Irish Seniors Hoping to End on High Note

Fresh off their big victory over Tennessee, a number of Irish players met with the media on Monday to discuss their big victory over the Volunteers, and what will be the final home game for a number of seniors on Saturday. Will the Irish seniors end their final home game with a win on Saturday?

Three-year starter Derek Curry has been in a number of big games over his Notre Dame career. Curry said the Tennessee victory was something he'll remember.

"It definitely doesn't make up for the loss against BC, but it definitely feels good to go down there and get a win, get the morale of team back up," said Curry. "We know what we can do, and it's just a matter of going and getting it done."

Curry said while the victory is certainly sweet, the Irish have to move on starting now.

"We've got to kind of let go from the fact that we won that game and really focus in on Pittsburgh," he said. "This is a pivotal, pivotal game for what we've got to do for the season."

The Panthers are coming off a crushing 38-31 overtime loss at the hands of Syracuse last weekend, but Curry says a loss like that will likely motivate them even more for Saturday's game.

"Losing a game like they lost last week, and we lost to BC, it's so much easier to get back up because you're so close, you just didn't get the job done in the end," Curry said. "We know that they're going to be as fired up as ever to come in here and play us, especially with the way the game went last week.

"They actually have a really good team," Curry said of the Panthers. "Their record doesn't show exactly how good they are playing at times. They've got a really mobile quarterback. They definitely have the ability to run the ball. They're going to do some of the same things we saw this past week in terms of personnel and the type of runs they're going to use."

As for his final game in front of Irish fans at home, Curry says he knows it will be an emotional ending for him.

"I really don't know what it's going to feel like," he said. "You always here people say there's so much emotion wrapped up in it, but at the same time, maybe it's the beginning of something new. It's probably going to be some mixed emotions."

"Winning down at Florida State. Winning this past weekend at Tennessee. Just the camaraderie I have with my teammates from the locker room," said Curry when asked what he'll remember most about his time at Notre Dame. "It's something you can't put into words, but it's something we'll never forget."

Defensive end Justin Tuck became the all-time Notre Dame sack leader last Saturday with his two sacks against Tennessee. The senior says he's happy to get the record out of the way.

"I would rather it be at home, but I had a lot of family there so it was nice to have my father, all my uncles, all my cousins see me get the record," Tuck said.

Many expect Tuck, who has another year of eligibility, to opt for the NFL draft after this season. Tuck was noncommittal on Monday about his future.

"You'll know when I know," he said. "That's all I can say right now. As of right now, my mentality is I've got three more games this year."

Whether Tuck decides to stay or go, the Kellytown, Ala. native said he's loved his time at Notre Dame.

"I think the atmosphere here has been a little more than what I expected as far as the fans, the people around," he said. "(The) only regrets I have this far is having up and down seasons knowing the talent we have here. It's been great being a part of it here."

Quarterback Brady Quinn said the Irish offense didn't play their best game on Saturday, but they did what they had to do to win.

"Looking back at the Tennessee game, that's probably the best defense we've played this year, and they played well," said Quinn. "They're extremely athletic, they're extremely fast to the ball, and that secondary was tough. I think they matched up with our wide receivers pretty well. We still came out with the win, and I think that's the most important thing."

The Dublin, Ohio sophomore says he's hoping the offense can deliver a big game this week to ensure an Irish victory for the departing seniors.

"I just want to have the best game of my life so I know that they're going to be able to go out with a win, and they'll be able to remember their last game in Notre Dame Stadium," Quinn said.

Senior running back Ryan Grant said he needs to get his team focused on Pittsburgh this week to avoid a letdown after their big victory over Tennessee.

"I think wins can be just as bad as losses can be if you take it too far," said Grant. "This is a new week. We need to get after it. We need to get focused. We've got a good team coming in and we know they want to kick our butts."

Grant says he's enjoyed his teammates the most about his time at Notre Dame.

"It's been great, even with all the ups and downs," he said. "To go out every week with these guys and fight every week and the sweat that goes into playing on Saturday. I've seen a lot of great things, a lot of great people and I appreciate every day I've had with them."

The Irish dominated the Tennessee offensive front last Saturday and senior defensive end Kyle Budinscak said the Irish defensive front four might've played their best game against the Vols.

"I think so. I think it was up there, definitely," said Budinscak. "We put a lot of pressure on him with just a three-man front. Anytime you can do that, that's huge. Every guy stepped up and knew the magnitude of this game and played like it."

Avoiding the letdown is something that Budinscak is also focused on this week. The three-year starter wants to leave Notre Dame Stadium on a high note.

"We've had a couple of setbacks this year," Budinscak admitted. "If we approach this game like we have a couple of big games this year, there's no reason we can't be very successful. That's really what we have to have in our minds."

What will Budinscak be thinking during his final game in Notre Dame Stadium?

"I haven't had a lot of time to think about that," he said. "It's going to be something so emotional for me. It's hard for me to really talk about it. It's my last chance to play for this place that's given me so much. It's going to be huge.

"I think the football (memories) are probably the best and the ones you'll really remember 30 years from now. Some of the victories we've had in this stadium. We've beat Michigan a couple of times, even the victories in other places—Florida State, this Tennessee one is one I'll remember."

And for the bad memories?

"There's plenty of those, too," Budinscak said with a laugh. "But they just make you stronger."


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