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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 26, 2016
South Bend, Indiana
Q. I think you mentioned it after the Stanford game and Coach Kelly mentioned it yesterday about maybe too much offensive inventory and the advantage of being able to play free and easy. Can you speak to that and the importance of that as a guide that's running the offense?
DESHONE KIZER: Yeah, you know, we have so many talented positions across the field it's hard not to go into a week and try to hit the ball to each and every guy with multiple looks in multiple situations. And with the smart kids that we have on this team and the great coaches who are coming from a bunch of different styles of offenses from the past, everyone has come in and put together these great looks and these great ideas about specific defenses, specific style. And that's great, to check those all out. But I think there's an understanding now that we have to figure out what we are doing well and put emphasis on that.
In the first half of the season there were some specific looks that are more successful than others, and we have to put emphasis on those looks, to have continued success.
Q. Coach Kelly's quote was let's practice what we're good at and let's be better and execute. Without giving away your secrets or your game plan, what are your and what do you feel the offense is good at?
DESHONE KIZER: I think the first thing with Stanford is a pretty good example of how the offense can go from one side of the run game, and then make some passes here and there. Obviously the first drive wasn't pretty, but from there we were able to establish a great run game. We were able to throw some quick game off it and take a couple of shots, as well.
But the ultimate goal for now is to stay ahead of the sticks. We're getting into way too many third down situations where there's a lot more pressure than there ever should be in the beginning of the game. If we can come out with a stronger start, hopefully we can stay out of these fourth quarter situations we've been in week in and week out.
Q. Is there a particular down where you're more like I have too much inventory?
DESHONE KIZER: First and second down is a position where you can really call whatever you want, as an offensive coordinator your mind is everywhere, you have your game plan, you have your starters and the openers that you want to try to get out of the way in the first half, and then from there, once again, with the talent that we have, you can go in any direction. And I think that once we do figure out where our strengths are, and which I think we have during this bye week we'll be able to go back to those plays where we know we're going to have constant success. Maybe shy away from taking too many shot plays in the first half or whatever it is. It's more along the lines of making sure we can find what we do well, and continue to do it.
Q. This past week you practiced during the bye week you practiced on Tuesday. That was your last day?
DESHONE KIZER: Yep.
Q. And then you came back when?
DESHONE KIZER: We came back Sunday. And got a little on Sunday and extra practice on Monday.
Q. That's longer than normal that you've taken off or the coach has given you off or is that right?
DESHONE KIZER: I've only been here a couple of seasons. Yeah, we had a day or two extra off to kind of reset ourselves, for sure.
Q. Obviously it's important to have that time, whether you're winning or losing, right, you need that downtime away from football?
DESHONE KIZER: Right. This is a long season. With the schedule we play and the big games that we put ourselves into, it's nice to step away and kind of remove yourself and evaluate who you are, where the team is and make the proper adjustments to move forward and be successful.
Q. Do you remove yourself or force yourself or remove yourself from football for four days or so?
DESHONE KIZER: You can't be too far away. Obviously we still have some great games to play in and half of the season to go through. So you remove yourself away in the sense of physically getting off your feet and getting your body back to where you want it to be. But mentally you have to stay locked in. It's hard not to, catch the Miami, Virginia Tech game last week, do some evaluation on that part. Different guys do different things. For me it was step away in the beginning of the week and then start gradually getting back into it.
Q. Do you still condition, do you lift, do you throw at all?
DESHONE KIZER: Yeah, I threw once. We have a packet that gets at least one or two workouts in while you're a way, to make sure your body is moving so you don't come back and take an extra practice and put yourself a step behind rather than getting the step forward that we want.
Q. Did you go home?
DESHONE KIZER: Yeah, I just went home. There's a lot of guys out there who plan trips away. I was going to try to step away and had a trip to the south and feel the beach or something, but it was best for me and my family for me to be home and focus up on sitting on the couch for once, rather than having forced relaxation and going through the whole traveling situation. It was best for me to step back and go home.
