Sept. 13, 2007
Q. Maurice, what has the defensive line done to impress you?
MAURICE CRUM: I think for the most part, it’s just them believing in theirselves and knowing they have the ability, they can be just as good as anybody. Again, it always starts with leadership. Trevor, being the guy who sets the bar, shows them how we want to play, what level we want to play at, and everybody kind of follows after that.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about Trevor’s play?
MAURICE CRUM: Well, I mean, definitely Trevor has a lot to prove. That’s part of the reason he came back, trying to prove that he can play, despite what everyone thinks of him. He’s starting to show that he is, you know, a dominant player.
Q. Tom, when you’re going against a freshman quarterback, what is the first thing that goes through your mind when you’re game planning for that kind of situation?
Tom Zbikowski: I think just getting a little knowledge about him, seeing what he’s about. Obviously he’s a big quarterback with a very strong arm. I know he was there in the spring, so he’s gotten pretty good experience, feel for what they want to do offensively.
Any time you got a good runningback like that, it also takes a lot of pressure off him.
Q. What did you learn off tape last week about him? Kind of thrown into a pretty difficult situation. Was there a lot to be gleaned out of that, about what kind of quarterback he is?
Tom Zbikowski: I think, you know, the play that stands out, you know, they’re backed up, I mean, he’s on the goal line, can throw it 60 yards like it was nothing. No step up or anything. Just basically planted, threw it 60 yards. Any time you have that, a threat like Manningham, you’re going to have to cover very far down the field because they’ve shown they can throw that pass, he can catch that pass.
You just see him, you know, he’s a very talented quarterback, there’s no question about it.
Q. Tom, Coach Weis mentioned the secondary is doing some different things with combination coverages. What exactly does that mean? You’re zoning on one side, man on another. What does that mean exactly?
Tom Zbikowski: You know, depending on what type of formation we get, we may be playing a cover two, you know, a tight end, wide receiver, playing a cover four to just a single receiver side. Makes it a little more difficult on a quarterback to just, you know, if he sees a high safety all the time, knowing we’re either going to be in man or, you know, a cover three look.
I think it just gives the quarterback a different look on what we’re doing.
Q. Without giving away your game plan, this is one of those situations where you would want to really accentuate that.
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah, you got a young quarterback that may have a lot of talent, he hasn’t had a lot of experience of seeing college defenses, seeing people doing different things in the back end, showing different things.
Q. What else can you say as far as Coach Brown, what he’s brought to the secondary, in addition to some schematic things?
Tom Zbikowski: You know, I think just his experience playing, you know, definitely as a safety. When you have a guy that has played in the league for, you know, eight years or so, you know, you’re going to listen to what he has to say because he’s obviously gone through it.
Even also on special teams, when you got a guy that’s been to the Pro Bowl as a special teams player, you’re going to be listening to what he has to say because obviously he’s done it in the past.
Q. Is this a make or break game for this football team?
MAURICE CRUM: For us, it’s the next game on the schedule. Week in, week out, we try not to put more pressure on one game versus another. Whether we win by 50, lose by 50, we got to play the next game. That’s how we approach every game. So I wouldn’t say so.
Q. Is there a limit? Is there a line? Is there a breaking point?
MAURICE CRUM: I mean, definitely you don’t want to lose. I mean, that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to win. So, I mean, that’s always our goal.
I mean, as long as we try to achieve our goals as best as possible, that’s all we can do.
Q. Guys, can you talk about Michigan, what they bring. You mentioned the quarterback. But Mike Hart, obviously a very talented runningback.
MAURICE CRUM: Yeah, definitely. He makes all the right cuts. He’s definitely a veteran runningback behind a very good offensive line. I think they work well together with him running the ball and them blocking.
Q. What does this game mean to you guys in terms of your final time playing Michigan, being fifth year guys?
MAURICE CRUM: I mean, it’s always a heated rivalry, Notre Dame versus Michigan. I mean, it’s like one of those games that you just love to play in and what you come here to play in.
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah, I mean, since I’ve been here, you really can’t tell what’s going to happen leading into that week. It seems like the game always I remember two years ago going to their place, you know, we were pretty big underdogs, came away with a win. My first home game I ever played was against Michigan. I think they were ranked in the top 10. We just came off a loss to BYU. We showed up, beat them pretty soundly.
