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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 4, 2008
BRIAN HARDIN: Thanks everyone for waiting. We have Maurice and David up here at the table.
Q. Approach to the first game as to the other -- were the other?
MAURICE CRUM, JR: The other four were so long ago, but I think what's special about this year, I've got a chance to see a lot of young guys grow up and develop before my eyes and they are really, really excited to show what they can do.
And for me personally, it's just more so my last go-around and want to give it all I've got; so I just really want to play with everything I've got.
Q. I know you guys are very excited about this team -- we'll see full go for the first time on Saturday what will people like about this team?
MAURICE CRUM, JR: I think the biggest thing you'll see is our attitude, and we'll look like a family out there. We are going to play for one another. We are going to play hard and go hard and we'll learn what we do and do it well.
Q. You know that there will be -- sometimes one-on-one or one on two --
DAVID BRUTON: That's part of the job description. I feel like I can handle it. I feel like whatever the team needs to do to win, I'll gladly play my role, and if that requires me just to play middle field or cover from sideline to sideline, I'll do it every day.
Q. A number of guys said that they have great confidence and feel comfortable --
DAVID BRUTON: I feel great because I share the same confidence that they have for them. I trust the front seven. I trust the corners out there. I believe firmly that we on the defense trust one another, and the camaraderie that we have shown throughout camp and throughout the spring is about to be showcased on Saturday.
Q. For both of you guys, how strong is the emotion or the motivation going into this year, to quote, prove something because of the season you had last year, probably bombarded with questions by family and friends; the emotion of quote having to prove something much greater than you've ever dealt with before.
MAURICE CRUM, JR: I don't think so. I think we're just more focused on this year, because the team has changed. The team changes every year, so we try to take on whatever the issue is at hand, we try to take it on the paragraph par for us the biggest thing is wanting to play with emotion and wanting to just get back out there on the field.
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, I agree with Mo. I believe we as a team, we're not really worried about last year. We go in, of course we are going to have a little chip on our shoulder but every player does, every team does. You've got something to prove to yourself, to the country. It just how the game goes.
Q. David, Coach Weis made a comment the other day that he was really excited about the communication that you and (Kyle) McCarthy have developed; first of all when you say communication, what does that entail and how does that develop so quickly when you really haven't played in a game situation together, or that extensively?
DAVID GRIMES: By communication, we have fun together. We're able to joke around and fool around with each other, but also we know that one or the other knows the call; if I don't know a check, he'll know it and if he doesn't know a check, I'll know it.
It's kind of like we've got each other's back, and it's developed throughout the spring. It wasn't really rough in the beginning, but still kind of fluid, because during the first -- during the spring, my sophomore year, me and Kyle, we took reps together throughout the freshman year -- me and Kyle, we took some reps together. Like I mentioned before jokingly, we have that Ohio connection so we kind of know what's going on with each other.
Q. So for the communication to be very good, that must mean that you have a real solid understanding of the big picture of what is expected of you.
DAVID BRUTON: Yes, sir.
Q. Mo, we've been having a little bit of fun with Brian Smith yesterday about the puppy and the origin of that and following you around. What was he like? He was already excitable yesterday and we had to tell him to relax a little bit until Saturday gets here. What is like playing alongside him and his personality?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: He's one of those guys that I've got a chance to watch grow in a year. He's going to be something special around here.
He does his homework. He does what he's supposed to do and he plays with a lot of emotion, and I can see that there's the same stuff that I do and it makes it fun having someone out there that within a year, you have watched them grow but at the same time they try to play on your level.
Every day I try to set the bar for Brian so he can know what to do even after I'm gone. I'm very excited to have a chance to play with him.
Q. For both of you, do you feel heading into this season that you have the element of surprise, especially heading into Saturday with the new linebacker coach, a guy who comes in with a philosophy of Coach Brown, do you think the element of surprise is greater than it will ever be?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think after the first game, there's nothing really to surprise everyone with. Everyone kind of knows what it is but definitely going into the first game because a lot of people are still unsure about what it is that we do, I think definitely in the first game, you kind of have that.
