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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 16, 2015
South Bend, Indiana
An Interview With:
THE MODERATOR: All right. We have Sheldon Day here. Guys, fire away when you're ready.
Q. I know you face it every year, but what makes it so tough going into the option?
SHELDON DAY: Man, you have been to be disciplined. It's a different kind of offense that is run in college football, and it's so assigned driven that it's different than more offenses than not.
Q. And is Georgia Tech's much different than Navy?
SHELDON DAY: There's some similarities. The offensive line is definitely bigger. Seems like they have a lot of skills guys that are fast in space.
Q. Sheldon, we just kind of the game different than you guys obviously do with the coaches. Do you feel you guys dropped off significantly defensively or was it more a little bit of a drop off with a hot quarterback, wide receiver combination that really kept things rolling?
SHELDON DAY: Man, it was definitely a challenge for us, and we feel like we need to work on some things, and we're definitely going to get back to it and make sure that we clean up on the things that we messed up on.
Q. I guess unique week with Georgia Tech coming in. Is it difficult to build on your successes and mistakes, because I mean it's a different defensive scheme. It's a much different scheme and different alignments and everything this week or is it kind of like a one-off week that you guys have been building for?
SHELDON DAY: We've definitely been working on it and making sure we're on top and we know our assignments. We kind of put it in here and there and make sure it's still fresh in our mind from week to week.
Q. Like the bulk of your defensive principles carry over at least from regular game week to Georgia Tech and Navy?
SHELDON DAY: Well, for the D line I can speak for them it's definitely the thing as far as get off the offensive line and create a new line of scrimmage.
Q. Sheldon, can you just go back to Malik getting hurt and the emotions that was going through the locker room at that time?
SHELDON DAY: It's always sad to lose a brother on the team especially a guy like Malik who's always so happy and having a smile on his face and to see him kind of tear up and be sad about something, it kind of hit us at home. And the next man in mentality, but it's always hard losing a brother.
Q. You guys have lost five guys to season-ending injuries already. How do you get over that and move forward when it's so early in the season?
SHELDON DAY: We all stick together. Brotherhood and we preach that since springtime, just hanging out with each other, making sure we're comfortable with each other, building chemistry in and out. And to see how much those guys being around the team and seeing a smile on their face, how much that encourages us.
Q. Do you guys still believe you can achieve the things you want to achieve despite all these injuries?
SHELDON DAY: Yes. We have a vision and we're sticking to it.
Q. And then finally for me, just you know, how big this game is, top 15 team. What's that like going into a game like that, that type of environment?
SHELDON DAY: It definitely has a little oomph to it, and it's going to be a big one and we have to play technically sound if we want to win.
Q. I don't know how many times you're going to match up against their right guard, but he's listed 366 and they say he's 385.
SHELDON DAY: Yeah.
Q. Have you ever gone up against a guy of that size?
SHELDON DAY: I haven't but they say small guys pack a punch, so I'm ready for it.
Q. You do play -- I mean I don't think you could find a guy that plays harder every snap than you do. Where did that come from? Has that always been who you are or did you have an influence early in your career that prompted you to play with that level of intensity?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, man, it goes back to conditioning in my high school days. Every day my high school D line coach preached run, run, run, and we spent the first 15 minutes of every practice just running, so it kind of build a motor in me and making me want to play hard each and every play.
Q. Did you have the stamina to play that hard every snap when you were a freshman here?
SHELDON DAY: Not at all. College football is definitely different, so I had to adjust to it.
Q. Coach VanGorder installs a lot for you guys, and I would think -- Joe Schmidt said the greatest adjustments in responsibility come with Mike linebacker first and foremost. With all the variations that he has on a regular basis, how much does that impact down line men?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, man. A lot. He expects us to know what everybody does and vice versa. So we install each weekend and we make sure we're clear on everybody's assignments so we know who's supposed to be doing what, with a where we're supposed to be to make sure the defense runs smoothly.
Q. So is it exciting, exhilarating, frustrating at times?
SHELDON DAY: Man, depends on the day of the week. Mondays, it's like, oh, my gosh, what did he just do, but then as we get into the week and we start to run them and take reps at it, it kind of clears up.
Q. Does it ever lead to confusion that is a detriment to what you guys try to do?
SHELDON DAY: I wouldn't say that. It's definitely exciting to kind of see things fall into place and see how well things work.
Q. I know every game, the next game is the most important, but do you consider this a defining game with so many things going against you right now, with injuries and question marks?
