Q. Mike, Coach Kelly was asked about some of the offense's third down struggles this year, and he said he kind of traces it back to first down issues. Obviously, if it's third and long it's harder than if it's third and short. How do you eradicate first down issues? Clearly other teams affect your down, but it seems like it's an a approach or a mindset?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Yeah, I think it is a mindset, and it's a mindset about execution. And that's all really offense comes down to is executing your job. Because if you have all 11 guys executing their job, that means somebody's going down the field or somebody's getting the right block. And I think that all comes down to with 1st through 4th down, no matter what time of the game it is and what the score is or anything like that.
I think it just comes down to a mindset of, yes, I'm going to get my job done, and I'm going to execute to the best of my ability on each and every play. And as soon as we can do that as consistently as we want to do that, I think we'll be a lot better off.
Q. Defensively Stanford has struggled the last two weeks. But when they were playing well earlier in the year, what did you see from their defense? Was it a return to what we saw from previous seasons from their defense?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Yeah, I think Stanford is a tough-nosed, well-coached football team. And we obviously know that. We've had a couple bouts with them in the past, and they always do a phenomenal job of playing hard and playing to their assignments and making it really difficult for offenses to do what they want to do.
I think they're kind of in a similar position to what we're doing right now, and obviously everybody has their lumps throughout the season, and we've certainly had ours. I'm sure that they feel that they've had theirs. But what has happened in the past couple weeks has no effect on what's going to happenon Saturday at 7:30. Both teams know that, so we're coming in with a flesh slate just trying to play football.
Q. This works both ways and I'm sure it works in their locker room too considering they're on a two-game losing streak. But we kind of talk about this postgame. Does it help a lot, I know it's human nature that you're playing Stanford this week and it's not a random opponent. But does it help guys focus when you could be very down at this point in the season?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think it probably does. As much as you don't want to say it's just another game, but it's not. It's Stanford. It's our rival. They're a traditional powerhouse. They're a phenomenally coached football team just as we are. And it's just one of those things that you get up for certain games and this is one of them.
You circle this game every year when it's on our schedule, and we love playing Stanford, and I'm sure they love playing us. It's a fun game. Yeah, if you've been going through some tough times and the rest of the season, a win against Stanford could certainly help right the ship, and I'm sure that they feel a win against Notre Dame could help right theirs. That's all it comes down to is executing plays. If we get a win against Stanford, it will probably feel a little better than most.
Q. After the game Saturday, Coach Kelly's message to you guys seemed to be almost apologetic and positive about the way things went. Obviously ND posted the video on Twitter. What was your takeaway from that message? And how did you as a team kind of digest what his message was?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Well, I don't think that it's necessary for Coach Kelly to apologize to anybody on this football team. It's our job to execute the game plan that they put in place, and we didn't do a good enough job doing that on the last Saturday.
So I think it comes down to a whole team effort, both coaching and playing better. I think that obviously he's the head coach, and he's going to take a lot of fault for what's going on in our program right now, but it comes down to a mindset, like I said, of executing our job and doing our job one day, one play at a time. The more we can focus on that, the more success that's going to come. And I don't think it's necessary for him to say that, because we all know it's on us. Obviously it's one of those things that he said, but it's on us, and we all know that.
Q. There is a perception out there a little bit that Coach Kelly does blame players for losses. Do you guys -- when you do see a quote from him in the media, how do you guys sort of respond to that?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Well, we know he's not blaming us. If Coach Kelly really wanted to blame us, he would come up and say it in our face like he has done before if we've screwed up.
Obviously things can get misconstrued. Things can get misstated. We don't feel as though he's blaming us. He'll have a conversation with us personally if he wants us to get better because that's the kind of man that he is. He runs our program unbelievably well, and we're all lucky to have a coach like him. He takes care of us more than I could even imagine anybody ever doing. Obviously, things get said, and we're 2 and 4, and things are said after a football game. Everybody's pretty emotional after certain things like that, and things can easily get misstated, and that's all that that is.
Q. So if he ever were to say something specific about a player after a game, that's a message he's relayed to the player before he would go out and say it?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Absolutely.
