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October 14, 2015

Sheldon Day

South Bend, Indiana

Q. Sheldon, I think you've already eclipsed your tackle for a loss total this year from what you had last year, so what sort of has gone right for you just big picture so far in the first half of this year?
SHELDON DAY: Just the way Coach VanGorder is using me this year, just kind of moving me around all over the field, getting me to do stunts and things like that and just putting me in the best situation to make plays.

Q. How much of it, too, is that this is maybe the first year where you've been completely healthy in the last couple years?
SHELDON DAY: I feel like that's a big part of it. Rob and Coach Longo are doing a great job with me in the training room and in the weight room, so all praises go to them.

Q. When you say like moving around, is this something that you could have been able to do your sophomore year, your junior year as effectively?
SHELDON DAY: I would definitely say it took me time to kind of grow into the position I'm in today. I could probably do it last year, but I wouldn't have been as confident in my ability last year.

Q. Is it a matter of just different vision when you move inside, outside to the different techniques?
SHELDON DAY: I would say it's more responsibility and the freedom I have moving to certain positions.

Q. How good did it feel as a fellow defensive guy to see Jarrett Grace running around there making plays that he hasn't been able to in a couple years?
SHELDON DAY: It's great, you know, to see the Wild Man. That's what we call him, just to see him just run around, have fun, and just enjoy the game again.

Q. Why is he called the Wild Man?
SHELDON DAY: I mean, it's locker room talk, so I don't think you want to know.

Q. Fair enough. Matthias was in here a little bit earlier, and he did a pretty good impression of your mother. Is that something else that goes around?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, yeah, everybody always gives me a hard time for my mom, but everybody loves her. She's a great spirit to have, and every time you see her, you can't do anything but smile.

Q. Coach Kelly was talking about the USC game last year and you guys were banged up and weren't in the right plate mentally, emotionally, physically. He said he's never seen that with this year's team. What makes this team mentally and physically strong?
SHELDON DAY: I would definitely say the brotherhood we have and the leadership we have on this team. Seems like we have so much chemistry because we're always together hanging out, doing just the little things together, like go get something to eat, just talking about life, checking in on each other's family. Seems like we're more of a family this year.

Q. (Inaudible.)
SHELDON DAY: It makes you want to just kind of do everything you possibly can for your brother because you know that pretty much you do everything together and you don't want to let him down, so you're kind of coming together, which makes you grow stronger.

Q. How much of your success, like J.J. mentioned about having as many tackles for loss now as you did the entire season last year, how much of that do you attribute to Coach Gilmore and what he's brought?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, man, Coach Mo, he's done a lot for us. The hand drills that we do every day, the emphasis he puts on get-off and just explosion. It's just the little things that he keeps reinforcing in us that's making us a good D-line.

Q. Has he helped you at all off the field, as well? How has he coached you just in general?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, he's helped me mature just so much, just having me grow my role as a leader and just kind of making me the true leader of the D-line and making sure that I'm comfortable with the plays and everything like that, just growing my understanding of the game.

Q. Last year Coach Kelly said you were maybe a little bit hesitant to speak up as a captain. This year obviously that's the big difference. For you what helped you make that transition?
SHELDON DAY: Just being comfortable with the guys and knowing what I can say and what I can't say to them.

Q. Is that something the coaches had to push you to do a little bit?
SHELDON DAY: Last year he tried to, but this year I kind of took it upon myself to do that.

Q. Sheldon, USC is obviously missing their starting center for this game. Does that change your approach at all when you see an injury or see an inexperienced player that's going to be playing?
SHELDON DAY: I wouldn't say that. We approach each game knowing that they're going to give their best, so I don't think anything is going to change.

Q. Going back to your mom, when you first heard her during maybe a Notre Dame game, what was that like? Were you cringing in comparison to now when you hear it and obviously you're probably embracing it?
SHELDON DAY: Yeah, so I thought I was going to get in trouble the first time I heard it because we were actually warming up, and she said, "Boy, if you don't look at me." So it was kind of like, do I look at her? What do I do? What do I do? So now I give her like a little hand sign so that she knows that I heard her. But the first time, definitely it was scary.

