Irish Seniors Go Out In Style

On a day dedicated to the senior players, the Fighting Irish earned a 33-14 victory over the BYU Cougars. This was a good win as it gives the team momentum heading in to the final two games of the season. It was also fitting that this senior class was able to raise their helmets to the students and make their final walk through the tunnel as victors. Irish Eyes had the opportunity to speak with some of the players after the game.

When asked about his kicking today, D.J. Fitzpatrick felt he is improving. "My kickoffs were a lot better," said Fitzpatrick. "My punting was not anywhere close to where I wanted. I'm happy with my field goals and I'm glad I could get it done."

D.J. was questioned about his confidence level. "The last one I hit at the end of the Navy game, especially the second one I hit at the Navy game, just gave me so much more confidence and I'm hitting it great."

D.J. has mixed feelings about Nick Setta's return. "Nick's a great kicker. I learned most of my stuff from him. If he's healthy to come back, you know, it should be his, it should be mine, I don't know - it's up to the coaches. We're both just going to keep trying. I'd like to see Nick come back, he's a fifth year senior and done a lot of good things here, and I'd like to see him finish up the year well."

The game strategy, according to Jim Molinaro, was to run the football. "As offensive linemen, we wanted to establish the run; that's our first goal every week," said Molinaro. "So getting the running game open was our first priority. That's what we wanted to do."

Does this final home game win take away some of the sting of the other games? "I'd say that. You look at the season, there was disappointment, but we're looking for wins and it feels good. We started the season with a win here and we finished our season here with a win."

The younger players said they wanted a win for the seniors today, Molinaro said that meant a lot to him. "Knowing that younger guys are still going to try hard and bust their you-know-whats for you. That says a lot about those guys and what this team is going to be in a couple years." Jim said, "This senior class is the closest bunch of friends I've ever had. Darrell, Ced, and the others, we hang out on and off the field a lot. Glenn Earl and I were roommates. Just coming to the end of a journey with these guys, is just real special because we always hang out together. When you're a freshman, there's no light at the end of the tunnel, but now that it is here, the years just go by quick and you need to enjoy the moment."

Derek Curry said the Irish coaches set up the team for success. "The coaches put us in a great position to make plays and we knew pretty much what they were going to do and our job was just to go out and execute," said Curry. "It felt good to shut them down in the 3rd quarter and I've got to give a lot of credit to our seniors. Because they held us together when things were tough, when things didn't go our way early on, they kept us together and focused on the goal in mind. As long as we did what we had to do, we could get it done.

When asked about his interception, Curry said he was in the right place at the right time. "I was actually coming off as a guy was coming across. Coach Baer told me if I come off late, I would be able to make a pick or a tackle and that's how it played out. A guy tipped the ball and I just happened to be there. I was just excited about being there."

Bob Morton was asked how it felt coming down to the end with a comfortable lead. "We didn't dominate at the end like we could have. I still had in the back of my mind that it could have been a little further apart for us. But definitely, in the last minute and a half, it was a good feeling to just sort of sit there and kind of realize that we've got this one in the bag."

When questioned about this game, Justin Tuck said the defense felt they could have a big game. "We knew coming in they gave a lot of sacks and losses. We were kind of hungry out there today and that may have hurt us early as we just flew off the ball and didn't use our technique early in the game. In the 2nd half, we just got back to playing our style of ball."

Tuck said he wasn't aware that BYU had seven possessions without a first down. "I was just caught up in the game, I didn't realize it because I knew we were playing as a good team. Once you are out there and the adrenaline starts flowing, you don't pay attention to anything but making plays and getting off the field. I think we've had an up and down season, but today we came together. We kind of had an up and down game, but we pulled it out. We never come out of a game perfect; we never come out of a game doing everything we wanted to do. I think the effort was there. We wanted to send our seniors out with a great game and I think we did it."

This was an emotional game for Julius Jones. "Playing in this stadium is probably the best feeling in the world; walking out of the tunnel for the last time, going to the student section for the last time were definitely emotional, but that's part of it. As a senior, I knew this day would come sooner or later, I just didn't want it to come this soon."

Jones was pleased his last play in Notre Dame Stadium went for a touchdwon. "Making a touchdown on my last carry was great. I didn't think I could finish it out any better. To score like that in the student section and celebrating with my teammates is just a wonderful way to go out. Our goal was to finish out these last four games with wins and get a win for our seniors today. We have two games left, and if we continue to play the way we have, I think we'll accomplish that."

Julius was not aware that he was close to his first 1,000 yard season at Notre Dame. "I had no idea whatsoever; four yards - I will be thinking about that and every single run where I could have made one more yard."

There is no doubt the seniors are not happy with their record this season, but there should be no doubt about these players - they are winners! Irish Eyes has spoken with many of the seniors, and they have always been cooperative, courteous, and at times humorous. When things weren't going well, they could have refused to meet with us or make excuses for the outcome of games but this didn't happen. We have great respect for these seniors as players and what they present as Notre Dame students. Top Stories