Irish Get First Home Win

The Notre Dame Football team won their first home game under Coach Weis's leadership by downing BYU 49-23. This win came against a game and hard-playing BYU team, but this day belonged to the Irish as they rewrote the record books in several categories. As you can imagine, the Irish locker room was a happy and very noisy place after this victory. Irish Eyes spoke with several of the players following their impressive performance.

Junior Center/Guard John Sullivan

How important was it to get off to a good start in this game?

"It's great to come out and get into rhythm at the beginning of the game, and that's what we did. We got a few scores early even though they came out and got a field goal on their first drive; we came out and took the pressure off by scoring. So we got out in front early and making the other team play catch up is big."

Did you expect this team to blitz on almost every play?

"We knew their blitz percentages, and they are the highest percent blitz team we have seen. The key to stopping the blitz is to anticipate that it is coming on every play."

Are you disappointed that you didn't have more success with the run?

"We scored 49 points and Brady threw for six touchdowns. There probably is a reason we couldn't run the ball and could throw for six. It's never disappointing when you can score 49 points and win at home."

When they cut it to five points, did it change anything in the huddle?

"We came out in the second half and tried to put them away the entire time. We just went out - we are a mature team and we have faced adversity before this season being down - so we came out and we knew we were trying to get a few more scores and put them away."

Junior Defensive End Victor Abiamiri

Just talk about the defensive line and the pretty good pressure you were able to get.

"Going into this game, we knew it was crucial for the defensive line to get pressure with their unconventional offense. They have wide splits and tried to spread the field out. And the heart and soul of their offense is their quarterback, so we knew we had to get after him if we were going to be successful on defense."

What was it like lining up against their offense?

"It was tough, you know, they throw a lot of things at you and it's tough to get after them and our hats are off to their coaching staff because they planned a good offense."

Did the team just need a quarter to get back into rhythm after last week?

"That's just exactly what we were trying to avoid today – not having an emotional letdown from last week because last week was such an emotional game. I think we came out pretty strong and they did a few things that kind of caught us off-guard, and they came out firing."

What did you think of Ronald Talley's performance today?

"It was good because anytime a guy goes down, somebody definitely has to step up. I'm definitely happy with Talley's performance today and expect the same out of him for the rest of the year. There can't be any drop off from one guy to the next."

What is your overall assessment of the defensive play today?

"Going into this game, we knew they were going to throw the ball a lot and I think we rose to the challenge. They came out early and challenged us, and I think we rose to the occasion from the beginning of the first half and the second half, we definitely stepped up."

Junior Defensive Lineman Trevor Laws

What was it like to be able to relax a little on the sidelines toward the end of the game?

"It's nice, man. It's always nice knowing the offense is moving the ball and you've got young guys in there that went three and out one time. It's great knowing that the offense is going to run the ball and move the clock along and you can catch a little sigh of relief on the sidelines. It's pretty nice."

What did Coach Weis do to get you past last week?

"He used some emotional things to get us hyped up but we all know we had to come back. This team beat us last year and we knew we had to play out hardest and we knew ourselves that we had to play good."

What were the emotional things that Coach used?

"He tried to play some games with us, talking about how they might come out and beat us and all that stuff. It worked; it made us practice hard and made us play hard today."

What is your evaluation of the overall play of the defense today?

"I think we played great. We had some slipups here and there, and gave up some big plays which we really have to work on, but I think we played great. I felt we shut down the running game and we had a lot of turnovers. The defensive line played really well so the team played pretty good."

Junior Strong Safety Tom Zbikowski

Describe the interception you took for a touchdown.

"It's a cover we have been working on all week. When they got into a three-receiver set, I was sitting outside of that third receiver and inside that number two receiver, so any time we got an out route, I could jump it. So Coach Minter and Coach Lewis have been working on that and put us into a good position to make that play."

What about the pick on the two-point play?

"He was scrambling and kind of just locked on him and trying to make a play and fortunately I was right there for it."

How did it feel to get a win at home?
,br> "It feels real good, it feels real good. Especially coming off such an emotional loss but coming in as starting a new season and getting that win and getting that good feeling back because it's been a while since we've won here."

Would you talk about the BYU offense?

"The history of BYU has been a lot of passers, great quarterbacks, great receivers, and then last week, they came out and ran for 275 yards against Colorado State. So we kind of had to get ready for everything. They had two real good backs. They were doing a lot of different things and you saw their splits with their offensive line, and I think our defensive line adjusted real well to it."

What did you think of their size?

"They're big guys. I tried to push one of them down and he didn't go anywhere."

Going into a game, do you know what the offensive plan for the Irish will be?

"I don't have a clue. I worry about my stuff and they're in good hands, so I let them take care of that stuff."

Junior Wide Receiver Jeff Samardzija

Talk about the record of catching a touchdown pass in seven consecutive games.

"It's all great and stuff, but we have five wins and we're rolling right now and I think it's kind of good going into a bye week. And if any of those touchdowns help win a game for the team, that's what they're for. You're not out there for personal stats or anything like that or trying to set records. Things like that happen, but you're going out there and trying to make plays for your team."

Does it mean a lot to you, what you have accomplished?

"No, not at all; if I go out and have 10 or 15 good blocks on the field, that is a good accomplishment too. I just go out there and do my job."

Jeff, you say you're not into personal stats but you guys put up some crazy numbers today.

"Brady and Mo put up some crazy numbers, I just caught a couple of balls, but those two were going crazy. They were scoring touchdowns left and right. Brady had a great game. I don't know what his final line was, but I'm assuming it's really good looking on paper. So Mo too had a great game. When things like that are working, you just stick with them."

Senior Corner Back Mike Richardson

How did it feel to get the pick?

"I did feel good but, unfortunately, I couldn't hold onto it. But it's usually a good thing when you get turnovers."

Do you think the defensive backs are starting to read things better?

"It's starting to come together. We are more like a unit – working together as a unit – and we know what each other is thinking and that's important. So it's definitely a positive force."

Did it really feel like it was the first game of the season?

"We wanted to take the mental approach like it was our first home game and opener. We knew we had to come out and win this game. It really helped to look at it as a new season and put all that we just went through behind us and just focus on the future."

What was your overall assessment of the defensive play today?

"We were up and down – sometimes we gave up those long drives and other times we stepped up and they went three and out. I think we actually did a good job overall."

Senior Tight End Anthony Fasano

Unintelligible question.

"The way the game was going, we had to take care of individual battles and responsibilities and work together as a team and I think that came together at the right time."

How did you think your defense played today?

"BYU did a great job. They moved the ball up and down and did some different things on our defense that I noticed, but our defense played strong when they needed to and got some key stops."

What's your overall assessment of offensive play?

"It definitely wasn't neat and clean, what we wanted, but we got the job done and we made plays when we needed to and that is pretty much the m/o of the offense right now."

How did it feel to get this win at home today?

"It's nice, finally. We had two tough home games. We've won a bunch on the road but winning at home, there is nothing like it, and it is good to get that first one under our belt."


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