Q. Denbrock mentioned Monday that he had a conversation with you about kind of becoming the old DeShone like at Virginia, running down the field, arms in the air, showing a lot of emotion. Is it important to add that back to your game?
DeSHONE KIZER: I don't necessarily think that it's been removed. I am who I am, and it's easy to run down the field and have your hands up when you're winning games. That's the easiest way to put it. It's not fun to lose, and I'm not going to go out there and pretend as if it is. I do believe that that style of energy needs to come out every day of the week rather than just in positions where we're winning, and I think that those vibes will kind of wing you throughout the team and have a positive attitude that allows us to play better ball. But yeah, I definitely need to reach back in and have some fun, and that's kind of the ultimate goal this week is to have some fun and play the game that I love. And hopefully you'll see a little more of that, because if we are out there having fun and playing the way we know how to, we'll go out and we'll start winning games, and those smiles and those moments will come back.
Q. And this is right now one of the higher scoring Notre Dame teams in history. As you try to get this team a victory once again, do you have to guard against pressing and trying to do too much at times?
DeSHONE KIZER: No. No. At this university under Coach Kelly, within this offense there's a lot that's put on the quarterback, and we all know it. And that's enough. And that's what I have to understand and I think I do understand is that I don't need to take on any more than what they give me, and they already give me a lot. And that's kind of my mentality heading into the week is just to play free, have fun. I get the opportunity to be the quarterback of University of Notre Dame. That is a privilege that people dream about, that I dreamed about, and I took the fun out of that. And that's my biggest regret in the first four games is I had so much love for this position, love for this team that I took on a lot more than I ever should, which put a lot of pressure on my back, and that's something that I'm going to have to remove and go back to just doing what I love and having a good time. And when I'm doing that, that's when we're playing our best ball as a team. And I believe that our whole team is buying into that understanding and buying into that idea. And practice yesterday was a blast. It was a good time to go out there and play football, to play free and have a good time. And today's practice will be the same. Saturday will be the same. And there will be a W on that column when we go out there and we play the way we know how to.
Q. How do you balance playing free and loose? Obviously there's a lot of pressure when you're 1 and 3 at Notre Dame and Notre Dame's not used to being in that position.
DeSHONE KIZER: You balance it by taking the responsibility given to you and not adding any extra to it. Like I said, this position here in this offense has already handed a lot, and I'm going to take those responsibilities that are given to me, do the best I can with them, and that's it. There's no more to it. That's where I found my biggest flaw in those first four games and even going back into last season, the last two, I think that I saw this position as a lot bigger than what it was and tried to take on way too many things. Now it's just about going out and playing. There's so many worries that you can add to this. There's so many things that you can build on your shoulders to think you have big shoulders to do it. But to me I think that my biggest thing that I need to focus on moving forward is to just go out and play and just execute what's being told to me and trust in the leadership and trust that what they're saying that I need to do is exactly what I do need to do and nothing more and nothing less.
Q. Coach Kelly has talked a lot in the last couple of days about standard of play and how you haven't met that standard. How close or far away do you think you are to that standard?
DeSHONE KIZER: You know, standards, that's a topic in which I believe is something that is completely personal for myself, because there's no standard out there from Coach Kelly, from the fanbase, from my team that's going to be higher than mine. I'm substandard to my own standards, and that's all that matters. And if I can go out and attempt to stay above that standard of my own, then we'll be fine. Substandard is a term that kind of grasp each and every rep you can look at it substandard and look at it from game to game, from season to season, from rep to rep. For me, my goal is just to play the best I can and to represent my quarterback room and the offense the best I can. And the standards that I have will always be a lot higher than anyone else's, and that's all that matters. I just gotta go out and play better ball.
Q. Tangibly what would that standard consist of?
DeSHONE KIZER: Standards are -- there isn't a set law. There isn't me sitting here saying, hey, look, here's all 525 things I need to do today to be above standard. Standards is going out there and just simply executing. If we are 4 and 0 right now, standards are met to a certain extent, because we won four games. If I throw for 500 yards, standards are met to a certain extent, but there's so many other things that go into that that we all see now that caused us to be below standard, and to sit here and find it and try to focus up on those would be a mistake on my part because by focusing up on things that aren't relevant to us winning a game is not good for the team. All I need to do, my standard right now is to do whatever I can to help lead the offense to get a win. We're 1 and 3, and that's unacceptable, and my only goal right now, my only mission is to buy in to everything that's been said in this meeting room right here to get a W on the board because that's all that matters at this point.