Q. A little bit of interaction with your teammates, I'm sure?
DESHONE KIZER: Yeah, yeah. The guys that you're tight with, we texted consistently. Figured out where our minds need to be when we come back.
Q. Nobody went home with you?
DESHONE KIZER: For, I went home by myself.
Q. Were you frustrated with the last game, what's the feeling?
DESHONE KIZER: I mean we lost again. The only feeling you have right there is anger. It was a rough game for me. Obviously very interesting getting benched at one point in the game. A lot of highs and lows. And it was a nice opportunity to step away, once again, a little off break to really evaluate the season as a whole in that game. And make the proper mental adjustments to come back and be successful in the second half of the season.
Q. Do you feel like maybe you're trying to do too much at times?
DESHONE KIZER: No, I'm just trying to execute what those guys tell me to execute. And we never do that well against Stanford obviously in the beginning of the second half. This quarterback position, here, is a lot of responsibility and I fully take that on. And if you try to do any more than what you're giving you then it's way too much. Right now my mentality is just executing what Coach Kelly is putting together upstairs. There's only one goal here and that's to win, and that's where our motivation sits. And that's where my motivation sits. Whatever I can do to focus on those responsibilities that I'm given to be successful.
Q. Obviously the game against Ohio State was an anomaly because of the conditions. But offense has struggled, what do you think you have to do to get back to where you were when you were scoring 30 points a game?
DESHONE KIZER: You know, like you said, the Ohio State game was obviously not the best situation for us to go out and execute. Stanford's first half was pretty good for us. We started relying on that run game to get us. We saw Veterans stepping out there and making big plays in the second drive. Second half, personally I played bad. And that's on me. The offense didn't come out and just completely go away from what we did in the first half, I just made a couple of bad throws that put us in a low at the time. But as an offense I think we have enough on tape, we have an identity and we know who we are, and we know what we do well. And I think now we need to focus on what we do well, rather than having the pessimistic mindset.
Q. Hard to tell always what goes wrong on the play, the receiver, what -- looking back, do you see a common theme with when you have thrown interceptions, have you been trying to throw too tightly or any common theme among the interceptions?
DESHONE KIZER: Each of those is different, obviously. And they all have their own reasons behind it, but it would be fundamentally my throw, bad decisions, time and place in the game. I think that in the last -- the last couple interceptions I've thrown are me taking high risk throws in times I shouldn't. And when you're at 10-7 against Stanford, just through one pick that turned into seven points, you're trying to do whatever it takes to get your team back in the lead, fourth and long, and the rockets and bullets are flying at you. I'm just trying to make an extra play. Really the ball goes a little high and it turns into another interception. With that, it's high risk, high reward in that situation. And I took -- in the last couple of games I've taken maybe too many risks in those positions where it might be best for me to allow the play to develop, maybe take a check down, or if the need be take a sack or put yourself in the position to take a drive and a kick.
Q. How do you mentally, emotionally, confidence-wise, how do you refer from going through what you did in the Stanford game and not having the results, like they had a good first half and then the second half and Malik comes in, and then they put you in for the last drive and it comes up empty. How do you emotionally recover?
DESHONE KIZER: You look for it. You don't sit there there's so many for us to go out and prove ourselves and do whatever we're supposed to do to win games. To be looking in the rearview mirror would be bad on my part. Obviously there's been a lot of ups and downs, we're off to a rough start. We're getting to the back half of the season, we have nothing but opportunities in front of us. Why not focus on opportunities, Super Bowl optimistic, figure out what I can do to better myself as a teammate, as a player, and do whatever I can to focus in on what's in fronts of me. There's been a lot going on the last two months, and as a player I think that it's a learning experience, that I'll be able to build from. But for now it's all about what can we do to beat Miami, what can I do to be a better player today, what can I do to be a better teammate today, to help Notre Dame go out and try to win.
