought he settled down.

Again, I’m so happy for him. For him to be able to come out here and lead his team to a victory and, again, there is no animosity from Zach towards Notre Dame. He got caught in a numbers game. That’s all it is.

But I know it’s got to be special for him to lead his team. I thought after like the first quarter he settled down and started to play a little bit more within himself.

Q. Did you have any deja vu after the two holding calls and the missed field goal that was going to end up like two of your other games?

COACH EDSALL: I said here we go again. You sit there on the sideline. You’re staying positive, and you’re thinking what you’re going to tell them when they make the field goal. Boom. You miss that. We have those holding calls. Again, they might have been good calls. We’ll see. If they’re not, we’ll submit them. Bottom line was this time we found a way to win, and that’s what we did.

Q. Can you talk about the defensive adjustments you made in the second half?

COACH EDSALL: We really didn’t make any. We didn’t make any. Basically what we did, we made some adjustments after the first drive. You know, they showed some tendencies, they showed some tendencies coming into the game, so we were basing our calls on the tendencies that we saw on film when they were in the gun or under the center.

In the second half they kind of went away from that a little bit, because they figured that we were on. But what we did we just stayed with what we did. We went to more of a 3 D zone.

But the whole game plan coming in is that we wanted to when they run the gun, we wanted to just bang the crap out of those two outstanding receivers that they had. And they started running some slants, so what we did is we moved our guys inside in cover 2 to be able to break on those slants.

Like I said, I thought Dwayne and Blidi and most especially Blidi really made some big plays in the game. But we really didn’t make any adjustments. We just said we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, and that’s what we did, and we just executed better.

Q. A couple weeks ago Dwayne and Blidi were taking pretty good for Cincinnati, much more physical, much more confident today. How did you get them to play like that?

COACH EDSALL: You know, we just told them to go out and play hard. Don’t worry about anything. Just whatever happens on one play, let it go and move on. You know, we were all over them in practices, you know, just in terms of being physical and get your hands on people and doing those things. And they went and did that. They’re two young kids that grew up big time today.

Q. Tuesday you told us this was just another game, but it looked like your on the field interview after the game, you looked a little emotional. Do you care to clarify this now and say this is more than just a game for you and your program?

COACH EDSALL: It’s just another game, but you’ve got to understand the human part of this, and you’ve got to understand what this team has gone through. A couple of close games, and then you lose a teammate, you lose a brother, you lose a son, and you’re trying so hard to honor him by winning on the field. We hadn’t done that.

So that first win that we were going to get was going to be special, and what better place than here? We converted a Notre Dame priest out here to a UCONN priest, Father Sullivan. So he helped us out a little bit. But it is emotional. If it wasn’t emotional, to me, you’re not human.


COACH WEIS: All right, fire away.

Q. Clear their run game was obviously pretty effective as the game wore on. How was it effective?

COACH WEIS: There were two separate issues. I think that one they made some yards on the stretch play, not the counterplay, but the stretch play where we had the edge set and we had people in position to make the play. We just didn’t make the play, especially that first touchdown run. We had a lot of people in place to make it. We just didn’t make the play. And next thing you know, he makes a cutback and takes it to the house.

What they really made hay on in this game was both the power and the counter series where we had penetration inside. He they’d bounce it to the outside, and on those plays we didn’t have the upset, and there were a lot of easy yards for them.

Q. You described you had to talk to the guys?

COACH WEIS: I waited until to really deal with it until we got inside. It was just as I described to you guys before, there’s a lot of guys that were very emotional right now. Emotional, you lose the game. That’s part of the emotion.

But the finality of that being your last opportunity to play for the University of Notre Dame, I think it’s gut wrenching.

Q. People are going to be wondering about the direction of the program. Is there an argument you can say, hey, things are on the right track?

COACH WEIS: Yeah, I’m glad you’re the first one to go ahead and address that one, Brian. Today’s not the day for me to reflect on things like that. I mean today’s the day for me to be worrying about those guys, those 33 guys.

I really feel absolutely miserable for those 33 guys. And as I’ve said the other day and I’ve never been a hypocrite before. I come in here and start talking about me I’m really barking up the wrong tree, because those guys are the guys I should feel for today. I’ll worry about me tomorrow. But I think today I should be worrying about them.

Q. Came out with so much momentum. Looked like things were rolling your way. What do you think changed the momentum?

COACH WEIS: We had no huddle going. Had the first drive. Went down and scored. Then we got stopped in the second one. Went down and scored again. We’re sitting okay at halftime.

