Nov. 4, 2015
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Joe.
Q. Defensively what do you think is it is best game you played so far?
Joe Schmidt: I think it’s kind of a hard question to answer. I think at times we play really good defense, really stingy. Then at times it seems that maybe we’re not assignment correct enough or we miss a tackle or something happens and we give up an explosive play, which is obviously detrimental to having a good defense.
So I think like when we can limit those big plays, really just kind of play down to down defense, make people try to drive on us, we can be good.
I’d say at the time during the season where we’ve limited big plays, and we’ve had stretches in games, we’ve had a couple games where we’ve had less explosive plays, and I think that’s kind of what I see and maybe we see as a defense.
Q. Do you get that during the week and do you see it carry over? No one really ends a week at your level. Bad week of practice, rough game. Do you ever notice that you were on point in practice and on point for a game?
Joe Schmidt: I think being on point for practice is a big step in the right direction. At the same time we’ve had great weeks of prep, in my five years here, speaking real generally, I’ve been part of great weeks of prep and games where maybe we just didn’t play as well.
In those instances, it’s like, What happened? Why exactly did we not execute or did I not execute? So really there’s a correlation, but not always.
Q. Joe, as an inside linebacker, most of the time you’re taking blocks from an offensive lineman. I’m sure there are times when you engage with a wide receiver. Specifically your wide receivers on this team, who are the better ones? What makes a good blocking wide receiver?
Joe Schmidt: In reference to who are the better ones, I don’t really look at any of our receivers as being bad blockers. So it’s kind of a pain in the butt because I actually do get blocked by the wide receivers a good amount. When they’re in 11 personnel, they can move guys around, all of a sudden I’m on Chris Brown or Amir or Corey or whoever it might be. They all do a really good job.
I think for a receiver, number one, if they’re aggressive and they want to block you, that’s the starting point of all of it. All of our guys have that desire to go and block on the perimeter.
Then obviously you have to have the traits and the techniques. Luckily we have a whole host of offensive coaches, not just our wide receiver coach. They all are coaching that up. They’re extremely well-coached about getting their hands in the right place, not getting outside, holding, driving their feet, moving their feet, knowing where the ball carrier wants to go with the ball.
I’d say we have great blocking receivers.
Q. Are you aware you’re going to be the second most famous Joe Schmidt to play in Pittsburgh?
Joe Schmidt: I’m well aware. I used to joke. Actually, I don’t know if Jalen has come up here yet. You got to ask him about my grandpa, Joe Schmidt, who played for Pittsburgh. I had him believing the first nine games of our freshman year, his freshman year maybe, so I knew that, because my freshman year I went to both Michigan and Pittsburgh. So then I think my junior year we went back to Michigan. That was his freshman year. Either way, he was there.
I knew that Joe Schmidt was on the wall at Ford Field and at Heinz Field. He’s up like in the rafters. I say it like offhand early in the season, then I said, Oh, yeah, I know he’s on the wall. I got there, he’s on the wall. He was like, This is more than a coincidence now.
Then we get to Pittsburgh, I was like, Dude, he’s on the wall at Pitt, too, man. This is my grandpa. You come to a game.
We get to Pitt. He’s like, No way, man. Your grandpa is in the Hall of Fame or whatever it was.
I think I finally told him like USC or Stanford. He was disappointed. He asked me, How is your grandpa doing?
I was like, Dude, he’s not my grandpa.
Q. When you think of Pittsburgh Panther football, playing against Pittsburgh, what do you get?
Joe Schmidt: Tough, hard-nosed, physical, competitive, aggressive. These are always games where it’s a 15-round heavyweight match. And Pitt, they’re always going to play you tough. Doesn’t matter what game they’re playing, they’re going to come to play. That’s just how that team has always played us.
Just watching the tape now, it’s the same kind of thing. They’re a smash-mouth team.
