Dec. 28, 2015

Q. What has Coach Sanford brought to the program?

DeShone Kizer: Gave us some good success throughout this year on our offense. When it comes to my development both mentally and mechanically, he’s been there 100% of the time making sure as I develop, as the season goes on, that I’m always getting better.

He challenges me every day to make sure I’m getting better in some part of my game. That has truly helped me out as the season’s gone on, the starting quarterback at Notre Dame.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: It’s real. When you’re going through bowl practice, back home, there’s no one on campus, there’s no game-time vibes. You’re kind of practicing till Christmas. That’s kind of how the mindset is.

Once you set foot down wherever you’re playing your bowl game, things change. You can tell there’s a sense of focus in everyone’s eyes at practice. That’s going to continue to develop as the game approaches.

This is going to be a really good game. We completely understand that. Our opponent is a very, very good opponent. As much as I’m excited as the quarterback, everyone around me is very excited to get out there. Hopefully take that loss we had against Stanford, erase that with a big victory against Ohio State.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: Individually they’re probably one of the better defenses in the country. From left corner all the way to right corner, they’re very talented at every position. There’s no weak spot. There’s not a spot where you look at your game plan and say, Hey, we got to go there.

That’s challenging. As a quarterback, going through game plans all the way up until this game, there’s always been somewhere we’ve wanted to try to exploit, go at it.

This game is going to be a little bit different. This is going to be down to the nitty-gritty, truly put drives together to put points on the board.

Joey Bosa is a threat to be working with. He’s a guy that can completely be a game-changer. You do whatever you can to try to manipulate him, step away from him, but you run into other guys who have been around the block a couple times, too.

Like I said, we have an understanding in this game where it’s not going to be a game where you throw the ball deep 10 times, walk off the field. We’re going to have to execute our game plan and come out successful.

Q. Notre Dame hasn’t won a major bowl game in two decades. What do you think it would mean?

DeShone Kizer: I think it’s understood this team is different anyway. The way we’ve gone about this season isn’t like many seasons in the past. Obviously there’s been a lot of negative that’s come out of this in the sense we’ve had quite a few guys down, we’ve faced a lot of adversity.

That kind of changes the mindset of how this team is, how we’re different than team 126 in the previous years. That stat has come up in previous months. We kind of understand we’re a different team which has had different outcomes throughout the year. We’re going to try to make sure that stat can be squashed away, leave a bigger footprint on this university and on this program than when we came in.

Q. How did the billboard come about?

DeShone Kizer: It was a small marketing thing that our school put up together. They took one athlete, a band member, a student, they marketed around the city. It was nothing too big for specifically me.

Q. What is your family and friends’ reaction from home when you were going to play Ohio State? What were you hearing from people about their excitement?

DeShone Kizer: Yeah, some of my closest friends and a lot of my family members were Ohio State fans growing up. They’re all kind of put into awkward positions now when their nephew or their good friend is out there playing against their favorite team.

Everyone kind of has the same mindset: they want me to be as successful as I possibly can, root for me, but obviously they want their favorite team to win.

That’s something I’ve removed myself from. I’ve done a pretty good job of doing that on campus, and with family, trying to stay away from that whole scene.

It’s time to make decisions for some of my family members, are you wearing scarlet and gold or blue and gray.

Q. Have you had discussions with Malik about the recruiting process, he had an offer from Ohio State, being quarterbacks?

DeShone Kizer: If there’s anything that has made this game a circled game on their schedule more than me, it’s Malik. He’s had this fire to play against them since the day he stepped on campus. He’s taken that mindset, that fire, tried to throw it at me.

He’s at practice yelling, screaming, being more vocal than he has been all year. He really wants to come out with a victory this game. That fire in turn has helped me with my preparation to take everything as seriously as I possibly can.

Q. As a competitor, you’re playing against a team that didn’t offer you a scholarship, at least at first. Is there a certain aspect of, I want to show you what I can do?

DeShone Kizer: There’s about 30 other teams in the country that I can say the same thing about. Just another big-time school who didn’t put an offer on the line. They’re not the only one who didn’t.

Yeah, does it spark up a little bit of energy? Yeah. That energy has already came through and passed. Like I said, there’s so much we’re focused on internally to make sure we come out with a win on our last game, that erases the other stuff that came when we first found out we were playing against Ohio State.

Q. Last year Ohio State playing the playoff games with a third quarterback. You as recently as May were listed third. Why were you so prepared to play? What is it you had prepared yourself to do?

DeShone Kizer: You just have to have the mindset that you didn’t come to be a backup quarterback. You have to truly prepare yourself as if you’re the starter every week because you never know what goes down.

I think Ohio State was a good example for me last year of why I should be prepared as much as I possibly can for every game. Obviously with Everett Golson leaving in May, it gave me a whole summer to try to prepare myself as much as I can to compete.

Now we’re in a position of I’m the guy out there and I guess that kind of stems from their situation last year, making sure even though you might be put as the third guy, at any given moment you might be thrown out there. If you’re not ready to go, you’re going to embarrass yourself and are you the competitor you think you are.

Q. Ohio State, scoring-wise they find ways to get teams to bog down. What have you seen in your study?

DeShone Kizer: They have an identity. They run their defense and they run it very well. They don’t like to stray away from what they do. That allows their individual players to get really good at what they do, truly lock in when they’re down in the red zone, scoring positions, to make sure that points are being put up on the board.

As on offense, like I said, that changes our mindset on what we do. We want to make sure when we’re in those situations, we’re not trying to take big-shot plays. We don’t have the mindset that we’re inside the 40 the ball needs to be inside the end zone in two plays. We understand it’s going to be a 4-4, 4-5 type of situation in the red zone, grind it out with them, make sure we end up with some points on the board.

Q. Did you have any connection with Deshaun Watson from Ohio State?

DeShone Kizer: That was one of the first guys that Coach Meyer and Coach Herman put on their list. Deshaun and I became tight at the Elite 11. He was considering some of the same schools I was at the time. He definitely jumped into that first-tier group at every school he wanted to go to.

There were a couple of positions where I was competing with him for an offer, there was a couple of positions where I was below him. That was one of the ones where I was below him. His decision not to go to Ohio State changed things up for me.

When you’re sitting in second-tier levels, you’re watching guys select their schools, then you go to the schools they didn’t select and go there.

Once Deshaun didn’t select Ohio State, I already made my decision to go to Notre Dame. Didn’t put it on my list.

Q. (No microphone.)

DeShone Kizer: It’s part of the recruiting process. When you have that group of Elite 11 guys that come as close as they are, have those highly-touted guys, you understand you’re going to have to make a decision off of one of them.