They had really made one play on offense, and that was that stretch cut run that we were just talking about. They got a field goal to make it 14 10. Get the ball to start the second half and go right down the field again with change modes which we had practiced. This is what we’re going to do. Go from a multiple wide receiver package to a more condensed package to hammer at them.

We knew we were going to do it. We just didn’t know when we were going to do it. We didn’t know if that would show up in the second quarter, third quarter. But we did it to start off the third quarter. Wen right down the field. Had to settle for a field goal.

When it is 17 10, you score the first drive of both halves, and you’re feeling okay. You have the game under control. And now you have a kickoff return for a touchdown. Now all of a sudden, there was a big swing, big mood swing on the field. Things got settled down there, we ended up taking the lead. They ended up kicking one to tie it up and a chance to win at the end.

So that’s the way our teams have been positioned. When you give up a kickoff return for a touchdown in a 17 10 game, it’s a big momentum swing as it is in any other game. Puts you in a position and put UCONN in a position where they had a legitimate chance to win in the game, which they did.

Q. Got a lot of Miles out of Ruffer again, and a kid that hasn’t had a lot of kicks in his career. What happened with Tausch?

COACH WEIS: You’re not going to believe. If I told you, you wouldn’t believe. But I’ll tell you anyway. We’re in practice on Wednesday. Nick went out there he kicked 7 kicks and six out of seven and one kick is a bad snap.

So we’re feeling good about it. We go out in warm ups, and the last kick after stretching we go ahead and punt the ball once, kicks the one field goal and he says he can’t kick. That’s when we found out he couldn’t kick. But the last thing before we walked in to go out to walk up the tunnel, it’s just an extra point we’re kicking, and he said he couldn’t go.

So thank God for Ruffer. Think about the situation Ruffer was in. That field goal in overtime, even though it’s not a long one, that’s a pressure kick. For a guy that’s playing inter hall football last year, to step up and make that kick, I give him a lot of credit.

Q. Describe what happened there coming out of the tunnel that interlocked arms?

COACH WEIS: You would have to ask them about that. I had no idea they were going to do that. They just told me they wanted to come back after the 33 seniors were introduced. They wanted to come back. I was standing in the back because I hobble out there as I always do. And getting up front for what? And they said we’re walking out together, and so be it. That’s what you want, that’s what we’ll do.

I looked at Olsen, had a couple of choice words for him. Because it was probably his idea. But it was nice that they wanted that, they wanted to do that. But at the end of the day, that just goes to the start of the game, and what it came down to is playing football.

Q. In terms of playing football after the game. What do you tell the group of seniors? I know you said that Syracuse was a big regret?

COACH WEIS: Yeah, strike up the band for that one a second time around. I feel miserable. No one cares more about these kids short term and long term than me. I don’t worry about them just now, just today or just next week. I worry about them and their lives, which is part of this job right here.

We talked about trials and tribulations in your life how you’re going to have ups and downs, and you’re going to have lows like today, and you’re going to have highs. I wasn’t turning it into a learning experience. I was just being very practical saying this is the way life goes.

When you come to Notre Dame, you’re just a kid. Just an 18 year old kid who thinks you have all the answers to all the questions in the free world. When you leave here, you leave a grown man, ready to face the real world. Some of you are going to go play in the NFL. Most of you aren’t. You’re going to go get jobs and use your Notre Dame degree to go out and take care of yourself.

And I think that was very important that they understood, you know, that there’s a lot of time and effort that’s been put into this program from these kids on and off the field. And it’s time for them to start thinking about going forward.

Q. Saw you kind of sought out Zach after the game. What did you say to him and what did you think of his play today?

COACH WEIS: I didn’t want to see him before the game, because I thought that would be a distraction. I didn’t think it would be fair to him to do that. So I wanted to make sure I saw him after the game to congratulate him and wish him well.

Because when Zach left, he didn’t leave on bad terms. He just left. You know, as tough as it is for me to lose a game, you know, one of our ex players is playing over there. I just wanted to make sure I congratulated them.

I saw a bunch of the UCONN players. They’ve been through a tough year since the death. I know that the game was just as important to both teams. I just wanted to let their guys know as much as I hate losing, which I do. I hate losing. For those guys I just wanted to make sure I wished them well.

Q. Couple of tough 15 yard personal fouls. Can you comment on what happened with those?

COACH WEIS: More specific because I’m trying to remember?

