Extra Points

The media turned out in big numbers today for Notre Dame's bowl media day press conference, including several reporters from Columbus, Ohio. Irish coach Charlie Weis gave an overview of his knowledge of Ohio State and indicated there is a lot more to learn about the Buckeyes. Coach Weis has much respect for Ohio State as they finished the season with a 9-2 record and shared the Big Ten Title with Penn State. The Buckeyes closed out the season with six consecutive wins.

At the conclusion of the press conference, selected offensive and defensive players were available for interviews and they responded to a smorgasbord of questions. Irish Eyes was able to get quotes from several of the players.

Junior defensive end Victor Abiamiri

Overall how much tape have you watched of Ohio State?

"I've watched a little bit, but not too much. We have a lot of time today where we will get into breaking down film, but I haven't really watched too much of them. But I know what I've watched on TV, they are a good football team. We will have to play our best game."

Most people feel this program is headed in the right direction, but do you guys feel you need to get this win to prove that or is this one game not that important overall?

"This game is definitely very important to us. We are definitely trying to accomplish all of our goals this season and one of our goals is to win the bowl game and kind of end the season on a good note and good taste in our mouths. We just want to do it the right way for the seniors and let them leave here with a win and playing their last game in a Notre Dame uniform."

How much has Charlie mentioned the bowl streak to you?

"Yeah [laughing] he has mentioned it a couple of times and he won't let us forget until next month until we play the game."

Can you talk about the shin injury that bothered you for awhile?

"I think it was real tough to have the injury happen in the spring when you weren't actually playing against other teams. Plus a new coaching staff comes in you want to do the best you can for them but to get hurt and injured is one of the toughest things an athlete can deal with. Coming back from that injury was a major part of my development as an athlete; just being able to deal with those injuries. I think the season has gone pretty well, and it's not over yet as we have to try and win this bowl game."

What helped you to have the four sacks against Stanford?

"I think in that game things were kind of tight with Justin [Brown], Talley, and Frome were out and we had been getting hit by injuries on the D-line and I realized that for us to be kind of at our level, I needed to step up my game and play better because Talley was out. I think the rest of the D-line rose up to the challenge and it wasn't just me it was Laws and Landri in the middle, kind of putting the pressure on the quarterback and flushing him out and kind of helping me out too."

Junior safety Tom Zbikowski

How much do you use the past bowl record for motivation?

"We just want to win and send the seniors out right. We are in a BCS game and we want to win the BCS game. We don't want to win because other teams couldn't accomplish that in the past. We want to win because we want to win."

What concerns you most about Teddy Ginn?

"Speed and play-making ability. His speed is the biggest thing. He just runs past guys like it is nothing."

Do you watch him because he is also a returner?

"Naw, I'm on the punt team so I gotta watch him. I think we have two different style of returning."

How would you describe his style of returning?

"He's a playmaker and kind of like Reggie (Bush) but when he hits a gap there are not too many people that's as fast as him in the country."

How have you guys managed to play so well on third downs?

"This is going to be a bigger challenge, especially with a quarterback that can run. It's going to be a good challenge for us and we are going to have to bring our A-game on third down."

Is there a mentality that goes into this success?

"I think so. Our job is to get off the field and get the offensive on the field, so that's what we are looking to do. We want to be the dominant defense so that every single time it is three and out."

What did you feel about Brady not getting invited to the Heisman ceremony?

"I'm disappointed because he had such a great year and being able to represent our university going down to the Heisman, but he's got another year and we have to look past that and just look to the BCS game. We just don't want to be satisfied with going to a BCS game; we want to win it and get even a higher ranking and get ready for next year going out on a high note."

Senior linebacker Corey Mays

What have people been like? Has it been nuts and people coming up and talking with you about the season?

"Everybody jumps on the bandwagon again and that's really how it is going to be no matter where you are and truly that is the way it should be with Notre Dame being on top. Players have to stay humble and make sure they are doing everything they are supposed to do."

Do you think having a coach with NFL experience makes a different atmosphere?

"I can't comment on NFL experience but being in college football the past five years, it's been all business. Every practice, every meeting is business."

You have heard that people either love or hate Notre Dame and how do you respond to this?

"You can't really explain why people love or hate it. You ask them and they say I don't know there is just something about them."

Do you have friends that say that?

"Not really friends because I would have to cut them off. You meet people all the time when you are wearing your apparel and they say, ‘aw, Notre Dame.' All I can do is smile and I don't mind it because I love Notre Dame and that is why I'm here so their opinion doesn't matter to me."

What are two or three factors that make this team different from last years?

"There aren't two or three factors. It is kind of hard to explain. I guess it's more like the execution and of course if you look back to last year two or three plays and it could have been a nine-win season. It really is about execution from the players' standpoint."

Do you believe this game is a statement game of how the season has gone and the past bowl records

"It's a big statement game but of course it's a BCS bowl game. It's motivation enough just to go out and win a game really, especially as a senior. It has been so much fun this year, you kind of wish you could beg the NCAA for a sixth year, but it isn't going to happen so you have to take advantage of what you have now."


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