Q. In terms of beating Miami, how do you counteract their aggressive defense, with the sacks and tackles?
DESHONE KIZER: You've got to match their intensity. They're a bunch of athletes out there who are all fast, and every last person out there is a big play type of player. We all completely understand that. In order to go out and be successful against a defense like that, we have to come out with that same aggressiveness, that same confidence in ourselves to be the better player and to beat the guy in front of you. Intensity is going to be everything. This game obviously has a little bit of history to it with the Catholics versus Convicts, and we understand that they're in a position where they're -- we're looking to get a win ourselves. If we can match their intensity, execute the game plan that's set out for us to do then you can become very successful against a team that's out there with a bunch of athletes like Miami has.
Q. Will you be looking more for a quick release, rather than -- short passes rather than making yourself vulnerable, waiting back in the pocket?
DESHONE KIZER: There's time and places for everything. You've got to react to whatever the defense is doing. You've got to be able to throw high throws behind them. If they're going to is run and drop 8, you have to check the ball down. Once again there's a time and place for everything, as long as you're counteracting what the defense is doing, and you do what you do well from the run game to the pass game and making sure they compliment each other, then you'll be able to sustain success.
Q. One thing you mentioned about knowing your identity. What would you say is that identity, the thing that always works?
DESHONE KIZER: Our identity is that we have athletes all the way across the board. We have three great running backs. We have receiver depth. We have a great offensive line who is really figuring it out the last couple of weeks. And with that it's time to spread the ball around and keep pushing forward. I believe that our offense is one of the best in the country, no matter what statistics say. And all it takes is for us to buy into that, have the confidence to do what we do, and make sure that we're out there executing the game plan. The only thing that's stopping us these last 7 games is ourselves. We're putting ourselves in the position to win the game in the fourth quarter each game, and lack of execution is the only thing that's stopped us from winning those. If we can buy in, be focused, be disciplined, continue to do what we do and do it well, we're going to be fine, we're going to win some games at the end of this season.
Q. Yesterday Coach Kelly said he was disappointed, I think that's the right word, (inaudible) as players, is that disappointing that it's gotten to the point that you have to hear the same thing about your head coach?
DESHONE KIZER: Yeah, that has a lot to do with how we're playing. Obviously we would never want to be in that situation, where we could never really predict ourselves to be this position in the season. But we are, we're looking to catch lightning in a bottle and get things rolling. We're completely bought into Coach Kelly. He obviously has the experience. He's a one go coach. He knows how to win and he's going to figure out whatever it takes to win, and as long as we continue to have the mentality that he is the successful coach that he is, and trust in that, we're going to be fine. We've been all over the place in this first half of the season, from different motivational speeches, from a different mindset each week, trying to figure out what the best way of getting a win and doing whatever we can. But from here on out it's all about having a good time, taking this opportunity to play for Notre Dame and doing whatever you can to bring home wins. Once again, Coach Kelly is something we all completely bout into, we trust and are committed to. As long as we continue to have that mindset we'll be successful in this last half of the season.
Q. Have you gone back and looked at all of your interceptions and if so, what did you learn?
DESHONE KIZER: My mind is forward. We make those adjustments at the end of each week. Science that game is over, 24 hour grace period, we push it behind us and move forward. Obviously there's a different situation, different scenarios for each of those throws that I could try to sit here and justify or try to say they're as bad as they are, there's no point. The only thing that's on our mind is Miami in front of us and figure out how to put ourselves in the position that we can be the team we know we can be the rest of the season. We're using this as an opportunity to put all that behind us, look at this as a five game season, and try to surprise ourselves with the success we know we can have.
DESHONE KIZER: Not necessarily. I wasn't a big college football fan growing up, I didn't watch much. In Ohio you have to choose a team, I chose Michigan over Ohio State. Quite eye few of my friends were Notre Dame fans, I watched Notre Dame and respect them, but I didn't watch too much college football.
Q. Did you ever watch film?
DESHONE KIZER: You can obviously assume that with all the history that Miami has with the U and all the aggressive football they played in the past and the tradition and the winning record that we've had here that those two historic programs definitely collided. And we're looking forward to going out there and representing our side of that "rivalry" as we step in against Miami this weekend.
Q. Torii, seemed like you had a pretty event full bye week. I'm wondering what it's like for a two sport athlete here and a student here to also be planning a wedding?
