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November 1, 2008

Dave Wannstedt

COACH WANNSTEDT: I guess to start off with, have to compliment Notre Dame. Obviously it was a great game, the highest level of competition on both teams. I thought that both teams fought till the end.
Our kids coming out at halftime, being down 14 points, I really can't describe the heart that our football team has. We have been behind several times this year and fought our way back, but never against a quality football team like this, and never on the road against a full house with a crowd and everything involved.
We got incredible kids. I thought that they never really came unglued. As many adverse things that happened in the game, turnovers, so forth, nobody ever folded, nobody ever lost their poise, lost their confidence.
You know, it wasn't as clean as we would like. To overcome three turnovers is really a remarkable feat in itself against anyone. I thought that the second half our defense, we talked coming into the game, we felt like if we could take this game to a fourth quarter, we could win it. We could control the clock. LeSean could be a factor, and our defense.
It was a great team win. Conor Lee, what can you say about that kid? He's as fine a young man, as fine a football player as I've been around. When we needed it, our defense showed up. LeSean showed up. Just a great, great win for our program and our kids.

Q. What adjustments did you make at halftime? Talk about the mood in the locker room at halftime.
COACH WANNSTEDT: Very quiet. Very quiet. Similar to when we were at Syracuse. I think it was a businesslike attitude. Our guys felt like we could do some things.
When you look at the first half, we block a punt, we get 3 only. We're at the 20 yard line going in. We trip and go backwards, getting no points. We throw two interceptions, one which was a touchdown.
Our guys felt like we had made enough mistakes in the first half and stopped ourselves that if we could clean those things up, we'd have a chance the second half. We came out and played pretty much a clean game the second half.

Q. You scored on that fade route to tie the game. It looked like that was the same play you tried a couple times before.
COACH WANNSTEDT: About 10 times. That's about the extent of our passing game. That's about what they did. They threw them up to 23, 3, all their guys. We knew that. I mean, it's incredible. Clausen made a great throw, back shoulder. We had him double covered. They throw up a fade route to Tate. We fall down. I mean, it was a game of fade routes. Jonathan Baldwin, you have to recognize him as a freshman. The guy is really maturing at a fast pace.

Q. When it came down to the field goals in overtime, how much faith did you have in Conor even though he never kicked a game winner before?
COACH WANNSTEDT: I wasn't aware of that. I will say this: never even thought about Conor not making it. I think that's the type of confidence everybody has in him. We felt like if we could get one touchdown that we could win it.
Just a great accomplishment by Conor. You know, our quarterback situation, Billy will be back next week. Billy will be the starter next week. He was clear to play. He worked a little bit. We just felt he wasn't ready with no practice.
We tried Kevan and Pat. The plan was to try to use them all, get something out of them. Went back to our wildcat package a little bit with Shady at quarterback. We got a few plays out of that. But it was really a situation where we were just trying to maximize everyone that we had, try to give us enough to get the win.

Q. Beyond your quarterback you had a new center. Talk about your running game.
COACH WANNSTEDT: I got to give our kids a lot of credit. Tony is doing a phenomenal job with those guys. CJ Davis is really becoming the anchor of that whole group. Dom Williams played well. Just a great win for our kids.
I talked to our guys. I talked to them about all the things that happened. Legends are made in games like this, big games, national TV games against great traditional teams. The great thing about this win, the entire team will be recognized and remembered for this for the next 25 years, you know, because of the overtime and everything. That's a neat thing when it's not just one individual, but when the entire team can share in it.

Q. Talk about Bos coming back.
COACH WANNSTEDT: Matt Cavanaugh, got to give him credit. It's very frustrating when you're trying to call plays to suit what a quarterback can and can't do. Now you're trying to get the right people in the game. He's not in. Situation's not right down-and-distance wise. Second half we made up our minds we're going to come out and dollop the plays. We've got to execute them when we call them.
I think that was a nice solution to the first half problems where we were trying to pick and choose too much maybe.

Q. LeSean got off to a slow start this season. Today he went over a thousand yards. Talk a little bit about the plays he made on his own and just what kind of player he is for your team.
COACH WANNSTEDT: Great, great players do a lot of things that you don't coach. That's LeSean. Every team has a couple of those guys.
The best thing that he did today was that he showed toughness at the end. Conditioning, team player, you know, excited about the win. I mean, all those things that are part of LeSean McCoy's character other than his great ability to run the football.
You know, he's the guy. We know that. There's not a secret about it, particularly today when your quarterback's out.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about overtime, both the play calling and emotions of the team on the road.
COACH WANNSTEDT: We threw an incomplete early. The strategy was to try to let LeSean McCoy win the game for us. But obviously you have to throw it some. We were going to try to be as limited as we possibly could throwing the ball, to be honest with you. Up here on the road with the noise and everything, let LeSean win it.
Our defense stepped up. To hold those guys to field goals was incredible. They've got a lot of talent on that offense, we know that, at all positions. Clausen is getting better every week. The guy made some throws today that guys at the next level make. He was reading coverages. We were rolling one way, trying to take certain things away, doubling guys. He was coming back. The guy's going to be a great player.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the ups and downs of this week and last week.
COACH WANNSTEDT: Last week was real interesting. Rutgers is a better football team than what their record displayed before we played them, and we knew that. But we were just -- we got behind early. Our kids fought back. We got a chance to come back and win that game and then turned it over.
From an effort standpoint, we never lost that. From an attitude standpoint, we never lost that. We just didn't make enough plays.
Our guys came back this week. This was a big game for us up here. We're fighting like heck to try to get to a Bowl game like everybody. It doesn't get any easier with the remaining part of our schedule, Louisville, Cincinnati, West Virginia and Connecticut. Every game is the most important game of the year. That was the theme all week and our players responded.

End of FastScripts

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