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November 14, 2012

Jim Grobe

JIM GROBE:  We've got a big challenge, of course, in front of us.  This will be our third top‑ten team we've played this year, counting Clemson and Florida State.  Another tough challenge on the road, tough place to play, South Bend.  Disappointed we didn't play better last week, thought NC State's kids played great and whipped us pretty good.  We didn't play obviously our best football, so we need to kind of bounce back and see if we can't find a way to play better this week.

Q.  When you look at the Notre Dame defense on film, what makes these guys so damned good on defense?
JIM GROBE:  Well, I think they've got the formula, and that's to be able to pressure your quarterback without having to do a lot of blitzing.  They've got a really strong defensive front.  I love their front seven guys, but especially those defensive linemen.  They're really able to rush three guys and still get pressure on your quarterback, and when you're able to do that when only three or four guys rushing and still play the coverages that you want to play, I think that makes you special on defense.

Q.  How do you get your guys to get past all the mythology that surrounds Notre Dame, just the name and the Golden Dome and the whole atmosphere?  They've been to NC State before and places like that, but this is something new, and I just wondered how they adjust to it.
JIM GROBE:  Well, I think we're going to find out to be honest with you.  I think playing them last year helps, takes a little bit of the mystique out of it.  I mean, we know they're a really good football team, really talented, very well coached, all those kind of things.  Playing at their place will be, I think, pretty special for our football team.  On one hand I think it's good because we don't have to spend a lot of time trying to motivate them to want to go play this week.  On the other hand you hope that they can go up and get their feet on the ground and they're not spending most of their time during the game sightseeing.  I think this is one of those trips where you've got to stay really, really focused because it's pretty cool to go to Notre Dame, but at the same time you've got to play good to hang in there with these guys.

Q.  You've played 10 games now and your conference schedule is over.  Does that seem a little weird?
JIM GROBE:  It does.  It does seem strange.  We've gotten used to playing Vanderbilt after Thanksgiving, so that's not unusual, but as it turned out this was just the only time that we could work it out to go back up to South Bend.  It does seem a little bit strange that we're through with the ACC part of our schedule.

Q.  I asked Coach Spaziani this earlier because he just played Notre Dame.  A lot of discussion nationally about the eye test and how the computers love Notre Dame but in the polls they're behind Kansas State and Oregon and that might keep them out of the National Championship game.  As a veteran coach what's your eye test about Notre Dame?  Are they a National Championship team or not?
JIM GROBE:  I think they absolutely are a National Championship team, but I don't think that means that Oregon and Kansas State are not, and I think that right now to me, with any of those three teams, you can flip a coin as to who would win on a neutral field playing.  I think we played Notre Dame last year, and I think‑‑ I thought they were pretty good last year.  They're improved over last year by quite a bit.  But I think it would be hard to pick any of those three teams one over the other when I think they're all really good.

Q.  You mentioned this is your third top‑ten team.  They might have the best defense of the three; again, that's just an uninformed opinion, but they're not as explosive offensively it doesn't seem as Florida State as Clemson.  Is that how you approach the game, and do you agree with that assessment?
JIM GROBE:  I think that's pretty solid.  I think they're probably the best defensive football team we'll have played.  But I think with Clemson and Florida State you're probably playing a little bit more explosive offensives.  But when you look at Notre Dame, what they do a great job of offensively is taking care of the football and they've got a young quarterback that really hurts you with his feet, can really run out of trouble and hurt you.  Sometimes you think, hey, we've covered everybody and you think that's good, but then he takes off running and can really hurt you with his feet.
But I would say that this is the best defensive football team we've played so far.

Q.  I guess when you're playing Clemson and Florida State you know you've got to score some points, so you might take some chances offensively.  Against Notre Dame do you not do that thinking you maybe get a break or two and win a low‑scoring game?
JIM GROBE:  Well, I think the one thing that you do know, you'd better not turn the football over because they are not turning it over.  I think that was one thing that last year was the biggest difference between Notre Dame last year and this year.  I think last year they had about mid‑30s in turnovers on offense, and this year it's like, I don't know, 10, 11, 12, something like that in turnovers.  So that's been the biggest difference with Notre Dame.
I think last year they had a very similar football team, but they turned it over too many times.  That's where they're really doing a good job is taking care of the football.
So I think going in there, you know that the one thing you've got to do, you feel like you've got to score some points certainly against that great defense.  It's not going to be easy, but the one thing you know offensively, you'd better not turn it over because they're not going to.

Q.  I know over the years you've probably learned to expect the unexpected‑‑
JIM GROBE:  That's well put.

Q.  How do you account for the NC State, Wake Forest and Virginia performances against each other over the last couple weeks?
JIM GROBE:  It's really‑‑ I think as much as anything, it's kids.  You're coaching guys that have other responsibilities other than football, academics, and each week you just hope you bring your best team every Saturday, but typically you don't.  And there's some games where your kids get fired up to play and some games where they don't.  Some weeks there are different things, you may have some kids with colds, with the flu, you may have some kids that are banged up, and maybe not seriously, just a little bit of an ankle, little bit of a shoulder, things like that, and that varies week to week, and you just never know from one week to the next what team is going to show up.  You hope your best one shows up, but we know through a 12‑game season it's really, really tough to get your best football team to show up every Saturday.

Q.  What do you think about all these crazy scores?
JIM GROBE:  I think that's offenses today.  We were talking yesterday about back when I was at the Air Force Academy, and that was a long time ago, I'm talking 28, 29 years ago when I first got to the Air Force Academy, our defensive goal, and this was in the Western Athletic Conference, they called it the "Wacky WAC," it was one of the first conferences with wide‑open, basketball‑on‑grass kind of stuff.  But our goal even back then was 300 total years defensively, to only give up 300 total yards and 14 points.  And when you think that that was even a goal, even a thought back then that we could hold somebody to 300 yards and 14 points, and you look at it now, and I think it would probably be more in the range of 400 yards and probably 28 points would be a better goal for you defensively right now.
Things have just changed so much with the wide‑open offenses.  I think match‑ups every Saturday are key.  Sometimes you match up better with personnel, but the offenses all over the country right now are putting up lots of points, so that's why you get big swings every week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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