Q. There was the one on the personal foul?

COACH WEIS: Yeah, that was a foul on Sergio. It was 3rd and long. They’re punting. The guy’s out of bounds. The play is over with. It just wasn’t a very smart play. And we had another one with Toryan over in front of our bench. To tell you the truth, I didn’t see that one because it was so far deep into our bench that the guy had to tell me what happened because I never even saw it happen, to tell you the truth.

Q. Taking the field might be as emotional as we’ve seen you. Talk about what you’re feeling at that moment?

COACH WEIS: I’m pretty emotional. I just try not letting you see it. You know, the fact here’s the only thing that got me was the fact that they wanted to do this and they wanted me up there, that meant a lot to me. You know, that’s all I can say, you know.

I’m really proud of these kids. I’m really disappointed for them, especially those guys. Those guys up at the front of that list, I really, really truly feel bad for them.

Q. Did you say anything to Armando after the game?

COACH WEIS: Yeah, I mean, he’s in the tank, you know. You know, he had a lot of good runs in the game. A couple of really couple of plays that ended up hurting. But you can’t just look at any one player in a game like this. There’s plenty of opportunities in there for the game to be won or lost. He’s just one of the guys who had an opportunity.

Q. Right at the end of that last winning play Toryan was running up the sidelines?

COACH WEIS: We were going to try to call a timeout on the play but it never got acknowledged. I said just run down there. They’re down there close so there is no one standing on your sideline. So they’re just running down there trying to give us a little more time to make sure we had seen their formation.

We call it the Kodak timeout. You see what their formation is, then you call the timeout. So you see the picture. You see the picture so you can make sure you have exactly the defense you want there are. But we never saw him. He’s running down there, but I never saw them.

Hey, we had a defense lined up and they ran it in there, so I’m not complaining. But we were trying to get a timeout on the play once we saw what their offensive formation was.

Jimmy Clausen

Q. (Asking about Coach Weis walking upfront with the players out of the tunnel.)

Jimmy Clausen: It was an idea that myself and two other guys had.

Q. What was the thinking?

Jimmy Clausen: Just us being behind Coach Weis 110%. You know, he’s leading the program, and, you know, we just want to show him support.

It was Senior Day, but Coach Weis has gone through a lot. And we’re behind him 110%, and that’s what we were trying to do today.

Q. What was that moment like?

Jimmy Clausen: You know, it was really special. He had tears coming down his face. You know, it’s just hard that we couldn’t get a victory for all those seniors and Coach Weis, too.

Q. What are you feeling about him right now? Obviously there are a lot of question marks about his future.

Jimmy Clausen: To be honest, I’m really not thinking about that at all right now. I’m just really disappointed that all the seniors had to go out this way.

Q. Is there a scenario you could be back this year?

Jimmy Clausen: Yes, there is definitely. I haven’t talked to my family, Coach Weis or haven’t talked to anybody about the future. I was just worrying about today and getting the victory.

I’m going to go in tomorrow, watch the tape. See what I could have done better in the game to help us win, and get ready to go out to California and play Stanford.

Q. If Coach Weis isn’t back, would that definitely make your decision?

Jimmy Clausen: Like I said, I’m not going to think about it right now. I haven’t thought about it yet. I’m just going to get ready to go out to California to play Stanford.

Q. Do you feel you played your hardest?

Jimmy Clausen: Yeah. I go out there each and every day playing my hardest. Whether I make a few mistakes or bad throws, you know, it’s going to come with playing quarterback. But I go out there each and every day to give it my all.

Q. From where you were three weeks ago to this point, sum up how difficult this three week stretch has been?

Jimmy Clausen: It’s been really difficult. Obviously, you don’t want to lose. Just losing by very little, just those are the tough ones. You know, it’s just really hard to swallow.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Notre Dame Player Quotes

#55 Eric Olsen – C – Sr.

On his emotions after the loss…
I have a lot invested in this program and this University, and I’ve been through a lot during my four years. There were a lot of ups and downs, and it’s just sad to see it come to an end.

On the changes from the first half to the second half of the game…
Obviously, we weren’t executing to perfection, which is tough to do in any football game. They (Connecticut) made some adjustments. It was a tough game, and things just didn’t go our way.

On the team walking out of the tunnel with Coach Weis…
We just wanted to show that we’re behind our coach, and we’re with him 100 percent.

On what he’ll tell the team to get ready for Stanford…
Obviously, you can’t hang your head. It’s really disappointing. Just look at what Stanford has done the last few weeks.

#28 Kyle McCarthy – S – Sr.

