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November 21, 2007

Maurice Crum

Tom Zbikowski

THE MODERATOR: We have Tom Zbikowski and Maurice Crum, Jr. We'll start with questions here first before taking questions from the callers.

Q. Pretty much for the last four years you as a defense have been talking about figuring out a way to stop the big play in the passing game. This is the first year you've actually done that pretty consistently. What has been the big difference? What has let you do something this year that you haven't been able to do in the past?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: I think a lot of it has to do with the corners playing pretty well. As soon as Coach Brown got here, there was a big emphasis on not giving up those big passes, that those short passes aren't going to beat us at all. They'll be able to of move the ball a little bit, but it's not going to beat us. I think that's what we've been focused on as soon as we got here.

Q. That emphasis was there in the past I would think, too.
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Yeah, I think so. But I think still you're trying to sometimes make too many plays on those plays that aren't going to beat you at all. That usually turns into big plays on double moves and things like that.

Q. Coach Weis said yesterday with Jimmy playing well, it doesn't just give the quarterback position confidence, it gives the entire offense, the defense, everybody can kind of do their job, not worry about what's happening. Do you see that taking effect team-wide and on the defense?
MAURICE CRUM: I think it definitely helps the offense to gain confidence and just to grow because the offense starts with the quarterback. Once he gets rolling, I guess the offense can roll.
As far as we're concerned, that's our job, just to play. But I think it helps us because we don't have to, like, try to force too much. We can just play relaxed.

Q. He said he doesn't think you feel like you need to post a shutout every time now.
MAURICE CRUM: Yeah. I mean, anytime the offense is playing well, it carries over. But when we're playing high, the offense can feed off of us. It's a team thing. We kind of depend on each other.

Q. Mo, as a guy that could potentially come back, the difference between being 2-10 or 3-9? It's one win. Not what you're shooting for, but what kind of difference would that have throughout the off-season, that one win?
MAURICE CRUM: I think it puts you headed in the right direction. It's a step for the program, just to let you know that things are on the way up versus going the other way.

Q. Is it a confidence affirmation type of issue? You win against Duke, lose to Stanford, are things moving the way we want them to?
MAURICE CRUM: I think, again, it lets you know what your flaws are, that we still got work to do. Again, getting the win will place the program in the right direction.

Q. You both played against Stanford quite a bit. What kind of differences do you see with the change in the coaching staff?
MAURICE CRUM: The biggest thing I saw is probably their attitude. A lot of guys on tape, the receivers are blocking harder, the runners run harder, the line is trying to take people to the ground. You can tell they have a different attitude.
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Yeah, that's pretty much what I was going to say, too. They've always been pretty athletic. It just seems like they were always missing something. I think that's what they have that little bit of, attitude this year.

Q. The fact that they were able to beat USC on their own field, and you guys have had so much trouble with USC, how concerning is that to you?
MAURICE CRUM: I mean, I think for them it's a big confidence boost. But at the same time for us, we know playing college football, that any given Saturday anything can happen.

Q. You got a chance to play some quarterback there, Tom. Any other positions you're interested in trying out?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: No. That was good for now. I'll think about it, see if anything else pops up.

Q. Mo, what do you have your designs on as far as other positions?
MAURICE CRUM: I'm happy with linebacker.

Q. Do either of you have any thoughts on the fact this is likely your last game at Notre Dame, and if so what are they?
MAURICE CRUM: The biggest thing would probably be, you know, to try to help the program get in the right direction with the time that we have left. We're still here. We still got a game left. Try to guide the young guys as much as we can in our last game here in the program.
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Yeah, definitely get a win with this last game just for guys that it is their last game, that they get a win. And for people that are coming back, they have that feeling good going into the off-season, you know, that the team progressed.

Q. What are you going to remember about playing here and what are you going to miss about playing here?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: I mean, I'm going to miss locker rooms after wins, just celebrating with the guys on the team, stuff like that. I mean, that's probably going to be the most missed thing.
MAURICE CRUM: Yeah, for me also, you know, just those close relationships that you develop in your time here. Once it's up, I mean, that's it.

Q. Can you talk about your Thanksgiving plans.
MAURICE CRUM: I really don't have any plans. I mean, practice first. Call my parents. Call my family. Just relax and watch a little football probably.
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Practice, eating, and nothing. Not going to do anything.

Q. It's been obviously a rough season, but can you talk about what you're thankful for.
MAURICE CRUM: I'm thankful just for the opportunity just to be around the guys, to find the true character of this team, that no matter what happened week in and week out, we've continued to fight.
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Definitely, you know, thankful for the guys on the team, you know, having an opportunity to be able to play Division I football. I know there's a lot of people that would love to be in our position. I'm thankful I'm in that position.

Q. Mo, I know you've talked about you're going to hold off your decision. Are you leaning one way or another right now?
MAURICE CRUM: The only thing I'm focused on is Stanford. Once I get done with Stanford, then I'll lean one way or the other.

Q. Do you know how long it's going to take you before you're able to figure it all out?
MAURICE CRUM: I'll probably start thinking about it as soon as the game is over on the plane ride back.
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Shouldn't have said that because they're going to ask you as soon as the game is over what you're going to do (laughter).

Q. How would you characterize the season as a whole? Other than the record, any way this season has been particularly different from the past couple?
MAURICE CRUM: I think the adversity is the biggest thing. But at the same time it helped a lot of people to grow quickly, to realize that you have to work and be consistent in order to win in college football.

Q. Tommy, just kind of hitting on some stuff earlier with stopping the big play. When you look at the secondary that you're leaving, where do you really see their progression going into next year?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: You know, I think they're definitely going to keep getting better with young talent, how much the corners have progressed. I think that's where a lot of that starts off, is having that confidence to just lock them down with the receivers, know they're going to be making plays, and no big plays are going to be made on them.
I think it's definitely going to keep getting better and better.

Q. Guys said chemistry between a safety and a corner is a big deal. The fact they have three guys returning, does that play into it even more where this year you had essentially two and a half new starters?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Yeah, I think so. Just early on, when you get a look that you haven't seen on film, it's the first time seeing that, as the year progressed, now we can make checks and kind of look at each other and know what each other is thinking. Definitely with safeties that have had experience, that will just fill my spot as soon as I leave, that chemistry is still going to be there.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.

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