"I just don't know why it turned out like it did. I watched them all week on film and said I don't know if we can block those guys up front. Because they have a dang good front four and their linebackers are very active. And we couldn't hardly run. Thank goodness we could throw and catch. That such shows you have to be two dimensional. They have a freshman quarterback who is playing in his first year. It's very difficult. We went through that two years ago but ours was a redshirt freshman. So there are going to be hot and cold days.
"My generation is a big Notre Dame recognition. When I was coming up... watching that '53 team was when I finished playing college. But I became interested in Notre Dame in the early '40s. That's when I first began to learn all those foreign names and wondered what country it was in. Anyway, I found out it was here. This is probably my last visit to Notre Dame, so it has been a thrill for me."
How important was it able to throw the ball deep? It seemd to set a tone for you offensively.
"It's a good thing we could do that because that's where we took charge of the ballgame, being able to hit long stuff. The quarterback laid it out there pretty good and our receivers caught it good and ran with it. That was the difference in the ballgame from an offensive standpoint."
Was the biggest play of the game when B.J. Ward blocked the field goal attempt?
"There's not telling. That could have been as big as any of them because had they got those three points, that would have made it 10-3 and gave them momentum and confidence. Yes, that was probably big. But those interceptions for touchdowns were big, too. They wrapped it up."
Did you see anything on film that suggested you could throw it over the top like that?
"No, I think it was more of our coaches have confidence in the speed of our receivers and maybe something good would happen. As far as spotting something that we knew we could pick on, I don't remember the coaches talking abou tthat."
Are you sure this is going to be your last visit to Notre Dame?
"Yeah, we don't have them scheduled anymore."
You might coach another 10 years.
"Yeah, but we still don't have them on the schedule. I hate to come here in a casket. They can bury me down home. They don't have to bring me to Notre Dame to bury (me)."
Is this about the best your defense has played this year?
"There's no doubt about it. For them to have as many shots as they had inside the 5 or the 10, and for us to keep them out of there, you would have to say your defense has played...it might have been Kansas in 1993 where our defense played this good or was this impressive. We stopped Kansas 10 times inside the 5 on successive plays. This just about equals what happened out there tonight."
Can you comment on the play of Chris Rix.
"We are so much a better ballclub when he's playing well. He's always been a guy who can make a play that you can't draw on the board. You can't draw on the board. He just does it. But then he will make a play that might hurt you. Now, tonight we had a good lead and don't turn the ball over. And soon as he gets in there, the ball falls out of his hand. I think we got the ball back. That's the thing he's learning to eliminate. Still doing a little of it but not as much."
Last year Notre Dame scored off your turnovers. That wasn't the case in this game.
"Oh yeah. I reminded them of that a few times. There's no doubt about it. Last year all the critcism was on Chris Rix because he turned the ball over so many times. And yet everytime he turned it over they would score on one play. Who's fault is that? Chris Rix? We fussed about that a little bit this week, and our defense didn't let it happen tonight."
Kendyll Pope can't play due to injury but you had another young linebacker step in and play well. What does that say about your depth?
"The one thing that we have now that we are beginning to get back that we lost there for awhile was depth. We are beginning to get more depth. And it shows. When Pope is out, Nicholson stepped in there the past two weeks and played winning football. Then little ol' Ernie Sims jumped in there and made some good plays. So we are beginning to get more depth."
Talk about Craphonso Thorpe's day.
"He has really come along. He caught the touchdown against Virginia that hurt them. Virginia was determined that we wouldn't get anything long. And you can see why after tonight. Don't give Florida State anything long. And so he caught one pass about 25 yards and juked a guy and ran about 70 for a touchdown. His speed is beginning...people are beginning to learn about his speed. Here's a guy who won the ACC 100 and 200 yard dashes. It's beginning to show."
Is it special for you to win here tonight?
"It sure is. No doubt about it."
Was this your best coaching job?
"Tonight? No, you haven't seen nothing yet (laughing). I don't know about that. Usually when we win like that, I probably do less coaching. The coaches do it. I stay out of there way. When I get in there they start messing things up."
Did you have any sense that your players realized how special it was to come into a place like Notre Dame?
"I think they did after I talked to them and explained what it's like. It has been 10 years since we've been here. Our '93 team was here and they learned what tradition is. So, these kids haven't been here. So, I sure tried to tell them what this university means to college football. So, some of the comments they made to me afterwards made me feel like they felt like this was something special."