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October 14, 2015

Joe Schmidt

South Bend, Indiana

Q. Joe, I think you had said your family was at the Bush game but you weren't. Can you take me back to the memories from your perspective of that 10 years ago?
JOE SCHMIDT: Yeah, it was an unfortunate game. I was -- I actually had a game myself. I was playing left guard for the Orange Chiefs at that point in time, and my sister was a senior here, and my brother-in-law, actually that was the weekend that my brother-in-law proposed to my sister, so my family was on the way out here.

And so they got out here, watched the game, I ended up watching the game. I think on like a -- like I recorded it and watched it, so I didn't know, like, live, but I knew afterwards. I couldn't have been more depressed about it, and actually, no, I guess I could have. I could have been on the team. But it hit me pretty hard as a little kid, and then I watched it over and over and over again. I watched that 4th and 9 play however many times. Funny now being able to talk to Coach Crum or McCarthy about the game, and it really was one of the instant classics, one of the best games I've ever seen.

Q. Were there any future USC guys in that pee-wee game you were playing in?
JOE SCHMIDT: I think -- I don't think Troy was on my team at that point. He was on another Pop Warner team. Troy and I started playing together in eighth grade. I'm pretty sure that was my -- I don't remember, sixth grade year, seventh grade year. I think I could be wrong, though. The Chiefs are a powerhouse.

Q. Joe, the level of play Sheldon has been at this year, what does it do for the entire defense as a whole when you have the defensive tackle at that position playing at such a high level?
JOE SCHMIDT: Well, I think great defense starts with defensive line play, and Sheldon has really been doing a great job, both in production and leadership. I think it really kind of allows for Jaylon and I and whoever else might be playing inside, if James is inside there, too, to kind of move around and make plays easier, and when he's disruptive, it just makes our defense so much better.

So a lot of good things to say about how he's playing, and I know him, and I know that he always is talking about how he needs to be better, but it's always fun knowing Sheldon's in front of you, and going into a game with him kind of as the initial line of defense makes me feel good.

Q. The leadership aspect of it, I know Coach Kelly has said previously that he understands a little bit more what it means to be a leader on this team. How have you seen that kind of manifest itself so far this year?
JOE SCHMIDT: Sheldon has always been a guy that people easily relate to and connect with, so I think he's just more aware of that now. He's like -- and that self-awareness has allowed him to be more consistent in his approach, and I think it's been really good for our defensive line room, but then that's for our team in general.

Q. I was wondering what the USC game last year was like for you.
JOE SCHMIDT: Well, it was weird because I flew down there with the team, and then I'm like -- I'm in the hotel -- I think it was the first game I traveled to after my surgery. So I think I'm still on pain medication at the time, and it's a weird thing, so everybody -- I just remember at the game not knowing what to do and how to coach the guys once we were down I think 21-0 in the first quarter, and I just remember the looks on their faces and the way that I felt, and it was a feeling that I never want to replicate -- duplicate rather, and then it just kind of got away from us a little bit. I'd say it's one of my least fond memories of my football career.

Q. Coach Kelly was commenting yesterday that at that point of the season, due largely to injuries, just not being mentally and physically tough enough for the moment. He says this team has no -- doesn't reflect that in any way. How has it changed? What makes this team more mentally and physically tough?
JOE SCHMIDT: You know, I don't want to get too much into that team or this team with regards to toughness. I think we are healthier. During that game, you know, some guys, some young guys had to play, guys that hadn't played all year or had to play positions that they never played before, and we lost a bunch of guys in that game. It was hard.

Q. I guess I'm more interested in -- forget that I even mentioned last year. What makes this current team mentally and physically tough?
JOE SCHMIDT: I'd say the way we practice, the way we prepare, and how much we want to be successful. I think that everybody holds each other accountable, and really we're just -- we're extremely driven to get to our -- to attain our goal. I think that's what I see in this team, and I saw it yesterday in practice, and I'm going to see it again this afternoon. It's almost like a -- like I know it's going to be there, and it's great to be around a group of guys that are like that.

Q. I believe Saturday after the Navy game was the first time you didn't come out and talk to us after a game.
JOE SCHMIDT: I don't know, you'll have to ask my guy here, Bertsch.

Q. That was actually my question, whether that was your choice or Notre Dame's choice.
JOE SCHMIDT: Oh, did you guys want me?

Q. Well, Joe, you're the quote of the day. What can I say?
JOE SCHMIDT: (Singing) Anyone know the '80s song I was just doing there?

Q. I know how upset you were after the Clemson game and how important it is to represent your team, as well. You wanted to come out and talk, you wanted to represent your team?
JOE SCHMIDT: For me, I really don't -- it doesn't matter to me. I love hanging out with you guys if that's what you're looking to get.

