Oct. 25, 2006
Q. Your thoughts on the Naval Academy and talk about the respect you have for their program besides football.
Tom Zbikowski: You know, you think a lot about the future of what you want to do once you leave Notre Dame, but we have respect when we play any academy, we know what they are going to be every couple years out of college, whether they may be going to the Middle East. You have so much respect when you see what they have to go through once they are done with college.
Q. What’s it like during the course of the week, tempo, excitement things like that?
Tom Zbikowski: I think the biggest thing on the defense is just getting ready for this offense. This is a big?time challenge because they are always in the Top?10 rushing and the offense. They had six TDs against us last year and we need to come and prove that we can play the option. We don’t have time to look book and enjoy that win, or at least on defense, just because of the type of offense we’re going against this week.
Q. What are the keys to stopping the offense?
Tom Zbikowski: You have to do your job. You mess up one time, you look at tape, opening plays have gone for 77?yard touchdown passes against the option because people are just looking to be able to stop the run, so you have to be doing your job on every single play. You slip up one play it’s going to be a touchdown.
Q. After winning, do you think you guys have fallen in the Pole?
Tom Zbikowski: I didn’t even know until you told me that we just fell in the pole. We’ve just got to keep winning. Whatever happens, happens.
Q. Your defensive line over the past couple of weeks seems to have really gelled a bit. What do you think has been the reason for that and kind what you see that they have improved on?
Tom Zbikowski: They have just been dominating. I don’t know, you know, what it may be or what the reason for it is, but I hope it keeps going this way the rest of the season because they make everyone else’s job a lot easier. But they have been making a lot of plays and really getting to the quarterback.
Q. When did you start to see that change?
Tom Zbikowski: I really saw, late in the game Michigan State, when Landry and Laws and all of those guys were making plays in critical situations in the fourth quarter where they were making tackles, it’s been pretty much since then.
Q. And just kind of hitting on the questions before, preparing for a quarterback that never really started, or that never started a game before, did that change the way you prep, especially against answer option team because the guy might have different speeds?
Tom Zbikowski: We’re looking at the quarterback before, he threw the ball very well, compared to other ?? the pass option quarterbacks. But you know they are going to have a guy in their system that’s going to run the option. That’s what they are based on. They are going to run the offense well, and you’ve just got to see some of the tape of the game that he did get in, and you also try and look at, you know, where he came from and where he was getting recruited and stuff like that. We know he’s going to be able to run the offense well. They wouldn’t recruit him if he couldn’t run the option.
Q. One other thing, do you talk to the offensive line about the running game at all, it seems like a lot of the attention that you guys, the secondary face over the past couple of years ??
Tom Zbikowski: I haven’t really got a chance to talk to them. Like I said before, once ?? three days is not much time to prepare, so you don’t have much time to worry about what other people are doing. I’ve got faith in them, I know they have got enough talent that they are going to, you know ?? everything will start coming together. As long as we keep winning, that’s most important thing. But it’s tough to say. I can’t really speak for them or what’s going on with them.
Q. Having been an option quarterback, does that help you in a game like this?
Tom Zbikowski: I mean, a little bit. It’s really, you know, the opposite side. Like I was saying before, you make one mistake, it’s a touchdown. That’s what I was thriving on when we got a chance to run a little bit of the offense. Just telling all the guys, they know we’ve got a pretty veteran defense that’s played against us before. So they know you make one mistake, at least six, seven yards, so you have to be ready for anything, but also staying focused.
Q. And talking about Landry a minute ago, when he’s asked, Coach seems to group them together. What are they like as players on and off the field?
Tom Zbikowski: You know, they are two intense guys. They always get stuck together. But I’ve gotten, you know, plenty of time to hang out with both of them. They are both fun. You guys have heard before, Trevor is more of the free spirit and Landry, it’s hard to explain. It takes a while to get to know him, but once you get to know him ?? I always hang out with him now but it took a couple of years to get to know him.