TORII HUNTER, JR.: I didn't really have to do much. I just kind of said my two cents every once in a while. But for the most part she let me focus on the season and what I needed to do while she took care of most of the planning and stuff. We talked about it at the beginning of the season, when it was less hectic. But she just kind of executed everything and she made it happen. So I'm thankful for her.
Q. Your schedule is obviously insane. Is the bye week the only option for that?
TORII HUNTER, JR.: Yeah, it was. We haven't been able to be together a lot over the last couple of years. So we just are ready to be together. And that's why we did it over the bye week. And also it was just some downtime for me. And, yeah, so --
Q. So how did your nerves last Saturday compare to other Saturdays where you had football games?
TORII HUNTER, JR.: Actually wasn't that nervous. Maybe surprising, but I wasn't nervous at all. I kind of knew that I wanted to do it. I knew she was the one. So I wasn't really nervous about it, I was ready to go.
Q. Assuming the honeymoon is on hold, then?
TORII HUNTER, JR.: Yeah, we're going to play a couple of games first, and worry about the honeymoon after the season.
Q. Coach Kelly has talked about, we just talked to DeShone about, kind of tightening up the offensive package, the comment Coach Kelly made was let's practice at what we're good at and let's be better on execution. What's your perspective on that? And what are you guys good at offensively?
TORII HUNTER, JR.: I just think that we may have been trying to do a little too much instead of trying to perfect what we're good at, like he was saying, which I think we're really good at the quick game. Just completing some short passes, getting confidence. And also we made big plays and they said our yards per catch, per attempt or something like that was pretty high, was higher than last year. But I think that we're missing those short yardage plays where you can throw hitches, different things like that. So we get back to that and I think it will generate some confidence and hopefully we can get those yards we're missing in the run game back as well.
Q. What impact do you think -- you went into the season as the most experienced of the receivers. But last year you had all veteran players. And you and a bunch of younger guys this year, what do you think that in experience has had at receiver on the offense?
TORII HUNTER, JR.: I think that it was hard trying to maintain I think the culture that was there last year because a lot of guys, they may not have been able to be around, a lot of the guys didn't play last year. So me and Corey Robinson, we tried to explain to them and show them the way that it's supposed to be. But obviously it's probably kind of tough because they've never been out there. And they're just inexperienced.
So I think that's probably one of the biggest impacts is just having a lot of young guys, it's just trying to maintain that culture and that's kind of what we're working on right now. Sunday we reevaluated ourselves and just figured out where we wanted to go. And the standard we want to maintain throughout the rest of the season.
Q. Mentally where are you guys at in terms of just the hunger to finally get a W?
TORII HUNTER, JR.: I think everybody is still hungry, man. Everybody is still fighting. And wants to fight to get the next W. I can see it in the way people come out in practice. Everybody wants to succeed on Saturday. Everybody goes out there with a lot of energy and everybody kind of wants to practice. So I feel like the morale and the -- in the locker room is still pretty high. Everybody is still pretty confident that we're going to get this win and get back on track.
Q. What is the motivation for this team at this point? Some people can't understand why a team would still be motivated as you guys are. What drives you then?
TORII HUNTER, JR.: I think it's just the love we have for each other and for the university. And what it stands for. We kind of play for each other and when we go out there we want to make sure that we're giving our all for the man next to us. So that's kind of our motivation. And we want to play for the school, as well. And for our fans. So that's why we go out there every day and we play motivated.
Q. Yesterday Coach Kelly spoke about being disappointed that Jack Swarbrick having given him the vote of confidence. Is there a disappointment as a captain and a player that things had gotten that far, that he has to do that, as well?
TORII HUNTER, JR.: I mean to be honest, I didn't really pay too much attention to it. Somebody had to tell me about it. I mean I try not to look at all the press releases and all the media stuff that goes on.
But somebody had to tell me about it, so I mean I wasn't really affected by it. We still got to go out and get our job done, coach does, too. I can't really let any of that media talk or whatever it may be affect us.