Q. Going back to the Temple game. I’m not saying you, but there seemed to be a lot of conversation going on between your players and their players. Did that start before the game or did that occur during the game?
Joe Schmidt: I wouldn’t say they were saying like a bunch of — at least I didn’t hear a bunch of negative stuff. It was more, like, conversation. They knew all of our first names, which was hilarious. They were just kind of like saying stuff throughout the game.
I thought it was kind of fun. But, yeah, I’d say the conversation started even in warmups, them saying certain things. I mean, that’s kind of how the game goes, though.
Q. The kind of boom-or-bust nature of the defense. When you are forcing as many three-and-outs as you’ve generated this year, is that the product of Coach VanGorder’s scheme? It’s forcing these disruptive three-and-outs.
Joe Schmidt: I think we have a great scheme each and every week game plan-wise. If we execute it, there is a chance we can get a three-and-out.
But we always want to be disruptive. We want sacks. We want tackles for loss. We want negative plays for the offense. We want turnovers.
I’d say, yeah, three-and-outs are great, but we want all of those things. I don’t know, like I don’t know how to answer is the three-and-out what you want every time. Yeah, we want it every time because we get the ball back to offense. I don’t know. It’s kind of hard.
Q. The sack numbers are low. The turnover numbers are low. The three-and-out numbers are way up there. Is that a sign of a good defense?
Joe Schmidt: That’s good defense, yeah. If you’re getting them off the field in three plays, getting the ball back to your offense, nine plays back to your offense, an interception, I’d probably take the three. I don’t know. Seems like a good decision. I don’t know. I don’t want to get in trouble here.
Q. I want to ask you about Sheldon, too. Coach Kelly said the other day he probably doesn’t get the love that he deserves.
Joe Schmidt: I give him love all the time, hugs, pats on the back.
Q. From the outside, I guess. What has he done that leads you in tackles for a loss? What has he done that maybe has been kind of like the biggest improvement he’s made this year?
Joe Schmidt: Well, obviously he’s playing incredibly well. His consistency and leadership in driving people, bringing other people along has been great. He commands the defensive line room. He’s a vocal leader in our defensive meeting room on this team.
Sheldon, he’s been around a long time now. He’s been a captain now two years in a row. He’s doing a great job of leading. Really great job.
Yeah, his production is great, but as a leader he’s doing a really great job.
Q. Joe, College Football Playoff rankings came out. What was your reaction?
Joe Schmidt: I didn’t really have a reaction. I mean, it’s like it’s cool that we’re ranked where we are. I didn’t know where we were ranked until someone told me. I didn’t know the rankings were coming out.
It’s kind of like, I don’t know, we could be ranked 5 or 55. It doesn’t really matter until the last week of the year. We have a game this week.
It’s like cool we’re ranked where we are, but at the same time we have a lot of work to do.
Q. Some of your teammates were excited.
Joe Schmidt: Excitement is fine. If that provides motivation for you, it’s great. I think I’ve just kind of been here a long time and I’ve seen teams lose the last game of the year. I’ve seen teams lose game nine of the year. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m older and I’ve kind of seen it before.
Q. Does what you went through last year kind of…
Joe Schmidt: You got to play all the games before the rankings really matter. I’d say we’re happy about where we are right now, but we’re still hungry, need to continue to get better. That’s the message that’s being passed along by everybody. All right, we’re ignoring that in a ways and we’re going to continue to work hard.
Q. What do you feel you have to do to maybe maintain that ranking going forward?
Joe Schmidt: We got to play Pittsburgh. I’m not even thinking about the game after Pittsburgh, whatever the game is after that. Really it’s Pittsburgh and we have to play Pittsburgh. They’re a really good team. They took Iowa to the very end. They took North Carolina to the end. We got a lot of work to do.