Q. Is it more or less important to get penetration defensive line, line backers up field or backfield when you’re playing a team like Navy?
Tom Zbikowski: That’s almost the worst thing to do because that’s when they start cutting you underneath. It’s hard to explain. Let them come to you and keep with what you’re assigned to do. It’s really, you can’t really do your own thing and try and make a play, because when that happens, like I said before, big plays are going to happen. It’s team defense. This is the biggest case of team defense that they could face.
Q. As a defensive back, do you prefer playing a team that you know is going to throw it 45 times a game and get more action, or is this kind of where you want to play a team that only throws it 7 to 8 times a game?
Tom Zbikowski: You’d rather play the teams that throw 40?some. It’s a little more one dimensional when they keep running for quarter and a half, two quarters straight and hit you with a pass that comes out of nowhere. That’s the thing that puts you to sleep and hits you over the top for a touchdown. Like I said before, it’s all fundamentals, you have to keep doing your job and you can’t fall asleep.
Q. Any chance you will be returning punts?
Tom Zbikowski: Started catching them again in practice, got a little work. We’ll see what happens. Coach’s call. Starting to feel confident, starting to feel good about returning, so it’s up to Coach.
Q. Being out for a couple of game, do you feel that back tracked you, or with getting out of the field, are you back to normal?
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah, it was only one game so it wasn’t that bad. Just getting ?? that bye week helped out, just getting more rest and getting on the field. Once you start making tackles, it all comes back to you.
Q. Moving from strong safety to line backers position, is that a move you prefer or do you like playing strong safety better?
Tom Zbikowski: I like playing anything. I know I’ll get moved down in the box a couple more times when it’s for sure passing situations just to get another defensive back?type body on to the field to really be able to stop the pass. It’s fun to move around, though.
Q. You’ve said in the past that one of the things that you need to work on is not going for the – not getting caught in the play action fake. So is this game for you, is this the biggest challenge for you personally because you do like to be so aggressive against the run?
Tom Zbikowski: I think it is because you have to – it’s really, when it’s option football, it’s 11?on?11, so you have to be really focus about making your plays on the run. The whole defense has to play, like I said before, team defense. But along the ways of making those stops on the run game you have to read your keys on whether that slot back is going out for a pass.
Like I said before, it’s a personal challenge but I think it’s a challenge for the entire defense. I’m definitely up for it.
Q. Having faced this style of offense, this is the third time you’ve prepared for it in a game, what have you learned, what is your knowledge of facing this, how has it evolved?
Tom Zbikowski: They have put in a few more blocking schemes where there’s a few more counter options. You’ve definitely seen this offense grow the last couple of years. They are taking a few more shots, even early on in the game, I think it was UCONN that went for 77 yards on the first play, usually that was happening on the first or second quarter when they were just grinding the ball. I think it’s starting to become a little bit more of an explosive offense where they just don’t try to get ahead and stay ahead. I think they have a little more opportunity if they do fall behind that they can makeup with a big play.
Q. Is it like a chess game, do you see how Coach Johnson tries to field off of each little nuance?
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah, it really does. It almost seems like every play is setting you up for another play.
So like I said before, you’ve got to make sure you’re reading your keys, because something is definitely coming.
Q. Just talk about the he motion of playing on the road and the road warrior mentality, it seems like you guys are so good and this crowd may be even a little more against you this week.
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah but it’s also fun when you get a chance to play in a pro stadium. That’s what you dream about as a kid is getting a chance to play in a stadium like that. On the road, just getting our business done and getting out of there.
Q. Playing a team that’s disciplined and you’ve mentioned that before, can that help you for future games just making you more disciplined in your approach?
Tom Zbikowski: I think so. And just watching them on film, from top to bottom, these guys have no regard for their body. They just throw it around. They may get the worst of it one play and may get the best of it another play. But they just play 100%, that’s the only speed they know and some r that’s something you look at.
