Irish Excited After Big Victory

The Irish bounced back from the loss to Purdue by downing Stanford, 23-15. Stanford came into the game averaging 33.8 points per game and had not been held under 27 points so far this season. The Irish defense returned to form and shut down the Cardinal, especially in the second half. The Irish offense got the job done as quarterback Brady Quinn scored on a two-yard run with 4:10 seconds remaining in the game.

The Notre Dame victory Saturday was their all-time 800th win. Michigan is the only other NCAA Division 1-A school to reach this milestone.

Irish Eyes talked with a number of coaches and players after Saturday's game to get their thoughts on the big Irish win.

Defensive Coordinator Kent Baer

You took the lead and they came right back and scored. What were your thoughts?

"It was disappointing that they got that touchdown in the third quarter, but as I said all week, I think they are an excellent football team. That quarterback is good; they have big tall receivers; the tight ends are good and they did a good job of protecting him today."

"I thought the adjustments we made in the second half, especially going into the fourth quarter, were key to winning the football game and holding them to field goals early on. You take the win no matter how you get it."

Offensive Line and Tight Ends Coach Mike Denbrock

Would you comment on Jerome Collins?

"Jerome did some good things. I was glad to see him get out there and showcase himself. We are a little banged up and thank God we have six tight ends. All the questions going into fall camp was what are you going to do with all of those tight ends, and now we are happy we have them. I think he did some good things, and he is really athletic and that obviously showed in a couple of situations with nice soft hands."

Has Jerome put himself in position the last couple of weeks to get more playing time?

"I think he has put himself into position from the time we moved him over there and he has developed to the position where he can help our football team.

"We are a little nicked up and we needed a couple of guys to stand in there do some things. Billy Palmer stepped up and did a great job today as well as Jerome. Jared Clark did something and John Carlson played as much as he has ever played at the tight end position. And we are happy we have some depth there."

Sophomore Center John Sullivan

How much confidence did you gain by running the ball so well against the 11th best defense in the country?

"I think it was a real confidence boost as we came back and fought through a hard situation and won the game. We have always been confident in the running game because we know what we can do when we execute and we didn't do it the best today but we did it good enough to win the game."

How much does it help knowing the defense is stopping them?

"It's great when the defense can hold them to three points because if they go down two times and get two scores and go up 14 points, but two field goals are only six so if we score a touchdown and kick the extra point we are ahead still so its great."

How important was it to have Ryan Grant back?

"I think Ryan is a great down-hill runner and it is always great when you have a guy who is a thousand yard rusher in a season. He is a senior and a leader on this team, and he just brings back so much confidence in our team. He really, really did a great job today."

What did you talk about at halftime?

"We just talked about what we needed to do to come out and win, and the fact that it was 6-3 and we were still in the game. We knew if we came out and played harder we would get the win and that is exactly what happened."

Senior Linebacker Corey Mays

How big was that muffed punt?

"As a defense, you never want to give up points on the board, but we'll take three over seven anytime. So that was really a key play in the fourth quarter. It was a great opportunity to make a big play and turn the game around.

"I was so happy to be in the position to make the play. Actually, I was on the center so I heard ooohs and ahhhs and I looked over and I figured he was trying to run and I was trying to figure out where the first down line was and I made the tackle at the same time."

How much do you think that play changed the game?

"It was just a big play in the game, and I feel everyone else did their part to make sure that we got the win today."

How important is this win to you guys?

"It's a very huge win, but it is just one part of what we are trying to accomplish for the rest of the season."

Do you think the energy level was down the first half?

"Perhaps, just a little down, but in the second half, I felt like we came out and adjusted and brought it back up."

What did you talk about at halftime?

"We just realized that we had to play harder. The players looked around at each other and we realized what we had to do."

What makes this defense so good in the red zone?

"It's something that we work on a lot. The coaches have us work on red zone and two-minute drills and we really focus on this."

You took the lead 10-9, and they came right back and scored, did that kind of light a fire under the defense?

"Oh yeah, anytime a team takes the ball and drives right down the field, you get fired up and it is definitely a challenge. So it's a matter of us going out there and trying to stop them. We definitely got fired up and knew this couldn't happen because this is our house. And we basically thought about all the hard work we put into it, and we talked on the sidelines and we came out and played and got the results."

Offensive Lineman Ryan Harris

What did you think of this Stanford team compared to last year's?

"This year's Stanford team is a lot more aggressive. They knew their assignments defensively and they were really playing hard; playing to their talents. Their defensive coordinator did a really good job of creating a scheme that used the talent of their players and it's a good defense."

How did you feel about the running game today?

"It's good to get a running game going. We knew all week that we had to get the running game going and you have to have a running game to be a good team. We didn't get it nearly where we wanted it, but we knew we had to run the ball and we did it successfully, and it created some other openings for the offense. Every game we need to be able to run the ball."

How would you describe the first half?

"The first half was very disappointing. I think everybody in the locker room was disappointed because we just didn't execute on offense. When you don't do that, you're not going to put up points, and you're not going to continue drives like we needed to. In the locker room, we regrouped and we knew we had to come back out there and get the win."

Defensive Back Dwight Ellick

How about chasing No. 8 - he's a big guy. What kind of challenge was that?

"He's definitely a big guy. I feel like I had some chances to make some plays and I didn't make them. But overall, I think we played them pretty well. There were a few time there that he got away from us, but overall I think we played them pretty good."

What was it like in the locker room at halftime?

"We just talked about stepping it up. We felt we came out, not flat, but not playing with the emotion we felt we could be playing with. So at halftime we talked about stepping it up and getting the job done."

Was it tough getting up for a team that you beat 57-7 last year?

"Definitely not, I mean if you look at the tape, Stanford should have come into this game 4-0. They played USC and I thought they had USC, but USC is the No.1 team in the country and if you let them hang around, they're going to find a way to win, and that's just what they did. I feel Stanford could have beaten them. They're a completely different team and a lot more athletic and we knew this was going to be a ballgame when they came to town."

How big was this win for the program?

"It's a really big win. It's the 800th win for the program so we feel pretty good, but at the same time, it's another win on our win total and we are 4-2 now. That moves us a step closer to a bowl game."


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