Oct. 28, 2015
Q. How important was that comeback touchdown that you scored to start that USC game? USC had deflated the crowd — I think the crowd was in a fervor and you marched right down. Is that something you talked about beforehand, trying to hit that one right away?
Will Fuller: We were talking about it pregame. We knew they were coming out, trying to get aggressive. I wish we’d had the ball first and that could have been the first play of the game. Happened out there, they got the ball first. That was a good counter.
Q. Did you feel you had anything to prove going against a player like Adoree’ Jackson in that game?
Will Fuller: No, I do what I have to do, and I don’t care who is lining up on the other side.
Q. How do you approach this week? It’s a unique situation for you, going back home, and being at the top of your game at this point. Much different than when you went back as a freshman that was barely contributing?
Will Fuller: Well, it’s just going to be another game for me. It’s going to be a great environment. I can’t wait to get over there.
Q. Playing against Temple, college game day — did you ever think you would be there to play —
Will Fuller: Not at all. That’s why I say it’s like a dream come true. I would never have thought about this happening. It’s going to be real cool.
Q. Just kind of following up on that, what did you know about Temple growing up, Temple football, what was your experience with them during the recruiting process?
Will Fuller: I think they offered me like junior year, late junior year. I went over there a couple times just because they are so close to home.
I don’t know, I never really thought about going to Temple.
Q. Had you ever been to a game this big in Philadelphia growing up?
Will Fuller: No, growing up, it was always the Eagles. I don’t think college football was really that important in Philadelphia. But seems like they are now since Notre Dame is coming to town, so it will be fun.
Q. What can Temple being good do for the Philadelphia high school football scene?
Will Fuller: I think there’s a great challenge in Philadelphia, and I guess like all the good players that come out of Philadelphia, they don’t go to Temple. I guess they can get some good players out of the area to go to Temple and start to building their brand.
Q. Just curious, what did you learn — how beneficial has that been for you?
Will Fuller: Just work hard. He pushes everybody who comes to his facilities. I met him when he was just getting started, so we basically grew up together. But yeah, he pushes everyone to work hard, so just, you know, working hard with everything I do.
Q. I think he said he liked to — when high school kids are there, he liked to bring in college kids just to kind of — some of the tougher, more notable guys you went up against in high school?
Will Fuller: I remember Sharif Legree (ph) being there. I know he’s in the NFL now. Some already Navy guys, Polamalu, Micah Polamalu I think. I went with like a certain group of people I always went with all season. But those two notable guys.
Q. What crowd are you expecting amongst your friends and family?
Will Fuller: A lot, my mom told me like over a hundred people, just family, friends, people who watched me growing up. I don’t think I know all of them but people who know of me. Immediate, probably about 20, 25.
Q. When this game was announced a couple years ago, were you already looking at it? How excited were you to know that you would be going back to play at home?
Will Fuller: When I was a freshman, I probably wasn’t playing attention to it too much. I was excited to be playing Temple period our freshman year. It’s an exciting feeling right now, just going back home, being one of the good players on the Notre Dame team and just having that target on your back going home is going to be fun.
Q. Have you talked to some of the other Philly guys on the roster, just about what it’s going to be like to play?
Will Fuller: Not too much. I try to stay away from the Temple — I have a couple friends that go to Temple and they are talking a lot of trash. It’s going to be fun. I don’t know what else to say. I know like a third string quarterback, he’s not really saying too much. I think he’s disappointed that he’s not playing. Haven’t really been in contact with any Temple dudes.
Q. What about the other Philly guys on your team; have you discussed what you think the atmosphere is going to be like?
Will Fuller: Me and Mike, we talk all the time it’s going to be a great atmosphere and we knew College Game Day — now that we know they are going there, it seems like all the Game Day games are just crazy. Hopefully this one is, too.
Q. A lot of the talk has been about how Notre Dame at least this year seems to be the biggest game on a lot of team’s schedule; that case for Virginia, Clemson. Why do you think that is and do you think that adds much to the game at all?
Will Fuller: I feel like it adds a lot to the game. I feel like we get every opponent’s best game. Temple is going to bring it at us. Doesn’t matter who you are playing, UMass, they brought it at us.
Something about Notre Dame, everybody wants to play Notre Dame. Maybe it’s because our games are on TV. Not many people get to play on TV. We’re going to Philly and this is like one of their first times selling out the Link, so we know they are going be excited to play us.