Q. James, how did you spend your bye week?
JAMES ONWUALU: I got back to Minnesota, went and got to see my high school play for the first time since I've been there and just spent some time taking care of my body and relaxing, eating some good food from my mom and hanging out.
Q. How important is that to just be able to get away and mentally recharge?
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, it's nice, especially since we have it over fall break. Everybody else is off campus. So sometimes when you're stuck here, you have to be practicing when everybody else is gone, it kind of breaks routine. It's been nice they aligned those two events over the past couple of years, just to be able to get out of here and have a couple of days to yourself and fully get your body back and legs back and relax your mind a little bit.
Q. Did you guys need this one more than previous ones because of the way this season has been just mentally?
JAMES ONWUALU: Every season has their own twists. Some years guys are more beat up than others. Some years some younger guys need a little bit more of a mental break. I think every year it's very beneficial.
Q. When you look at where you guys are at, at 2 and 5, a lot of people wonder what you guys are motivated by at this point. What do you feel is the motivation to keep this team going?
JAMES ONWUALU: For me, just pushing the defense every week just to get a win. We have a lot of great competitors on that side of the ball and on the team as a whole. And I think it's important just for everybody to just stay focused on getting a win every single week and focusing on our opponent and continuing to compete at the highest level.
Q. How hungry is this team for a win?
JAMES ONWUALU: Extremely. I think we were close to a win last week or two weeks ago and didn't end the way we wanted it to. But we competed at a high level, and that's a great team, as well. We have to find a way to pull out I a win here.
Q. Coach Kelly talked about kind of being disappointed that it had gotten to the point where Jack Swarbrick had given an endorsement for his job moving forward. Is there a disappointment that for you guys that it's gotten to the point where those things also have to be said?
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, you know, nobody's happy with where we are at this point including coach and Jack and everybody. It's tough. But we're all working together. We all want to do well. We want to do well for coach. And coach wants to coach the best of his ability to make sure we're in a position to do the best we can. We're all trying to work together. Although we're not comfortable with where we are, all we can do did is work harder and like I said, just fight to get that win.
Q. Can you describe Brad Kaaya, the Miami quarterback, what you see from him?
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, gotten a lot -- he's experienced. One of the most experienced that we've seen. Has a pretty good presence in the packet, can work the offense pretty well. As we saw last week, he can get pressured a little bit. And we'll scramble out of there and try to make some plays inside. He's a good player.
Q. Not necessarily one of the more mobile quarterbacks that you're facing this year, would that be accurate?
JAMES ONWUALU: No, we've seen some speedier guys, some quicker guys, a little bit more mobile, like you said, but again he's the guy that will try to make some plays and make what he can out of a broken down play.
Q. In comparison, contrasting to DeShone? Do you look at them in any way?
JAMES ONWUALU: No, not really. I get to see him every day, he's picked up -- DK is a great quarter back. I don't know if I can really compare the two.
Q. Not necessarily mobility, but in terms of just throwing the football?
JAMES ONWUALU: Throwing the football?
JAMES ONWUALU: Again, yeah, I don't know if I can really compare the two.
Q. The defenses confidence is up now with the success you've had the past few weeks?
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, absolutely. I think every week we've just tried to focus on getting better, like I've been saying for weeks now. Getting some of these younger guys more and more confident as they continue to get more time on the field. And I think that continues to show. We go out there and try to get as many stops as we can and get the opponent off the field.
Q. What would you say the strength is, what are you confident that you're able to do most weeks?
JAMES ONWUALU: I think we've improved on third down. We want to continue to keep that efficiency there and continue to stop these teams on third down. We've gotten much better there. And then also just improving first and second down, trying to get teams in a situation that we can be successful on third downs. And then also just continuing to push the guys to get to the ball. Everybody getting to the ball helps on the run game and then gets them in a situation in third down that is beneficial to us.
Q. This series was one time one of those the most heated in the country. Do you the coaches talk to you about that, are you aware that this was one time one of the game everybody looked for?
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, I mean, I think some of us are aware of that. I'm one of the older guys on the team and last time we played them was the year before I got here. I think a lot of guys have an idea but they haven't had a the firsthand experience about what the rivalry really, really means to this school and also on their side of things. But, yeah, I think some guys have a good idea, and especially with the coaches in our defensive room who have experienced a little bit of that rivalry, they speak on it a little bit.