Q. Just curious, you're obviously in the meeting rooms with Montgomery VanGorder, can't be easy working for the school that just fathered your father. Have you said anything to him? How has he handled these last couple of days?
DeSHONE KIZER: Yeah. Montgomery is my best friend on this campus, and it's definitely a rough situation. But that kid is a really strong guy and he's focused up on doing whatever he can right now to help Notre Dame win. That issue is something that we'll keep to ourselves, and he's done a good job in the last few days of focusing up on his job and I know he'll go out and give his best efforts to contribute to us improving and getting a win.
Q. Talking about the standards, is that something you've always had, you've always set high standards for yourself, going back to high school, grammar school?
DeSHONE KIZER: Yeah. Like everyone. We all have standards. You guys have standards and what you want to put down on paper and how you want to go out and do your job. And I know that each and every one of us push ourselves to be the best person we can be, so yeah, I've always had very high standards for myself, and I'm never satisfied. That's the best part about playing the sport in general, the challenge that there's always something better you can do. There's no such thing as perfection in football. To a certain extent, standards are never met, unless you have a ring on and you're undefeated. That's kind of the only goal. You know, for me I want to do whatever I can to help this team win. And for now, instead of focusing up on a thousand different things, all I want to do is to see the smile on my teammates' face and our coaching staff's face after we get a W this weekend, and from there we'll move forward. Standard right now is simply getting a W.
Q. For you personally handling being on a 1 and 3 team, how have you kind of approached it? Is it kind of like you said, with always trying to meet that high standard, always trying to get to that point where you guys do win games or how have you guys kind of approached where you are right now?
DeSHONE KIZER: One thing I've taken away from kind of evaluating this rocky start is that I need to just focus up on today, what can I do today, what are the things that I can control. And right now what I can control is my attitude, my effort and my relationships with my teammates. And that's what's going to hopefully prepare us to get a W. You know, I think I misspoke after the game saying that we need to find more guys with passion, we need to find more guys with fire and energy, because I believe that maybe our biggest issue is that we're too passionate. We love this game too much. Therefore, we're all trying to take on responsibility ourselves and put too much on our back. That's Notre Dame's biggest issue is that my teammates love me too much, and that's going to allow them to go out there and play tense. They're not playing free. We're not playing free. We're not playing fun. In these past four games we're out there completely grinding for something other than to represent ourselves, represent our families and represent Notre Dame and trying to get Ws, and I think that goes to show that this locker room is a bunch of high-caliber guys who understand things at a higher level, and with that they took on more responsibility than they ever needed to. Yesterday's practice and the mindset of the team right now is one that is taking away that stress, that added stress that we don't need. We just want to go out and have a good time now and do whatever we can to get wins. There's a lot more on the line now than just trying to accomplish a long-term mission. Right now we're focused up on today, how we can control ourselves and how we can control our attitudes and efforts and moving forward to get a W.
Q. Do you feel like when you're 1 and 3, that you're trying to do things that are out of your control sometimes on Saturdays or even during practice during the week?
DeSHONE KIZER: No. Right now the mentality is that we hit a rough patch, we had a rough start. That start is over. We're 0 and 0 this week. We're just trying to go 1 and 0 this week, and with that, once again, we've focused up on Sunday on how do we eliminate all the things that have happened in the beginning and focus up on how we can get better today and how we can have the right approach to go and be successful today and to better ourselves and trying to get a win against Syracuse.
Q. When Coach Kelly told you guys as a team that he had fired Coach VanGorder, what was sort of your reaction to that?
DeSHONE KIZER: We lost a great coach, a great football mind. We all know that Coach VanGorder is a guy who understands defense unlike anyone else. He's very good at some of the things he does. But there's a lot more to this game than understanding defenses. There's a lot more to this game than your -- what I'm trying to say here is yes, we lost a great coach, but things needed to happen for us to move forward. Coach Kelly makes the decision. We trust in whatever he has to say, and moving forward we'll make the adjustments that need to be made on the offensive side of the ball to pick up our defense and to start playing games and getting Ws.
Q. What are your interactions like with Coach Kelly on the sidelines, in the last couple weeks specifically when things are maybe not going that well? Is it give and take? Do you feel like you just have to listen? Does it he want input? Does he just want to blow off steam? What's that interaction like?
