Stovall Ready to be a Playmaker

Irish wide receiver Maurice Stovall had nine catches for a total of 171 yards and a touchdown against Purdue. The type of numbers Irish fans had been hoping from Stovall and they hope he will continue to be this productive in the remaining games. Irish Eyes talked with Maurice earlier this week to talk about his big game and becoming a playmaker.

Maurice made an impact as a freshman catching 18 balls for 312 yards and three touchdowns. He was asked if it is different this year from last year. "Yes, it's a lot different this year," said Stovall. "I've been in the system for a year now and I am more comfortable with the offense. I'm more familiar with the plays and the wide receiver position."

With the graduation of Arnaz Battle, some receivers might have been intimidated by the prospect of taking over this spot, but Maurice says he wants to become that guy. "I didn't think it was intimidating at all. All the wide receivers knew that they had to step up and fill the position that Battle had and come up with big plays and execute."

Maurice was asked if he had set goals for himself this year and if some of those goals had been met. "I haven't reached any of my goals this year. As a team, our goal is to compete for and win the National Championship. We haven't reached that goal, obviously. We haven't started out as good as we wanted to. You know we have three losses under our belt, but we'll keep fighting and try to get some wins in this year."

Even though the Irish suffered their third loss this past weekend, Maurice said this offense has improved and will get better. "There were a lot of positives. I think the passing game stepped up a lot. We had more positives than negatives. We keep shooting ourselves in the foot and making little mistakes which cost us games."

Pitt's wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is considered by many to be the best at his position in the country. When asked his opinion about Fitzgerald, Stovall stated, "I think in any game, you know the wide receivers are good. Fitzgerald is an exceptional receiver. You know he is a big name in college football. He is a real tall and strong guy. I am sure the defense will be aware of him."

A reporter on ESPN stated recently that the Irish will be 1-7 when they play Navy. Naturally the players see and hear such reports. Maurice said the team has heard their prediction but they will use their predictions as motivation for the rest of the year. "We hear those things a lot. Yes, they do hurt, but we can use those as motivation. Like I said, we didn't start out as good as we wanted to, but we've got to keep fighting. You know that's our motto, never give up. So we're going to look to get some more wins this year."

Coach Willingham has the reputation of being calm and low-keyed regardless of the situation. Maurice says Willingham's demeanor as a coach helps this team stay focused. "Yes, I think it helps a lot. Coach Willingham is very humble about things. He's always the same way whether we win or lose. I think any other coach would be more likely to yell at the team, you know scream at them. Coach Willingham on the other hand just tells you what you did wrong and try to tell you how to fix it so you don't make as many mistakes."

The Irish are heading into the bye week this week before playing Pittsburgh. Stovall says the bye week will give the Irish some time to heal some nagging injuries and time to work on the struggling offense. "I think, like most teams, we like the bye week as a time for guys to get healthy. You have more time to develop your offense more. You have time to concentrate on your next opponent, so we're going to take advantage of this next week. Basically, we will be focusing on individual techniques. The offense will try to adjust to the Pitt defense and the defense will try to adjust to the Pitt offense. So we will just try to mix things around and try to get better individually to help us in the game and help us along the season."

Stovall's emergence is a big positive for the Irish offense. Both he and Rhema McKnight are starting to show signs of becoming playmakers. Quarterback Brady Quinn should find Stovall to be an inviting target in the future and these three could put together some magical seasons for the Irish offense in the future. Top Stories