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September 30, 2015

Joe Schmidt

South Bend, Indiana

An Interview With:


Q. Best dual threat quarterback you guys have faced up until this game in your experience at Notre Dame?
JOE SCHMIDT: Is that including --

Q. Not including this game, no?
JOE SCHMIDT: Okay, yeah. I was going to say.

Q. I would assume it would be the best.
JOE SCHMIDT: Yeah. Best dual-threat quarterback. Oh, I mean it's hard because we've played so many guys that have been so accomplished through the air and on the ground. I guess I could give you a couple. I thought the kid from North Carolina was very good. I thought, you know, shoelaces from Michigan was incredible, running the football, throwing the football. You know, there's a lot of guys that kind of come to mind. I'm trying to think back, you know, kind of through the years of people that have been very good at running the football. I don't know. I'm trying to think -- those are probably the two that first come to mind. I don't know. I guess I would have to think about that. I haven't really thought about it.

Q. Seeing Deshaun on film all week, seeing Watson on film, where does he kind of present a unique challenge for you guys?
JOE SCHMIDT: I mean he's a very, very talented quarterback. He can do kind of everything within the offense. He operates through the offense exceptionally well. He has a tremendous amount of poise at the line of scrimmage. You know, he doesn't really seem to get rattled, makes all the throws, runs exceptionally well. So I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a player.

Q. That 2012 game in Oklahoma, I think the first quarter Cierre Wood had a big touchdown, like 60 yards. What did that do for you guys on the sidelines to get that big play early on and establish yourselves in that one?
JOE SCHMIDT: You know, that was -- that game was -- that game was kind of an emotional high throughout and I don't even remember the run, to be honest with you. I just remember are, you know, that team had self belief, and just trying to go in there and do everything we could for each other and make plays for each other. And that's how we just kind of try to play. And that's what I remember from that game, and you know, I'm just trying to do everything I can to kind of create that kind of atmosphere and environment for our guys when we go on the road this year.

Q. When you do get a big play like that, whether it's Cierre's play, Chris Brown 50-yard touchdown later in that game, what does that do for the adding to that self belief that you mentioned?
JOE SCHMIDT: Well, yeah. I mean big plays are great. You want big plays. You need big plays within the context of the game. So maybe it settled some guys down, you know, and lets people start playing their game and realize it's just a football game. We make plays, they make plays. It's just -- you know, whenever a big play happens, for momentum it's big, but also just settling the young guys down, it's big.

Q. Joe, what's been the key to the success here with you guys having all the injuries that you've had and still finding a way to get business done every weekend?
JOE SCHMIDT: Well, injuries are going to happen, so we've had the mindset of next man in since I've got here. And guys just really focus on being prepared for their opportunity. You don't know when your opportunity is going to come. You know, and that's how I got my first chance to play here at Notre Dame, so it's really just something that we try to have, you know, harbor here within -- in all of our meeting rooms is that you don't know when your chance is going to come. And the older guys really work with the younger guys to make sure that they're ready for their chance. So whether that's Malik always working with DeShone and now that's paying off or if it's Durham Smythe working with Weishar and Alizé and Tyler and Chase and all those guys working together, it doesn't matter because really all we care about is the team, and it's not about one guy.

Q. As someone who's kind of been through it with both ends getting your opportunity because of an injury and then losing the rest of your season last season to a season ender, do you have a different perspective of that next man in mentality than if you wouldn't have if you hadn't gone through it?
JOE SCHMIDT: Yeah. I think I've kind of seen it from both ends. So I see how important it is, from -- you know, from the guy that needed the coaching to go in and play, to seeing it that I needed -- for the guy that needed to do the coaching. So I guess I've seen both sides of the coin, and it gives a unique perspective and hopefully a unique ability to help guys on this team.

Q. Going back to that Oklahoma game, a lot of us remember it and remember going in that it was a situation where people didn't know if you could do it. Have things changed now where you guys feel like, okay, we're going into this hostile environment; we want to stay undefeated, and we know we can do it at this point?
JOE SCHMIDT: I don't know if -- I don't know if that was the feeling in our locker room, really ever. And so I think, you know, I see that you guys are trying to make comparisons to the 2012 Oklahoma game. But I really -- I don't see this game in the same light as that game or this game really in the same light as any other game or any other game in the same light as any other games that we've played. I try to look at them all within their own context. You know, this is a different team, playing a different opponent, and I think that we try to go in with the same confidence, the same attitude, the same demeanor into everybody football game. That's really our ultimate goal. We don't want to go in up for one game, down for another, sideways for the third. You can't do that. That's not the way to be successful, and that's not the way we're coached.

Q. Seems like the program has grown, then, since then where you have that attitude and you changed that. Maybe it was just developing under Coach Kelly at that time?
JOE SCHMIDT: Coach Kelly has done a heck of a job developing our program and I've kind of been here throughout the process. So hat's off to him. I tried to -- all I've tried to do is just, you know, play within the scheme and try to fit the culture that's here and kind of build on that.

Q. There's been a little chatter going back and forth on Twitter, especially early in the week. Is there somebody on the field for you guys who's maybe the king of chatter? I mean going back and forth?
JOE SCHMIDT: I think you guys might know the answer to that question. I'm not going to say who.