Q. This is another kind of grind-it-out game. Do you as a defense welcome those, being you’ve been proficient?
Joe Schmidt: I love these games. I love people to run the ball. Some of my favorite games in my career here have been teams that come in here and want to run the football. It’s a lot of work for me. I like that. It’s put your big boy pads on, strap your helmet a little bit tighter, let’s go to work, yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Joe.
We can get started with questions for Sheldon.
Q. Sheldon, you’ve been through a season before as a freshman where every week it was keeping an eye on the rankings, where you were in them. What is your message to some of the younger players on the team when you come out as No. 5?
Sheldon Day: Coach Kelly talks about don’t listen to the outside noise. We can only control what happens in this building.
The rankings can do whatever they want, it’s all about what happens in this building. We have to focus on each and every day here.
Q. Is there any excitement when you see you are ahead of Michigan State, some of these teams?
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say it definitely was. We kind of hooted and hollered. It was after practice, we were watching the rankings. We hooted and hollered. Kind of got together and said, This doesn’t mean anything, we have to win out and be in our best in November.
Q. 24-second rule?
Sheldon Day: I would say 13 seconds (laughter).
Q. When do you feel you played your best defense this year, considering the opponent and challenge?
Sheldon Day: Man, there is a lot of moments. I would definitely say like the fourth quarter or something like that, we kind of make a big stop or something like that.
I feel like we’re starting to become a consistent defense right now. We’re just trying to make sure that our second half looks like our first half and we start off the game fast.
Q. I know you don’t have like full weeks of practice at your level of football. Do you notice we have a great week of practice, didn’t start fast against Clemson, but three quarters of great defense against Clemson? Do you notice when practice translates to your performance in the game?
Sheldon Day: Up front, with the D-line, when we have a good practice, a couple good days, we go out on Saturday, we’re confident in our abilities and things like that, we tend to fly around and have fun.
Q. What are the images that stick with you from playing against Pitt in 2012 and also 2013 on the road?
Sheldon Day: Oh, man, I definitely say my moment of not catching the ball, running with it. That sticks with me forever. I could have changed the game. Playing till the whistle, that’s what I learned from that play. How much I’ve changed since then and then my knowledge of the game.
Q. You try to treat every game the same, but Pitt has a fairly distinct style through the years. What’s it like when you play against them?
Sheldon Day: It’s a fun game for a D-lineman. It’s rugged, it’s tough. Beat-your-brains-in mentality. We’re definitely going to get after it, know we have to play well up front to win this game.
Q. I know you say every team is different, but how specifically is this team different than the one last year?
Sheldon Day: You talking about Notre Dame?
Sheldon Day: Just our passion and our knowledge and understanding and our experience that we have going into each and every game. Our commitment level. I would definitely say we’re 100% in the bucket right now. We refuse to let anything kind of spill out or anything like that. We make sure everybody is accountable and with the program.
Q. Last year you were 7-1 before losing the last four games. What do you take away from that experience?
Sheldon Day: November is for contenders. We definitely want to be a contender. We have to make sure we win out, are at our best towards the end of the season.
Q. Looking back to 2012, do you think you would have been able to withstand the number of injuries to starters you’ve had this year in that season?
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say we could. We had a lot of great leaders, a lot of guys that knew their roles that year. I would definitely say everything would have fell in place.
Q. Is it that leadership that you really need to push guys?
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say that, and understanding of your role within the defense or within the offense or the guy you’re replacing.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Sheldon.
We’ll take questions for Nick.
Q. Can you recall when you felt not your offensive line but the offense as a whole was playing its best football and what it takes to get back to that on a consistent basis?
Nick Martin: The biggest thing is playing together. You got five guys up front, one guy doesn’t do his job, that’s not giving the play a chance. So we got to play together, play consistent is the biggest thing. That starts in practice.
Q. How do you turn around a bad practice?
Nick Martin: You got to learn from the film. One thing we say in the locker room is it’s never as good as you think, never as bad as you think. If you think you had a great day, you probably didn’t. Also if you think you had a terrible day, you didn’t. We watch film together. We fix it. We ask, What were you thinking here? You have to be inside each other’s heads.