DeSHONE KIZER: It's different rep to rep, drive to drive. If you're playing well, it's great. If you're playing bad, it's not so great. Coach Kelly and I have great communication skills on the sideline, and I think that's one of our best attributes to our coach-to-player relationship is that when I come off to the sideline, we're able to get things done. And that's something that not a lot of guys are able to do at the college level without the iPads, without the pictures that come from up top. It's hard to communicate on the sideline and get the looks and make the adjustments, and we do a really good job with it, and I believe that we're really productive and making sure we make adjustments within games. When we're not doing so hot, yeah, there's a lot more negativity that comes into those conversations, but at the end of those conversations, there's definitely always productivity moving forward in the game, and we'll continue to have that productivity in our communication on the sidelines and put together some more successful drives.
Q. When you hear him get up here and say I'm going to be more animated, I'm going to like be more passionate on the sidelines, how does that strike you? Is it like more than already? Like how do you react to that?
DeSHONE KIZER: There's a million different ways of getting a point across, but as long as the point is getting across, then that's all that matters. Whether he's more animated or if he comes in a monotone point of view, as long as we're communicating the right thing and we're getting the message across and we figure out a way of improving upon the last drive before and learning what the defense is doing and what their game plan and properly reacting to that adjustment that the defense made, we're going to put up points. And however he decides to go about his communication on the sideline, as long as we're able to get the right message and it actively gets across to all 11 guys who are going out on the offensive side of the ball, then we'll be fine.
Q. Also in the run game he said like he wants to get away from you essentially having as many carries as you do down there, like just to take some hits off you, maybe no more spin moves, things like that. Does that have sort of a cumulating effect on you in the course of the game? Are you feeling that spin move shot to the kidneys in the fourth quarter that you've taken in the second quarter?
DeSHONE KIZER: I mean I shouldn't be spinning at all. I'm 6-5, 240 pounds. There's no reason for me to be out there trying to be C. J. Sanders with the ball in my hand. But with that, game plan's a game plan. When you have a quarterback who's able to carry the ball, defensive coordinators have to adjust to it and you add an extra hat to block. When the time is needed, I know that they're going to call the quarterback-driven runs that we need to. If the defense allows us to step away from me carrying the ball a couple extra times a game, then I'm sure we won't have to. At this point, like I said, it's all about just doing whatever it takes to get a win, and I'm going to go out and try to execute whatever they call. So if it is me carrying the ball 30 times a game, hey, give it to me; let's go. I'll be a running back if I have to. If it requires me changing my role on the opposite side, whatever it is they choose is what I'm going to have to do. Coach Kelly, if he says that we're going to take the ball out of my hands, rush a little more, then that means there's probably going to be a couple more passes that I'm going to have to execute. So as long as I'm executing whatever they call from the sideline I trust that we're going to go out and get wins.
Q. I ask that only in a sense like when you're taking hits, does that affect you as a passer later?
DeSHONE KIZER: No. Not at all. Not at all. And that's what we spent all off season doing is getting our bodies together to take those hits. It does add a little more stress to the beginning of the week when you're trying to get yourself back to normal. You take a couple more bumps and bruises, but that's a part of the game.
Q. So Kelly obviously has said multiple times this week that everybody's job is basically on the line, but then you kind of characterized practice yesterday as being a blast. So when he says that everybody's job is on the line, how is everybody able to kind of play more free and easy when you kind of have that in the back of your mind?
DeSHONE KIZER: Because that's sport. That's competition. That's part of it. What's fun is the fact that we do have to go out and compete. What's fun is that there is an opportunity for us to go out and take everything that we've ever done and all the experiences that we have in the past and put them to show each day at practice. I mean at my position, I mean it's obvious. We have three of the best quarterbacks in the country in my meeting room. And what's the best part about it is that I get to go out and I get to compete against those guys. There's no walk in the park for me. Every day is a grind when you have Malik Zaire and Brandon Wimbush behind you. What we've learned is that that competition is where we have to find our good times. When we go out and we do one-on-ones and we take each rep and go against great defenders with our great athletes on the offense, you have to find the enjoyment of competing, and that's what we did yesterday and we will continue to do. There's a ^ culture change that quickly happened this week, and I truly believe that we're going to buy into that and have that kind of push us onward to get some wins on the board.
Q. With Malik's situation, Coach Kelly said it was still kind of evolving. Can you kind of speak to what you've seen out of him the past couple of weeks? I know he had that new role on Saturday, what his role is now?
