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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 25, 2008
BRIAN HARDIN: We have David Bruton and Maurice Crum, Jr. at the front table. We'll take questions from the media.
Q. The offense that you will face this week, there's a lot of spread offense. Joe Tiller is one of the originals. They run this very well. Probably as well-balanced of a spread as you've seen. Can you comment on that.
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Yeah, like you said, they're good at what they're doing. They've been doing it for a long time, like you said. Balance is the key. You can't necessarily try to tone in on their routes or certain running plays. They know what they do and they do it well.
Q. What's different compared to other spreads that you've seen?
DAVID BRUTON: They're real consistent. They're able to move the ball running it when they spread out the field. They make big plays in the passing game. What I've seen throughout film is just their consistency. They hardly falter. They're always gaining a lot of yards, just trying to put points on the board.
Q. Coach Brown mentioned a couple times this week about how he tries to get you to relish the opportunity of having a turnover by the offense, having your back up against the end zone. What have you taken from his philosophy of relishing that opportunity?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: For me personally, I think the biggest thing is football is football. At some point in time, your back's going to be up against the wall. You're going to be in a situation that you haven't planned for. So you could look at it one of two ways. You can look at it like, Oh, man. Or you can look at it as, We got an opportunity to make something happen.
So I think Coach Brown has done a great job of just preaching that rise-up mentality no matter what the situation is.
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, you know, he instilled in us this mentality of just get the ball back. We would like to lead them to no points, but that's not always the case. Three points at times is a win. He's done a great job instilling that in all of us, not just the starters, but everybody on the sideline. It's our role. We're defense. We got to stop them from putting points on the board.
Q. Are you better prepared to handle the adversity of a loss this year than last year?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I'd say yes, just because of the simple fact that guys are growing up in the program, guys are a year older, a year more in the program, are more mature. They've already been through the fire. It's just a matter of coming back to work.
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, just the experience that we had last year. A lot of guys are still here from that team last year. We felt the loss. This loss last week hurt. But we've got to move on. Everybody is taking the right steps to move forward, hopefully go out there and win.
Q. Considering how much you have blitzed, what do you think is stopping you from getting home?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Maybe our timing's not down. Maybe we're not hitting it fast enough. Guys may be unsure about where they should fit. I mean, it could be a combination of things. Pass-rush moves, better steps, better angles could allow you to get there faster. If we time stuff up better, we could obviously get there faster. It's a combination of things.
I think teams are kind of seeing that. Maybe they're trying to get the ball out quicker. It's a number of things. Obviously there's always things that we can do to help put ourselves in better situations.
Q. David, you've seen blitzing quite a bit. As you go back and look at tape of yourself, how do you critique yourself? What do you think you do well and what do you have to improve on?
DAVID BRUTON: Sometimes my timing's a little bit off. Like Mo just mentioned, wave got to time things up a little bit. Also in the secondary, we've got to play tighter coverage to force the quarterback to hold the ball a little longer. Then again, you know, we played teams that went with that quick game, three-step passes. It kind of limits our opportunity to actually get there because the ball's out so quick.
Q. Even though you're not getting the sacks, do you feel in some ways you're still dictating to the offense because you get rid of the ball so quickly?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think so, just because they can't do necessarily what it is they want to do. They're trying to scheme based upon what it is that we do. Therefore, we're dictating to them like how they're going to play.
Q. The timing issue, do you think that's something that takes time to work out? How do you see that?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think it's just a matter of guys just studying themselves and knowing where they're supposed to be, just kind of getting the feel for things.
Q. David, as far as the timing goes, is that reading the snap count? Is that understanding who goes first on the blitz, who goes second? Can you explain that a little bit?
DAVID BRUTON: You know, you just use motion to help time, snap count. Some quarterbacks use the hand when they're in the gun. You can tell if the quarterback, on film, if they double cadence, maybe get the defensive linemen to jump off. Just a lot of factors come into play when you're trying to time up a blitz.
Q. How much is not letting the offense know you're coming part of it where you try to disguise it? Is that really important or is that overrated?