Q. For you personally, on the bye week, did you get a chance to recharge your batteries?
Will Fuller: It was good and bad, kind of being off my feet for awhile, had to get back into the swing of things, get the soreness out of my legs, down for awhile, legs was locked down. But the extra practice really helped us and the bye week really helped getting out of football for like a couple of days, so it was good for me.
Q. If I remember right, earlier this year you said coming out of high school, you didn’t think of yourself as being a real speed guy. What kind of receiver did you think you were then?
Will Fuller: I always looked at myself as a good route runner in high school and just quick, go there and run, just straight, deep routes. Just being like a quick guy who can get in and out of my briefs.
Q. When did you develop into a speed guy, do you think?
Will Fuller: When I came here my freshman year, there was a huge change in my speed, and I just took it from there.
Q. I think, if I remember right, you had your hometown on your tattoos.
Will Fuller: I have the skyline for like downtown. We are staying down — when we’re flying in or driving in, you’ll be able to see what I’ve got on my arm. I’ve got with the City of Brotherly Love, so I have that on my arm, too. It’s like a part there that a lot of tourists go and see and stuff like that.
Q. About the speed, what are you working on developing now? What do you think you need to become better at to become even a better receiver?
Will Fuller: Just being consistent with catches — after practice, standing there and getting a lot of catches in with the jugs just so I can focus on catching the ball.
Q. Everybody has something that they take from their hometown. What was that that maybe when you were growing up, that you can take from Philly and say, this made me who I am today.
Will Fuller: Just not giving anything. Like coming out of high school, I wasn’t highly-recruited. Had to prove myself everywhere I went. I wasn’t the best player on my pound ball team, had to prove myself there, had to prove myself in high school. I didn’t get any scholarships to a high school team, so I had to earn a scholarship in high school, and here, I had to earn my spot here. Everywhere I go, you’ve just got to earn what you’re worth.
Q. And maybe going from there to Notre Dame, what made you say, you know what, that’s the place for me?
Will Fuller: Anyone can see, academics are great here. We compete and that’s the best of both worlds. I feel like I can compete here. So that’s why I came here.
Q. You seem like a laid back guy but when you get on the field, there must be an attitude — what kind of mind-set do you go into a game with to say that, I want to beat that guy and just to go after it, where does that hunger come from?
Will Fuller: Just being a confident player and knowing that your coaches have confidence in you and just knowing that you can be who crops (ph) the ball; you just have to have that mind-set that you can beat anyone. I’m a lot different on the field than I am off the field. I don’t know where it comes from but I’m a lot more confident on the field.
Q. When you think about this opportunity, yeah, it’s going back home, but also for the team, this is a huge game, undefeated team you’re going against, and you guys want to place yourself at the end of the season someplace special —
Will Fuller: We know we have to continue to win, and Temple is doing a real good job right now. They are 7-0 and their defensive statistics are off the charts, Top-25 in every category. This is a real important game for us and we know it; not just this game but all five games left. We have to win these five games, so we are just going to take it one game at a time and see what happens from there.
Q. The understated part of your personality and being scrappy and trying to get scholarships and maybe being a little bit overlooked, when did you feel like, I’ve got star potential; like I’m not just in this to make it and get by but I have a chance to be a great receiver and play beyond college?
Will Fuller: I would say last camp. I think it was like one of the first practices we had. Coach Kelly came up to me and said: You know, you’re my guy, you’re going to be the star receiver for us, and I just took that personal. He has faith in me and believed in me, and I just started working my butt off ever since he said that to me. I had a great season after that. Coach Kelly put it in my head that I can be a great receiver here.
Q. Did he surprise you when he said that — that you had earned that faith yet after a freshman season just contributing a little bit here or there?
Will Fuller: I didn’t think I earned it yet. It surprised me a little bit when he came up to me and said it. But it did surprise me.
Q. The big picture of getting to Notre Dame, it’s not like you were committed to here forever, you were going to Penn State for a little bit and they had their issues and you opened things up. At what point did Notre Dame enter the picture for you?
Will Fuller: Definitely when I visited, one of my first times visiting Notre Dame, I think it was one of the first camp practices, I came up. And it was just like Jalen came down, Mike Harmon came, James, and just felt at home. Like I said, the academics were great. In fact, they was going through a lot of things and I didn’t want to have everything like behind my head. Notre Dame just felt like a good fit.
