They Said it!

TSW scans the Daily Strut for some of the best quotes following the Pack's 2003 Gator Bowl vistory over the Irish.

Pack tight end Sean Berton

  • "We did a lot of good things for the program this year. Hopefully, next season N.C. State can take the next step -- to the BCS. There's no reason that can't happen. The moon and the sun and the stars all are aligned for a long reign if they can keep the right people here."
  • "That (Mario) Williams kid, he looks like he's ready for the NFL right now. He could be one of the best kids ever to come to N.C. State."
  • "It was pretty nasty out there. I think they probably hit us with a couple of cheap shots, and our guys probably hit them with a couple of cheap shots."
  • "One of their players asked me out there 'how big is your playbook'? I told him it's not a playbook, it's playbooks. Our plays won't fit into one binder."
  • "I didn't expect to win this game so easily. I thought they would play hard. But it was an easy win. You saw it."
  • "It wasn't a predetermined thing, but once we got going, our mutual dislike came out."
  • "They didn't have any idea what was coming next. That was the best advantage that we had. They had no clue what was coming."

NC State Coach Chuck Amato

  • "People in Australia, people in Germany, people around the world were watching it. It's absolutely huge. Huge.""
  • "It was clean, hard, it was good ol' football."
  • "You've heard me say it a thousand times: We'll never be really good until we can play great defense consistently, and obviously the last two games we've been able to play real good defense against two outstanding football teams."
  • "When he came off the field, I told him (Rod Johnson) his grandfather (who recently died) had seen everything."
  • "Thunder Dan absolutely waxed their quarterback."
  • "Maybe people won't say anything now about that schedule we played. We'll play anybody."
  • "The turning point in the ballgame was knocking out their quarterback."
  • "He (Rivers) steps his game up all the time. He's truly an amazing player and I believe that by the time he leaves here, he will have lifted us to the very elite in college football."
  • "We can't win traditionally."

NC State Chancellor Marye Anne Fox

  • "We're showing that we can be competitive in athletics and academics and that we do it with integrity and excellence. This is tremendous."
  • "Wow!"

N&O's Caulton Tudor

  • "But considering Rivers' career accomplishments and the way he sliced apart one of the country's top defenses in the Gator, he has to rate higher than any other ACC player entering next season. Heck, he's already one of the 10 or so best ACC players ever in my book, based only on what he's done in three seasons."

NBC Play-By-Play Announcer Mike Breen

  • "This is a program on the rise, no question about it."

NC State Athletics Director Lee Fowler

  • "We couldn't have asked for any better outcome"
  • "People say, 'Chuck went to N.C. State, and he's loyal,' but I know he has a lot of love for Florida State, too, after spending 18 years of his life there. But Chuck's as loyal as anyone can be to this program and feels we can win a national championship at N.C. State."
  • "Those (vs Ohio State in 2003) are the kinds of games big-time programs play when they plan on winning national championships,"

Gator Bowl Selection Committee Member Jim McCollum 

  • "I've never seen a group of fans represent a state better."

NC State DB Greg Golden

  • "Do you want us in Arizona now, baby? We're available! We're still available!"

Notre Dame Fan Tom M. Conley

  • "This is unreal. There's no green anywhere."

NC State Student Haddon Kirk

  • "I have a headache from the screaming, and my throat hurts."

Irish injured QB Carlyle Holliday

  • "It was just a quarterback run and I sprinted out. They contained it and the guy just got a good, clean hit on me."
  • "He (Burnette) got a pretty solid lick in."
  • "It was hard to watch."

State Linebacker Dantonio Burnette

  • "I was thinking I was going to put (Holiday) on his back. My eyes got real big when I saw him go airborne. And when I hit him, I heard him groan. When I looked down, he was still on the ground. I was like, 'OK, this is gonna turn the game around now.'''
  • "It seemed like we were the other team down here all week."
  • "It was a day when we wanted to make one last statement."
  • "We thought we had something to prove, not just against Notre Dame, but to the nation. People have said we were a fraud, that we didn't play anybody, that we were a flukey team, even though we knew we were a great team. What do they say now? We just smacked Notre Dame around. What do they say now?"
  • "We really wanted to be physical with the whole team because we knew [Notre Dame] was going to try to come down here and try to bully us and push us around. We went out and really used our speed and quickness. We just smacked them in the mouth a lot."
  • "I can play at the next level, no doubt about that. I think I proved that today."
  • "Our defense wanted to hit people. We came in with a chip on our shoulder. We felt like Notre Dame didn't respect us. We felt like we were the other team in the Gator Bowl. When they had the banquets and press conferences, people only asked us a couple of questions."
  • "That was a statement game about N.C. State football."
  • "We had more talent than they did. We had a better defense, and we had better plays on offense."
  • "Going into the season, nobody talked about our defense. Everybody talked about our offense. And they deserve all the credit they get. But our defense is good, too."

Wolfpack DE Shawn Price

  • "We just showed the world that N.C. State is for real."
  • "I thought this would be a tighter game, but we just destroyed them."
  • "This is the biggest win in the history of N.C. State football. Without a doubt, without any question, this is the biggest win I've ever been a part of."

Irish DB Gerome Sapp

  • "You had a quarterback out there who played like a veteran today for them."

Irish DT Darrell Campbell

  • "There were so many formations, it was like a puzzle. They had us back on our heels the first half."

Notre Dame Offensive Coordinator Bill Diedrick

  • "(Maryland's E.J.) Henderson is very athletic, but I tell you (Burnette) strikes and runs around. I've got a great deal of respect for him."
  •  "You can tell a lot by looking into a young man's eyes, and he (QB Holliday)wasn't jumping to go back in there."

News & Record's Ed Hardin

  • "In the end, after the Pack had knocked out the Irish starting quarterback, after irritating the Irish and goading them into shoving matches, late hits and cheap personal fouls, after taking Notre Dame's proud countenance and reducing it to a silly display of ineptitude, N.C. State rubbed it in."
  • "Something big happened Wednesday. N.C. State beat Notre Dame 28-6 in the Gator Bowl and started talking about Top 10 rankings and national titles. Gator Bowl victories have rarely been harbingers of greatness, but there was something different about this one. It involved Notre Dame, and it was a mismatch."

NC State's TA McLendon

  • "We are the champions, we are the champions, we are the champions ... of the world."

NC State DB Rod Johnson

  • "This was a dream day for me and this team, I don't think any of us will forget this day for a long, long time."
  • "They kept throwing it at me and I kept catching it."

Pack QB Philip Rivers

  • "It was a great feeling. It felt like it did early in the season. We had everything down in our timing, and we were able to click."
  • "I think we proved we're a top-10 caliber team." 
  • "We've controlled the last two games on both offense and defense. That says a lot."

Charlotte Observer's Scott Fowler

  • "It was the biggest win in N.C. State's football history."

NC State Rover Andre Maddox

  • "We felt our defense had been overshadowed by the Notre Dame defense. That last goal-line stand was about pride. This game was about pride."
  • "We're a team on the rise. This is a step towards winning the national championship."

Notre Dame Coach Tyrone Willingham

  • "Any time you lose a starting player, it puts a bit of difficulty on your success. We still had playmakers out there, but we could not make the plays."
  • "Give North Carolina State credit. They did a lot of things very well and made it difficult on us all day. We seemed always right on the verge of making a play or a tackle, but we just couldn't do it."
  • "They had us back on our heels and when you play like that in a bowl game, you are in trouble."
  • "In a game of this magnitude, you feel like you have to score touchdowns. And when we didn't get that touchdown, it was huge."

Notre Dame OT Jim Molinario

  • "They played a better game than we did. We were playing catch-up the whole game."
  • "We came here with high expectations. To get shut down just hurts."

N&O's Ned Barnett

  • "The Notre Dame fight song urges the Irish to "shake down the thunder," but on New Year's Day, they were shook up by it."

NC State DB Marcus Hudson

  • "We want people to take us seriously. We want to be a national championship program. We want to let our name be known."
  • "This was the first game of next year. From now on, we're playing for the national championship."'s Wayne Drehs

  • "Amato's offense was controlled madness. Receivers threw passes. Quarterbacks caught them. Four receivers line up staggered to the left. Four receivers line up single file to the right. Everyone in motion. Nobody in motion. A hand-off to the tight end."

Notre Dame DB Glenn Earl

  • "They were just really good. What can you say? They were tough. They executed everything."
  • "What he (Rivers) gives them is great leadership."
  • "They are a tough offense to prepare for."
  • "They got us."

Florida Times Alex Abrons

  • "Notre Dame quarterback Pat Dillingham had blood stains on the front of his No.9 jersey and grass stains on the back following yesterday's 28-6 loss to North Carolina State in the Toyota Gator Bowl. In his right hand -- his throwing hand -- he held a white towel, which he used to wipe the blood that came from a cut underneath his chin that required stitches."

Florida Times Garry Smits

  • "It was decisive, defiant and a bit nasty at times."

NC State OL Chris Colmer

  • "We came out here intense and played hard. This was our little Super Bowl. It's funny, because we've never played them before, but there was a dislike that grew as the game went on."

Irish DB Vontez Duff

  • "The offense didn't step up, but the defense didn't step up either. We weren't aggressive enough to make the plays. They wanted it more than we did."

NC State WR Jerricho Cotchery

  • "I think they were overconfident."
  • "Maybe now, people will stop doubting us. They doubted us about our schedule. We played (nine) bowl teams."
  • "Those guys weren't in our class. I don't care if they had five more quarterbacks, they couldn't play with us."

Irish WR Arnaz Battle

  • "Carlyle going down, that hurt. After that we didn't have a quarterback able to make plays."'s Tony Haynes

  • "NC State's first football game of 2003 wasn't much different than its last game of 2002. With a national television audience watching, the Wolfpack thoroughly outplayed and dominated another one of college football's perennial heavyweights. This time, it was Notre Dame's turn to find out about one of the nation's fastest rising programs."

Unidentified Notre Dame Defender to Sean Berton

  • "Man, how big is your playbook?"

NC State LB Manny Lawson

  • "We might have had some cheap shots, and they got their cheap shots in. That's how bad both teams wanted to win this game. This was no consolation bowl to us. We don't know what the word consolation means."

Notre Dame All-America center Jeff Faine

  • "They came after us. They came after us, and they didn't stop."
  • "This shouldn't be happening, this shouldn't have happened."
  • "We came in here talking about getting respect, and returning to glory, and all of that, and we played like that. We got beat by a team that played a lot better."

Notre Dame All-American DB Shane Walton

  • "Well, we are going to hear about it from now on. We don't have any real talent, we never were any good, we don't have any players. It was all for us to take and we played probably as poorly as we could. It's enough to make you sick."
  • "It's disappointing, but it's not going to ruin our day or anything.''

South Bend Tribune's David Haugh

  • "It should be noted that North Carolina State out-dumbed Notre Dame in personal fouls with six, including one against Amato for being Amato, but then you expect loutish behavior from a team coached by a lout. A likable lout, but a lout nonetheless."

South Bend Tribune's Vaughn McClure 

  • "Dillingham looked as if he had grown an extra chin, his mouth was so swollen. He was patched up with at least five stitches.'I was on the goal line, I threw a pass and when we hit the ground, (the North Carolina State defender's) whole facemask just crushed my jaw.'"

Irish DT Justin Tuck

  • "They were mad from the start. I couldn't tell you why."

NC State DB Terrance Holt

  • "When T.A. gets near the goal line, he looks like a jet trying to land on a runway that's way too small."
  • "That last goal line stand, that was just what we stand for."

The Herald Sun's Al Featherston

  • "Critics laughed when N.C. State chancellor Marye Anne Fox told the media that she was hiring Chuck Amato to win a national championship in football. Nobody's laughing now."

College Football News

  • "NC State's Chuck Amato has assembled a killer team that has the athletes, and the talents to play with anyone in America."


  • "Nobody in the stadium -- except for the Wolfpack -- knew what was going on. And just when the Irish inched closer to figuring it out, somebody was there to steamroll them."
  • "Imagine being on the Notre Dame sideline. You get pounded, pounded again, then tricked. Pounded, pounded, tricked."

TeapotDomer at

  • "The only thing we were better at was the band. Our band is HUGE with an great, fat sound, and well-choroegraphed routines. Made the NCS band look cheap and common. But that was it. Even their cheerleaders were better looking than ours."

NC State DE Mario Williams

  • "This has been one of the best weeks of my life."
  • "This is what you dream about when you start playing football. Just being over there with my teammates, just being a part of this is almost impossible to describe."

NC State Coach Joe Pate on Mario Williams

  • "There is simply an unlimited amount of potential in that young man's body. You can coach a man how to rush and how to tackle and how to play the game. But you can't coach great big and real fast. That's what Mario brings to start with. When he plays flat out, he's going to be a handful to just block. You wait and see, he's going to be a star. We think he's going to be a very great player for us."

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