"They're worthy of a top 10 ranking, good in all three phases. It's a very mature team and we're excited about the opportunity Saturday night."
On the rivalry:
"It's special and what makes it special is the tradition at both schools and the players and coaches who built it. It's unique and we're fortunate to be apart of it."
On where the team is now compared to a few weeks ago:
"The last time we went on the road, we grew up a lot. When we went to Manatten, we weren't ready for that challenge. When we went to Georgia Tech, I was pleased with that. Hopefully we can stay focused this week and not have any distractions."
On ND's defense:
"Their personnel fits what they do really well. They're big at the ends. Their nose is 326 and he's active. All their linebackers are 250. They have arguably the best defensive player in college in Te'o. They're able to stay in cover 2 and prevent big plays. They're excellent in the redzone with bracket coverage. They're giving up less than 10 points a game and they're only giving up 3.3 yards per carry."
On Stephen's improved play:
"We definitely thought it was possible. The last two weeks he's done a good job. We saw glimpses of it. After a couple errant throws in the first quarter against Georgia Tech, he's really settled in. His receivers have stepped up and we're protecting him well and that's giving him confidence."
On offenses putting up so many points all over the place:
"What's generating more offense is you look at these schools. The offenses are attacking the defenses with a different offense. Look at our schedule. We've faced pro style, option, and spread through the first five weeks. We're seeing 4 or 5 wide one week to two tight ends. From week to week, it's getting really hard to adapt each week and especially with the age of our team. Look at Ray Lewis losing 20-25 pounds and you can see the direction football is going (with the spread offense, even in the NFL)."
On the younger kids growing up:
"We have to keep working. I like our younger talent but we're asking them to do so much. We need our experienced guys to step up. We're getting to a point where we don't see any freshmen anymore. Eddie Johnson isn't a freshman anymore. Gionni Paul now has a few starts. Everyone's settled in and now everyone needs to relax and do their jobs. That day is coming. I'm excited about the direction we're going."