Q. Talk about going back to Philadelphia, were you an Eagles fan playing when you were a kid growing up and how cool is it going to be Saturday night playing on that field?
Will Fuller: I wasn’t an Eagles fan. I was a Falcons fan. Michael Vick was my favorite player and that’s why I’m a Falcons fan. I’m excited to get back and play in Philly. I haven’t played since high school, so it’s going to be really cool, especially playing on an NFL stadium and having a lot of my family members there, it’s going to be real exciting for me. So I am excited and I can’t wait to go out there and play.
Q. Talk about Temple defense. What do you see on film that might give you a hard time getting open? I know you’re a tall kid; you can still find a way to get open?
Will Fuller: Their defense, I said a little earlier, they are statistically one of the best teams in the country. It’s going to be tough but I feel if I do my job the way I’m supposed to do it, DeShone will get me the ball.
Q. What’s this going to be like, I know you’re going to be hyped going into this, but it’s almost to a point where you think you might have to confuse yourself a little bit; if you can talk about that, you’re going to have everybody that as we spoke last week about, everybody that’s ever seen you, this is your first — are you afraid to get too over-hyped for this game, considering all the factors for you personally?
Will Fuller: I don’t feel like I’m going to be over-hyped or anything like that. I can keep a calm demeanor in games — I’ve never played in games like this before but hopefully I can keep a calm demeanor. Just play my game and not get over-hyped about playing back in Philly.
Q. How do you think you’re going to do that? Your fans are here, parents, family; how do you disconnect from that?
Will Fuller: Just being a team player. I know this game is not about me. It’s about the team. It’s whatever I have to do to get this win. It’s not about me or going back to Philly or anything like that. We just happen to be going to Philly and I’m on the team. Just doing my part and trying to get the win.
Q. Coach Kelly said the other day, he has spoken to the Philly guys, you, Josh and Mike about coming back. What was that discussion like?
Will Fuller: He didn’t say much. He just made sure I wasn’t nervous or anything like that. It was like a little joking thing. It wasn’t anything serious. He just made sure I was good and excited to play back home.
Q. How do you think the progress of Kizer has been at quarterback and the chemistry you guys are developing?
Will Fuller: Yeah, chemistry is awesome. We’ve been practicing for two years now. Just since he’s been here, the rotation has been good, so he’s been getting that chemistry going and now that he’s the starting quarterback, the chemistry is great. Just talking on and off the field about how he wants the route the ran and things I can do different to help him out throwing, we are clicking real good.
Q. What do you think of his play? How would you analyze what he’s done so far?
Will Fuller: He’s doing his job and he’s doing it well. He’s real consistent. And he’s not turning over the ball, so he’s doing a real good job for us.
Q. Have you looked much at the Temple d-backs on tape? Wanted to know what you thought of those guys.
Will Fuller: Yeah, they keep everything in front of them. They don’t do too much press. They are real Bell team, so it’s going to be difficult to get behind them.
Q. Has it been tough to be business as usual?
Will Fuller: Every week the same. I guess I’m a little more excited since I’m going back home. But just the preparation, everything’s the same. I’m still out there grinding against our D-boys and trying to get better.
Q. Are you still close with anybody there, coaches or teachers, anybody you still keep in touch with?
Will Fuller: I still talk to my head coach here and there and some friends I had in school. Probably I’m closest with my head coach.
Q. Did you say it was a PAL team, that you were not the best team player early?
Will Fuller: Pound ball.
Q. Pound ball. Who was the best player — where was it?
Will Fuller: Who was the best player or what team I was playing for?
Will Fuller: Moss AA. You probably know them since you’re from Philly, but probably Steve Griffin.
Q. Did you ever see him again?
Will Fuller: Yeah, we went to high school freshman year. He started playing basketball.
Q. Obviously you’ve had a lot of big catches last year, a lot of big catches this year. What was the feeling like to have a game-winner down in Virginia?
Will Fuller: It was awesome. Like that’s things people dream about, especially me. I’m still looking at that play and being surprised. It was a great feeling.
Q. What was the surprise?
Will Fuller: Just how it happened, just the way the whole drive went. Just being in that atmosphere and shutting the crowd up in one second. It’s crazy.