Q. I guess for you guys, he mentioned yesterday a lot of close losses this year. Can you sort of put your finger on what maybe has been missing last year to this year in terms of pulling out some of those close games?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think a lot of it has to do with experience. I think we obviously lost a lot of our studs last year from the team we had the year previously. And a lot of young guys have had to step up in roles that are pretty big-time for college football and for Notre Dame. And I think that a lot of it just comes with experience and getting that mindset at all times, being able to execute and not let other things get in our way. And I think we've gotten in our own way a little bit a lot this season coming down to final drives or coming down to getting a stop when we needed to. And I think it's one of those things that comes along with the experience that we have.
I think that as much as it hurts to say, it's probably good to grow in certain losses and understand you can point out a lot of what you did wrong in a loss a lot easier than you can in a win, and I think that learning from what we did wrong and in our defeats is where we're going to see the most growth. And I think that the young guys will definitely step up, and we're going to be locked and loaded when the games get rolling.
Q. The first game you started was a close win?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: 31-28, I believe. Yeah. I had a lot of other different guys around me.
Q. Yeah. But as a young player, making your first game and then all of a sudden you win a close game, do you need to have like that win, that marker of, hey, we just won a close game to kind of prove it to yourself that you can do it?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I don't think that's necessarily true. I think we all know that we can do it. It's just a matter of letting ourselves do it. Like I said, getting out of our own way, not seeing an adjustment that the defense throws at us in the last drive or something, getting the wrong call or whatever has happened throughout this year. I think that it just comes down to being composed and understanding that we are a talented football team. We've got the athletes and the players and the coaches to make things happen, and we've just got to trust ourselves and go do it.
Q. Mike, what is DeShone like in the huddle?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think he's, I guess he's as perfect as you can be in our huddle. He's done a pretty good job so far this year and last year as well. Very cool, calm and collected as I'm sure you've noticed with his personality. He's a great leader. He's commanding of everybody in there. Everybody looks to him when the time is needed to know what's going on and how we're going to get through this. He's done a great job of weathering all kinds of different storms this year.
In the huddle, he's the guy that we all look to. He's our quarterback, he's our leader, and he takes that role with a great responsibility and has done a great job with that.
Q. Is there a moment this season you can recall where, I don't know, you guys are really down or something and he maybe said something that really just picked you up for the rest of the game?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I'm not sure. I can't really remember a specific instance. He kind of does that stuff all the time. We know we're in good hands with No. 14 behind us. It's just one of those things that he's trusted in every asset of our team and every aspect of the game. We know that DeShone's all in on us, and we're all in on him, and that's all it comes down to is just the trust between each other. And that's what gives DeShone the opportunity to flourish and do the things he's capable of doing.
Q. What is it about him? It kind of seems like after games, especially after the losses, he seems really even keeled and doesn't really get that emotional? I mean, maybe he is in the locker room and we just don't see it. But he comes out and he's really mature and calm. Is he like that behind the scenes too or does he show an emotional side?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: No, that's exactly what it is. What you see is what you get with DeShone Kizer. And I think it's a testament to his maturity and ability to lead this football team, to know that there are certain things that happen that we can't control. And there are other things that happen that we can control. He just kind of is able to understand how to act and how to be a pro, and I think he does a great job doing that. It's why he's one of the best in the country.
Q. Has he ever said anything to you or maybe to younger guys or really anyone to kind of ease what's going on?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Yeah, I mean, there are obviously things that have happened throughout the season both in practice and in games where guys get a little on edge. They're either pissed off at the way they're playing or pissed off the way the game's going. And he's the guy that -- there's a bunch of guys on our team that are like that that are able to reel it in and get everybody back into focus and given us the opportunity to put ourselves back into some games that probably shouldn't have happened.
Obviously, we've got to work on the finishing aspect of those. But DeShone is a huge reason why our team is able to keep moving forward even though we've been struggling so much.
Q. One of the things Coach talked about after finishing yesterday was the need for the offense to exert its will more often. What does that mean and how do you go about doing that?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: It means that we feel as though we have one of the best offenses and one of the most prolific offenses in the country. And at times we don't show that full capability. It means that we need to work on keeping that intensity and keeping that ability and capability showing at all times.
We can't have any drives where we don't do what we're supposed to be doing or not producing points for our football team. That's obviously our job and our goal is to put points on the board and light it up. There's times this year that we have shown unbelievable ability to do so, but at the same time, we've had times where we haven't done it when we needed it to get done. And that's what that means. Imposing the abilities that are across the board on our offense, and making sure that they shine all throughout the game.