Sept. 14, 2006

Q. Talk about what it’s like to go against him as a running back and the challenges that he presents?

Travis Thomas: It’s always difficult to go against someone who is a really good athlete, especially Maureece Rice. He watches a lot of films. He can kind of anticipate where you’re going to cut and what your reads are. So it’s really difficult going against someone who is also a good athlete and good student of the game.

Q. Can you see kind of his instincts of having a dad that played linebacker in college?

Travis Thomas: I can definitely see it comes very naturally for him. The guy is a very smart, very intelligent player. It’s in the blood line, so it comes naturally for him.

Q. As a running back, I’m sure that you probably welcome the challenge of going against a middle linebacker that’s 225 pounds. But how does he overcome that and kind of play maybe bigger than his weight?

Travis Thomas: He’s surprisingly strong. And the guy has a lot of heart and takes a lot of pride in what he does. He’s really physical. And like I said, he’s athletic and he can run. And speed helps him out a lot.

Q. What has he been like in the huddle? He’s kind of admittedly not a vocal guy, but he’s got to be the communicator, getting the calls from the sideline. How has he done as far as that job so far this year?

Travis Thomas: He’s done a great job. He’s definitely stepped up and been a lot more vocal this year compared to what he’s been in the past. He’s the guy who makes all the calls out there and gets everybody set. It’s a the lot harder job than you think, especially when there is a lot of noise in the stadium.

Q. Do some of the more vocal guys, like Zippy or Victor have to tell him to speak up ever?

Travis Thomas: He’s always heard, and his presence is always felt. There’s never a time I’ve heard or noticed anyone telling him to speak up.

Q. Travis, you played running back and now you’re a linebacker, what is it that Mike Hart does that really kind of stands out to you?

Travis Thomas: He reads very well. He can read defensive fronts very well and he can stop on a dime. I think he makes very good cuts. He’s built low to the ground and I just think he’s a strong runner.

Q. Does this game take on any added significance. I know last week it did for you. But Michigan seems to be a classic rival with Notre Dame.

Travis Thomas: It’s obviously a big rivalry. A lot of hype. We’re approaching this game just like any other game.

Q. What is your demeanor like on game day? Are you one to get all hyped up or do you keep it inside, or what is your approach?

Then my follow?up question to that is, has your approach on game day changed now that your role is much more prominent?

Travis Thomas: My role is something that has changed, but my demeanor is still the same. I kind of keep to myself and go over the things that I need to do on my time personally, and I just kind of visualize things that are going to happen out there on the field. And when I get out on the field, that’s when I start showing my emotions.

Q. And that’s always been your approach?

Travis Thomas: It’s been like that since I’ve been playing.

Q. It wasn’t like you had to adjust. Being in a new position and all the responsibility that comes with it, I’m sure there is a lot more to it. You have to stay on an even keel.

Travis Thomas: I just approach the game in the same frame of mind that I have in the past.

Q. How much did you play against Michigan last year?

Travis Thomas: I played primarily all special teams, some on the offense, but mostly special teams.

Q. Travis, how do you prepare every week? You’re on defense and you’re watching films of the opponents’ offense and doing all that stuff, but you have carried the ball. Do you find yourself watching film of the opponents’ defense as well, or do you just rely on sort of past knowledge and instinct? Like the first two games, how have you done that?

Travis Thomas: I prepare the same every week. I watch the defense and try to analyze things that they’re going to do against us on the offense side of the ball. And vice versa, when I’m on the defense side of the ball, I try to analyze what the offense is going to do.

I use my knowledge on offense to help me out on defense and predict where things are going to cut and where the quarterback is going to throw. It’s a lot of preparation.

Q. As far as preparation, do you have to do some of that on your own time or will you take a chunk out of your time with the defense and sneak over to the offensive side?

Travis Thomas: As far as film study, I do a lot of that on my own. I also try to come in and try to meet with Coach Minter as much as possible. A lot of it is done on my own and with a lot of the other linebackers.