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October 8, 2014

Larry Fedora

LARRY FEDORA:  Yeah, we're really looking forward to bouncing back this week, and we have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us, an opportunity to go to Notre Dame, a top 10 team on national TV, and we couldn't ask for a better situation.

Q.  I just wanted to talk to you about Caleb Pressley and what kind of role he's playing for you guys.  Seems like he's having some fun with this morale coach thing that he's doing.
LARRY FEDORA:  Yeah, Caleb is I understand the self‑appointed morale coach, and he does a great job of self‑appointing himself for many things.  He's a great kid.  He's very well‑loved on the team, and we're glad to have him around, and he contributes in a lot of different ways.

Q.  Was it a situation where when he decided not to play just because of his attitude and his enthusiasm, you guys still wanted to have him around?
LARRY FEDORA:  Oh, yeah.  Caleb, everybody enjoys Caleb, everybody likes having him be a part of this football team, and he still wanted to be a part of this team.  He just didn't feel like playing was in his future, and that was fine with us, but we knew we would be able to use him in many ways, and we have.

Q.  Obviously the two‑quarterback situation you've talked about a lot before, but as far as outside of Williams, your quarterback running the ball, what can you say about your running game and where it's at and if it is where you need it to be right now?
LARRY FEDORA:  Well, we always want to get our tailbacks more involved in what we're doing offensively, but the other day we just‑‑ every time I think Marquise carried the ball or the quarterbacks carried the ball, we averaged over 10 yards a carry.  It was hard not to use them in that situation.  But yeah, we would definitely like to get the running backs more involved in the game plan, and to do that, we need to be in the game.  We need to make sure that we don't turn the ball over early, get out of long yardage situations, and be more consistent as an offense.

Q.  And then as far as defensively, obviously last three games haven't gone your way.  What can you say on defense you've done to try and assess a lot of those problems that you've had against East Carolina, Clemson, Virginia Tech.  Going into this game how have you tried to grow the team in this area as far as defense goes?
LARRY FEDORA:  Well, I think we have gotten better each week defensively.  If you look from the East Carolina debacle on to Clemson and the missed assignments for big plays, and last week the turnovers, we gave up 21 points on turnovers, you know, so I mean, really defensively we gave up one drive, one good drive, and other than that, we played some pretty good defense.  We missed some tackles early but we started getting more people to the ball, and that's the key.  We've got to get multiple hats to the ball.  We've got to swarm the ball carrier, and if we do that and get off on 3rd down, we've got a chance.

Q.  What's the biggest challenge for your offense in terms of facing that Notre Dame defense this week?
LARRY FEDORA:  I'd say their defensive front is very good.  I mean, big and strong and they do a great job with them.  VanGorder does a great job with the defense keeping it multiple and moving people around.  They get into a lot of different looks with multiple personnel groups.  We've got to do‑‑ we're going to have to match up with them and we're going to have to hold up and we're going to have to get after them.

Q.  Is this going to be the best defense you've faced so far this year?
LARRY FEDORA:  Yeah, arguably.  I would say, yeah, I would say so, statistically they are.  They are by far the biggest, probably the strongest.  Clemson had some very quick defensive linemen, but these guys overall I would say are probably the best that we've faced so far, and that's‑‑ I mean, Clemson and Virginia Tech are pretty danged two good defenses, so yeah, I would say so at this point.

Q.  I wanted to ask you, Notre Dame's quarterback Everett Golson has lost one game that he's started in two years, and that was the national title game two years ago.  Can you talk about him and what makes him so effective?
LARRY FEDORA:  Well, first of all, just watching him from the first year when he led them to the National Championship until now, he's grown tremendously.  I mean, he's always been able to run extremely well.  I mean, he can run.  But as a passer, he has improved tremendously.  His accuracy, I mean, he's got great arm strength, he throws on the run very well, he can extend plays, he can just beat you in a lot of different ways.

Q.  And I'm just wondering about the psychology of playing a team coming off a win like they had last Saturday, a 4th down pass, win in the final minute.  You've coached teams that have won games like that.  Does it make it easier the next week or is there a danger of letdown?
LARRY FEDORA:  No, I see it more as it gives your team a lot of confidence.  They believe no matter what the situation is, they can win, all the way to the last play.  No, I think any time you win, especially when you win in a situation like that, I think you're consistently building confidence amongst your team.

Q.  I've got a general question for you.  Is total defense still an important stat, because it seems like there's a lot of teams that are ranked high in that category, but it doesn't necessarily still equate to wins I guess like you've seen in the past.
LARRY FEDORA:  Yeah, I don't know how important it is.  I think for us as we look at scoring defense is really the No.1 thing for us and something that we look at, and that's why Notre Dame is still so good.  I mean, they're No.3 in the country, I believe, in scoring defense.
But I think with the way offenses are spreading it out and getting the ball out in open spaces, I don't know that total defense is that big a factor anymore.

Q.  With the way the game has changed with the diverse offenses and some of the rules changes, it's just geared in general for offense to be able to be a little bit more successful and move up and down the field, correct?
LARRY FEDORA:  Yeah, I just think you're right, the way the game has changed people are spreading it out.  You're putting the ball in a playmaker's hands out in open space, and if a defender doesn't make that tackle right then, I mean, it turns into an explosive play.
It makes it much tougher to just keep your total numbers down on your total defense, and the other thing is people are throwing the ball much better today, and everyone can do it.  It's not just a few teams out there that understand how to throw the ball on this level.  Everybody can do it.

Q.  You said the defense played a lot better against Virginia Tech, obviously especially the second half.  Can you talk about the way the players kind of stepped up recently on defense, kind of making plays and making the defense a little bit better?
LARRY FEDORA:  Well, our defensive line has gotten better each week.  I think that's very safe to say.  I thought our safeties probably played their best game the other day.  Other than the one miscue that we had on the very first touchdown, I thought they played overall much better.
You know, those two groups have been‑‑ have gotten better each and every week, I think.

Q.  What is the defensive line doing that has really stood out?  Are they putting more pressure on the quarterback?
LARRY FEDORA:  Yeah, we're getting more pressure on the quarterback, and we're doing it without numerous blitzes.  I would say probably the easiest thing to say is we've got guys that are doing their job and not worried about trying to help somebody else out.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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