Oct. 26, 2016
Q. I think you mentioned it after the Stanford game and Coach Kelly mentioned it yesterday about maybe too much offensive inventory and the advantage of being able to play free and easy. Can you speak to that and the importance of that as a guide that’s running the offense?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, you know, we have so many talented positions across the field it’s hard not to go into a week and try to hit the ball to each and every guy with multiple looks in multiple situations. And with the smart kids that we have on this team and the great coaches who are coming from a bunch of different styles of offenses from the past, everyone has come in and put together these great looks and these great ideas about specific defenses, specific style. And that’s great, to check those all out. But I think there’s an understanding now that we have to figure out what we are doing well and put emphasis on that.
In the first half of the season there were some specific looks that are more successful than others, and we have to put emphasis on those looks, to have continued success.
Q. Coach Kelly’s quote was let’s practice what we’re good at and let’s be better and execute. Without giving away your secrets or your game plan, what are your and what do you feel the offense is good at?
DeShone Kizer: I think the first thing with Stanford is a pretty good example of how the offense can go from one side of the run game, and then make some passes here and there. Obviously the first drive wasn’t pretty, but from there we were able to establish a great run game. We were able to throw some quick game off it and take a couple of shots, as well.
But the ultimate goal for now is to stay ahead of the sticks. We’re getting into way too many third down situations where there’s a lot more pressure than there ever should be in the beginning of the game. If we can come out with a stronger start, hopefully we can stay out of these fourth quarter situations we’ve been in week in and week out.
Q. Is there a particular down where you’re more like I have too much inventory?
DeShone Kizer: First and second down is a position where you can really call whatever you want, as an offensive coordinator your mind is everywhere, you have your game plan, you have your starters and the openers that you want to try to get out of the way in the first half, and then from there, once again, with the talent that we have, you can go in any direction. And I think that once we do figure out where our strengths are, and which I think we have during this bye week we’ll be able to go back to those plays where we know we’re going to have constant success. Maybe shy away from taking too many shot plays in the first half or whatever it is. It’s more along the lines of making sure we can find what we do well, and continue to do it.
Q. This past week you practiced during the bye week you practiced on Tuesday. That was your last day?
DeShone Kizer: Yep.
Q. And then you came back when?
DeShone Kizer: We came back Sunday. And got a little on Sunday and extra practice on Monday.
Q. That’s longer than normal that you’ve taken off or the coach has given you off or is that right?
DeShone Kizer: I’ve only been here a couple of seasons. Yeah, we had a day or two extra off to kind of reset ourselves, for sure.
Q. Obviously it’s important to have that time, whether you’re winning or losing, right, you need that downtime away from football?
DeShone Kizer: Right. This is a long season. With the schedule we play and the big games that we put ourselves into, it’s nice to step away and kind of remove yourself and evaluate who you are, where the team is and make the proper adjustments to move forward and be successful.
Q. Do you remove yourself or force yourself or remove yourself from football for four days or so?
DeShone Kizer: You can’t be too far away. Obviously we still have some great games to play in and half of the season to go through. So you remove yourself away in the sense of physically getting off your feet and getting your body back to where you want it to be. But mentally you have to stay locked in. It’s hard not to, catch the Miami, Virginia Tech game last week, do some evaluation on that part. Different guys do different things. For me it was step away in the beginning of the week and then start gradually getting back into it.
Q. Do you still condition, do you lift, do you throw at all?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, I threw once. We have a packet that gets at least one or two workouts in while you’re a way, to make sure your body is moving so you don’t come back and take an extra practice and put yourself a step behind rather than getting the step forward that we want.
Q. Did you go home?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, I just went home. There’s a lot of guys out there who plan trips away. I was going to try to step away and had a trip to the south and feel the beach or something, but it was best for me and my family for me to be home and focus up on sitting on the couch for once, rather than having forced relaxation and going through the whole traveling situation. It was best for me to step back and go home.
Q. A little bit of interaction with your teammates, I’m sure?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, yeah. The guys that you’re tight with, we texted consistently. Figured out where our minds need to be when we come back.