Q. Stalker on the team?
JOE SCHMIDT: Yeah. Perhaps. Which could be me. You never know. I'm a very fierce-looking guy.

Q. There's gotta be a fine line to that, though.
JOE SCHMIDT: You guys are laughing. What the heck.

Q. There's gotta be a fine line to that, though, to where you talk to keep yourself motivated but at the same time stay within the game.
JOE SCHMIDT: Really, I think -- I hardly ever talk, so I'm probably the -- when I do, Sheldon normally laughs at me. But I think -- we're all so worried about the game and our calls and our plays. We hardly -- there's really -- there's way less talk than you think on the football field. We're mostly talking to our guys, and they're mostly talking to their guys. So I think -- we try to stay away from any of that. But you know, the jokes are funny, but that's really, yeah, that's it.

Q. And just being one of the older guys on the team to see some of the younger guys go into a big game like this, is it kind of fun for you to maybe mentor them or to see their excitement, to see their energy?
JOE SCHMIDT: Yeah, well, I'm excited. Sheesh, you know, this is a fun game. This is -- you know, these are match ups you want to play in, and this is why you play the game of football. This is what you dream of as a little kid. So I'm really excited about this football game, and I mean I love to mentor other guys because I've been in the situation now a few times. So it's fun to see their reactions, but I'm also still just a kid playing the game that I love and living my dream. So it's pretty cool.

Q. Joe, yesterday Coach Kelly said he likes when you guys have enthusiasm in a week like this surrounding a big game, but he doesn't like when you take that a step further and become too emotional about it, because that can be draining. How do you balance that?
JOE SCHMIDT: I think leadership is crucial, just trying to be smart about how you prepare. You gotta prepare the same way. Maybe you have a little bounce in your step or what have you. But you gotta -- you gotta focus on just preparing the same way, going back through your routine and doing the right things to ultimately be ready on Saturday. So that's kind of what we're focusing on. I think that's what he's touching on. You don't want to be emotional, you know, too emotional, rather, at any point, because yeah, that is exhausting. And you want to make sure you're playing just the same way all the time.

Q. Is that something maybe you had to deal with more as a younger player?
JOE SCHMIDT: For me, yeah. That was a process for me. This is just personally, you know, from my personal experience. Yeah. I used to -- I used to have to try to -- I had to really focus on not becoming too emotional. I think I'm better at it now.

Q. Where do you think this defense is as far as how you're playing on the field now versus where you want to be to accomplish your goals?
JOE SCHMIDT: I obviously want to get better, and I'm working on it each and every day. We have our own goals, you know, within our room that we're working towards. And Coach VanGorder is on us and we're on ourselves and we're on each other. So we're all trying to get better each and every day.

Q. What are the specific areas where you maybe need to focus on right now?
JOE SCHMIDT: Across the board. Everyone needs to get better. There isn't one guy that's on our defense right now that can't get better. There's no one that's at the top of their game. It doesn't matter who you are. So we all have to try to continue to work, and you know, we have to get in the film room. We have to get out on the practice field and execute, and then ultimately be ready emotionally, spiritually, physically on Saturday to execute. So that's where we're at.

Q. Joe, you guys have been hit by a couple of trick plays, Virginia, and then last week. How frustrating is it -- I mean you guys have basically played pretty good defensive football with the exception of a couple of plays like that. How frustrating is that when somebody goes against such a strong tendency and takes advantage of you like that?
JOE SCHMIDT: Well, I mean yeah, it's frustrating, because we'd like it not to happen. We don't want to give up big plays. So I think it's just a matter of everybody coming together and making sure we're on our work. We don't ever lose our eyes, and we just stay assignment correct. So yeah, it's frustrating, but I also think I'm very -- I'm very proud of the way that we don't ever give up. I mean if you watch those plays, you know, I just remember vividly an image from UMass where they threw their double pass, but you know, he might have under threw it just a little bit, but there was like seven of our guys, including a defensive lineman in a full-out Sprint after their wide receiver. And you know, we catch him, which is something that I as a defensive linebacker and as an older guy love to hear, or love to see. Sorry.

Q. And just in terms of like teams breaking tendencies, not trick plays, but just going against tendencies. I don't think the average observer of the game off the field realizes how often an opponent does go against those tendencies. Can you give an indication as to how often that happens?
JOE SCHMIDT: I mean nobody ever wants to play completely within their, you know, whatever they've been doing. They always want a break, whatever it is. You know, an offensive coordinator doesn't want you to know what they're doing. So I think every game someone is going to try to be unpredictable, because if you're predictable, you're going to lose, I feel. It's very hard to kind of go into a game and know exactly what's going to go on. I just don't think that's realistic.

Q. They did a lot of unbalanced lines. They had four guys lined up to the right of the center. They did some different things, or I don't know if they were different.

Q. Had you seen any of that, like the 83-yard run, did that break tendency?
JOE SCHMIDT: I can't remember exactly what the formation was with that. Pretty sure it was just slot. I think, you know, they did some unique things in that game, Massachusetts, that is, for people who might not know what we're talking about. But you know, we had seen them on film, obviously. People don't just come out and run a whole new offense, but there are no wrinkles. So the formations for the most part were similar. Some differences. But there is little wrinkles rather than large-scale changes in their offense. That's kind of what I'm trying to get on.

Q. Thank you.
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