Q. In the Twitter background, I had seen that artwork before — do you have any idea where that came from? Obviously we had seen the picture of the student bent over the wall, but where did you see that painting from, just online?
Will Fuller: Yeah, someone tagged me on Twitter, and I didn’t have a background picture and it fit perfect, so I just thought I would throw that up there.
Q. And you talk about being a route runner — what’s the key to that? I’m just curious, did you ever play baseball? I ask because of the deep balls and tracking deep balls that you’re usually good at?
Will Fuller: I played baseball but I never took it serious. I was a little younger. I played third base. I don’t think that has anything to do with tracking balls. I don’t know, I just run fast and try to catch the ball if it’s thrown over my heads and it sticks to my hands, I don’t know, just that.
Q. Do you know Jalen strong? Have you ever met Marvin Harrison?
Will Fuller: I never met Marvin Harrison but I’m real good friends with Jalen.
Q. When did you first meet him and how did you get to know him?
Will Fuller: High school. We both played football. I feel like as you’re doing well in Philadelphia you and play football, I feel like everyone knows each other, and all things related to football.
Q. Why don’t you talk about particularly in recent years, the talent that’s come out of the Philadelphia high schools for football; a lot of people know basketball, but there are some other guys playing, Will Parks is over at Arizona, Woods over at Illinois. Just your thoughts.
Will Fuller: Yeah, I feel like Philly is on the map now. I’m seeing guys in Philly getting offers left and right now. I know when I was in high school, it was real hard for me. I just feel like we are on the map a lot more than we used to be. We are seeing five-stars coming out of Philly, it’s crazy. Philadelphia is doing a real good job right now.
Q. After the USC game, Coach Kelly said DeShone was north of confident, south of cocky. Where does his confidence lie on that spectrum?
Nick Martin: You know, exactly where it said right there. That’s what you need that quarterback though, high pressure job but he does really well with it.
Q. Talked about his poise quite a bit, but the confidence, when did you see that start to develop? Was it after he threw the touchdown to Virginia; the Georgia Tech game?
Nick Martin: Right from the start, when he came in, I thought he was very confident. Helped play and obviously we scored. Right when he came out, I thought he was ready to do his job.
Q. How important is it for a guy that is basically taking over the offense to have a confidence that is palpable in the huddle and on the sidelines?
Nick Martin: It’s very important, he has a big job, there’s no doubt about that. You can hear the confidence in his voice when he gives a play call and that’s huge.
Q. Quentin the last couple days — coming out of the bye, probably as healthy as he’s been?
Nick Martin: Yeah, absolutely. He’s been a hard worker and he’s been limited in the training room and doing all he can do get to 100 percent. He’s a tough kid, there’s no doubt about that. He’s going to be ready.
Q. Brian Kelly mentioned his pain tolerance a few times. When did you pick that up as a thing for him that he was maybe wired a little bit differently when it came to pain?
Nick Martin: It’s just kind of O-linemen mentality, probably day one. Coach Hiestand does a great job recruiting, bringing in the same kind of guys.
Q. Curious as the season has unfolded and you’ve got to watch some of the backups who we have not seen play, practice, go through meetings, film evaluation, what do you make of sort of the twos that you have available right now?
Nick Martin: We have depth. Like I say, it goes back to coach use stand, how he coaches and everyone ready to play. Obviously I spend a lot of time with Sam Mustipher, a good young player, very strong, smart. He’s going to be a great player.
Q. How much time do you spend with the backups? Is it all the offensive line hanging out together?
Nick Martin: Yeah, it’s all the time, we’re always together. It’s not just the starters. It’s everybody.
Q. What does Mike McGlinchey bring to the offensive line from a mentality standpoint?
Nick Martin: He’s a physical player. Definitely a big presence. Really good player and he loves the game with a passion, no doubt about it.
Q. Earlier this year Coach Kelly talked about having to temper his emotions sometimes because he’s a pretty emotional guy. Is that something that you can really see that might be different from some of the offensive line?
Nick Martin: Yeah, everyone handles things differently. Mike is an emotional guy but he gets it out throughout the week and when it comes to game time, he’s ready to go.
Q. Where would you say he’s developed the most since the LSU game last year?
Nick Martin: I think confidence, you have to be confident to play that game, and I think he’s filled into that role.