Q. Nobody went home with you?
DeShone Kizer: For, I went home by myself.
Q. Were you frustrated with the last game, what’s the feeling?
DeShone Kizer: I mean we lost again. The only feeling you have right there is anger. It was a rough game for me. Obviously very interesting getting benched at one point in the game. A lot of highs and lows. And it was a nice opportunity to step away, once again, a little off break to really evaluate the season as a whole in that game. And make the proper mental adjustments to come back and be successful in the second half of the season.
Q. Do you feel like maybe you’re trying to do too much at times?
DeShone Kizer: No, I’m just trying to execute what those guys tell me to execute. And we never do that well against Stanford obviously in the beginning of the second half. This quarterback position, here, is a lot of responsibility and I fully take that on. And if you try to do any more than what you’re giving you then it’s way too much. Right now my mentality is just executing what Coach Kelly is putting together upstairs. There’s only one goal here and that’s to win, and that’s where our motivation sits. And that’s where my motivation sits. Whatever I can do to focus on those responsibilities that I’m given to be successful.
Q. Obviously the game against Ohio State was an anomaly because of the conditions. But offense has struggled, what do you think you have to do to get back to where you were when you were scoring 30 points a game?
DeShone Kizer: You know, like you said, the Ohio State game was obviously not the best situation for us to go out and execute. Stanford’s first half was pretty good for us. We started relying on that run game to get us. We saw Veterans stepping out there and making big plays in the second drive. Second half, personally I played bad. And that’s on me. The offense didn’t come out and just completely go away from what we did in the first half, I just made a couple of bad throws that put us in a low at the time. But as an offense I think we have enough on tape, we have an identity and we know who we are, and we know what we do well. And I think now we need to focus on what we do well, rather than having the pessimistic mindset.
Q. Hard to tell always what goes wrong on the play, the receiver, what — looking back, do you see a common theme with when you have thrown interceptions, have you been trying to throw too tightly or any common theme among the interceptions?
DeShone Kizer: Each of those is different, obviously. And they all have their own reasons behind it, but it would be fundamentally my throw, bad decisions, time and place in the game. I think that in the last — the last couple interceptions I’ve thrown are me taking high risk throws in times I shouldn’t. And when you’re at 10-7 against Stanford, just through one pick that turned into seven points, you’re trying to do whatever it takes to get your team back in the lead, fourth and long, and the rockets and bullets are flying at you. I’m just trying to make an extra play. Really the ball goes a little high and it turns into another interception. With that, it’s high risk, high reward in that situation. And I took — in the last couple of games I’ve taken maybe too many risks in those positions where it might be best for me to allow the play to develop, maybe take a check down, or if the need be take a sack or put yourself in the position to take a drive and a kick.
Q. How do you mentally, emotionally, confidence-wise, how do you refer from going through what you did in the Stanford game and not having the results, like they had a good first half and then the second half and Malik comes in, and then they put you in for the last drive and it comes up empty. How do you emotionally recover?
DeShone Kizer: You look for it. You don’t sit there there’s so many for us to go out and prove ourselves and do whatever we’re supposed to do to win games. To be looking in the rearview mirror would be bad on my part. Obviously there’s been a lot of ups and downs, we’re off to a rough start. We’re getting to the back half of the season, we have nothing but opportunities in front of us. Why not focus on opportunities, Super Bowl optimistic, figure out what I can do to better myself as a teammate, as a player, and do whatever I can to focus in on what’s in fronts of me. There’s been a lot going on the last two months, and as a player I think that it’s a learning experience, that I’ll be able to build from. But for now it’s all about what can we do to beat Miami, what can I do to be a better player today, what can I do to be a better teammate today, to help Notre Dame go out and try to win.
