Senior defensive lineman Trevor Laws
Could you tell us about the extra point blocks today?"We had a little linebacker push scheme. Linebackers were going to push behind us which gave us a lot more power. I thought Derek Landri blew through the gap and made a couple plays, and I got my hand on one of the balls too.
When you block one, do you expect to get another?"You definitely give a little more extra on the next one when you know you've got a chance of getting through there. You push a little harder probably."
How would you evaluate the overall defense today?"There is so much better that we can do. We had some inconsistent play. We have to pick it up and really start play more consistent."
Do you guys feel like you are on the rise right now?"I think we're still building up. Our goal is to peak for our bowl game, and I think we're still on that rise."
Senior tight end John Carlson
It seems like you are playing much better this year. How do you explain that?"I did my best to prepare myself in the off season and things have been working out pretty well."
On third-and-five or third-and-six, it seems like you are Brady's security blanket. Do you think other teams haven't caught onto that yet?"If they want to leave me wide open, I'm all for it."
Do you feel like you are getting better each game?"With Anthony Fasano here last year, he was kind of the security blanket and I didn't have to step in and play that role. I wasn't an every-down tight end. The more experience, I think, has really been valuable."
How does it feel to be 8-1?"We'd rather be 9-0."
Was this game a little more difficult than what you guys thought it was going to be or what we in the media made it out to be?"I don't know if you caught my speech at the pep rally the other night (laughing), but we expected them to come in here with everything they've got. We knew they were going to give their best effort. So, no, this is what we expected."
Are you guys not only happy with the win, but with the content of the win?"I think anytime you win a game, you have to be happy with it. You don't necessarily have to be happy with specific plays, but it's a win."
Senior defensive end Victor Abiamiri
Do you feel that the defense is improving from week to week?"Every time you don't play your best football, and you can come back and analyze yourself the next day with film, you can see little bits and pieces here and there where you know you can improve. Week-in and week-out you try to improve on those, and sometimes you're not quite there yet which means there's improvement to be done."
After the offense went down and scored right away, did you feel that this was going to be an easy win?"No, you never go into a game thinking it is going to be an easy win. I think Coach prepares us well to deal with outside influences. The North Carolina team came in here with nothing to lose, and what better way to validate your season than to beat Notre Dame? We knew we were going to get their best shot. We get everybody's best shot when they come into this stadium. So we were prepared for that, and there wasn't any celebrating early. We knew we were in for a long game."
How does it feel to be 8-1?"Feels good, it feels good. I think we're setting ourselves up in pretty good position to be successful near the end of the year. We're peaking pretty good at the right time of the year."
Senior defensive lineman Derek Landri
How do you feel about blocking the extra points?"I wasn't very happy with the kickoff return, so that works that way. But anytime you have the opportunity to stop them from putting points on the board, I think it's a play worth playing as hard as you can."
How much of a boost is it to block kicks like that?"A long field goal or a blocked punt is probably a little more of a boost. But anytime you can get in there and get your hands on it, especially after they had that long kickoff and that long pass play. Anytime you can steal a little thunder from them, it's worth it."
What do you think of Maurice Crum's development?"Mo's a big-time player. Coming off of last year and being his first year playing, I would want him to come back over the other two, Mays or Hoyt. I'm as happy as a pig in slop, as they say, that Mo came back. Fundamentally, I think he is sounder and an awesome player. He makes all our calls basically; we kind of run our defense through him."
Do you think that's instinctive for him out there since he has been doing that so long and has a Dad who has been teaching him to do this basically since day one?"I think so, especially with our defense being so complex. There are so many checks that we have defensively. For a lot of linebackers, it's hard to pick up. But he has picked it up real well, especially for a quiet guy. He doesn't say much, but when he does people listen. He makes all of our calls and defenses run through him. There has to be some sort of natural ability he has in picking up the defense and the calls.
Do you think you guys are playing the best football of the season right now?"I think we are slowly progressing and getting better and better every game. I don't think we are at where we want to be defensively for that matter. But potentially we think we can do better than what we have been playing and we are just trying to build every week.
Senior defensive back Tom Zbikowski
How close were you to returning that next punt for a touchdown?"Don't bring it up (laughing); it was too close. I felt I was ready to take it again, but I just got tripped up."
Can you describe what you saw with the one you did take in?"Once I made those first two guys miss, it was just green grass after that. The interior guys have really been doing a great job all year; not letting guys downfield. Once I got past that first wave, I knew it was going to be big yards."
Is it just a matter of being healthy for these punt returns?"Things just have to fall in place with the way the ball is punted to you. You have to get a good opportunity where they can't hang it up or you have to fair catch it. You just have to get a good punt."
Coach Weis has been saying all week this was a dangerous team, were they as good as advertised?"They were a good team and they have a lot of talented players. I think that's the way their season has gone. They've hung with a lot of people. They just couldn't find a way to win at the end."
You talked early in the season about having a chip on your shoulder. Is that chip still there?"Definitely, just because we're not done with the year or what we want to accomplish. We just have to keep playing week-in and week-out and keep playing hard."
Junior running back Darius Walker
Did you know that when you carry the ball 20 or more times in the game, you guys haven't lost?"It's always good to run the ball and run it well as it opens up a lot for our offense. When you run the ball well, they are thinking run and then you get the pass going. We really focus on keeping the running game going week-to-week."
What has John Carlson done to step right in after Anthony left?"I think you see that. I think you really see it because John is one of those go-to guys now. He makes big plays all the time not just in the passing game, but also in the running game where people don't see how good of a blocker he really is."
Thoughts on Jeff's throw?"Jeff's throw (laughing)? I couldn't really see what happened because I was on the sidelines. I'm hoping his arm got hit and he just didn't throw a bad ball. That's what I'm hoping it was (laughing)."
How does if feel to be 8-1?"It feels real good. We are real excited about where we are now. We know we still have a lot of work to do and got some tough games coming up. But we just want to soak this one up and get ready for the next one."
Senior receiver Jeff Samardzija
Could you describe the pass where you set the touchdown record?"Brady had a couple reads and then went back to me. So he basically put it up for me to make a play on it, and that's what you have to do as a receiver and that's what you are counted on for--just to go up and make a play."
Could you give us your take on what happened when Brady got hit toward the end and you went running over there?"Football is football and things like that happen. Obviously, our team tries to stay away from things like that, but things happen. That's your quarterback out there. We try to stay away from it, you know, but it's your teammates and you have to protect them. And you just try to play the game the right way."
With three games to go, did you think you would be standing here talking about breaking the Notre Dame touchdown record?"I hope so, if not, my sights are set on the wrong spot. Twenty-one games ago is a long time ago, and a lot of things have changed since then. I have a lot of fun with the things I do, and I have the right people around me out there to help me out."
Do you have a lot of confidence in yourself, and did you ever doubt yourself in your career here?"I don't think so. If I did, I probably wouldn't be here talking. It's like I said: it's all about having your head on straight and accepting the guys around you and what they are doing. And everything they are doing is just amazing. You just play along and do your part and everything works out."
Was there a time last year before the season started that you felt that things were going to start to click for you and you were getting into the groove where you wanted to be in your career?"Yeah, obviously, the older you get and the more experience on the field, everything just slows down a little bit for you. On top of that, the more you get going and every play you make from there increases your confidence. Like I said, I just go out there and every chance I get to make a play and it kind of snowballed from last year; and it's kind of good."