Q. The front seven, having success against the run —
Nick Martin: Play smart. Older players, I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve noticed is D-Line linebackers, they play smart; they are where they are supposed to be.
Q. That was your first start a couple years ago, a lot of the guys there — I know no one saw a 7-0 Temple coming in at that point but they were a tough team. Could you see them building to this?
Nick Martin: Yeah, it’s college football. It’s one of those things, you never look past a team. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day. That’s why it’s such a fun game.
Q. Obviously the second half of the season, mainly on the road, does your mentality change at all and does your approach to the game change at all or do you just keep it down?
Nick Martin: Pretty similar.
Q. I know you guys have talked about how much you enjoy going on the road. Does that kind of make this second half of the season more enticing that you kind of get to go in and be the villain for what is it, four out of five weeks?
Nick Martin: It is fun. You play on the road and everyone is against you. You get out of the tunnel and you’re getting booed instead of cheered but it’s a fun part of the game, it really is, kind of going in and always being, like you said, the villain.
Q. Can you also talk about just the offensive line and how vital it was to maybe get you guys kind of a break?
Nick Martin: Absolutely. No secret, it’s a physical game. We are no different than any other program. Everyone has bumps and bruises. Bye week is key in getting that body ready.
Q. What have you seen from Temple’s defense? Coach said they do some different things, a lot of different sets and things like that. What have you seen from them and how much of a challenge do they present to you guys?
Nick Martin: They like to blitz, get some more people in the box. Really, they are smart and they play smart, and what they do, they do well, so it’s always a challenge.
Q. Sheldon, what do you remember about that game in 2013?
Sheldon Day: So long ago. So many games since then. But definitely a physical front. They play hard and they play to the whistle.
Q. When you’re watching film on them to prepare for this game, is there anything that you kind of saw on film and said, I saw a little bit of this in 2013 from them?
Sheldon Day: I definitely think it’s a different identity, especially up front. They play very physical this year. They are definitely doing a lot of good things up front. I definitely say it’s a lot different than 2013.
Q. Let me ask you about going against C.J. in practice. There are moments where you as a defensive line and as a front seven — and there goes C.J. taking off?
Sheldon Day: There’s definitely some moments. Just like for example, yesterday, I thought I had him and then he just kind of turned it up and ran right past me. I’m like, there’s no way somebody can catch him like that. He can just fend them off whenever he wants.
Q. That’s the burst you’re talking about. You get in a position where you think you have him set —
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say that.
Q. And a guy that big, too, how difficult is it, if you get your hand on him, he’s still able to get yards after contact?
Sheldon Day: He’s definitely running through tackles, especially arm tackles. He definitely uses his weight to his advantage and definitely makes you feel yourself or himself when you tackle him.
Q. A lot of people have described him as a game manager. What is it going to take to throw him off his game and maybe force him to make some mistakes?
Sheldon Day: I definitely say we have to route him early and get after him as much as we can, especially up front. Make him move his feet in the pocket and make him feel uncomfortable.
Q. I think Will may have said this, and I don’t know if it’s true or not, but that they are getting close to selling out Lincoln Financial Field and probably the first time they have done that in Temple history. Just talk about the atmosphere, obviously one of the big games in their history.
Sheldon Day: It’s definitely going to be a big game for them and for us. Going on the road, playing in Philly, it’s definitely going to be something special for both teams. So we are definitely going to enjoy the moment and definitely have fun with it.
Q. A strange trend for you guy, the first four week, pretty much shutting teams down early in the game, four three-and-outs in the first four games and the last two weeks, teams have scored touchdowns in the first drives. Looking at the film, is there anything behind that or anything correctable from what you’ve seen with that?
Sheldon Day: I definitely say we have to start coming out with our hair on fire. I wouldn’t say we start out slow but we don’t start paying attention to the little things and things like that. We are definitely going to come out with a little edge from now on.
Q. How much of an emphasis has that been, just coming into this week and what you said, rattling the QB early; is that going to be an emphasis going into the game?
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say it is. Coach Gilmore has preached it so much, and now it’s kind of time to let it go. Start letting the things that we do in practice carry over into the game.
Q. The USC game, Daniel Cage had one of his best performances here. Where has his game pushed forward most in the first half of the season and where can he still go the rest of the way?