But after that, everyone kind of sees what you're all about.
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, after the first couple of games, the teams will get a feel of what you're doing, so I mean, if we got a chance to surprise somebody, it will be early in the season.
Q. You wouldn't sit on some things on Saturday; you're just going to open it up and show it all?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: We are just going to play how we play. Once you play with certain kind of attitude and demeanor, people get a feel for what it is that you like to do and those are the things that teams look for and does everyone fit where they are supposed to fit and does everyone get to the ball and that's where everyone tries to watch and find weak spots.
Q. Getting back to Brian (Smith), Brian said yesterday that he doesn't root for teams; he roots for defenses; are you that way? Is that what you're looking for, defenses that are really going after it?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Definitely, I like to see who is setting the bar so I can try to get our guys to set the bar because I want our guys to be Top-5 in every category. That's one of my goals for this season. So I try to see who is playing with a certain mentality or playing at a certain level and try to match that.
Q. Did you see the Alabama game?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Yeah I saw some of it. I was seeing a lot of games -- I like the way they play. They always play top-notch defense every year so again that's a defense that I enjoy watching.
Q. How would you like people to characterize your team this year?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: The first thing that comes to my mind is a group of guys that are together. I feel like no matter what happens this year that this team is going to have each other's back, the offense and the defense and the special teams. Everybody is in this together and everyone on this team is on board with one goal in mind.
DAVID BRUTON: Once again, I'll agree with Mo. I feel like this team has shown a lot of camaraderie, a lot of unity and there's not really a split between offense and defense. It's one team and it's Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and I believe that that will be showcased Saturday and games to come and it will just get stronger and stronger throughout the season.
Q. There's been so many things that you guys have done from the last game to this game; does this kind of make it all worth it, thinking about everything that you've gone through, and to say you've done it together?
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, I firmly believe that we put in countless hours in the weight room and on the field and even off the field just hanging around with each other just to bond and get to know each other a little better and, you know, I believe it's going to pay great dividends in the end.
Q. When you think about game day, fans have their way of this is what we do on game day, these are the emotions; just for you what is game day just waking up and thinking about the steps that you take to get on the field?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: The first thing I do, I try to keep myself calm throughout the week, because it's easy to get antsy before the game. But you want to make sure you save all the emotions for Saturday and that's the first thing that I do. The closer I get to Saturday, I guess the more butterflies I get, the more excited I get.
Once I wake up Saturday, I'm just completely focused. I'm tuned in. I don't say a whole lot until I get on to the field. I just want that make sure I'm into the sharpened and mentally ready to play because physically I'm not really worried about it because that's what we do in practice all week. So it's just a matter of being mentally sharp and once I'm there, I'm usually at my top by the time kickoff comes, so I'm ready to go.
I feel a lot. I have a lot of emotions and I get happy and I think about making plays and I think about if anything bad happens, you know, make sure I'm composed so my teammates can follow me and be ready to go for any situation?
Q. Same thing for you, David. Is there a feeling when you get out there and see the fans, it has to be totally different.
DAVID BRUTON: You know, I get excited. I don't really say much. I usually keep to myself, listen to some music, go to the play book, make sure I'm mentally sharp, as well, and you know, meet with the DBs and make sure we answer any questions that we may have and just, you know, get ready to go out there and play, and just do something that we've done many years, you know, through high school, through years in college and just go out there and perform.
Q. Can you talk about Harrison Smith and the type of player he is?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: He's just one of those guys that he has every tool, you know, and a guy like that is a guy that you've just got to get him on the field because he can just make things happen just because he's so fast, he's strong and he has good size, and he has hands and he's smart and he knows the game.
So it's just a matter of just having him on the field. He's one of those guys having him on the field, anything can happen. He can make a play, or he can help make a play.
Q. A lot of guys say David Bruton -- is the best all-around athlete on the team but that Harrison (Smith) could be a close second--
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think so. He'd (Harrison) give him (David) a run for his money.
Q. Would you agree with Mo on that?
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, Harrison is real athletic. He might give me a run for my money, but I'll still put myself on top. (Laughter).