Q. No, that's not --
JOE SCHMIDT: We have so many guys on this team that can provide unique insights, especially against a Navy team like that. Like did Greer go out and do media? Greer Martini, he hardly ever talks to the media, but he had a great game and he's able to provide maybe some insight that I wouldn't be able to provide, and I think it's good that we have guys doing that.

Q. Are you disappointed individually in the way you played the last two games? I guess that's kind of what I'm getting to, why you did or didn't come out.
JOE SCHMIDT: No, I mean, I was disappointed with how I played against Clemson. I think I tried to make that point clear. I felt good about how I played against -- how I played against Navy. I felt -- other than one play, I played an extremely clean game, so I was happy with that, and that's really where I was at mentally was I knew, and I had a lot of conversations with Coach and we were working on getting through some issues, and that was a game that I needed to make sure that I was clean in, and I felt that we did that together as a team.

Q. I talked to Matthias about this, too, he talked about having to start faster defensively. Your first three games you were three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out a couple series in a row. Clemson hit you and Navy hit you. Do you notice a difference?
JOE SCHMIDT: No, but it's funny that you ask that because I've been thinking a lot about that. It's not like we're not emotionally ready or physically ready, especially at the start of this Navy game. Like if you watch that first play, just maybe we weren't -- we didn't anticipate what they were going to do on that particular play blocking scheme wise, but like guys were flying around. So I don't know if it's -- and I'm trying to figure out what we can do better in prep, and that's kind of what I'm thinking about this week. But it's kind of tough to like put your finger on what it was exactly. But it was a big play, and we knew exactly how to fix it, so that's why we were on the sideline. We immediately circled the wagons and were like, all right, how did they get us on that play, and called upstairs and they saw what we saw, and they fixed it. That's what's great about our coaching staff and our players. We identify problems and fix them quickly, which is maybe why we're doing better as the game unfolds.

Q. Sometimes a coach will say they had to adjust to the speed of the game. Let's throw Navy out of it because that's something you don't normally see. Does it ever seem faster to you? Was Clemson fast and then they adjust -- obviously they're a fast team but is that something you have to adjust for at times?
JOE SCHMIDT: You know, sometimes. I think maybe there's a particular player or players that just have unique traits, and you have to -- you kind of have to try to watch them on film. But absorbing the move in real time is always different. Yeah, I guess maybe. That's a good assumption.

Q. This game two years ago was kind of your coming-out party as Joe Schmidt the player. You were on special teams, but that was one of the big game-changing plays. Have you thought about that recently?
JOE SCHMIDT: Yeah, I think about that day when I have a bad day. Yeah, I still to this day have no idea why I was in the game, and I thank Coach Diaco and God for the opportunity, and then just thankful that I was able to make a play that helped the team.

Q. Do you remember being nervous postgame interview at the time because now it's a little different.
JOE SCHMIDT: Is it? Honestly I don't remember -- I don't know if I remember the media. I just remember the feeling of my parents.

Q. I don't think Ryan Kessler would ever sing at the podium.
JOE SCHMIDT: You don't think so? I don't know, he's a good -- he's a character.

Q. Not many teams have slowed down this USC offense the last couple years. Can you take anything away from what Washington did?
JOE SCHMIDT: Yeah, I think that they had a pretty good game plan. They were able to hold them to a decent amount of points, but at the same time, USC will have figured out what they did wrong against Washington and they're going to be prepared to play us. They're extremely well-coached, and they're going to be ready to play this football game. I guess so there are some takeaways, but at the same time they have a lot of guys that can make plays. A lot of guys.

Q. What's your scouting report on the quarterback?
JOE SCHMIDT: He's a dang good player. What has he thrown for 15 touchdowns and three picks? It's really, really good. He's completing like 70 some percent of his passes. He's a very good player, and we have a lot of respect for him.

Q. Obviously you know a lot of guys on that team.

Q. How much do you feel for them right now, what they're going through, obviously?
JOE SCHMIDT: It's -- you know, it's extremely difficult to comment on. I really don't know -- I haven't talked to anyone in their locker room or any of the guys on that team since that news broke. As a human, I feel for them and I just pray for them, and that's really all I kind of have to say about it. It's a very tough situation.

Q. When you're going through adversity as a team, how does the team overcome that?
JOE SCHMIDT: You know, with adversity, I think it's a time where you guys have to come together and play for each other, and that's what we do as a team and that's what I think everyone as a group -- every group in general kind of tries to do is just kind of come together and play for each other and just kind of fight it with everything you have.

You know, very tough -- adversity is never easy. I think it's part of the definition. But I think it's about just responding to it and working through it.

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