Sheldon Day: Daniel, his knowledge of the way, it’s growing each and every week and picking up on tendencies and kind of learning things on the fly. If he’s in the game he’s getting feedback from other D-Linemen watching him and he’s kind of making changes throughout the game and just things like that.
He has so much potential. His ceiling is very high right now. If he continues to grow and work at his game, he could be very good.
Q. Could he adjust —
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say that’s happened recently, getting game experience and kind of knowing who you’re playing and things like that and breaking down more film.
Q. From a conditioning aspect, is he one of those guys that’s sort of playing his way into better shape as the season goes on?
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say so. Him and Jerry split time. So it’s all about who has the hot hand right now, so it’s not more of a conditioning thing. It’s about who is playing better at that moment.
Q. Is the bye week for you, what did you get out of it? Did you really need one? And I guess what did you want to sort of get accomplished during a few days away?
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say everybody needed a bye week, just a chance to recharge your battery and kind of get this five-week stretch on the road, get you energized and ready to go again and play at 100 percent.
Mine was more relaxation and family time. You know we don’t get to spend much time with the family, so just to get back and smile and see those guys and have a good time.
Q. Have you had bye weeks where you were just sort of gassed and you needed to recharge physically; this was more of a mental break?
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say probably last year, that bye week last year was more about mentally drained. There was a lot going on. I would say last year was more of a mental kind of rehabilitation, and this year was just relaxation and kind of get after it again.
Q. The question about Cage — did he improve greatly over the summer in August camp? At one point Brian Kelly offered all of a sudden Daniel Cage is the most improved player and ready to play. Did you see noticeable improvement?
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say his work ethic and commitment to getting better definitely improved, from the spring up until now —
Q. Do you talk to him about that at all beforehand, or did you notice him coming along in the summer and take him under your wing?
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say I noticed it in the summer as we were running trying to get back in shape and see him do extra things to get back up to the level he needed to be and just how serious he was taking the drills.
Q. I know you talk about how they get after people and everything, but what particularly do you think is improved about this Temple offensive line?
Sheldon Day: Just the physicalness, they stay on and really try to get you out of the gap and get momentum towards the line to get to the second level. Just the way they play, just the physicalness, their nature has just changed so much.
Q. Do you notice that their leader on that line is a center, Kyle Friend, do you notice him being especially active when you look at film?
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say that because he plays into the whistle and he’s always trying to climb into the second — linebacker and always pretty much do his job and extra.
Q. Going back to your Toledo days, can you talk about coach Greg Dempsey and what he’s like as a coach?
DeShone Kizer: Coach Dempsey is one of the best high school coaches in the nation I believe. He does a good job with simplifying. He takes a tool that isn’t the biggest, is not the power hours of the world and get good football out of the guys that he gets. He has been very successful in the last five, six years, and he continues to put forward an effort that can end up being a state championship every year.
He has the connections that allows his players as elite guys to go play at big schools, and I don’t believe I would be in the position that I am now without him.
Q. Is there anything in particular that you learned from him, whether it be football-related or outside of the game of football, that you’ve taken from him and has shaped your life?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, he is a big preacher of keeping every play as one play, and not looking forward past the next game. He’s the type of guy that no matter the contender in front of you, you prepare the same exact way and he takes it very serious. And you can see his focus before games and before practices, and he allowed that to be instilled within me and it actually led to a state championship in my junior year.
Q. Doubling back on the two 90-yard drives against USC, when things are starting to bog down in the third quarter and Coach Kelly takes it and puts it on C.J. Prosise, but you have that big run in there, too. What sort of is the feeling as you guys finally start to get rolling, going from kind of spinning your wheels almost to having success there?
DeShone Kizer: We knew that we needed some sort of a spark and that we had the plays and we had the game plan that was going to lead to something big. We were just waiting for it to get going. A couple three-and-outs, a lot to do with me and some bad balls in that second, and third quarter gap where we could really get things going, had a lot to do with me.
I believe that once C.J. popped off a big run, there’s a couple big third down completions in there. It allowed for us just to get things rolling.
Once we get things going and we have some sort of a rhythm, it goes to show how powerful and how strong we can be. When we get those spurts — we just needed to make sure that we can take those spurts and hopefully extend them out and hopefully make it a little more — make it a complete game, in that sense, to be able to play our best and have those drives consistently, rather than sporadically at the end of the game when we absolutely need it. We need to be able to get ahead, stay ahead and push forward.
