Irish Players Talk About Crushing Loss

The Irish gave it their all on Saturday and have nothing to be ashamed of. Irish fans should also appreciate the effort of this group of football players. Coach Weis indicated after Saturday's game that he told the players to hold their heads up, and that it was all Irish fans should do and get ready for the remainder of the season because it is going to be an exciting ride.

Irish Eyes had the opportunity to talk with several players of this great battle.

Senior defensive back Mike Richardson

How would you describe the game and your feelings?

Coach Weis has said he doesn't believe in moral victories. How do you feel about this?

"No, I mean when it gets down to being that close, your ultimate goal and what you want to do is win. It really hurts, and that is the outcome."

What was the primary role of the defense coming into this game?

Does this hurt more than the last couple of years against USC?

"Yeah, actually it does since it was such a big game and just coming down to the wire like that and losing that way, just hurts that much more."

How hard is it going to be to bounce back and get ready for BYU?

Junior defensive back Tom Zbikowski

Talk about your punt return.

What do you take away from this game?

Did you play on special teams in high school and how much fun are you having out there?

"Yes, a little bit. And it's a lot of fun getting the ball. Getting the ball in my hands and trying to help the team out and do what I can."
Senior tight end Anthony Fasano

Your last offensive drive was nearly perfect, would you commend on that?

"Definitely, that's what our offense has been doing all year, taking long drives down there. And it just happened that we stepped up and did it at a key point, but again it wasn't enough because early in the game we got ourselves in a hole."

Coach Weis said he told you guys not to hang your heads. Is that easier said than done?

"Definitely, after a loss, it's the first thing, but you just have to think of your situation of where you are and who you have to play next week."

What about those last two big plays that Southern Cal made?

"It's real tough, and when you think about it, you just have to think that it's not one or two plays that determine the whole game. It's all the plays leading up before that got us into our situation."

What was your number one offensive goal coming into this game?

"Our number one philosophy was to score more points than they do. And that didn't work out. We did do a good job on some of the things, but some of the opportunities that we couldn't take care of, didn't work out for us."

Junior receiver Jeff Samardzija

What did you think when it looked like the game was over, but there was still seven seconds to go?

"Obviously, you're excited when you get the initial reaction, but then you know. But then obviously you're just waiting for a decision to see what happens. The ruling came out and there is nothing you can do to change it, no matter how much you argue or whatever, it's not going to change anything. But again, they came out and made that last play, and that was the game."

What does it mean to play a game exactly the way you needed to, but not get the win?

"You have to learn from it. You have to take the way things went the past two weeks and how you prepared for a game like this. And then go back, do a full review, and kind of learn from it and apply it to next week and hopefully things turn out a little better."

Senior center/guard Bob Morton

On Leinart's quarterback sneak, what did you see happen and what was your reaction?

"Our sideline was pretty crazy and it's tough to see over everybody's head, but I did see the official put his arms up and that's pretty much the universal sign that they had just scored six points. So it was a tough feeling and a tough pill to swallow, but it's not just that one play and we have to understand they came out and fought hard and there's a reason why they have won all the games they have, and there's a reason why they are rated number one in the country. We tip our hats to them. They played a phenomenal game."

What did you learn about your team today?

"It's one of those things where we learned a lot of things that we can do. We also learned there are certain things you can't do against the number one team in the country. And that's a tough way to learn it, and we learned we can stand toe-to-toe against the best and we can be as good as we want to be, but we can't just show up. We really do have to play sixty minutes of football."

You seem pretty philosophical about all of this after a devastating loss. How are you able to put it in that perspective?

"I've had about 35 minutes to think about the questions you guys are going to ask."

What did you think about the green jerseys and when did you find out you were going to wear them?

"Right before we went out there. Actually this is one thing I thought about before the game; actually, not the 35 minutes before that I jumped into the shower. The last time we wore green jerseys, I felt there was a completely different atmosphere in the locker room than there was today. I thought we approached it like a business-like attitude. And we didn't get over-excited and expend our energy in the locker room. And I really think it added to what we brought to the game."

Sophomore running back Darius Walker

It looked like you had control of the game, but then they made a couple of plays at the end and that was the difference, wasn't it?

"Yes, you can definitely say so. It came down to a couple of plays at the end and we did make some plays, but they made more."

Could you talk about Travis Thomas and his play today?

"Yes, Travis stepped up today and I thought he ran very hard and very well. It's good that we kind of got a chance to complement each other and get out there and work hard. So he had a good game today."

Did that help you stay fresh and you made a couple of catches toward the end of the game?

"I don't know; it just seems like toward the end of the game, everybody's kind of ready to go. It seems like they're always fresh because you know it's the final plays of the game. So I was probably running off a lot of adrenaline as well."

How hard is it going to be to bounce back from this loss and get ready for BYU?

"Oh, it's difficult because this is one that hurts. It's one that hurts real bad because, you know, we had many opportunities to win the game on offense, on defense, and special teams and it came down to them just making more plays. This really does hurt. It kind of reminds me of back in second or third grade when someone stole your pencils or something like that. I mean it hurts, it really does. So we understand that we have another game coming up next week against a worthy opponent, BYU, and we somehow have to let this one go and look toward next week."

Junior running back Travis Thomas

When did you find out you were going to have a bigger role in this game?

"Probably at the beginning of the week; I would say Monday."

Did that help you gear up for this week a lot better?

"I prepare hard in the same way every week. I just knew I had to be more in tune and focus this week. It's a big game and I knew I would have a bigger role so I just prepared for that."


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