Post-Game Player Comments

After the heart-stopping, come-from-behind win, some of the happy and relieved Irish players talked with the media and Irish Eyes was there to record their comments.

Senior Defensive Back Mike Richardson

How does it feel coming away with a win like this?

"I've only been a part of one other game like this and that was the Michigan State game where we came back and won. Winning this game right at the end was a great feeling."

What did you do in the second half to hold them down?

"We just wanted to keep playing our game; we gave up those two big plays in the first half which we shouldn't have. For the most part, we just wanted to keep stuffing the run and playing solid on the back end."

How did the play, when the big tight end caught the ball, break down from your perspective?

"It was just kind of a busted cover. We didn't exactly pick up the people we were supposed to. He actually got open and started to run, and he was a big guy and was pretty tough to bring down."

How long will you enjoy this victory; for the next 24 hours or so?

"A win's a win and we just want to enjoy it now; and next week get focused on our next opponent."

What was the mood like with about 2:20 left to go?

"We had to just come out and stop them. Coaches told us if we stopped them we would end up with the ball back with about a minute to go. We just went out with the mentality that we were going to stop them and that's what we did."

Up to that point, they had some good things going offensively. Can you talk about the flow of the game?

"They came up with those two big plays and, other than those plays, I feel our defense played pretty well. We just need to be consistent and stop giving up the big plays like we did."

Senior Offensive Lineman Bob Morton

What did you think of the UCLA defense?

"That was one of the hardest looking defenses that we have gone up against. Everything they did was full throttle. They presented things that we had to come back with and not trying to catch up but trying to get our game over the top. And it took us to that last drive to do that."

Part of that Notre Dame magic and lore - is that why you guys come here?

"I think the Notre Dame magic and Notre Dame lore is made up by the Notre Dame players who make the plays. There's no magic in the play that happens, but the execution of things ends up going into a box entitled Notre Dame Lore. Five years from now if they remember this comeback along with another one this season, I have no problem with it being entitled Notre Dame Lore. But it wasn't magic that made the ball leave Brady's hands and into Jeff's arms."

How did you see the last play when Jeff scored?

"I thought he was going to fall down and the only reason I was running was to pick him up so we could go and run another play. And then the dude got into the end zone; what can you do about that? Twist my arm; I'm not too upset about it."

What was the mood on the sidelines before you went out for the last series?

"It was, just give us a chance. I think that was it; it was a business attitude. And the offensive line was looking at each other saying, we just need one more chance. And the thing is, there was a confidence in the defense because they did a great job all day long; the entire 11 guys on the field. And I sat there and watched Terrail Lambert have a great game. I don't care what people say; he just had an amazing day in coverage all day long. They just played outside of their minds today and we knew we just needed one more chance and we were eager to get out on that field again."

How do you guys maintain your composure in games like this?

"It's just a matter that we just want to go and do it. We knew that we fell short on that 4th and 1, but we knew with our defense that we didn't fall short on the game right then. We don't fall short until the last second ticks off the clock. Through the course of time, I think Brady has shown composure in all aspects of the game and at any point in the game. I'm always excited whether there's one second, or ten seconds, or ten minutes on the clock. I like to see the ball in his hands and giving us a shot to go over the top."

Senior Defensive Lineman Trevor Laws

There was a report that their quarterback couldn't talk. Did you hear him talk during the game?

"I heard him barking some stuff, but I didn't really understand it. I thought he played good, especially being thrown out there like that."

What was running through your mind in that last defensive series?

"We knew we could do it by the way we had played all day against the run. We knew they were going to run and we felt there was no way they were going to run on us. We were real happy with the way things came out."

Do you agree that the defense gave the offense that opportunity to win the game at the end?

"Definitely, we knew it was our job and we'd been struggling a little bit here and there. We knew we had to do it and give them the opportunity to win at the end. And they did what we needed them to."

Senior Defensive Back Tom Zbikowski

What was it like for you on the sidelines during that last drive?

"I knew it was only a matter of time when you have weapons like that. And when you have a quarterback who can make things happen, it's only a matter of time before we got into the end zone. The routes we were completing were big; then the play Jeff made was the game winner."

You've had a couple of cliffhangers this season. How does mental toughness enter into this?