Q. You mentioned when the three-and-outs were going on, you knew you had a good plan. Is that where the confidence never wavered was in the plan of things?
DeShone Kizer: We understood that with a couple formational things that we had going, that eventually things are going to get back into our favor. It’s all about just keeping that confidence and taking every drive one drive at a time.
When you allow drives to connect to each other, end up being multiple bad drives in a row or multiple good drives in a row, it doesn’t necessarily treat us best. We need to be able to take it one drive at a time and keep the confidence that we always have.
We have the ability with all of our threats all the way around the board, our offensive line, to be able to score on every drive. As long as we keep that confidence and keep our MoJo high, I think that allows us to pop off those big 90-yard drives at the end of the game.
Q. Does that overall confidence in you and the offense help you? Coach Kelly described you as a one-mistake guy; how do you not let that snowball into anything bigger?
DeShone Kizer: We have too many threats – five-yard hitch route could end up with a touchdown with the guys that we have. So if there is a mistake or if there is a flaw that we end up running into, the next play is normally going to be a play that can pop off into a touchdown.
So with that mind-set, and then understand that the guys around me are as good as they are, it’s kind of hard to get caught up in one mistake.
Q. Does C.J.’s ability to gain yards after contact, like the touchdown he had, I think it was six-yard touchdown against USC where he got hit and he kind of spun and got in the end zone. Does that ever surprise you when you think a play, oh, this play is over, let’s start getting into this next one and C.J. is still moving his feet?
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, if you watch my expressions on the field, it’s unbelievable. I’m kind run-and-catch them in the end zone — I’m jumping up-and-down like a little kid when he makes those plays.
But as an offense, it helps us big time to understand that a play that could be a bad play or a mistake by one of us, whether I handed the ball off when I’m supposed to throw the ball, they can still pop it into a touchdown, huge for us.
There’s never really a bad play in that sense if he’s able to bounce off a few tackles and get a couple extra yards, whether it be from negative one to three, or from five to 15. He’s the type of guy where the play is never over with him and it’s truly a pleasure to not only play with him but to watch him play.
It’s awesome to be out there watching a human highlight reel go through on a basic second down play and pop off with a 25-yard touchdown.
Q. Coach said that you were running on fumes before the bye week. How much did you welcome that break and a chance to kind of maybe process everything?
DeShone Kizer: Things are moving pretty fast for me throughout this whole season. The adjustment from being a backup to being a starter, some big ones, a tough loss; things just go so quickly that you don’t really get to evaluate what you’ve done, and this last week, being home and getting the support from my city when I was back home, really showed the position I’m really in right now.
And also, allowed for me to understand that I need to take what I’ve done in that first half of the season, evaluate it and be able to make it even more special in the second half.
We have a great opportunity to be a very good team for the second half of the year. We are playing some really good opponents coming up. I believe that with a change of mind-set for myself and for my team, to take a good first half, a top ten first half, and make it a top four second half, we’ll be able to adjust some things and get things rolling into the direction that we want to be in.
Q. What were some of those adjustments, either mechanical or mental that you can kind of tweak and make it so it is a top four?
DeShone Kizer: I think that my biggest adjustment that I’ve evaluated for myself is having a mind set, of not only being a good quarterback, but to take it to greatness. I need to be able to prepare to be the best quarterback in the nation every week.
I was in the position the first half of the year where I was a replacement. I was a guy who was able to manage a game and accomplish a mission in that sense. Now I want to take it into the second half of the year and be the best quarterback in the nation every time I step on the field. Because I know that after evaluating the first half, that I have the ability to.
There are some times where I fall down and I limit myself and I don’t play at the highest of levels and I can’t allow that to happen anymore. In order for this season to be great, everyone has to play great and starting at the quarterback position, I’m going to try my hardest to be the best quarterback in the country every time I step on the field.
Q. The level of the opponent may not be quite the same as the first half but you have to go on the road for a lot of this. How much do you love going into these road environments four out of the last five weeks?
DeShone Kizer: It truly makes things fun. This is the reason that we come to Notre Dame: To play in big games like this. You look at the schedule before the season this year, and you don’t necessarily circle Temple.