Q. Does that maybe help you guys, too? Sometimes you may have better athletes but when you see somebody doing that ??
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah, it gives you, you play 100%, something good is going to happen, whether you’re a good athlete or not. Just playing 100%, throwing your body around and good things will happen.
Q. Did you ever consider one of the academies, you play like that.
Tom Zbikowski: Naval Academy, I went through the process, just because I was thinking about either running option there, or like I said before about what these kids do once they are done with college and moving on. Serving your country, that’s something that’s always been in my family.
Q. How much time do you get to spend watching the Rutgers tape to see what works against them, but also in the back of your mind, do you have to account for the fact that they just lost their quarterback in the middle of the game and that had to have some effect on how it played out as well?
Tom Zbikowski: Watching Rutgers last year, they had two solid years, two solid games where the scheme that they played against pretty much shot them down this year, and last year, I know their safety had a big game against them. You want to watch what stops them and watch what hurts the defense, plays that go for 77 yard for touchdowns. You want to watch Rutgers and see what worked on shutting them down and other games where it seems like they could maybe do whatever they wanted to against them.
Q. Can you describe what Rutgers did well?
Tom Zbikowski: I think their corners did a good job of getting into the run game, being able to stop the bye, reading their offensive line. Their offensive line is a little smaller and when they come out on the run play, they are four or five yards down the field on a run play and when it’s a pass, they are pretty much around the line of scrimmage. One of the keys is reading that offensive line. Their corners and safeties and secondaries, their players did a good job.
Q. This is outside the context of this week, but as a defender, when you’re going against a running game, just more of a pro-style attack, is it easy or harder to go against one back that can get in a rhythm, or when an offense changes it up, is it a different style of back, is that more difficult for you?
Tom Zbikowski: That would probably be the two-back. It’s hard to say the. The one-back is a great back, can get you in a rhythm, it’s tough stopping him. But the two backs, you might get a little beat on the type of run game they like to play with those two types of backs.
It’s whichever one is being successful, is the hardest one to defend. You know, if that answers your question at all.
Q. Somebody already asked you about the pole, but it’s happened a couple of times this year, do you feel like maybe that national respect for Notre Dame isn’t quite what it used to be?
Tom Zbikowski: We’ve pretty used to when we win that the team is not that good and that when we lose we’re not that good. We’re pretty much used to what goes on with the media.
Q. The loss to Michigan, now that they are the No. 1 team in the country, do you feel like people should say, hey, we lost to one of the best teams in the country?
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah, I mean, it’s still tough just to look back and see that loss at home. Definitely after playing them, we all felt that they were a solid team and I think they are just showing that to the rest of the country. Hopefully they will keep winning. It’s tough, just cheering for a team that beat you earlier in the year.
Q. Tell us about the two-sport thing, the boxing during the summer, and what Coach Weis thought of all that and why you did it and do you have plans to continue doing that in the future?
Tom Zbikowski: Coach wise was supportive when I first told him. He knew my background. I’ve been involved since I was ten years old, and I wanted to fight professionally, not really sure what I’m going to be doing in the future with it though.
Q. Was it a success as far as you concerned? Are you glad you did it?
Tom Zbikowski: Oh, yeah, it was a lot of fun. It was something I always wanted to do since I was a kid is to be able to fight professionally.
Q. When you’re going against a ball control offense that likes to shorten the game, limit the possessions, how does that change your approach to quarterback and how does that change your approach to the offense?
Brady Quinn: I think it puts a lot of pressure on you as an offense because you have to be extremely efficient with your production out on the field. Every drive counts. You’ve really got to make some points and put them on the board quickly, otherwise it’s half time as soon as you know it and it’s the end of the fourth quarter. It’s scary when you look at a team that’s able to possess the ball for such a long amount of time and really take the ball out of your hands.
Our whole objective is make sure we’re moving the ball and being extremely productive with it and keep our defense off the field.