DAVID BRUTON: No, it's very important. Sometimes you want to be down there showing the blitz and step back in the coverage because you never know when a blitz is going to be called, whereas you actually have to line up and get down in that position and actually come.
Q. David, as the captain of the special teams, can you talk about Purdue's return game. Obviously they have one of the best in the country.
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, they have two good returners, especially at kickoff. You got Tardy and you got Sheets. Both of them have great play-making ability. Watching film, you could see why we should be worried and take them seriously because, you know, they do what they do and they do it well.
We just got to go out there and play real fast, tackle well, close the running lanes because we all know that they both have the capability to hit the hole and hit it hard and fast.
Q. Could that really be one of the biggest difference makers in the game, how you contain them on return?
DAVID BRUTON: I believe so. (Indiscernible) yardage. If we keep them inside the 20, it's obviously going to bode well for us in that realm. You know, if we can, you know, cause a turnover on special teams, that will be huge, as well. Special teams can't just be shrugged off, it's something we've got to take seriously, and I believe we will.
Q. Three games in you've faced a lot of different offenses. Back to a team that plays shotgun, do you think that helps you move around, come after the quarterback a lot?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Yeah, at times. The spread offense, again, it allows so much space and so many different ways that you can attack it, that we kind of have to use that space to our advantage.
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, you know, the space we can use to our advantage, but we've also got to be aware it can be an advantage to them. It forces us to play out in space a lot more. Tackling can definitely be an issue in space because you're going to be one-on-one a lot and often.
Q. As leaders of your two units, how do you think the linebackers and defensive back units have come along so far three games in?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: For me, I'm very critical about my guys, how we play. In my mind, all I look at is how can we get better. I mean, obviously there have been some plays that have been made. But I really just focus on trying to get better week in and week out. I think guys have done a really, really good job of studying tape and taking coaching and applying it week in and week out to make themselves better.
DAVID BRUTON: With the secondary, I just try to keep us in line, you know, keep our head straight. At times we're going to get beat. That can take a shot at your confidence. I take it upon myself, along with Terrail, to just keep guys' heads up, just go out there and make the next play. Not everything's going to go your way. But at the end of the day, if you make more plays, you have a better chance to win it.
Q. Kyle McCarthy is seventh in the country in tackles. What is it about his game, his character, that's allowed him his first year as a starter to be so effective?
DAVID BRUTON: He's a strong safety. Obviously, going to be down there a lot more (laughter).
On a serious note, Kyle is just a real aggressive player, a really sure tackler. He shows his love for the game, this toughness that the strong safety needs to carry. Every position needs to carry it, but he brings that to the field. It's a great thing to have somebody who plays so well and tackles so well be lined up right next to you.
Q. Maurice, you're not at all surprised what Kyle has been able to do this year?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Not at all. Again, he's been behind Zibby for a while. That's not a bad guy to watch, not a bad guy to learn from. So I think Kyle took that as an opportunity to learn, took what he could from Zibby, tried to apply it to his game.
Like David said, he's a really good tackler, not afraid to get in the box and mix it up, but at the same time comes down in space and makes tackles. He just does his job week in and week out. That's why I'm not so surprised.
Q. David, Mike Anello has made remarkable plays. Talk about his development, what he has impressed you with.
DAVID BRUTON: I'm just impressed with his work ethic. He always comes to work. He's always smiling, always happy, never has a frown on his face. He's always just ready to work, go out there, try to make a play. He just takes every rep so seriously. He goes about things like you got to make a play this play. He takes it upon himself, you know, to try to be the best.
We joke around, always talk about, Yeah, I'm going to get down to the returner first. No, you're not. Coach did this so you can get there first to help you out. Just joking around. It's great to have somebody who just gives 110% every time out there.
Q. How does a guy who is that small, he's a surprising package, but how does somebody like that be so successful?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I mean, obviously being big, being strong, being fast helps out tremendously in playing this game. But the essence of the game comes from your mind and your heart. I think Mike really prides himself on being a smart guy, knowing what he's supposed to do, knowing where he's supposed to fit, then he plays with his heart. That a lot of times allows you to out-work people or out-will people. I think him priding himself on those two factors alone kind of drives him and allows him to make those plays.
