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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 30, 2008
BRIAN HARDIN: This is Brian Hardin at Notre Dame. We have Maurice Crum, Jr. and David Bruton at the table. We'll start with questions.
Q. Mo, in your 14-year career at Notre Dame (indiscernible)?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think he's definitely at the top. He's kind of relatively, I guess, new and still kind of growing. I mean, with every game that I've seen, I've seen him get stronger and stronger.
In the last game, he did a really good job of trying to help keep his team in the game. I definitely think he's up there in the top.
Q. Does he remind you of anybody?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I mean, he does a lot of things similar. If I had to guess, I think he'd be a fan of Reggie Bush, kind of in his style and in his cuts and stuff. That would just be me guessing.
Q. Is this a test you guys on the defense are looking forward to?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Yeah, definitely. I mean, playing defense, that's what you look for, challenges, especially for the guys up front. The guys in the secondary, they look forward to the star receivers, try to have a good day against them. But the guys in the front, when it comes to good runningbacks, you definitely try to get a little more geeked (sic) up to try to make more plays against a real quality guy.
Q. (Question regarding the upcoming presidential election.)
DAVID BRUTON: I have two poli-sci classes now. We focus on the election a lot, especially in my black Chicago politics class. Since Obama is the senator of Illinois, he's from Chicago, and he's done a lot in Chicago, that's basically been the topic. It's been the focal point of, like, our exams.
We kind of focus and get a beat on what's going on more so than anybody else in any other major. That's generally what we focus on. We focus on the dynamics of politics, especially how important this election in itself is going to be and how history's going to be made dependent upon which candidate's elected. It doesn't really matter.
Q. What drew you to poli-sci as a major?
DAVID BRUTON: You know, premed didn't work. I had to get out of there (laughter). I decided to jump in a major that doesn't have many exams, jump in one that you have to write a little more. I guess 'cause I have a cousin who is a district attorney, and I've had a lot of friends who are poli-sci majors, that kind of influenced me to take that route.
Q. Anybody in particular you have had discussions with?
DAVID BRUTON: Not necessarily. I mean, there's a couple of us who have had chats about it, but nothing too in depth.
Q. Mo, playing off that 14-year career comment, last night Kuntz called you a crafty veteran, old man that cracks the whip. What are your thoughts on those comments?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I guess I am kind of the old man who cracks the whip. I guess kind of on the plane when guys are getting loud and stuff, I guess when I stand up and talk, everybody is like, Shh, the old man's talking. I get a lot of that because I've been around for a while.
At the same time it has a lot to do with just the guys kind of respecting me and what I've done and what I'm about.
Q. So you don't mind that moniker?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: No, I can take it. I got thick skin, so...
Q. You touched on it in the postgame the odd way you lost your start streak. Can you elaborate what went on in your mind when you realized you weren't going out?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: It didn't really dawn on me till you guys brought it up after the game. But, again, I mean, I'm all about just the team. I mean, that's kind of like the way it went.
I mean, we practice a certain way, certain personnel, certain groups. It just so happens that they put those guys out there first. From that standpoint, I guess I got the short end of the stick.
Q. In hindsight, have you asked for like an asterisk next to it?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think I'd try to lobby for that. I wouldn't mind lobbying for that.
Q. David, what does it mean that he was able to start so many games in a row beginning so young?
DAVID BRUTON: It just shows his understanding of the game. You know, when I came in as a freshman, his sophomore year, I didn't know what to expect. And Mo himself kind of took me under his wing, along with like Zibby and Ndu. He's been able to guide me. At that point I knew he was going to be a leader. He's shown that he can be and has become one.
Q. Looking at this game this week, obviously you have had great success this year at home. Talk about maintaining that success.
DAVID BRUTON: Any time we playing at home, it should be exciting for anybody, the fans, the players, the coaches. Everybody should be extra amped up, you know, because it's your home crowd, it's the people who support you. You should have a sense of pride when you're at home that nobody should win on your field.
I feel like this year we've developed that sense of pride, you know, that sense of urgency. Basically they're coming on our field. They're disrespecting us. Having that mental mindset that we're going to come out of the game with a win.
Q. Last year you guys lost that intimidation factor for teams; they were able to come here and win. Are you starting to bring that back now with the way you're playing at home?
DAVID BRUTON: I believe so. We played fairly well at home. You know, we've had our falters throughout the game, but we've been able to pull back and regain focus and regain our poise and pull out a W each time at home.
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think we've done a really good job of putting last year out of our minds and focusing on this year, the guys just buying in, trying to get the crowd and the fans something to be excited about, to have a reason to cheer. Everybody's there, so the energy's created week in and week out. We do a great job of providing our own energy, but there's extra energy coming from the fans.
I think that's the factor that you don't really think about from that standpoint. But once you've got the crowd into it, the teams into it, there's a lot of energy going our way, and that's positive energy.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about gaining respect this year. The two teams you played this year that have good records that you lost to, how important is it to win a game like this at this point, to just gain a little bit of national recognition?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Yeah, I mean, it's extremely important. Again, I mean, it's the next game on the schedule, but it just happens to be this is an opponent that, again, we come out on top, it will give us -- some people will start lobbying for us, we can start gaining some of that respect.
I think it's in our hands and it's our turn. We've just got to step up and come to work.
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, it's going to be a big game. We've emphasized that. Coaches have pressed on the issue that this is a big game, merely for the fact that it's the next game, but it's Pitt, they have a winning record. This will give us a lot of support in the national realm of things, coming out and beating an opponent with a winning record.
Q. David, it was your first game in a Notre Dame uniform. What do you recall from that weekend?
DAVID BRUTON: Vomiting. I remember vomiting before the game because I was so nervous. You know, I remember glimpses of the game. I remember the dropped interception I had going into the half. I remember the punt I tried to save. There's certain things I remember. But overall I remember we came out with a win, and that was the sort of a new era in a positive way.
Q. Vomiting. Has that continued?
DAVID BRUTON: It's behind me. My stomach's settled down a lot more (laughter). I don't really have nerve problems any more like that. I guess it was just 'cause I was a young guy and that was a national stage. You know, my high school was fairly small. I never played in front of so many people. It just got nerve-wracking.
Q. It wasn't because of what you ate before the game?
DAVID BRUTON: No, I don't believe that. Because I eat whatever before practice or a game, it doesn't affect me, so...
Q. Mo, you talked about being the old man, standing up and talking to the team. How have you evolved in that responsibility? You were pretty shy I think early on.
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think for me it was just a process of me growing up and just realizing that I have leadership abilities, that the guys respect me a lot. It's kind of just me growing up and taking my game and my leadership to the next level.
I always try to do a good job of evaluating myself from the previous season and evaluating moments, things that may have happened that I could have done differently. I think I use that. From that, that's what allowed me to grow up.
Q. Before you stand up and say something to the team, how much do you prepare in your head or do you just kind of go off the cuff?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Initially, when I first started trying to talk to the team, I tried to think about what I was gonna say. In the off-season evaluating myself, I realized that's not the way to reach the team. Speaking with my dad, one of the things he told me, you know, if you speak from your heart, it won't be wrong, it will come out right, and it's easy to talk that way. That's pretty much how I always speak now.
Q. David, are you the spokesman for the secondary?
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, I speak on behalf of the secondary. But we know it's Mo's defense. He's the leader. He's been the leader for a couple years now. I'm really not too vocal. I don't speak a whole lot. But when I need to, I feel like I step in and do my part.
Q. In a couple weeks we're all going to be asking you about your last home game. This is the second to the last. Reflections of Notre Dame stadium experiences for you guys?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Just a great place to play. So many games, so many moments, so many things that have happened here just in my time, and the history before me. Right now to be able to think that I'm a part of it, I'm just going to try to take everything in and enjoy it.
DAVID BRUTON: Just remembering all the moments I've been a part of, the moments that I've seen, all the plays that's been made on the field during my short time here. Just reminiscing how great the feeling is to play in such a stadium with the fans always being excited, 80,000 plus just cheering for one team.
Q. Beating a team with a winning record, that would probably propel you into the top 25. Does that kind of take you to the next level of respect nationally?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: It definitely does. Again, talking about respect and trying to fight for ourselves, so to speak, just to let everybody know that we're different, we're not the same. We've all committed to making a change. I think that's just the natural next step.
Q. David, do you keep on eye on the top 25? Did you check to see if you were in it this week?
DAVID BRUTON: No, I generally don't check it. Maybe on Saturday before a game when we're watching Game Day or something in the room, just looking at the matchups that's going on. But other than that, I really don't pay attention to the top 25. We're just here to try to earn our respect and play in a Bowl game come January.
Q. David, as a game between two coaches that have pretty heavy pro backgrounds, I know when you were being recruited, there was the coaching change, but you had to kind of be re-recruited by Charlie. How important was it that he was a pro coach? As you've been playing for him, do you see positives from that pro background?
DAVID BRUTON: You know, it wasn't too important of a factor. Education was the most important factor. Being close to home, knowing that my son was going to be born.
But I've enjoyed playing for Coach Weis. His pro background has helped a lot with me growing. He's a tough guy. He's hard on you. I guess that's just how it's going to be at the next level if I'm blessed to make it there.
So I don't regret any of the decisions that I've made and I'm appreciative of the information and the knowledge that I've gained throughout Coach Weis' coaching here.
BRIAN HARDIN: We'll wrap-up here and see everybody Saturday.
End of FastScripts