DeSHONE KIZER: I think that from week to week we game plan to get our best athletes on the field, and last week that was the best way to get our best athletes on the field was to give Malik a couple carries. I think Malik's position right now is as a senior on the Notre Dame football team is to help lead and help compete as much as he can. I can't speak to how he's going about it or how he feels his role is, but for me he's pushing me every day. His energy is something that challenges my energy. He's given me kind of an example of how I need to go out and how I need to approach some of the younger guys on the team. He's been through football at Notre Dame an extra year than I have and he's seen more than I have. And through his experiences he's able to come out and challenge me and challenge the team to get out of this rocky start.
Q. In fall camp when you won the job, you told us that your confidence was soaring at that point. I'm just wondering at this point is your confidence and your belief in that same place that it was then?
DeSHONE KIZER: Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm throwing the ball well. I'm seeing defenses well. I'm trusting my guys. On the offensive side of the ball we have some really good stuff up and going, and we haven't come near where we can go, and that potential is what's fueling us to go out and compete and to get better each week. And to go out and put up five to six touchdowns a game knowing that you can go and put up four more is what allows us to go into practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday to do whatever we can to figure out how we're going to execute more this quarter every time we touch the ball. We don't want to punt the ball. We know we have the ability to score every drive, and we have the confidence that we are going to. So that's why you see so much defeat on our faces when we drive down for five, six plays and we don't end up with points on the board because we know with the guys we have, with the coaching staff we have and the game plan we've put together that we should score every drive. So now our goal is to kind of lift that weight off of us, have some fun, execute the play that's being called, and we're going to see hopefully a couple more touchdowns a game, and we're going to see guys who are out there truly loving one another and a family style mindset on the offensive side of the ball and get us some more points and win some games.
Q. You were talking earlier about taking too much on. What were you trying to do? Was it mentally something you were doing or physically you were trying to do too much?
DeSHONE KIZER: Yeah, at the quarterback position you naturally take on an extra dose of leadership, an extra dose of trying to take on everything that a coach should be taking on. You go and you idolize guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and all the best who have ever done it and you see how they approach the media, you see how they approach the game, you see how they approach their team. And they're professionals. They get paid to do that. They're in completely different positions than I am. And therefore, they take on a little more responsibility than I do. But me being the kid that I am, I wanted to be like them. I wanted to come up here and talk to you guys as if I was the head coach of this team. But I'm just the quarterback. All I gotta do is go out and do whatever the guys upstairs are telling me to do and that's it. If Coach Kelly asked me to come do media, I do media. If Coach Kelly asks me to go throw a touchdown, I need to go out there and rip the ball and throw a touchdown. I don't need to do any more than that and I think that was my biggest flaw in the beginning of the season is taking on too much. I just need to go out and play and have fun, challenge myself each day and just try to get better. Right now all I have is today's practice. If I can just focus in on how I can get better in today's practice, then I'll be a better quarterback tomorrow and hopefully being a better quarterback tomorrow will lead me into winning a game Saturday.
Q. What do you think you have to do better immediately?
DeSHONE KIZER: My attitude. I need to have fun. I need to play loose. I need to play free. Everyone goes back to that touchdown against Virginia, that smile on my face, me going down and cheering on my teammates. Those are the best times of my life and I need to get back to those moments, and to do that I need to focus my attitude on how can I get better today so we can score more touchdowns, win more games so I can have some more fun with my brothers.
Q. Last year you guys came up with those huge plays at the end. You've been scoring a lot of points, but at the end of the game you haven't been making those plays. What have been the biggest obstacles to coming up with those big plays at the end of the game?
DeSHONE KIZER: Overthinking some games. We get into those two-minute situations, and you try to imagine those times when we were successful last season. And they get to the back of your mind and you're ready to roll with it, and then all of a sudden they throw a new look at you and you start overthinking some things. You lose your mechanics. You might rush some things. And you gotta shy away from that. And my biggest issue in those two-minute situations is that we're behind the chains too early. We're behind the chains before we even get to the 50 yard line because I'm missing throws on first and second downs. When you're in two-minute drills, it's all about just getting the next first down so we can keep pushing, getting the clock stopped and getting near the touchdown so we can score. When you come out and you miss a field pitch throw that would put you at second and two and now you're going out at third and ten and trying to make something happen at the end of the drive, you gotta shy away from those moments, and to do that I gotta focus in on my fundamentals, trust in what I see and rip the ball.
Video: Kizer manages workload
Q. Denbrock mentioned Monday that he had a conversation with you about kind of becoming the old DeShone like at Virginia, running down the field, arms in the air, showing a lot of emotion. Is it important to add that back to your game?