Q. It’s a unique pressure, how do you feel you dealt with that last year?
Brady Quinn: Against Navy, I thought we did an all right job. I think we were pretty successful in the first half, but again, do I remember looking back and being towards the end of the second quarter thinking, wow, it is just, wow, it went so fast. With the new rule this year, it could be a three?hour game.
Q. You’ve been pretty successful, when you need a yard or two, you get it; can you talk about the keys to making that a success and what goes into making that an efficient play for you guys?
Brady Quinn: It’s funny, I can’t take really a lot of credit for those type of situations, it’s really guys in front of me. Starts off with them, Bob to my right, Dan to my left. Those guys made a good job of making sure they blow guys off the ball. Being tall and lanky, I have to fall forward and get a yard or so. You have to give them credit, they give a great push and Saul probably scares off some of those defensive players with his wild hair and scraggly face.
Q. Does the defense sense that coming, some quarterbacks, their posture gives it away a little bit and you seem to do a good job of voicing that?
Brady Quinn: Sometimes I don’t know I’m going to do it until the last second or so because it’s not necessarily the call. If it’s there, we’ll take it and if it’s not we’ll go with something else. But that’s just part of the game. You want to try to be a little bit of kind of suave about it, in how you go about it.
Q. It seems like a play where a defense could tee off and get a free shot on you if they wanted to. Is that the downside of running that too much?
Brady Quinn: If there’s a downside, obviously that would be it. There’s a technique to it, though. You’ve just got to make sure that right at the last second when they get going, they give you a head shot and you make sure to get underneath them. So it is obviously, you know, what you’ve got to try to go about it.
Q. Are there worse shots you’ve taken on that play?
Brady Quinn: I don’t think so. There’s not been one where I’ve gotten up and said, wow. Excited to get the first down, it’s always worth it.
Q. Can you talk about the play of David the other day?
Brady Quinn: It was big. He definitely played extremely well for us, extremely clutch, had some big catches. You know, it goes to show, just the amount of depth I think we have at that position. Really we can plug a lot of different guys and be pretty successful with it. But, you know, he played that part, that role that we needed him to play.
Q. Was there a reason why – I think he had more catches in that game than he’s had in his career. Was there more plays getting called his way or did you see him more?
Brady Quinn: Going back and looking at the game film, there was obviously a few opportunities where he just had to be opened and key on a couple other guys. We knew they were going to bracket Jeff and take him away. As long as they bracket Jeff and Rhema, it forces you to use your tight end and outside receiver and Darius. That’s something we obviously did. But again if you look at the stats, we threw probably three more passes than we have in the past few weeks.
Q. How conscious are you when you look for who it is, do you see a shirt or you looking for Jeff or David?
Brady Quinn: Once the play is going on, I just see someone coming across, someone with an in route, someone running deep, maybe a snap where you think about miss matches and things like that. But once the ball snaps you’re going for reads, looking at the defendant and seeing where that’s holes and what you can did with the ball.
Q. Do you see anything in practice from the opposite team to think you would be ready for a breakout game like that?
Brady Quinn: David comes to work every day. He’s a hard working guy. He is a lot of fun to be around. So there wasn’t anything in particular that I say, just the same old David working hard.
Q. First half you had a great – inaudible – how much did you want that one back, the play action deep?
Brady Quinn: Yeah, you know, after it was all said and done, you know, especially when he’s wide open like that, you wish you could take a little bit off, you don’t want to try to be so perfect with it and end up overshooting. So that was definitely one I would have liked to have back, but fortunately we were unable to score on that, so it didn’t hurt us too bad.
Q. Has Navy’s older brother talked any smack over the phone to you, because he’s in the Navy and lives in D.C.?
Brady Quinn: Going to Notre Dame, being an alum of Notre Dame and especially being his brother, he doesn’t really root against us in this type of situation. If anything, he’s rooting for us.