Q. As a captain in dealing with adversity, what have you learned?
JAMES ONWUALU: That's a good question. It's been one of the greatest challenges I've faced in my life. I've learned a lot from it. I think one thing I've learned the most from is how to keep guys motivated and keep them focused on what our goal is, even through the toughest of times, to keep guys to come out and work every day and to keep a smile on my face. I think that has a great impact on what the mood is going into every day's work and every day's practice. As long as my energy is high and I have a smile on my face, I think guys around me are willing to work.
Q. Has that translated off the field into the classroom, as well?
JAMES ONWUALU: I think so. They go hand in hand. If you're doing well in school, you're probably going to play pretty good ball, it just means you're on top of your stuff. I try to keep that also in the minds of some of the guys in the defensive room, just so that they're on point in all aspects, making sure that their schoolwork is good and on point, so that they can focus on the ball when it comes time.
Q. DeShone mentioned when he was home he caught the Miami, Virginia Tech game on TV, did you watch that?
JAMES ONWUALU: I didn't catch that. I watched some film.
Q. I was going to ask, I guess maybe other times, then, when you're watching a game like on TV and from that angle, are you specifically just watching the offense, are you getting the same things you would when you're breaking down film or do you kind of relax and I guess devolve back into a fan mindset?
JAMES ONWUALU: It's tough since you spend so much time watching film, although it's different, different commentators, and a different view. It's still tough to watch a football game from strictly a fan perspective.
I watch the defense and see what they're doing against -- it doesn't really matter, I watch both sides of the ball. But I watch both defenses to see what they're doing, see what players are making mistakes, see what went wrong in their plays. And that's fun to me, as well. You can relax a little bit when you're on your couch. It's not the same sitting in the film room and taking notes and really being critical of the film.
But, yeah, you can relax a little bit, but still tough as a player to fully relax.
Q. And then you just mentioned that some of the coaches defensively are sort of trying to impart probably what this rivalry means. Coach, his MO, was bringing energy, he was around here when that was pretty heated. What is his message or has he addressed that at all?
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, he's spoken on it little bit. And him and I talked about it a little bit yesterday after practice. But in the beginning of the week his main message has been, the only "U" that matter is "you," and what you're going to do to help the University of Notre Dame today. And I think that's really resonated to me and a lot of guys on the defense. We're the only guys that can really impact this game. And are the only guys that matter.
Q. Mike, talking to Coach Kelly, he said this a couple of times and DeShone addressed it as well. Coach Kelly said let's practice what we're good at and let's be better at execution. What have you seen along those lines as far as what you're going to do moving forward offensively?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think we did a good job, especially coming off of the bye week, having a little bit of extra time to kind of simplify things and get back to some fundamental work that we hadn't been able to do because we were in the middle of season trying to game plan and all that stuff. I think that certainly helped us this week having two extra days, coming back on Sunday and Monday, alongside of yesterday's practice, as well.
I think that we just understand that we are who we are, and we have certain strengths and certain weaknesses and we should probably play to our strengths a little bit more. And sting the coaching staff is doing a phenomenal job at game planning our games this year, and keeping us in a path that we all understand what we're doing, and we just have to execute and do it.
Q. Without giving away game plan, what do you think you're good at offensively?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Well, we know we can run the ball. We've got to do a lot better job of staying in front of the chains. I think that's kind of altered a little bit of what we're capable of at certain points this year. Having to stray away from our base calls and our base fundamentals because of situations that we're put in throughout a football game offensively.
And I think that we know we can do a lot of things really well. But we just have to stop spreading ourselves a little bit too thin, I think, both in our execution and in our mindset about how we go about doing our job. And I think by doing that we'll have a little bit more success.
Q. Can I ask what you did during your off time?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I just went home. Yeah, I went back to Philly and spent some time with some family and friends and had a good week and felt the body certainly needed it a little bit and feeling good.