Q. How does going against Sheldon every day in practice help you out, improve as offensive linemen?
Nick Martin: Helps out a ton. He’s the best three tech we’ll see all year. No doubt about that. Sometimes Quenton gets frustrated as a young guy going against him. I stop him and say, If you can stop him, you’re not going to see anyone better. You can see on his face, it helps tremendously.
Q. What does he do that makes him so effective?
Nick Martin: Very explosive, plays with great leverage, strong, a smart football player. He’s able to kind of tell what’s going on, use it to his advantage.
Q. Did you get an explanation for the pass interference penalty called against you Saturday?
Nick Martin: I did not.
Q. A joke was made on Twitter, Congrats for having that on your rÃƒÆ’Â©sumÃƒÆ’Â©.
Nick Martin: That’s a first. I’m not really sure. Tell you when I know.
Q. What about Pitt has allowed them to play so well against you guys in 2011, ’12, ’13, in games they’ve come in as underdogs?
Nick Martin: They play hard. A lot of guys who play till the whistle. Sometimes you can break. In the past, it’s one of the teams that has played four quarters.
Q. I know you don’t get a chance to see it much, but a lot of times when you break a long run or a short pass, it becomes a long pass play, you’re getting blocking downfield from your receivers. When you get glimpses when the action has moved past you, what do you get to see of your receives?
Nick Martin: I don’t see a lot. I definitely notice in film. A lot of people think being a receiver is all fame, catch the ball, touchdowns. It’s not. Majority of the time they’re blocking. I think they’ve bought in. I think they’re excited when they make big blocks and they should. It’s a big part of football.
Q. A receiver as good as Will Fuller, as good as he has been as a receiver, catching the football, making big plays, his willingness to get downfield and block?
Nick Martin: It’s huge. It’s selfless. I think that goes back to what kind of team we are. You look at any guy in the locker room, he cares more about you than he does himself, especially on the field. That’s why it’s a special team.
Q. On Sheldon, you’re a year older than him. He contributed right away as a freshman. Is he the hardest guy you’ve had to block?
Nick Martin: Sheldon, he plays the whole play. Have had a lot of good D-linemen here. That’s the intangible Sheldon has always had.
Q. Can you measure yourself as far as having a good day in practice with him?
Nick Martin: No, I wouldn’t say I measure my days on that.
Q. You have had obviously those late game winning touchdowns. Have you noticed anything from the Virginia game when you get in that huddle compared to maybe how you’ve seen him change against Temple?
Nick Martin: You know, same player. He’s ready, confident. We know what we got to do on the drive. Got to get it done.
Q. With you winning these close games as a team, when you get into those moments, is it like, All right, we’re going to do this no matter what?
Nick Martin: Yeah. Never doubt that you’re going to win the game no matter what situation you’re in. That’s the way you have to think, the way you have to play, especially in those situations.
Q. Have you noticed anything with DeShone running the football now?
Nick Martin: Yeah, absolutely. He wants the ball, he wants to carry it. I always say he’s sneaky athletic. He’s fast. He’s shown that he’s a play-maker.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Nick.
Questions for DeShone.
Q. The playoff rankings came out yesterday. You being a second-year player here, did you get a message from any of the captains about how to handle being ranked fifth?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, we completely understand as a team it means absolutely nothing at this point in time of the year. The national champion last year at this time was 15, I believe. It doesn’t necessarily bring us to any sort of confidence level.
It makes us put in our mind that we’re right there in the top. But we just understand there’s only one we’re going to end up accomplishing that goal, and that’s to win out and take care of business on our end of the things. I think that’s the mindset we’ve had all season, it’s going to continue go forward. As long as we go 1-0 each week, we’ll see where we end up at the end.