But the way that things are set up and the way that Notre Dame plays football, somehow, some way, something like this ends up happening where you take a team that you didn’t expect to be as good as they are, one of the most talented teams in the country, playing against an undefeated team, a sold-out crowd in an NFL environment; this is the reason you come to Notre Dame.
This is why we had the success that we do because we have to prepare as if every game is a big game. We don’t have to pretend that these teams are great. We are playing great opponents, and it just makes things clear (ph).
Q. You talked about Temple, what do you see from their defense that’s going to give you some challenge?
DeShone Kizer: They are very game-plan oriented. They do a very good job. Coach Snow over there does a really good job of evaluating how an offense wants to get down the field. He puts together a really good (inaudible) and for us to be successful against their experience and their great game plans, we are going to have to be able to play our football and play it well.
We know that they are going to put something good together for us but we have to put something even better against them and be our best each play. Because of the identity that we have created in the first half and the core group of plays that we know we are going to come out and play every down; if we can perfect those and do those well, there’s not much they can do differently game plan-wise that can stop what we are doing.
Q. Will Fuller, what do you see from him that maybe it does come naturally now he’s worked for that?
DeShone Kizer: He is the same guy every day. The way he practices, is the same way. He’s not a guy who gets really high and gets really low. He’s very smooth in everything he does. We understand that — what people don’t understand is how good of a rut runner that he. He’s able to use his speed to break down defenders and to break down leverage to create the open space to outrun guys.
No matter how fast a guy is, if you start with a ten-yard head start in the backpedal, it’s kind of hard to run down a guy. But he does a good job with manipulating his body, being able to change speeds and change directions to create space. And that’s something that not only happens in the game for you but during practice.
When we go against our ones on defense, and when he gets to try to break down a KeiVarae Russell or Cole Luke, it makes it easier in the game to break down someone else who might be at KeiVarae or even better than KeiVarae’s level. But when he gets to practice against great guys and go as hard as he does in practice and be a great practice player, it makes games a lot easier for him.
Q. You mentioned going back home and feeling the love, not exactly sure how you phrased it, but probably people giving you compliments. When you went back home, how did that make you feel, and do you have to be careful that you don’t want to fill your head with too many things because you’ve been so focused so long here?
DeShone Kizer: As much as I did receive the love and support from my city back home, I was also — inaudible — and I was not able to do that in a long time. I was out and about and was able to watch my high school team and able to go to a pep rally and things like that when I went back home but I also spent a lot of time just being at home with my family. Being able to experience that love and being able to experience that — people being proud of me within my family. Those people haven’t been able to see me as much as I want to. I was able to stay within them and keep things very calm, and allow myself to just relax and get my body right and my mental and things right to get off to a great start in the second half.
Q. A lot of times when that happens, there’s that one person that sets you straight. Did you have that moment or did somebody, say, hey, you still have to take out the garbage?
DeShone Kizer: When I was home, my parents were doing a big construction project in the house. I was working from 8:00 A.M. until about 2:00 P.M. in the back out in the back, whether it was raking things or putting up a fence or whatever it was. My parents are always going to be the people who keep me mellow and make sure that I understand that the things I’m doing now shouldn’t be anything compared to what I want to do in the future.
Q. How are you adjusting to you will this and now being the quarterback at Notre Dame?
DeShone Kizer: Things happened kind of quickly. Before you know it, I was in there handing the ball off to C.J. Prosise who scored a touchdown. I didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to allow things to get too big.
Coach Kelly and all the senior support that I have has allowed me to keep things within myself and take it one play at a time, and you know, we’ve had some success. As we move forward, we continue to develop; I’ve been developing, not only as a player but as a leader and a person off the field. It has allowed me to come into my own shoes and be comfortable heading into the second half of the year.
Q. How much confidence have you gotten game by game, because obviously by getting more reps, you’re feeling more comfortable.
DeShone Kizer: Yeah, I think that I’m at the point now where I believe that I fit the role as a Notre Dame quarterback pretty well. I believe that it’s my spot, and I’m competing with the guy behind me who is pushing me.
But at the same time I’m able to be comfortable in my own shoes completely. There’s not much where I doubt myself and anything I can do right now. There’s nothing that I feel like is a true weakness of mine, other than some footwork things that I can adjust on my own. When it comes to understanding my position on this team, I think I’m completely comfortable.