Q. Do you still train? You still condition?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Absolutely, yeah. I probably lifted almost every day when I was at home. Lifting makes you feel a little bit better when you get hit in the trenches.
Q. Any film, anything like that?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Yeah, we have stuff that we take off and are capable of watching our stuff that we are able to watch here on our iPads, because we have the system to do that. I really didn't watch too much of -- watched what we've done in the past and games in the past and just self evaluation of what little things you can pick up here and there that maybe you couldn't see and didn't have the time to see earlier in the season. And I think that's where I really put my focus on last week was finding a lot of the things that I needed to clean up personally, both techniques-wise, and seeing looks across the board. And I think that the buy weeks are always great for us in doing that and also getting refreshed and healthy.
Q. (No microphone.)
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think it's just the amount of executing our base job. And I think that we need to do that consistently. And I think it's just a matter of working at it. And like you guys have said, of what other people have said up here, it's about getting back to what we do well. And I think it's a matter of understanding what that is, going about, working on it to the best of our ability each and every day at practice, and by doing that that's when we'll get better. There's no secret formula, there's no recipe. Everybody hits their hard spells sat times, and it's just say matter of keeping your head down and understanding what the problem is and learning how to fix it and once you learn how to fix it, actually go do it.
So that's really all that it comes down to. We know that we're capable of a lot of great things on offense and the last two weeks haven't been our best showing but we've shown that we are very, very good. And we will continue to grow and be very, very good just by doing our base work.
Q. (No microphone.)
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think it's just committing more to our base fundamentals, committing more to the scheme that we have in place and being consistent at that. We can't have any drops or having say missed assignment somewhere or not using the correct technique, which wound up getting us beat at times.
I think the focus is, like I said, the self evaluation of seeing how we can go about getting better, what we've been doing -- what we haven't been doing, as well, and turning that into a strength of ours, as well. And I think that's just about -- I think that's the message across the board on our football team, not just on the offensive line, is to find out what hasn't been working and then fix it. And then that's what we're going to do.
Q. (No microphone.)
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think that they've talked about it a little bit, not a whole lot. It's not really what we're focused on. We understand that there are certain games that people focus on because of the rivalry. We're up to it. But I think there's only like three guys on our team that actually played against Miami in 2012. Not a whole lot of people really have experienced it. And I think that obviously looking back on the history of Notre Dame, like we all like to do every now and then, there were some heated battles and some fun games to watch. And obviously there is some history there. We understand that. But at the same time that hasn't really been the focus this week. Obviously Miami is a very good football team year in and year out. We're more focused on that than we are on the past history of the game.
Q. Sitting at 2 and 5, what has been the motivation for you guys? What is the motivation going to be heading forward as the season comes to a close?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think the motivation is the personal pride of getting better. We're not going to -- we're Division I athletes, we're competitive people. We're not just going to sit around and wait until next season comes around to try and fix this thing. We might as well just start fixing it each and every day at practice.
The motivation is always the same as it always is, and it's each individual day of getting better. As soon as we fully get into that mindset and focus on that each and every day I think that's when we're going to start growing and start changing.
Q. Yesterday Kelly said he was a little disappointed that Jack Swarbrick had to publically announce that his job is safe for next season. You guys, as players, is that disappointing to hear something like that, too, that it's gotten to that point?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Yes, it's two and five, it's a frustrating situation. It's not what we expected coming out of this year. And obviously we don't want things like that following around our program. We'd rather be on the winning side of things. But at the same time we all know that it's not a fault on anybody, it's just kind of the way things have shaken out this year. And it's just puff those things, yeah, it's frustrating, but at the same time a lot of people out there won't leave it alone. So it's probably something that needed to be said, because he's the right man for the job. He's our head coach and we have all the faith in him. And there's nothing more to it.