Q. David, first time you were watching the Purdue film last week, saw Sheets' game-winning touchdown, what was your reaction?
DAVID BRUTON: I also seen that on ESPN, as well. It's a job of a free safety. You got to make the open-field tackle. It was a good move, don't get me wrong. Shook him right, shook him left, right, left, right, then broke to the left. He did it all in that one play. He showed his game-changing speed.
But as a safety, you just got to close the distance, just make the sure tackle by any means. Whether it's a horse collar or just barely getting the shoestring, you just got to get them down.
Q. Any way to prepare for that? Ringer probably would have run straight into you.
DAVID BRUTON: We work on open-field tackling every day. I'm back there often by myself anyway. I've had plenty of practice, you know, when the ball is in the crease. Just break down, close the distance, make the tackle.
Q. When you go one-on-one, does the offense ever do the empty backfield, five-wide? If so, has that been a helpful way to prepare this week for what you have against Purdue?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Yeah, we seen it in camp. Again, that kind of helped us prepare for the space game. So I think obviously seeing it before, we played in space earlier this year also, so I think we have some idea about how to play the game, kind of what to expect. Again, like we've been mentioning, tackling is key when playing in space.
Another thing that helps us getting everybody to the ball no matter where you are, we preach turning, running to the football, because you never know when that guy's going to break that tackle, when you're going to make that game-saving stop, whatever it may be. So, again, getting to the ball and playing in space.
DAVID BRUTON: I would agree with that. The offense has showed us the spread when we go ones-on-ones. We've seen it throughout camp. We've played it. We've played a game against it. So we've got relatively some experience when going against a spread type of offense. I believe that bodes well for us. We're not completely caught off guard by the fact that they're going to come out like five-wide or four-wide, because we've seen it.
Q. More of a general football fan-type question. You obviously follow the game. When you saw the hit of Dante Love, if you did see it, are you surprised that a hit that looked so normal created such a devastating effect?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I haven't seen it. But being a fan of football, I've seen similar situations. Football, sometimes your body can be in the slightest or weirdest position by this much. That can tweak something in your body. I mean, obviously with knees and ankles, any part of the body being put in an awkward position can allow bad things or weird things can happen.
DAVID BRUTON: I haven't had a chance to see the hit.
Q. A question about the snap count. How much do teams vary them? How often is the snap count on one or the first sound?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: A lot of times it's dependent on where you play at. Obviously if you're on the road, it may be a little more silent because you have to factor in crowd noise. You got to try to get a beat on whatever their count is.
But they always try to vary it so you can't just get in the habit of timing it up and hitting it. That's part of being a good offense, knowing that teams are going to try to pressure you or when they're coming after you, you have to keep the snap count different.
Q. David, what's the percentage of snaps on the first sound?
DAVID BRUTON: I really couldn't tell you. I'd say, you know, there's like 20% hard count, just trying to get you off guard, especially when it's like third and short, fourth and short, kind of run that no-brainer type of thing, try to get the defense to jump off-sides. It's situational football. Depends on where you are on the field, what the down and distance is, how much time's left on the clock. Those things factor into when the ball's going to be snapped.
Q. How are you taught? Are you taught to just react to their first movement or to anticipate it?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: It's a little bit of both. Obviously when they're moving, that's generally an indication that things are getting started. At the same time they do have a clock that they have to go off of, when the ball has to be snapped, or obviously there's a delay of game. That helps when you get a chance to look at the clock to see how much time they've got left.
Q. How often or how much do you look at the play clock?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Just when you can, try to glance at it. Obviously you've got to get everybody lined up, try to see the formation, make sure we're in the right play and stuff. So if you get a chance to, you do.
Q. And when you're on the road, during pregame?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Try to find it, yeah. When the guys go out early, you always just want to know where it is, obviously because if -- for a guy like myself, if we don't have a call in or something, I'm waiting on coach, I can look at the clock and know where it is, I can get something called so we can get lined up.
BRIAN HARDIN: Thanks, everyone.
End of FastScripts