Q. When you diagnose the red zone issues, what stands out that you need to do better?
DeShone Kizer: I got to make better decisions down there. Pitt is a prime example of two situations in which there’s check-downs available, there’s opportunities to get myself better play, things like that where I’m going to have to make some adjustments, learn on the fly, continue to develop.
Our success rate down there isn’t where we want it as a team. I belive as a quarterback I feel I have a lot to do with that. I’m going to evaluate at film, evaluation my decisions, hopefully be a little more successful down there in the sense of making better decisions.
Q. The third down throw you had to Will in the fourth quarter, what did you see on that play? Almost twisting your body to get the ball to him for a first down.
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, it was supposed to be a quick-game play. They’re press coverage. We already beat the guy on the outside earlier in the game. Made an inside-out read. Got it out to Will as the play was designed. Really good coverage. Stopping all of our slant routes across the board.
As always, time to make a play after that. If the defense beats you once, don’t allow them to beat you twice. Will, being the savvy guy he is, broke off at the right time. Had plenty of room for me to get the ball out there. Allowed him to make a play.
It’s kind of something he’s done this season multiple times. We understand each other. We understand where we should be in a scramble drill as a team. We do a good job with extending plays.
Q. The arm flapping, Eagles fan, did you understand that might be taken the wrong way?
DeShone Kizer: Not till I was back home did I know it was an issue. I was out there trying to have some fun. I had an opportunity to live out a dream. Emotions got the best of me. If I ever knew it was going to lead to what it’s starting to lead to, I would have never even considered doing anything like that.
At the end of the day, it’s immature by me to do anything in the end zone. That reflects on myself and my team. I apologize for that.
Moving forward, guys understand the slightest movement out there can be taken in any way. I need to make sure I think out my decisions before I make them on the field.
Q. What made you an Eagles fans?
DeShone Kizer: My dad is a huge Eagles fan. He was a big fan of Randall Cunningham. I like to say if it wasn’t for Donovan McNabb, I probably wouldn’t even be a quarterback. I like to think of Donovan McNabb as my first quarterback coach. My dad was a basketball player growing up, didn’t know much about football. We would throw in YouTube clips, he would try to teach me off of what Donovan was doing.
In the early days, we were basketball players, we flick our wrists down. Didn’t understand you were supposed to rotate your wrist the other way, put the pinky on top. I remember my dad showing me a YouTube video of how Donovan’s pinky ended up on top. Back in second and third grade is when I started to try to put my pinky on top.
Things like that allow me to have a strong connection to the Eagles. Had an opportunity to really live out a dream playing out on Lincoln Financial Saturday.
Q. Red zone question. What do you feel are the strengths of this offense that should allow you to have more success in that area over the next four games?
DeShone Kizer: We have tons of talent at the receiver position, whether it be great route running. We have size, the athletic ability. There’s opportunities down there for me to be a little more aggressive, maybe some go-ball throws, trying to fit balls into tight windows that I’m not trying to fit them into.
Also understanding as a quarterback it gets tighter out there, there’s not much room down there. To be able to fully go through a progression to a fourth, fifth read to try to get the ball out of my hands is something I need to work on, having a better cognitive understanding of where the ball should go at what point in time.
It’s unfortunate that we aren’t as successful as we are because we have really good game plans for what we have going. But as soon as I get my eyes locked into one guy, one decision, from maybe the game plan we set up all week, once that decision says no, I need to be able to work through my progression and still find a good option.
When I understand that a play is not going to be the best play called, I have to be able as a quarterback to be able to make a check, have an opportunity to throw maybe a back shoulder ball or something where it’s more of an aggressive throw, a higher opportunity for completion, especially with Chris Brown with the vertical that he has, or Corey Robinson, the size that he has.
Q. With 50-plus carries over the last four games, if that’s the norm of the month of November, how ready are you for that physically?