Q. When you're specifically going against a defense that's as aggressive as Miami, how does that impact what you're going to see and what you have to do, with their sacks, with their tackles, that sort of play, how does that impact you guys?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think it's just a matter of -- especially up front -- you have to come out with a little bit more control. There's going to be agents bit more movement, a little bit more things that are going to be thrown at you that aren't base alignments. They do that, no matter the situation, they really are trying to pressure you. They don't throw a lot of pressure, but they do a lot of different stunts and movements up front, if you're not prepared for it or in the right mindset about how you approach your job, it can cause some problems for some offenses. And I think up front, specifically, we need to be under control. We need to see different alignment, see different tips we've studied all week, and I think by doing that we'll be fine. It's not the first time we've seen somebody move on us, we rarely get people that stay still up front and play base defense against us. It's one of those things that we've prepared for many teams like this in the past and we're going to prepare the same way, and we'll be fully prepared when the time which is.
Q. That was the next thing I was going to ask. Is it as complex a defense as you've seen this season?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I don't think any defense -- each and every defense has its own intricacies, that present different problems for offenses. It's about identifying those specific things throughout the week. And once you get it mastered and a grip on that, it's about seeing it in each and every play in practice. And watching it over and over again on film. And by the time the game comes you know it like the back of your hand. It's not more complex or less complex than any defense we've seen so far. It's just each one presents its own challenges and we'll identify those with Miami and we'll be prepared for the adjustments that we have to make.
Q. You knew what it was like last year when the running game was effective, when it was smooth, when it was really working. What's different this year, what isn't flowing that flowed last year?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think a lot of it was at the start of the season we had 100 plus starts coming in with only three different guys in our offensive line.
And this year we had 25 or something like that. And we're young. Not that I'm making an excuse for the offensive line. But it's one of those things that comes with experience. We had a six overall pick and a second round pick leading us up front last year. And we had a 30 game starter that was the third guy.
It's one of those things that it's growing pains, we're going to be okay, we've got the talent to do it and we've been getting better, and we're going to continue to get better, but teams came in this year not wanting to do the same thing that we did last year. And we've seen a lot of things thrown at us that has been -- they wanted to stop the running game first, and that's fine, because we have a lot of talent across the board with quarter back, running back and receivers. We know we haven't executed to the best of our ability at times in our running game, but at the same time it's a growing and learning curve and I think we'll be okay. And the three new guys that are coming in are doing a great job and they'll continue to do a great job.
Q. I'm just curious, what would you say are some of Alex Bars' strengths and what's your evaluation overall as a first year starter?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think Alex has done a great job this year. He's obviously a great athlete, big body, strong kid, understands football, understands how to put with being taught to him into his game. I think that he has done a pretty good job this year of doing his job across the board. And I think that he's a first year starter, yes, but he's had some success this year, and just like everybody else, has had his down moments. He's a kid that wants to get better. And he's a kid that, like I said, understands how to get better and understands the game of football. And the sky's the limit for Alex Bars.
Q. You touched on the in experience be in the offensive line. I'm curious, when you watch film throughout the season, are you able to notice different things, different intricacies that demonstrate that this group is growing together, that you're developing cohesion?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Absolutely. Those little moments that -- not a lot of people really understand what it's like to play offensive line and understand what the game is like throughout each play. But, yeah, going back on film and watching it at each and every game we can see that there is growth. We can see that there is a little bit more cohesion. Obviously it's not to the level we want to be yet, I don't know if it will ever be, because that's the game football is. But we've definitely seen growth and seen the five of us coming together at certain times. And it just needs to happen more often.
Q. Can you give us an example of something you would have necessarily seen against Texas that you did against Stanford?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think it's just a late game adjustment or something that -- the biggest things that I have seen is either something that's not happening to my side and the adjustment or the pressure or the look is coming from Alex or Colin's side and somehow the message gets relayed back to me, all the way on the left side, where that's the biggest sign of growth for us. When I hear something that Alex says that I can adjust to my block because of. I think we've done a better job. In Texas, obviously, it was extremely hard to do that, with 103 thousand people screaming at you. But it's something that we've grown with. Communication has grown, just playing together has really grown, and understanding what we need to connect with each other on each play, talk about it for a quick second, and 30 seconds until the next play starts. That's the mindset that we've been taking and we're growing, like I said. But we're going to need to continue to grow to get to where we want to be.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports