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September 6, 2007

Maurice Crum

Tom Zbikowski

Q. With the quarterback change, and you're a veteran, you've see how Brady ran the operation. Is there a temptation to try to give Jimmy advice, or do you just let him have his space? How do handle that as a guy who's been here?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Let him have his space. I know Coach Weis is going to do a good job with the quarterbacks any time. Let him feel comfortable. We haven't got a chance to see the offense at all. We've been way too busy trying to get prepared, so there's not too much time to get to see what they're doing. He should be fine. I know Coach will have him ready to go.

Q. Is there a temptation at all (inaudible).
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Not really. I haven't seen any this week. He's been pretty good this week come game time where he's excessively nervous or something like that, just kind of help calm him down, and any of the leaders will do that for him.

Q. This is for both of you guys, Coach Weis talked about how coming out of the spring he went ahead at competition. What have you seen from him that really kind of catches your eye and makes you think this is the guy that can do it?
MAURICE CRUM: I'd say that's tough to answer. I mean, you have to ask an offensive guy because those are the guys who are in the huddle with him and they know the small things that will make him that kind of guy. All we can do is see him play. He's a good quarterback.
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Covering against him you can see he's capable of making all the throws that some quarterbacks can't make. He's got good touch on the ball, but come game day he was like a veteran.

Q. Is there any sense at all that things are starting over right now heading into this week?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Week to week you've got to start with the clean slate because no matter what happens the previous week, win by 30, lose by 30, no matter what happened, you've still got to play on Saturday. You've got to go week to week with a clean slate.

Q. How much did that instill in you in terms of trying to use that as motivation going go into this week's game, or have you put it past you that you want to forget about it going into Saturday?
MAURICE CRUM: We definitely want to put that performance behind us. We're not really focused on that because we can't change that at all so we don't focus on that. We just try to take what we can as far as getting better in terms of fundamentals and get better for this week.

Q. In terms of defensively you guys did very well in the red zone in the first half. Do you look at that as a positive, or do you guys think about other aspects regarding yardage and things like that as negatives?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: There was a lot of positives that came out of game week when we were watching film, the way we played. But there was also a lot of negatives and a lot of big plays, big runs that we've got to stop.
I mean, I will tell you this, also, just watching the game, we saw a lot of plays and a lot of things that are evidence that we're going to be a pretty good defense this week and the following weeks. But definitely you've got to take the positives from the game and learn from the negatives.

Q. What's the buzz been like on campus this week? Is there a sense of excitement on this campus like there is at Penn State? Are students getting up for this game? Are you guys?
MAURICE CRUM: Definitely. Our students are behind us 100 percent for every game. They're always excited. They live for this. They can't wait for football season to come, and they enjoy every moment of it.

Q. First time Notre Dame will be visiting Penn State in 16 years. Can you just talk about that tradition a little bit? How is it to go to a place where you're going to see 110,000 fans?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: I've at least played in it when we went down and played at Tennessee. Defensively it's going to be -- it's never going to be really loud because obviously it's going to be the home fans that are going to be quiet for their offense. But it's always a good atmosphere, pretty sure it's an ESPN game, so any time it's -- it's going to be a big-time atmosphere. I guess you guys are planning on wearing a lot of white.

Q. Obviously the outside runs or the runs outside the tackles last week were a problem. From a technical standpoint, specifically, what were the problems with that and how do you solve that?
MAURICE CRUM: I think it's just getting back to the basics and fundamentals and just making sure guys are close to being how they're supposed to fit. I think if we just get back to fundamentals it's easily solved.
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Yeah, I think a couple of those plays were just -- on the field keeping a little more composure when they would come out with the running back and quarterback and just -- all being on the same page, I think when you look at the plays that we're all on the same page, there was really not much yardage to the gained. When we were kind of all over the place, that's when they hit us.

Q. With Mo especially, he's kind of centrally located as an inside linebacker. How important is taking the proper angle for you in preventing that ball carrier from kicking it outside?
MAURICE CRUM: That's definitely important. It definitely goes back to fundamentals and knowing how to pursue the ball properly and trusting your teammates and knowing that you're going to fit properly. You've just going to know the right angles and where to beat them at tackle.

Q. How interested were you guys in Penn State, and how much interest did they show in you in recruiting?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: I got offered in my senior year pretty late in the process. I had a home visit from one of the coaches and got offered -- I never got a chance to visit there, though.

Q. Watching Coach Paterno from afar, we've all grown up watching him, what are your impressions over the years of his program?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: I mean, you've got to be doing something right if you've been around that long and been a head coach for that long in a program. You see it nowadays with coaches more than ever getting canned at two years. Somebody that can stick around for that long, you've got to be doing something right. You never really hear about problems coming out of Penn State.

Q. (Inaudible.) Have you seen him make strides to overcome that, and how far has he come?
MAURICE CRUM: I think with him just finally getting on the field, it says enough in its own because one of his biggest problems is he wouldn't get on the field at all. But definitely with him now being on the field, it's showing that he's making strides and he's gotten better at being physical. He's not scared to mix it up. I just think it took a while for him to learn to play linebacker, because again, he wasn't a guy that played linebacker every down, and a guy like me, all I've done all my life is play linebacker. It's different. It takes a while to get adjusted to it. I think he's finally getting adjusted to playing linebacker.

Q. Playing linebacker with a defensive back's mentality?
MAURICE CRUM: Definitely. I mean, it's different, being that you can actually -- if you don't get reps down there and get used to seeing things, sometimes you can be a step slow, and it makes you appear to be solid when it may not be the nature.

Q. Tom, how is it different for you as a team leader the week after a very difficult loss as opposed to the week after a win? How do you try to pull the team together and get everyone focused on the task at hand?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: No matter if you're coming off a win or a loss you always want to get back to even keel. When you lose like that, you've got to put it in the past. Same thing with a big win; if you come off an emotional win, you've got to get ready for that next week to make sure you don't have any letdowns. Once people get into college football and realize that it's week to week, it doesn't matter what you did the previous week, things can change with one game.

Q. What's the attitude been like on the practice field and around the locker room this week?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: I think the last couple practices actually, defensive side has been pretty physical. I know Mo himself had a bloody nose the other day just trying to hit people. So it's been one of the more physical weeks that I've seen since we've been here.

Q. For either of you guys, can you talk just a little bit about what your impressions are of Penn State's offense, especially Anthony Morelli?
MAURICE CRUM: They're very good, and he's a completely different quarterback from the last time we saw him last year. He shows his big arm strength, and he has a lot of receivers who can make big catches. I mean, they have a very good offense, and they have what it takes to be successful.

Q. Zibby, can you talk for a little bit about David Bruton and the change in him in terms of becoming more vocal on the field? He said he was pretty hesitant to do any of that until maybe this last off-season. Is that a big change for him?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Yes, even since the beginning of springtime he was always making a lot of checks, making a lot of calls. You know, with him being in the middle of the field a lot, there's a lot of things that he can see better than anyone because he can see the entire field. He's one of those kids that in the classroom he's always taking notes on what's going on, and he probably knows the game plan better than anyone because he just studies that hard. He's got a lot of knowledge. He makes a lot of calls when we're out there.

Q. Is it tremendously important that he is vocal? I mean, he seems to be alluding that he has to be out there; he can't be a shrinking violet.
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Everyone on the defense has to be vocal, going from D-line to linebackers to safeties to corners. I mean, if there's something you see, you've got to communicate to everyone else because that changes their mindset on what a play might be or what a formation might bring to the table. So everyone on the defense has to be vocal.

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