DeShone Kizer: I think I’m completely ready. I spent all off-season this year preparing myself, my body to be able to run that style of offense. When committing here, I never really prepared myself to be the true dual threat style of guy as I was evaluating Notre Dame. I was evaluating Tommy Rees era, where he was a little under center, got in the shotgun here and there. Thought that would be the style of offense I would run if I was the quarterback here.
Obviously with the adjustments from Everett to Malik and now myself, it’s a skill set I think I have and I’ve been pretty successful with. I believe that I have the size and the ability to continue to carry the ball if that’s what the team needs.
It’s not anything we put out in the playbook and in the game plan saying, Hey, DeShone, you’re going to get 20 carries this game. It’s something that as the game goes on, another threat the defense has to account for. Whatever the coach is going to throw out there for me, I’m going to be prepared to execute.
Q. (Question about high-risk passes.)
DeShone Kizer: Definitely.
Q. How do you balance I am going to attack because that’s what’s there or I don’t want to play into their hands too much?
DeShone Kizer: Every play, when playing a solid defense they have over there, is an opportunity for us to go deep, for us to make a big game-changing play. I have to understand I have to execute what the coaches want. They’ll strategically put those big game-changing plays into our play calls throughout the game. Whenever it’s time to make that throw or try to go deep, I got to do it once the coach allows me to.
I can’t be out there trying to force a long ball every play. Quite frankly it looks like you can throw it every play. There’s going to come a time and place where we have to make that throw and that catch, but I’m going to allow the coaches on the sideline to make that decision rather than myself.
Q. From an offensive point of view, in your six and a half games, when do you feel you played your best offense in Notre Dame football?
DeShone Kizer: I feel like every game there’s spurts in which you can say is our best football. I believe that the two 90-yard drives against USC were a good example of us playing good Notre Dame football, being able to adjust ourselves from the run game to the pass game as successful as we did, put together two long drives.
At the same time Notre Dame hasn’t come close to their best offensive game, not even near it. We’re not even close to our peak yet. We all see little spurts in practice, in game film. We just know there’s something that’s very special that can be unleashed. We just got to put it together and make it consistently come out from drive to drive and from play to play.
We haven’t even gotten close to a complete game yet. We have to continue to strive for it. Hopefully it will come in the perfect time of the year, which is November.
Q. Everyone that’s been up here today has described Pitt as like gritty. As the quarterback, how do you mentally prepare for that?
DeShone Kizer: They’re strong, they’re tough. They’re another Midwestern team who is a hard-nosed, hart hat, lunch pail type of team. With the solid defense they run, you know exactly what they’re going to bring at you almost every play when it comes to base downs, their style of base defense.
As a quarterback mentally I have to just make sure we take it play-by-play. You can’t allow a team to control the tempo. We’re a type of team where we have to be in control at all times if we’re going to play our best. We have to take it play-by-play and not allow a good play on defense or a good stop by their defensive line, whatever the play is, to allow us to fall into their style of tempo.
We have to believe able to continue to exert our identity, the style of play we want to have. In turn, I think we’ll do fine.
There’s going to be opportunities for us to go down the field. There’s going to be opportunities for us to run the ball well. We have to make sure we execute well when we do them.
Q. Someone asked Nick if you were the same guy in crunch time. You’ve had some incredible plays when the game was on the line. Does a switch flick on for you or are you so steady you can do that?
DeShone Kizer: The mindset that our offense has as a unit is that anytime the ball is in our hands, we’re trying to score the ball. We have all the capability to. When it comes to late situations late in the game, I find it fun. If you catch me on the sideline, I’m smiling. This is what I came here to do. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Not everyone gets a chance to go down and try to throw a game-winning touchdown. Not everyone gets a chance to take an undefeated top-25 team in a sold-out crowd with the lights on at 10:30 at night, everyone’s watching. This is what I live for. This is what I came here to do.
With that being said, it’s easy for me to take that excitement and take that want and desire to go down and make a game-winning play and turn it into a focus where once I’m out there it’s right back to the grind.
Like I say, we have all the talent and capability to score every play. It’s all about getting the ball in your play-maker’s hands. We’re too good from one sideline to the next out on the field not to put together some sort of a drive and have an opportunity to score when the game is on the line.
Q. You speak of your big play-makers and grinding. Your wide receivers have been blocking incredibly well on the edge. What does that say about this offense and that unit specifically?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, as a team we like to pay attention to detail as an offensive unit. That’s one of our key items each week, is have attention to details. That’s one detail that most people don’t see when evaluating an offense. That’s one detail that most fans or viewers who are watching the game don’t really put any emphasis on.
But our guys and the mentality that we have to execute what you have to do each play allows for our receivers to be some of our best blockers on the team. The way that our receivers are able to crack safeties, the way we’re able to make blocks on guys who are one foot away from us, waiting for us to come off the ball to blow our heads off, still be able to control them, make plays down the field, is what allows us to have big game-changing plays that C.J. Prosise gets to have, whether we’re throwing a screen or whatever it is.
I think those kind of allow for the big plays to happen. Once we get past the offensive line, past the linebackers, typically there’s going to be a corner or safety there to take out your legs. But for us it hasn’t been that way. Once we’re past that first and second level, it’s off to the races because of the great outside blocking that we have with our receivers.
Q. The block that Chris Brown threw on your 79-yarder. What are the images in your head of his actions?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, when you’re coming out and there’s a one-on-one block, it’s kind of a difficult time trying to decide which side to go to. Chris did a really good job, and he always does a really good job with establishing himself on one side of the body to allow for the runner to be able to make an outside catch.
Q. It was an easy decision for you?
DeShone Kizer: That was completely easy. Chris made a perfect block at a perfect time. Typically on third-and-three or whatever it was, third-and-two, with two tight ends, eight men in the box, why would a receiver have to block? The ball is going to be shoved inside, you’re going to be able to make a run.
Chris takes every play as serious as he can. That’s a prime example of a guy that’s not necessarily a big part of the play, being able to execute no matter what the situation is because you just never know what’s going to happen, whether it’s me pulling the ball and coming out or C.J. Prosise bouncing each gap and winding up outside.
Chris made that block at the perfect time. He’s going to continue to make that block no matter if the ball is outside towards him or completely on the other side of the field.
Q. When you’re watching film in the room, it’s the quarterbacks by yourselves, but you watch film with the receivers, correct?
DeShone Kizer: Yes. We have to do that on our own, off to the sides, a Sunday thing. As a unit, there’s so much on the quarterback, we have to talk through when it comes to defensive opportunities, understanding everyone else on the field.
It’s hard for us to spend time specifically with the receivers. There is so much conceptually you have to understand in the run game, things that receivers don’t need to know. You don’t need to cloud their vision. They have their specific assignments, we have ours. We have to separate in that sense.
Sometimes watching film with us on a timing basis is normally to correct something we did in the game that maybe I thought differently or maybe he thought differently so we can be on the same page. It’s not necessarily something we do on a day-to-day basis.
Q. I was wondering with the receivers are particularly vocal when you guys are together?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, they make sure you know. Those guys, they didn’t come here to make downfield blocks. But when they do happen to make one, they’re going to make sure that the whole crowd knows and the whole team is going to respect them for it.
I like to think I can catch it either in the corner of my eye or catch it on film I go and pat them on the back because those plays are the plays that change games.
Q. Good for your yards per reception?
DeShone Kizer: Exactly.
Q. You gained weight while you were home. How much had you gained?
DeShone Kizer: (Indiscernible).
Back home, getting a couple home-cooked meal, I definitely put on four or five pounds instantly once I was back. I got to eat some of my mom’s lasagna and had a couple bowls of ice cream on the couch.
Q. Taken it off yet?
DeShone Kizer: Yes. It comes off as quickly as it goes on. When you’re out here grinding every day, it’s kind of hard to put on weight.
