|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 23, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with any questions here.
Q. Could you comment on Purdue's attack. Coach Weis says it's become more conventional. What do you guys see with their attack?
KYLE McCARTHY: I'd have to agree with Coach Weis. Last year with their offense, they're definitely more of an aerial attack, try to spread you out. This year the biggest difference is their running game. Up until last week their runningback was top in the country. We'll have to be ready for balance of attack. They're more than capable of moving the ball on the ground as well as the air.
SCOTT SMITH: I think just the weapons they have, especially at runningback and tight end and their quarterback, who is still fairly mobile and can make plays with his legs, makes plays in the passing game.
Q. Kyle, their runningback, what style of runner do you see?
KYLE McCARTHY: You know, the thing that I notice, he's a tough runner. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he breaks a lot of tackles and has a lot of yards after contact.
We're going to have to play good defense against them, break down, make the tackle at first contact because if not, we're going to pay for it.
Q. Taylor, a similar type runner?
KYLE McCARTHY: Definitely, a speedy guy. Both guys have shown the ability to make plays. I think that's why they've had so much success on the ground. If you have a running game, that opens up the passing game. Their offense has shown to be able to move the ball fairly well.
Q. We've been talking to your offense this week about the wildcat. They gained an extra man, quarterback split out. I don't know how much you have faced that. When you do, what are some of the problems you see created by a wildcat formation?
KYLE McCARTHY: The biggest thing, the reason people run the wildcat, is because you get an extra blocker. Essentially the center is handing it off to the runningback. Obviously it takes, as a defensive guy, an extra blocker so you have to cover an extra gap. It's difficult. In the wildcat offense, you need to read your keys and need to be in every gap or that's where you'll get gashed?
SCOTT SMITH: Looking at it as a change-up. You see it as an offense, conventional, snapping the quarterback for however many plays, the wildcat formation has a tendency to throw defenses off their game if they're not prepared for it. That's one thing you have to do is prepare well and understand what they're trying to get accomplished out of it. With different teams, I think you saw it in the Monday night game with Miami, just how effectively they were able to use it as a change up to what they were able to do with their traditional offense. Kind of as a defense, forces you to be able to change gears and switch mentality a little bit.
Q. Scott, the last couple weeks, some big positives and negatives on special teams. Game-changing plays. What kind of learning experience do you think that has been for some of the younger guys?
SCOTT SMITH: I think, especially for the younger guys, knowing that every play -- kind of reinforces the fact that every special teams play matters. You really don't get a second down in the kicking game. Once a play happens, it's not like if you're on defense and you give up a four-yard run, all of a sudden it's second down and you have a chance to play another day. You give up a kickoff return or like last week with an on-side kick, it forces guys to be more aware of it and have better communication leading up to it to see some of those looks.
Q. How do you think you have improved in kickoff coverage?
SCOTT SMITH: I think a lot of kickoff coverage has to do with guys beating one-on-one blocks and fitting where they're supposed to. We have a ton of athletic guys on the kickoff team, like Zeek, like Sergio, like Mike. The quicker we can get down and take on blocks, the sooner we can beat and defeat blocks, the better chance we're going to have of making plays inside the 20.
Q. Kyle, talking about the D-line, the front seven, the improvement they can make in the defense. From a secondary perspective, where do you think the biggest room for improvement to get the defense on track?
KYLE McCARTHY: On the defense we feel we need to improve, especially in the secondary, guys being on point, every play, recognizing formations, tendencies. As a safety or a corner, you know, you need to be where the down on distance and know what to expect so we can jump routes and make some big plays. It's going to take some extra work in the film room, translating it onto the practice field.
Q. When you are rotating corners as much as you do, what kind of challenge does that present for you communication-wise?
KYLE McCARTHY: It's really not that much different no matter who is in there. We're taught to communicate on every play so we're on the same page so there's no breakdowns in coverage. Obviously, this is football, mistakes happen. We're not always a hundred percent. But that's what we're working for. Anyone that Coach Rob throws in, we have all the confidence in.
Q. Yesterday somebody was asking about the schedule for you guys. Coach Weis said it's brutal. As graduate students, what is your day like especially after practice? I guess you don't have to go to study hall.