Q. Sounds like he (Harrison Smith) has a pretty dedicated workout routine -- does anything strike you about that?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: That doesn't surprise me at all. That's just the kind of guy he is. He'll do whatever it takes to get his body in shape or get his mind in shape. Harrison is just one of those guys that works to be the best and that's kind of why he's always in good situations.
Q. When you go against a freshman quarterback, does that get you a little bit more excited just because you know you're going to come in with an advantage sort of?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think so. With any young quarterback, it's different playing in games. You can't prepare yourself for every situation. Some situations you just have to go through to learn from.
So with young quarterbacks they have to really again grow in situations and that's definitely an advantage.
Q. Does the secondary, the young quarterbacks -- inaudible.
DAVID BRUTON: You know, we've studied film of him like we would have every quarterback, and some younger quarterbacks have specific tendencies that you may be able to pick up on and that's what we look for as a DB and if we find that tendency, of course we are going to take advantage of it.
Q. Can you find a tendency just in one game in?
DAVID BRUTON: You can, especially if they throw a lot, and if the coaches haven't addressed it, you can just use it to your advantage.
Q. Building off that, the fact that it will be his first road game and that it will be here in front of what you guys know is such a great crowd, how much of advantage is that, as well, to have this crowd help rattle him early on?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think there's a definite advantage. Any time you're playing at home, especially as a defense, that's usually when the crowd is the loudest; so having that and being a young quarterback and then just having us trying to do what we do and try to rally him as much as possible, I think plays to an advantage.
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, home-field advantage, get his nerves a little rocking, but we go out there and just be relaxed and calm and do what we do. We've been under the lights and we've been in the crowd, in this crowd, for many times, you know, and it's our fans and we know that they have got our back.
Q. San Diego State, the rest of the offense, what have you seen from him?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: They have some talented players. They were in some situations for them last week where they could have made some plays that may have changed the game. So you definitely can't sleep on those guys.
Watching film on them, they do a pretty good job on what it is they do and they execute extremely well.
DAVID BRUTON: We've just got to be prepared for a lot of shots, because they like to throw the ball a lot, and so I guess a lot of pressure is going to be on us in the defensive backfield and the front seven getting some pressure on them will help tremendously.
I just believe that we've got to go out there and just handle our job and stay on top of the big routes and we'll be all right.
Q. Going back to the team chemistry you guys were talking about earlier, does some of that come from the ones versus ones that you guys have been doing when you guys are going up and hitting those other guys from the other side and doing that as a team; does that bring you guys together?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Yeah it definitely does. What I think it does, it allows us to try to match one another, just because we are only human, so the offense is going to have its day and the defense is going to have its day.
But what it does, it allows the offense to set the bar, and we have to match it. Now with them starting out fast, now what they are doing is trying to get us up to their level and vice versa and there may be a little trash talking and a little attitude going but at the same time it's allowing us to become closer as a team because we want to play hard for each other.
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, it builds this team chemistry and it also keeps the speed of the game throughout the week and it just something that's going to continually be beneficial to the team's well-being.
Q. You have the best view of the house when those drills are going on being in the back of that defense; what have you seen when those drills are going on that puts a smile on your face of how the team is doing in that regard?
DAVID BRUTON: Just the high energy, the competition, and the trash-talking that goes on. I think you know when you have trash-talking going on and it's high energy, you see that the guys care about what they are doing. You see that the guys really have a feel of what's going on and how this game should really be played.
Q. Follow-up on Harrison Smith, what do the linebackers think of a safety --
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: We give him a hard time during individuals a lot. We say, oh, that guy must be a safety, kind of how he catches the ball, and he does some safety things.
Harrison is well-respected on this team. He works hard. He does whatever he's asked to do and he's just one of those guys that you -- he's a great locker room guy and just one of those guys that you enjoy playing with and having him out there?
Q. Do you make fun of him for not wearing knee braces?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: All the time, because I hate wearing them so sometimes I have to make fun of him and give him a hard time.
BRIAN HARDIN: Thanks, everyone.
End of FastScripts