Q. When you’re running a 79-yard touchdown, are you expecting it to get caught?
DeShone Kizer: 100%. 100%. I’ve run a zone read offense since I was in seventh grade. Once you get around the edge, you break the contain. You normally get about 25 yards, someone hawks you down from behind, takes out your legs. I peeked up at the screen, started running for the touchdown.
Q. Are you surprised after the game second best quarterback yardage ever for any Notre Dame quarterback?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, it was very surprising. I understand that Notre Dame ran the option at one point in time. I figured there would be a couple more big plays like that. When you break off a run of that length, it’s pretty easy to put yourself in the high-yardage range.
Q. Going forward now, what do you have to prove? What are you looking to get better on these last four games?
DeShone Kizer: As a quarterback, I’ve been in quite a few situations. I’ve been in quite a few games in which there were a lot of learning opportunities. I feel like every game there’s something new, something for me to pick up on and try to improve on.
I threw two red zone picks clean and simple. We came out victorious. Nine times out of ten you’re not going to come out victorious throwing two picks down there.
It’s all about now evaluating things as a whole rather than critiquing one thing. Back in the beginning of the season, it’s like I was trying to find my weaknesses. I was trying to find what was my big issues I needed to try to correct quickly, be successful as we go on.
I’m to the point now where we corrected some of the major things, my footwork, being able to make an off-schedule throw, being able to throw a free-access ball outside. We’ve corrected those things.
Now we’re trying to make better decisions in certain situations, being able to challenge myself to be a better quarterback and putting the ball at the right spot at the right time, being able to throw from this shoulder to this shoulder, being able to change the minor things that are going to eventually put us in a position to accomplish the goal.
It’s not as simple as just fixing one thing. Now we’re looking at things as a whole, talking whole-season concepts and figuring things out in that nature.
Q. Being one of the younger guys on the offense, do you feel like you have to be a leader as quarterback or do you lead when you need to?
DeShone Kizer: When you’re at this level and you’re dealing with the teammates that we have in this program, the intellect, the crazy talent, the style of guys that we are, it’s not like, Hey, Nick, you’re a leader today. Hey, Chris, you’re a leader today. Everyone at some point in time is going to lead in a certain way. All the great leaders on this team don’t consider themselves leaders. It’s who they are, how the practice turns out, how the day turns out.
As a young guy, I don’t wake up saying, I need to go lead a football team. Naturally I know if I’m doing my job, a part of my job is being a verbal leader, part of my job is leading by example, it’s naturally going to happen.
We’re at the point now where we’re in a rhythm, we know who we are, we know who is on the field, we know who our brothers are. When someone is down, it’s easy to know how to pick them up because we’ve went through 12 weeks of learning what’s going to get the best out of them.
As a quarterback I don’t necessarily think about leading or putting myself as a young guy who is trying to take seniors to wherever they want to go. It’s more just being myself and continuing to be the same guy because at the end of the day that’s what’s going to help us out the most. If I said, I’m going to be a yeller, yell at everyone who is doing something wrong, they would look at me like I’m crazy and we wouldn’t get any production ott of it. I have to be myself, move forward, allow things to change on their own.
Q. (Indiscernible telephone question.)
DeShone Kizer: It doesn’t take much. When you come off to the sideline and you see your teammates in a position to come out and score again as fast as we can, it’s easy to just forget it and move forward. It typically takes one conversation with the coach or one conversation with other player to put it behind myself.
Q. Talk about Pittsburgh’s defense.
DeShone Kizer: They’re a hard-nosed defense. Coach Narduzzi, he’s had a lot of success at Michigan State running the defense that he has. Pitt is buying in. They have all the talent in the world over there. They have fast guys. They have strong guys. They have guys that have been there and done it a couple times.
I believe they’re buying into what he is laying out for them. We have to come in and continue to play Notre Dame football and put ourselves in a position to win the game and grind it out with those guys.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.