On what he reflected on after the game…
Just the relationships I’ve made in the past five years. I’ve made a lot of friends, and I just tried to soak it all up.

On how the season has fallen short of expectations…
I would’ve laughed in your face if you had told me this is what would happen. We can’t point fingers. We can only point back at ourselves.

On the team walking out of the tunnel with Coach Weis…
A couple of the guys had the idea, and they brought it to the captains. We thought it was a great idea. We support Coach Weis, and he supports us. We’re a team. I thought it worked out well.

On his walk up the tunnel after the game…
It was pretty difficult. I love this place, and I grew up a Notre Dame fan. It’s just tough.

#23 Golden Tate – WR – Jr.

On losing the last home game of the season…
I’m just sad for the seniors more than anything else. Even the fifth-year guys, they’ve got to remember two losses. So I’m just upset that I didn’t make enough plays and we didn’t get the job done.

On the difference between the first quarter and the other three quarters…
I think it was probably a lot of the same stuff. Those guys were very physical with us and they did a good job of that.

On how he would assess his own performance…
From afar it looks like I cleaned up and had a good game but I don’t know maybe if that last chance we had maybe if I had gotten open maybe we could score, maybe we would have gone into another overtime. I don’t think that was my best performance.

On how the season has gone…
It’s just tough. Sitting at 6-2 you know we had a chance to do some special things, and then it’s just all taken from you. And playing close games, at some point it happens unfortunately.

#22 Harrison Smith – S – Jr.

On the outcome of the game…
I’m disappointed, especially for the seniors that we couldn’t send them out the way they deserved to be sent out for all the work and the effort that they put into this program.

On Coach Weis walking out with the players from the tunnel at the beginning of the game…
We just wanted to come out with Coach Weis as a team and that’s just how we wanted to do it all together.

On whether the team feels closer to one another due to what has happened this season…
I would say so. When everybody’s against you, it kind of forces everybody to be that much closer.

On the mood in the locker room after the game…
You can’t really describe it. It’s just disappointed and it’s just sad as I’ve ever been.

On what Connecticut changed in the second half to be more successful…
They just kept pounding it with two tight ends and two backs and they just kept running it. I thought we did a decent job with it, but they popped a couple.

#48 David Ruffer – K – Jr.

On getting involved with the football team…
That wasn’t the plan originally, but once I got in my next thought was to try to play football. That was the second step. I just tried to help out around here.

On the short notice that he would start…
It was right before the series went off that I found out I was going to start. I misheard the coin flip and thought we were going to take the ball, so I started kicking field goals. Brandon Walker had to yell at me to kickoff.

On being called upon to kick…
There is still some nervousness, but that’s good because it means you care, especially on that last PAT. I’ve been working on it in practice a lot. If you get a lot of reps that is fine, but it’s really just mental. It wasn’t a competing thing. [Nick] Tausch is better than I am, so if Tausch is ready to go he kicks.

#58 Brian Smith – LB – Jr.

On what he told the seniors after the game…
There are a lot of people in the world who couldn’t dream of what they’ve done, so they need to keep their heads up.

On walking out with Coach Weis before the game…
Coach Weis has gotten a lot of slack from the media, and we just want to let him know that we’re behind him.

On the mood in the locker room…
A lot of seniors just lost their last game in Notre Dame Stadium. It’s supposed to be a memorable day for them but not for the wrong reasons. The guys are just hanging their heads, but we still have one game left and need to keep moving. Losing wears on you, but you just have to work to not let it wear on you and just work to win.

#37 Mike Anello – CB – Sr.

On playing his final game…
I felt every emotion that you can think of after the game. Part of it was the loss, but it was also just knowing that I would never run out of the tunnel again. I would never get out in front of a large crowd again. It’s tough. I thanked God for everything He has done for me. This truly has been a life-changing experience for me. I’m thankful for Coach [Charlie] Weis, Coach [Ron] Powlus, and Coach [Brian] Polian. They all took a big risk with me and it truly changed my life.

On the seniors’ actions after the game…
The seniors went back out on the field. Everyone’s families came down, and we got to share that last moment with them. Everyone is having a tough time. It’s just knowing that we’ll never get to step foot on that field again. The coaches step out in front of us and take the brunt of it. I really respect those men, but when it comes down to it it’s on us. We let those coaches down.

On what the senior class should be remembered for…
We’re known as fighters. We’ve been through it all from BCS bowls to a 3-9 season. We’ve been through it all, but even during that 3-9 season when the scores were lopsided there was no quit in any of those guys.