Q. Talk a little about Jeff, made more touchdown receptions, talk about what a talent he is.
Brady Quinn: It’s funny. He seems to be always so productive, always the guy who has come up with the big play when we need it. It says a lot about Jeff. He’s a fearless guy when he’s out there. He’s got a lot of strength, a lot of ability, and he’s just got that no?how when it comes down to it. He knows how to get the job done.
Q. What about his knack for finding the end zone, you runs a lot of 10-yard gains and 30-yard scores?
Brady Quinn: He’s sneaky in the sense that he’s elusive but you wouldn’t sense it, to watch him kind of move around and watch him carry the ball. But he finds ways to make the guys miss and maybe a lot of people underestimated his athletic ability.
Q. It’s his record, but did you take any sense of pride in it?
Brady Quinn: Not at all. Again, Jeff is a guy who I just try to bet the ball in his hands. He’s the special one that does something with it after.
Q. The game?winning pass last week, you made the pump-fake to the middle of the field. Was that done, were you intending to throw or trying to beat the defenders into thinking you were going to throw it?
Brady Quinn: That play was more or less a deac or pump-fake, whatever you want to call it. There wasn’t a lot whole lot open. I’m not a guy to pump-fake, but in that situation, you’ve got to make a throw and run for yourself because there’s not much out there, especially when they drop that many guys deep.
Q. Did you do it with the intention of staying with Jeff so he would clear them, you were going to stay with him and try to give him the ball?
Brady Quinn: Not necessarily. There were a couple of guys in my vision at that point in time, because we only had a few guys on the route. I tried to move a little bit and when you start to threaten the line of scrimmage, this opens up things for you. When they see the quarterback running, you have to respect that and at the same time it gives Jeff depth and he climbed to maybe find a window and make a catch and make something happen.
Q. Said you don’t pump-fake a lot; is that something you should do more?
Brady Quinn: I think it just depends on the situation. I don’t think pump?faking, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of quarterbacks that would like to have to pump-fake all the time because obviously they are put into situations they don’t want to be in. They are letting the defense dictate where the ball goes.
You want to be in control of that. You want to be in original many, you want to be able to drop back and throw the ball, pump-fake takes you out of that, unless you are trying to fake out the defense on that particular play call. I won’t do it unless I have to or I felt there’s a need to.
Q. Yesterday somebody asked Coach Weis about your future in the NFL, and he described you as a “can’t miss prospect.” What is why are reaction when you hear him Charlie Weis call you a “can’t miss prospect?”
Brady Quinn: It’s flattering but at the same point in time, it’s a long ways away. I still have tons of goals and aspirations for this season and what we’ve got going on here. Hopefully things will got way we’d like them to go this season and I’ll worry about that type of stuff after.
Q. How would you evaluate yourself, what are the things you want to work on the most?
Brady Quinn: The biggest thing for me is obviously I think there’s got to be some way where you can kind of work on your ability to make things happen, every play that you look at on film, you’re saying, oh, what could I have done here. You’ve just got to find a way, I don’t know if it’s creativity or what you want to call it, but finding a way to not make a bad play happen.
Obviously the defense gets you at some points in time. So you’re going to have to find ways of just making some – creating what looks to be a bad play into a good play. That would be the one thing that I’ve always aspired to try to find and always try to get better at.
Q. Are you comfortable with your mobility, because you showed it on that play?
Brady Quinn: Without a doubt. It’s fun to be able to run around and have the ball in your hands and have more control of the game. Obviously it’s not something I’m going to be afraid to do. It makes the game more fun, at least for me, to be able to go out there and make a play or make something happen, whether it’s on your feet or throwing the ball.
Q. How frustrated do you see Darius when he’s not picking up a lot of yardage or running for a lot of yards?
Brady Quinn: I wouldn’t describe Darius as frustrated. I think the common goal among all of us is to win the game. He’ll tell you more than anyone else, he wants to win. If things are not working well with that, I think he wants ?? maybe I have to pass protect better or maybe I have to get out of my routes and receive in the backfield. He’s not one of those guys that’s going to look at you and say, we have to get the running game going. Whatever is working is working and we’re going to roll with it. He’s going to do whatever he can to get a win.