KYLE McCARTHY: Contrary to popular belief, we have to go to class, too. I have a nine-hour class schedule. It's not a whole lot different than the younger guys. So I don't know. I guess I could spend a little more time in the film room or watching my favorite sit-coms at night. Other than that, there's not a whole lot of different.
SCOTT SMITH: I would kind of have to agree. Especially when you're a younger guy, you're waking up at 7:00 in the morning, getting done with study hall at 10:30, practice, study hall at night, trying to squeeze in meals. I guess if there's a way to describe it, it's a little more relaxed. We are both taking nine credit hours, so there's an opportunity to steal a couple more hours of sleep here and there. Other than that, we have the same responsibilities class-wise and are still expected to go to class and get our work done.
Q. This week, being you can't hang your hats on the (indiscernible) losing streak, and Jimmy was in practice yesterday, what do you do to refocus for practice?
KYLE McCARTHY: I don't think it's going to be a whole lot different. The team, we've said all year, is mature enough to understand this isn't NFL, this is college football, every game counts. You go into a game, you lose a game, it really changes the outcome of your season, like it or not.
Every game is important to us. Purdue is no different. We know the type of talent they have. And it's a night game. Guys are excited to play at night. Especially for the young guys, night game on the road, ESPN, I'm sure they'll be up for it.
SCOTT SMITH: I guess just this week basically realizing Purdue is our next game, so it's our most important game. Obviously, Michigan State is in the past. Whoever we play after Purdue is in the future. Guys understand there's nothing they can do about next week or the week after, it's just what can you do this week to help our team get ready to go, whatever amount of playing time or reps you get during practice. Everything counts to make sure you put yourself in the best position to play well on Saturday.
KYLE McCARTHY: Another thing on that, Scott and I are fifth-year seniors, there are a whole bunch of seniors on this team, we want to go out the right way. We know this is our last go around so we're going to make every game count.
Q. Kyle, Charlie talked earlier this week on Sunday to find something defensively to hang your hat on. As you've been through meetings and started game prep, what does that mean for you as a defense?
KYLE McCARTHY: You know, I think our defense has kind of heard what everybody has been saying. Obviously we don't want to get into games where they're shootouts. We want to help this team any way we can. We heard what everybody has been saying. We know what to correct. We're on the practice field trying to correct that and improve every day. I know Scott and I have confidence on the defensive side of the ball that we're going to be able to improve and help this team out.
Q. Where does that start?
KYLE McCARTHY: Obviously it starts on the practice field, the intensity. The older guys on the team in each position keep on everyone to pay attention to detail, stay in your right gap, read your keys, and the rest can take care of itself.
Q. With Coach Tenuta, are you doing anything differently than you were last year since he's become coordinator?
KYLE McCARTHY: Coach Tenuta's language hasn't changed very much. I was kind of joking with you.
Not a whole lot. Coach Tenuta is one of the brightest football minds I've ever been around. It's amazing the things he sees. Obviously, there's things he wants us to improve on. He's certainly let us know that. Coach Brown has let us know the areas that the defensive backs need to improve.
You know, those are the two guys that you listen to what they say and, like I said, we're on the practice field striving to improve in the areas those guys have pointed out for us. Hopefully we'll see some improvement on Saturday.
Q. Last year you made tremendous improvement. Have you noticed anything or the reason why maybe things haven't gone quite as well as you've thought?
KYLE McCARTHY: Obviously on Sunday, you come in and watch the film, there's things that stand out to you that you know your weaknesses, you really wonder why that's happening. But it's football. Things happen. What's in the past is in the past. The only thing we can worry about is the next game. We're trying to improve that. That's why these guys come in here and work so hard.
We have high expectations for ourselves. In order to attain those goals, we're not going to be able to talk much, just try to go out on Saturday and prove it.
Q. What do you see that gives you confidence in Coach Tenuta?
KYLE McCARTHY: I mean, it's hard to explain. Just being around him every day. You know what kind of coach he is, you know his background, track record. We're happy to play for him and believe in his philosophy. He's had success in the past. When we come in and watch film, we know what goes on and why plays happen. It's not the scheme. It's a breakdown here, a breakdown there. As players, we need to own up to our mistakes and really take it upon ourselves to correct those, and we're trying to do that.