Q. Who were you worried about the most, her or Coach Kelly?
SHELDON DAY: I don't know, that's a tough one. I would definitely say her. She definitely knows how to get under my skin and make me do the right things for sure.

Q. What is your relationship like with your mom?
SHELDON DAY: It's probably the best relationship I have. I tell her pretty much everything that I'm going through, and she's like my best friend. We kind of shoot ideas back and forth about just the little things in life. She's always there for me and supporting me with 100 percent.

Q. And then with your leadership this year, you've touched on it even before the season about how you realized you've now stepped up that role. Why did it take a period of time for that to happen for you, and maybe how much have you even grown as a leader from even the beginning of the season to this point?
SHELDON DAY: I've definitely grown a lot because of how comfortable I've got with the guys and how much we hang out and just how many things I understand about them and just my role last year to this year. It was more I didn't really feel like I was able to kind of speak out because I was a junior and I had seniors above and I had to listen to them but also give my views, so it wasn't like I was a true leader of the defense or the true captain.

Q. Sheldon, I know you're really big into the 24-hour rule, but a loss to USC in that fashion last season, the way they beat you guys, it has to stick with you. How much does that add to this game this weekend?
SHELDON DAY: Well, USC is always a big game for us. It's a rivalry game, so just last year is just bad taste in our mouth. It's kind of what we had to go into and kind of deal with leading up into the bowl game. We had that taste in our mouth for about a month until we actually could play somebody else, but it's always in the back of our minds how bad they did beat us.

Q. Joe and Matthias both said that when teams go through adversity like USC is going through, it brings everyone together. Do you expect that to maybe manifest on the field, for them to come out with a little extra energy?
SHELDON DAY: I would definitely say, or at least think that they would. They're going to get behind their guys and kind of rally the troops and give us their best shot.

Q. And then talk about just their quarterback and what he kind of presents as far as challenges. Obviously statistically he's tearing it up, but what kind of challenges does he present on the field?
SHELDON DAY: It seems like he's reading defenses. He knows where to go with the ball. He doesn't make many mistakes, and it seems like he's trying to be perfect every game, so we're definitely going to try to affect him.

Q. Just in terms of coming off the Navy game and being banged up, do you guys feel better this year than past games after Navy just in terms of the overall health of the team, or is it similar?
SHELDON DAY: I would definitely say it's been similar. I don't think we had any injuries or anything like that or any guys banged up. It's definitely a good thing to come off a Navy game and a physical game like that with no injuries.

Q. Is there anything you could point to about starting slow the week after Navy or why that lingers a little bit?
SHELDON DAY: I would definitely say sometimes you're so used to running that different type of defense for Navy and things like that, so it takes you time to get adjusted to kind of traditional defense again. We've definitely been working on it this week and making sure we get back to fundamentals of football.

Q. I was curious on your mom in the stands, having seen you play in high school, were you thinking when you got to Notre Dame, well, there's 80,000 people, no one is going to hear her?
SHELDON DAY: Yeah, I definitely thought that, but it only got worse.

Q. Just curious, when you talk about rivalry, what makes this such a big rivalry? Is it the past, because obviously geographically you guys aren't close, but is it just because you know the tradition so much?
SHELDON DAY: I think it comes down to recruits. USC always tries to get the best guys, Notre Dame always tries to get the best guys, so it's all about bragging rights and pretty much who has the edge over it any specific year. It's always Notre Dame, USC, what can we do better than those guys. I feel like it's a lot of things that go into it, so a rivalry game is just a rivalry game. You just don't like them. You don't have to have a reason, you just don't.

Q. Coach said because of their unique circumstances coming in this week that they would obviously be motivated. Do you guys have to find new motivation or is there just enough?
SHELDON DAY: It's always the end-of-the-tunnel vision for us. That's all the motivation we need, and we know we have a slow margin of error, so we have to focus on that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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