"It's fun to play in and it's great that the fans got into it; and it's always easier when the fans are into it and the energy is up. But you have to keep your composure and I think that's what our team has shown; that we have composure and we can make things happen when we need to."

Talk about your last defensive series.

"We knew they'd have to come out and run the ball to get time off the clock and our D-line and linebackers were doing a great job on the run. We knew we had to make our plays and be smart and try not to do too much and go for the ball and miss our tackle. We made our tackles and the coaches called timeouts at the right time and everything worked out."

Senior Linebacker Travis Thomas

How does this win feel for you?

"It ranks as one of the tops of all times. It was a heck of a win."

I think the defense won this game. Do you agree with that?

"The defense with the exception of those two big plays and you take those 14 points away, it would be a pretty convincing win. We just played hard all game and just kept coming after them and the offense came through just in time."

The defense always seems to play well in the third quarters, can you explain this?

"We know coming out in the third quarter, starting the second half, we want to come out hard and take the wind out of our opponents. We want to get a fast start, go three and out, and get the offense the ball so they can get some points on the board."

Did it feel good to get back into the lineup?

"It was great and having Joe Brockington in there; he's really holding his own and playing well. Whenever you have guys around you like Joe, it makes your job a lot easier."

What was the mood like on the sideline during the last offensive series?

"No one was down, we were very excited. We have a lot of confidence in our offense. And our offense has a lot of confidence in us. So we just work with each other and pick each other up. And, man, they came through big."

Did the UCLA offense do anything unexpected?

"Everything that we saw, we prepared for; my hat's off to the coaches because they prepared us very well."

Senior Receiver Jeff Samardzija

What did you think of the UCLA defense?

"They had speed to spare and it was a matter of me just trying to shake guys and get what I could out of each play. There were some tough yards out there but that's what you have to do to make plays."

How tough is it to go through a game like this where every play was hard fought?

"I think you just have to expect it. This offense has a lot of guys who can play the offensive side and all of us understand that everyone is going to be keying everyone. So you have to go out there and get those tough yards when you can. We understand our roles and what we have to do. We're out there trying to make plays, whether it's eight catches or four catches; every time I touch the ball I try to make something productive out of it."

Jeff, can you describe the touchdown play?

"Brady got flushed a little bit. I was running an in-route on the other side and stuck with it and ran across the field and he found me coming out; and I found a little open area and caught it. After that I just tried to get into the end zone."

Were you the first progression on that play?

"I don't know; I'm not the quarterback. I think Brady was looking over to the right but I'll have to check that on the film. I could possibly be, but once everything gets flushed, it's kind of like everything gets flushed down the toilet and you just have to improvise after that."

After you caught the pass, can you describe what you saw?

"A lot of guys just running around everywhere; and I just tried to make a few miss and tried to keep the play going because every yard is important, especially in a situation like that."

Are you anxious to see the film of that play?

"Not too anxious right now. We're going to watch plenty of film and get chewed out plenty of times on Sunday. We'll let it rest and it will be a good thing to end on the film because I'm sure there's a few things on there that I didn't do too well. So there will be a happy ending to watching the film on Sunday."

Senior Running Back Darius Walker

What did you think of the last play that resulted in the touchdown for the team?

"It was just an incredible play. I know I had to help pick up on the end and I looked up and the next think I knew Jeff caught the pass and made a guy miss and made another guy miss and stumbled a little bit and then touchdown and I wanted to just get on my knees and praise the Lord for real."

What did you think of the UCLA defense?

"It was awesome; they really were good. You have to hand it to them; they came with a really good plan and executed very well. Their defense was tough and they were hitting hard. They were smaller guys which was kind of hard for us to block because they were shifty and real speed-type guys, but kudos to them."

Their defense was rated high statistically. Do you think they were that good?

"I think the game shows you how good they really were and they really came to play today. Their guys were hyped up and were talking and everything so they really came with the right mindset to get after us.

Players talk about coming to Notre Dame for games like this. Did you feel some magic out there today?

"I don't think we really felt the magic our way until that last drive. This really is why we are here, to play in these big-time games and to be challenged like this. And the way we had to come back and play says a lot about our team; to come back and win a game like this. We just feel real fortunate to get out of here with a win. UCLA played a great game from start to finish and we just kind of got them on that last play." Top Stories