Q. Scott, can you talk about the intensity, the motivation of the team going into this week and how it may compare to last week coming off of a loss?
SCOTT SMITH: I think first and foremost, obviously everybody is happy that we got the victory last week over Michigan State. But we can't rest on that or somehow look to that as being satisfied.
This team, we look at every week, every game as kind of its own challenge, just the fact that we need to prepare and practice to win and be ready to show up and prove on Saturday why we should win that football game.
Every week there's intensity on the practice field, just knowing this is our next opportunity to go out there and show everybody what we can do, what we can accomplish.
Q. Kyle, when Eric talked about intensity wasn't as high coming off of week one, how do you make sure coming off another win intensity is still high?
KYLE McCARTHY: Well, we lost when we didn't practice that well. That's a pretty big motivating factor. You know, I think we've learned from our mistakes. We have great leadership on this team. This is our last go around for the seniors. We don't want to lose another one so we're going to do everything we can to beat Purdue and take it one game at a time.
Q. Is there a different mentality a player has to overcome coming off a win versus a loss?
KYLE McCARTHY: No, I don't think so. I think every game is important. We know that. We're just out there trying to correct our mistakes from the week before and keep improving. You know, this is Notre Dame, and we're excited to be a part of it. We know the expectations here. We're just trying to fulfill those expectations.
Q. Can you talk about facing Purdue, obviously there's been some pretty good battles over the last couple years with them, facing them year in and year out.
KYLE McCARTHY: Yeah, I mean, Purdue is a great program, a good team, one that's more than capable of beating us. You know, we know what they can do. That's why we're out there practicing and trying to improve. I think yesterday was a great day of practice. I expect the same today because this is going to be a huge game for us and our season. The biggest thing since the next one. So we'll be ready to play come Saturday night.
SCOTT SMITH: Like we said earlier, we recognize that Purdue is a dangerous team. If we're not ready to play, some bad things can happen. We're doing everything we can this week as leaders and everybody else on the team, especially the older guys, to make sure we have the mindset going into the game this is our next game, this is our next opportunity. Nothing else matters except what happens on Saturday night.
Q. What are you taking for classes?
KYLE McCARTHY: I'm taking an environmental crisis class and a human anthropology class and piano.
SCOTT SMITH: I'm taking that same environmental crisis class, coaching youth sports, and also in independent study with a professor I've worked with for a couple years since I've been here.
Q. Piano been a lifelong dream of yours?
KYLE McCARTHY: I have no previous expertise in the area. However, not that I need help, but I feel the female population might like that out of me.
SCOTT SMITH: We're actually trying to set up a recital sometime this year so he can showcase his skills. Just thought I'd throw that out there.
Q. Kyle, you made a reference to night games. Are night games more fun, just in general?
KYLE McCARTHY: I think so. The crowd is always a little bit more fun. There's always a little bit boozed up and loud. They're always away games, which gets you excited as a player. So, you know, the atmosphere is going to be great. We've been to that stadium twice now. This is our third time. It's a great place to play. It's exciting. Their fans are passionate. It will be a great college football atmosphere, one that I'm excited for.
SCOTT SMITH: I have to agree with Kyle. Kind of a different atmosphere being out there at night, especially being on ESPN, the whole country's gonna be watching. I think Purdue, our freshman year, that was another night game there. That was one of the more fun games I've been a part of, just the atmosphere. Like you said, the fans are pretty raucous.
Q. Do the coaches occupy your time all day or are you pretty much free to watch other games? Does that kind of add to the buildup of things?
SCOTT SMITH: I'm sure by being a night game, we'll have some free time during the afternoon, hang out, watch TV, relax, maybe feel a little antsy getting ready to go. Used to the 3:30 kickoff on NBC. Gives you a little more time to prepare yourself mentally and physically get yourself ready to go that night.
Q. In general, how much do you watch other college teams watch during the day or at night?
KYLE McCARTHY: I watch them all the time, I mean, as much as I can. If it's on TV, might as well watch something I like watching. Especially if it's one of our opponents we're going to play, it's kind of interesting to watch what they're doing against other teams, not really in a game plan sense, but just to watch it and see their personnel, what guys are doing what.
If we have the extra time, we usually like to relax and get our minds and our bodies ready to play.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
End of FastScripts