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November 12, 2016

DeShone Kizer

James Onwualu

San Antonio, Texas

Notre Dame - 44, Army - 6

Q. (No microphone.)
DESHONE KIZER: Yeah, their adjustment to our offense was to sweep the flats with the backers. And when they blitzed they tend to take their their linebackers and throw them into your typical throw holds, when it comes to blitzing, so with that, it caused me to obviously get to read three, four, and use my feet when I had to when they were sweeping guys underneath our routes.

Q. When you guys were running the stretch a lot today, were you guys checking that side to side kind of based on what they were showing you numbers-wise?
DESHONE KIZER: Yeah, there was a bunch of different looks that you can check it off of. You know, outside zone was a good look for us. We knew that going against their three-down defense, and it's on me to make sure that we're running to the right side, so based off of whether it be blitzing, fronts, safeties, whatever it is, as long as they're running to the right side it was a pretty successful play.

Q. First play of the game you took a shot downfield into that drive off with the play action post route to Kevin Stepherson. What did you see from Army after that? What adjustments did you see from them after you took those early shots?
DESHONE KIZER: Yeah, we understood that we had to challenge their DB's. Obviously unfortunately they were down a couple guys, and they played some guys who were a little less experienced than most, and with that, we had to take our guys, and if they gave us a look, attack that. We were able to do that on the first drive, and their adjustment, once again, was to sweep defenders underneath, blitz a little more and keep one high safety. We were able to attack that high safety one time, and I overthrew Kevin, and then from there we relied on our run game to kind of carry us out.

Q. Obviously defense was a lot more effective against the triple option sweep. What were some of the adjustments you guys made that resulted in that effectiveness?
JAMES ONWUALU: You know, I think it really came down to just having the two games back to back. It helped a lot of guys that hadn't really seen this style of play really pick up and understand the game and how to play it. Some great adjustments by the coaches but also some young guys really going to work in practice and picking up on this style of offense.

Q. Defensive line today coach said you went to more of an odd front this week against Army. They seemed to do a really good job controlling the front. How important was it for you guys as linebackers to be able to run a little bit more free this week?
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, it's huge. Props to those inside guys especially. They were doing a lot of grunt work in there, getting those O-linemen on their legs and everything, which allows us to run, as long as they don't let the linemen up, so props to them.

Q. DeShone, after so many close games, frustrating losses, how good did it feel to have a game where you basically put it all together today?
DESHONE KIZER: Yeah, you know, this season has been definitely one to learn from, and with that, we kind of challenge ourselves to build off of each other, both offensively and defensively, to sustain success, and all of those games that we've lost and all those games that we've gone to the fourth quarter, we had great spurts feeding off of each other, and in order for us to be the team we want to be, I think it's best that we continue that throughout a whole game, and today was the perfect example of us feeding off of the defense and the defense feeding off of the offense, as well as one big special teams play.

I think that in the third quarter, to fight the way we fought on the drive that we had, and for me to make a careless mistake throwing it back across the field and to see the defense come back out after that rough interception and almost get an interception themselves, ended up with the ball right back in that position where the interception would have been off of not the best of a punt, so for us to build off of that is exactly what we need to do to continue to have success.

Q. What was it like to play in San Antonio in a game like this?
DESHONE KIZER: You know, at Notre Dame there's a lot of tradition that rides with us everywhere we go, and to play against Army in a city like this, it's awesome. It's the reason that we choose to go to a school like Notre Dame, to take advantage of opportunities to play in venues like this and in cities like this. It was really an awesome experience. Also really cool to have your own footprint on this amazing tradition at Notre Dame.

Q. James, with the exception of last week's 4th down, it's really been six games of dominant 3rd and 4th down defense. What is the mindset now on 3rd down because you guys are getting off the field at a much better rate.
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, it's our money down now. We have a way different mindset. I think we've put a little bit more of an emphasis on it. We used to practice it a little bit later in the week. Now we are getting right on it from Tuesday into Wednesday and working on it every single day. I think that emphasis on it has been huge, and it shows the importance, we get excited for 3rd down, and we've been performing.

Q. One of your younger players, Julian Love, he's played two really good games in a row. Did you see this coming in August when you saw him first, or has his growth really been incremental?
JAMES ONWUALU: Yeah, no, absolutely. The kid was here for his spring break when he was in high school trying to learn and doing what he could. Can't say enough good things about him. The kid works so hard every single day and is always asking great questions, always trying to get more time from some of the veterans, and he's continued to get better every single week. I can't wait to see what his career becomes.

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