Q. You want to see that run game going?
Brady Quinn: It’s nice to have the running game going, passing game going, everything for offense. Again that goes back to our whole offense again being more consistent and moving the chains and being more of a balanced offense right now.
Q. Can you talk about this year, the games there’s fewer plays with the time management. Does that make it more difficult where Navy is going to use the clock?
Brady Quinn: Yeah, I’ve said before, they have really shortened the game with the type of offense they play and the way the rules are set up this year. So you know, you’ve got to go out there and be extremely efficient and make every drive count.
Q. Are the words hero and role models different, when you’re playing somebody like Navy and you think about the people that are in the military, and a lot of them are your age, does that make you maybe appreciate it just being 21, 22 years old?
Brady Quinn: Yeah, respect is the word that comes to mind when you see these guys, looking at the lifestyle they live and not really they are doing now or what they are going to be doing a few years when they get out for the receipt of their lives. You have to look at and tip your cap and give them their due respect, because they are working extremely hard every day to defend this country and risk their lives; if not this year, then a couple of years down the road.
When we play this type of team, there’s a lot of respect. Last year was thinking about the game, there’s never any trash talking because both teams have a mutual respect for one another and realize that at certain points in time, there are a lot of things that are bigger than just this game of football that we play.
Q. Did it give you a different type of respect when you know they want to kick your butt and knock you down, too?
Brady Quinn: That’s part of football. That’s why you play. You want to be competitive and have fun and that’s obviously why we enjoy playing the game.
Q. You have less than half a season left in college, does it start to creep in your mind at all that things are winding down of what you can accomplish?
Brady Quinn: After the game and when you’re able to sit back and friends and family and talk about the game or past games or past years, it’s hard not to try to reminisce and have people mention that. I didn’t realize it was that close. You guys have to keep me better informed. Once it happened on that particular play, I think it was first or second quarter, whenever it was, I was a little did I tell surprised because they announced it and everything and I had no idea where exactly I was in there.
It just shows that it doesn’t matter a whole lot to me right now. The whole game, looking back on it, I will. But it’s something that I think that the one goal I want to work on is trying to get as many wins as possible.
Q. How many e-mails do you get from people in the military –
Brady Quinn: There’s actually a few. There’s not a ton but I would say it’s somewhere in the range of five to ten a week. It’s something that I think it’s hard to get those e?mails more than anything else. There’s always some tough ones that you have to try to look away from or put off to the side and safe up for another day when you have some time.
Really with those people e-mail you, we want to respond back with something because you know their life is different and what they go through on a day-to-day basis. It might make a difference on that day-to-day basis or whatever they have going on in their life at this point.
Q. Do you find during these weeks, you can get more e-mails?
Brady Quinn: I haven’t noticed too many this week as opposed to the past few, maybe after this press conference, I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.
Q. Inaudible about Victor Abiamiri?
Brady Quinn: It’s tough to put into words. You guys have obviously talked to Vic and seen Vic. He’s one of those big, mean guys that really doesn’t like to be mean. I think that’s why he kind of likes playing football because he’s able to go out there on the field and dish it out on the field and be happy. He’s a lot of fun to be around. I’m not sure if it’s ?? grew up playing with Ambrose and Ambrose is a happy, cheery guy or what, but one of those guys that’s a lot of fun to be around. He really is a great guy.
Q. When you get on the practice field is there any back and forth, does he ever joke with you or anything?
Brady Quinn: Oh, yeah, any time one is going against one, I’m making sure I’m saying something to Victor, he’s an easy Target and he has horrible comebacks. Two, I want to pressure our line, go against Sam, make sure you test them out, I want to make sure they are getting their best shot against one of the best d in the country.