It’s a great rivalry. Always going to be a physical game, that’s for sure.
Q. The younger guys going into this game that haven’t played up there, do they already know what it’s like or have you talked to them, trying to explain, This is what it’s going to be like once we get up there?
MAURICE CRUM: I think last week, that helped a lot of young guys out, playing in that atmosphere. It’s very similar. I think being around that kind of helped guys to see what it’s like.
Q. What are your thoughts when you saw Michael Hart guaranteeing a win?
Tom Zbikowski: I mean, really I don’t know. Just kind of watched it. I mean, I don’t know. I mean, I can’t really say much about it. But, I mean, he said what he said. He’s going to try and back it up.
We’re going to have to go out and just play and not really worry about what’s said because once the whistle blows, once kickoff starts, I mean, what you say has nothing to do with what the outcome of the game’s going to be.
MAURICE CRUM: Yeah, I mean, he’s just a guy trying to get his team all riled up. We’re not necessarily concerned about, again, what’s said off the field. All we are concerned with is, you know, first down, first through fourth down playing.
Q. It’s something you can use to fire up your teammates. Is that always good when someone says something that helps you, not that you need motivation against Michigan, but does that help out with extra motivation?
MAURICE CRUM: I don’t think so. For us as a team, we really don’t focus on anything outside of our team. We got enough guys and leadership around to get guys fired up regardless of what anyone else says. I mean, we play for each other, and that’s all we really care about.
Q. Facing a freshman quarterback, is there a goal of trying to rattle him early, get on him early, throw his game off?
MAURICE CRUM: I mean, any quarterback in general, I mean, that’s always the goal. But, I mean, with a freshman, you know that he doesn’t know a lot or hasn’t been maybe in this kind of situation. So, I mean, that’s definitely a goal that you want to achieve.
Q. With the whole Mike Hart guarantee, would you agree that if both teams were 2-0, playing well, that would be a bigger deal? I would think you have more than enough to worry about on your own plate before getting into what opponent is saying what.
MAURICE CRUM: I mean, regardless of the record, him saying that is him saying that. For whatever reason he said it, he said it. Again, we’re not really concerned about it. So, I mean, to us, I don’t think the implications of it will be any more, any less, regardless of our records for us as a team.
Q. Do you see the benefit in doing that if you were in his shoes, to fire up your own team, take all the responsibility and focus on yourself as a captain?
MAURICE CRUM: I couldn’t see it working with us.
Tom Zbikowski: We are kind of in the same situation.
MAURICE CRUM: Exactly. We are in the same situation. I mean, we focus on, again, ourselves as a team and not necessarily trying to say stuff to get our team ready to go. We feel like our guys, if they need extra motivation to get going for any game, then they shouldn’t be here.
So, I mean, for us as a team, we really don’t focus on those kind of things.
Tom Zbikowski: Once again, we forgot about the Saturday before, came back to work like we do every week. We’re going to keep working. You know, things will start going our way. All it goes back to is going back to hard work. It’s not worrying about what’s said, trying to motivate other people.
Q. You understand why he said it, though?
MAURICE CRUM: I mean, I guess. It’s really tough to say. I mean, I couldn’t see myself or anyone on our team doing that just because, again, if guys need that kind of motivation, then we don’t need those kind of guys around.
We feel like everybody should know the situation week in, week out, come to work, and that should be enough.
Q. Would either of you like to take the opportunity to guarantee a win right now?
MAURICE CRUM: No. I’ll pass.
Tom Zbikowski: No, no. I’m good (laughter).
Q. Michigan’s MO is to run the ball, run the ball, throw the ball vertically. Even with a freshman quarterback, do you go into this anticipating that?
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah. I think that coaching staff has been around for a while so they’re going to recruit people that can play in their system. They’re going to have a guy that obviously in the future, I mean, that’s what they recruited him for. He’s got a strong arm. He fits the mold perfectly. He’s going to be, like you said, running the ball, getting to run plays, then trying to hit you deep with a play action, I mean, pretty deep down the field.
So corners and safeties are going to have to hold up, you know, not try and do too much on the run game, but also know that they’re going to be trying to run the ball on ’em.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports…