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Player reaction: DeShone Kizer & Jaylon Smith

PALO ALTO, Calif. – DeShone Kizer and Jaylon Smith on the disappointing end to the season.

DeShone Kizer

Q. How disappointing is it?
DESHONE KIZER: Well, before we do anything, you can ask me about the fumble, you can ask me about the red zone decisions, you can ask me about the incomplete passes, you can ask me about the defensive performance, you can ask me about the offensive performance, but before we get to that I just want to say that it's, honestly, a privilege to be a part of the team that I'm a part of the 127th team at the University of Notre Dame is something special. Those guys in that locker room truly put themselves in the most ugly positions with their bodies to truly give themselves up for their brothers and for that, I am truly grateful to go out there and be able to battle with those guys.

Q. It was so gutsy to have that play and then to see the kick go through I saw you hit the ground. It must have just been an awful feeling.
DESHONE KIZER: Yeah. Yeah. I'm completely blank inside. It's hard to really describe how you feel in a time like this. Obviously, I'm disappointed. Not in the fact that we lost, but more in the fact that some of the most amazing football players I've ever been around and leaders, just walked off their last regular season game and didn't have a W. And that's just, that's the hardest part about it all. Tonight Stanford made one more play than us and, unfortunately, I wish we could go back and do something differently, but at the end of the day, that's how the cookie crumbles.

Q. Coach said you were two plays away from being undefeated this year. Knowing that, you still have another game left, but the college football playoffs, was that important to you since you were that close?
DESHONE KIZER: This team is all year made a point to let everyone know what our mission was. And we truly thought that we were one of the best teams in the country, so, yes, the goal was to make it to the playoffs and we know that that opportunity is kind of fell away with this loss. We don't like to settle for anything less than the goals that we set out for and it's going to be rough to kind of reconstruct this season and how we want it to end. But we all understand that there's probably going to be one more opportunity for to us step out on the field together and to represent our university and to represent this team one last time, I can promise you that the preparation will be there and the heart and the passion that we have had all year will come out again and hopefully we can leave this team and this legacy with a W.

Q. Speak to Josh Adams effort tonight.
DESHONE KIZER: It was unbelievable. He came out there like he was a fifth year veteran. He runs harder than anyone I've ever seen. He truly is a great teammate to us and he puts everything out on the line each play. That's what you have to ask for out of your running back and that's what he gave us. To have him in the back field with me, it's truly a privilege and it just goes to show that from one to four at every position, we might not be the most talented all the way across, but we're going to give the most heart and at the end of the day heart is what's allowed us to put us in the position that we're in now.

Q. You might have answered this, but how sure were you on that last offensive drive that you guys were going to do what you did and go down and score?
DESHONE KIZER: Football's crazy. I've been on the other side of it, it can't necessarily be a hundred percent sure. Once the kickoff ended where it was, I knew that the chances were higher, but like I said, this game is crazy, you can't predict anything. Kevin Hogan is a really good quarterback and I know that with his experience that he was going to come out and try to put together something to try and knock down a field goal and he did it. He made that one extra play that we weren't able to make.

Q. In the last couple weeks you guys have come to the red zone 11 times and have come away with only one touchdown. I know you talked about it earlier in the year, but what do you take away from the last two games and then this game as well that it happened to you again?
DESHONE KIZER: I have no idea. We'll evaluate it, we'll go back and check it out. I know some of the decisions I made down there weren't obviously the best. I mean, we ended most drives, other than the last one, before half, with a kick and that was our ultimate goal. We understand in a game like this that field goals are the separators, as we can see at the end of the game. So to go down there and reach the red zone and end up with points, it's good. Yeah, we want to score touchdowns, but the object of the game is to score more points than the other team. So if we're kicking field goals we're winning as well.

Now, once we go back and evaluate how this last couple games has been in the red zone, we're going to try to put together a better plan to try to end up with six points at the end of the drive rather than three.


Jaylon Smith

Q. What was this year able to do to help you build relationships with all your teammates?
JAYLON SMITH: I think we were challenged mentally, physically, emotionally, in all aspects. I think that we handled it very well. We developed a culture and we stuck to it and it's something that I'm very proud of, personally, of me and all of my teammates, just how we were able to stick together and just have great camaraderie.

Q. What enabled you guys to bounce back tonight after (No microphone.)
JAYLON SMITH: Yeah, it's an elite matchup. Notre Dame versus Stanford, at Stanford. So you can always expect their best. It's a situation where you know it's going to come down to the end and we knew that going into it and they made one more play.

Q. You guys struggled on third down. Was it execution, something they were doing?
JAYLON SMITH: I guess they wanted it more -- no, it was definitely the execution part. They executed better than we did on those third down situations and it's something where it's very crucial and it's hard to defeat them when it's a lot of third and shorts, a lot of third and ones. So it's just a matter it of we were able to figure it out at the end, it's just sometimes things can be too late and like I said, they made one more play than us. That's what it came down to.

Q. Your game plan against McCaffrey seemed to work pretty well. You held him to one of his lowest outputs of the year. Was that --
JAYLON SMITH: What was his number?

Q. 99 yards.
JAYLON SMITH: Like total? Okay.

Q. So, it seemed to work for him. Was that your game plan coming in was to look at him?
JAYLON SMITH: Well, he's the number one game wrecker. Best player on the team. And the idea was to contain him. Based on the numbers we did that, but one player doesn't define a victory or a loss, so it's really just what it came down to, they played better than us.

Q. Does this season feel like success, disappointment, both? How do you process it?
JAYLON SMITH: I think it's both. No one wants to lose, so even though we lost two games, it still hurts, especially to end, to go out this way, as far as the end of the season. But it's definitely a learning lesson for all of us in our lives. Definitely in a lot of unique situations where things aren't going to go your way and it's all about how you respond and that's how I look at it.

Q. One more game, one more big game.
JAYLON SMITH: Absolutely, deep down we're all definitely proud of what we have achieved and this is my first 10 win season playing for Notre Dame, so I love it, but it's never a good feeling when you lose. I think any competitor can't be happy after a loss.


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