Q. In terms of beating Miami, how do you counteract their aggressive defense, with the sacks and tackles?
DeShone Kizer: You’ve got to match their intensity. They’re a bunch of athletes out there who are all fast, and every last person out there is a big play type of player. We all completely understand that. In order to go out and be successful against a defense like that, we have to come out with that same aggressiveness, that same confidence in ourselves to be the better player and to beat the guy in front of you. Intensity is going to be everything. This game obviously has a little bit of history to it with the Catholics versus Convicts, and we understand that they’re in a position where they’re — we’re looking to get a win ourselves. If we can match their intensity, execute the game plan that’s set out for us to do then you can become very successful against a team that’s out there with a bunch of athletes like Miami has.
Q. Will you be looking more for a quick release, rather than — short passes rather than making yourself vulnerable, waiting back in the pocket?
DeShone Kizer: There’s time and places for everything. You’ve got to react to whatever the defense is doing. You’ve got to be able to throw high throws behind them. If they’re going to is run and drop 8, you have to check the ball down. Once again there’s a time and place for everything, as long as you’re counteracting what the defense is doing, and you do what you do well from the run game to the pass game and making sure they compliment each other, then you’ll be able to sustain success.
Q. One thing you mentioned about knowing your identity. What would you say is that identity, the thing that always works?
DeShone Kizer: Our identity is that we have athletes all the way across the board. We have three great running backs. We have receiver depth. We have a great offensive line who is really figuring it out the last couple of weeks. And with that it’s time to spread the ball around and keep pushing forward. I believe that our offense is one of the best in the country, no matter what statistics say. And all it takes is for us to buy into that, have the confidence to do what we do, and make sure that we’re out there executing the game plan. The only thing that’s stopping us these last 7 games is ourselves. We’re putting ourselves in the position to win the game in the fourth quarter each game, and lack of execution is the only thing that’s stopped us from winning those. If we can buy in, be focused, be disciplined, continue to do what we do and do it well, we’re going to be fine, we’re going to win some games at the end of this season.
Q. Yesterday Coach Kelly said he was disappointed, I think that’s the right word, (inaudible) as players, is that disappointing that it’s gotten to the point that you have to hear the same thing about your head coach?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, that has a lot to do with how we’re playing. Obviously we would never want to be in that situation, where we could never really predict ourselves to be this position in the season. But we are, we’re looking to catch lightning in a bottle and get things rolling. We’re completely bought into Coach Kelly. He obviously has the experience. He’s a one go coach. He knows how to win and he’s going to figure out whatever it takes to win, and as long as we continue to have the mentality that he is the successful coach that he is, and trust in that, we’re going to be fine. We’ve been all over the place in this first half of the season, from different motivational speeches, from a different mindset each week, trying to figure out what the best way of getting a win and doing whatever we can. But from here on out it’s all about having a good time, taking this opportunity to play for Notre Dame and doing whatever you can to bring home wins. Once again, Coach Kelly is something we all completely bout into, we trust and are committed to. As long as we continue to have that mindset we’ll be successful in this last half of the season.
Q. Have you gone back and looked at all of your interceptions and if so, what did you learn?
DeShone Kizer: My mind is forward. We make those adjustments at the end of each week. Science that game is over, 24 hour grace period, we push it behind us and move forward. Obviously there’s a different situation, different scenarios for each of those throws that I could try to sit here and justify or try to say they’re as bad as they are, there’s no point. The only thing that’s on our mind is Miami in front of us and figure out how to put ourselves in the position that we can be the team we know we can be the rest of the season. We’re using this as an opportunity to put all that behind us, look at this as a five game season, and try to surprise ourselves with the success we know we can have.
DeShone Kizer: Not necessarily. I wasn’t a big college football fan growing up, I didn’t watch much. In Ohio you have to choose a team, I chose Michigan over Ohio State. Quite eye few of my friends were Notre Dame fans, I watched Notre Dame and respect them, but I didn’t watch too much college football.
Q. Did you ever watch film?
DeShone Kizer: You can obviously assume that with all the history that Miami has with the U and all the aggressive football they played in the past and the tradition and the winning record that we’ve had here that those two historic programs definitely collided. And we’re looking forward to going out there and representing our side of that “rivalry” as we step in against Miami this weekend.