SHELDON DAY: I wouldn't say that. I would say that this game is very important to us, of course, and it's our next game. So we're definitely all out on Georgia Tech. And just knowing that we have a mission and we're trying to do anything possible to get to that mission. So I wouldn't have an excuse or anything like that for this.
Q. Do you feel like maybe there's a little bit more resolve, especially after giving up some points, giving up some yards last week? Do you feel that in practice maybe?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, yeah. We definitely have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because we didn't play as well last week, so we're definitely trying to make a statement this week.
Q. Have you had the opportunity to talk to da shotgun and if so, what have you said to him, because you know, obviously going into a game like this, nerves can get to him. Have you had an opportunity?
SHELDON DAY: Me and DeShone, we always joke around. He was a guy that came in and kind of had, I wouldn't say trouble when he first got here, but was still trying to find his way early on and just seeing him grow and seeing him just kind of mature within the program. So I'm just always kind of making him smile or try to brighten up his day and just trying to make sure he stays positive. So I said a couple of words to him, trying to say we're all behind you and things like that just to get his spirits high and things like that.
Q. Can you give me an example of kind of what you do to ease his mood or something you said to him to ease his mood?
SHELDON DAY: Yeah. For example, last year, seeing him kind of walk around, I wouldn't say with his head down, but just seeing him not getting as much reps in practice and just saying your time is coming, things like that to make sure that he knows he's next within or next man up pretty much.
Q. What you went through last year, you had a bunch of injuries, you, Joe, all these guys go down. Do you feel like what this team went through last year maybe like battle hardened you guys? You know how to deal with this kind of stuff?
SHELDON DAY: I didn't think of it like that, but now that you say it, definitely we've been through it last year. We know the changes we have to make from last year to this year and that's within our leadership and things like that. So I definitely say we're prepared for something like this to happen.
Q. And then discipline is a play, obviously a swing word, you're playing a triple option team. Is that something that you can really hone in on in a week's time or is that something that really started preseason that you guys had to develop that?
SHELDON DAY: I would definitely say that started in spring ball just knowing your assignment and knowing that we're one of 11. You need to do your job, and knowing what your job is is pretty much what discipline means to us.
Q. Your first college game was against Navy. Right? So what kind of advice did like Kapron or Stephon or Lou kind of give you about facing cut block?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, man. I don't think it was more of cut blocks. It was more don't let the big play happen to you, whether that be me not tackling Dove on veer block. It was more of staying on top of my assignment.
Q. Have you given Jerry kind of similar advice?
SHELDON DAY: Yeah. But Jerry's unique. You know, he does things Jerry's way, and so it's always a push-pull with Jerry. So the cut block, you tell him about the cut block and he'll play it this way, and then it might not work for us, but it works for Jerry. So it's always about finding a way for Jerry pretty much.
Q. Is Jerry able to do that because he's 6-6, 300, but plays with some kind of ridiculous level of athletics?
SHELDON DAY: For sure. Jerry's body -- I don't know if I can say that. But Jerry's body does some unique things, so that's why we let Jerry get away with a lot of things. (Laughs).
Q. Do you guys get together to watch the Showtime episodes when they come out each week or do you have more important things to do?
SHELDON DAY: Yeah. So we don't get to watch them on Tuesdays because most people don't have Showtime. We try to wait until I think it's tonight where we try to get together and watch it.
Q. Well, if you hadn't heard, I mean we saw that you roomed with Tillery on the road. What's that like? I mean a lot of people talk about what a unique individual he is. Inside the mind of Jerry Tillery, what's that all about?
SHELDON DAY: Well, last week me and Jerry we just talked about our lives and trying to get to know each other on a deeper level, and I think last week's conversation was about his family and how he's kind of found his passion to be a nurse and things like that. And it's kind of cool about how his background kind of led him into his career path.
Q. You said before, I think you said that DeShone had some trouble when he first came in. Like in what way?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, just, you know, coming in as a freshman, you want reps, and it's just hard to kind of go through that freshman phase where you redshirt and you don't get all the reps that you think you deserve. So everybody goes through that stage and we sometimes call it the freshman wall or whatever you want to call it but it's all about keeping your spirits high.
Q. Is he a pretty serious person or emotional or how would you describe him?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, man. I've never seen him cry, so I don't know if he's emotional. But I would definitely say he's very passionate. Yeah, so just for example, last week after he through his touch down pass he's running down the field. You can tell he just pours his heart into the game and the way he studies film and how much he's dedicated to the game.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? All right. Thanks, guys. Should have Matthias Farley up here in a few moments.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports