Quotes from Saturday

Irish Eyes attended the post-game interviews following the Irish loss to USC. Here are quotes from Irish players after Saturday's game.

Junior Quarterback Evan Sharpley

How would you assess today's game? It looked like you were struggling out there at times.

"That's how I would assess it. It was a struggle. It was difficult, and they are a very good defense. Kudos to them. We had a tough time.

Were you able to stay confident during the game despite the struggle?

"You have to if you want any shot at winning. We weren't throwing in the towel and we still haven't. Unfortunately, it got out of hand and we couldn't make any plays."

Having a start under your belt, where do you go from here?

"I really don't think I'm going to change anything. Unfortunately, we lost today and we have to go and watch some tape and make some corrections and see how we can get better."

What was the most difficult thing for you out there today?

"I don't think there was anything in particular. They are a great defense. They have great players. And when they have great players across the board, it's difficult to make plays and unfortunately we didn't get any."

Was it more difficult starting than coming in at halftime like you have?

"No, not at all."

Did you have more family and friends here than normal for this game?

"It was really about the same. It hasn't changed much."

Could you talk about that first drive in the third quarter?

"It was a short-lived drive but, obviously, we didn't see it going that way. Those things happen in football. We needed to recover and on the drive after that, we didn't."

Senior Defensive Lineman Trevor Laws

Pete Carroll said you could see this coming a couple of years ago with your original senior class with all those talented guys leaving at the same time. Looking down the road two years from now, is there a high ceiling for these younger guys?

"I look down and I see potential from all the guys. One of the things I try to do is teach them to play well. This is my school and I do want to see us do well in the future. I'm excited to see how they do the next few years with all the young talent on our team. It's going to be exciting."

Do you guys have to win the next four games to salvage the season?

"Well, I'll never be satisfied with this season whether we win four games or not. Personally, our team, that is one of our goals and we want to reach that goal if we can."

Does it hurt that you can't go to a bowl game?

"It hurts; it hurts a lot. That's what we play for at Notre Dame is the bowl games because we're not in a conference. So it hurts that we're not bowl-eligible now. There are other things to play for like teammates and family."

Do you feel like you guys should have got more fired up at times? You guys always seem so calm in here. Do you feel like somebody should have popped off a little bit more and kind of challenged people?

"I don't know; we are who we are and we play how we play. People get fired up and every time we go out on the field, our team is playing as hard as we can. People say that we're not fired up, but every time we go out on the field, I'm pumped up and ready to go. So I really don't think that's true."

What is your assessment of the game?

"They dominated us pretty much. It's tough. What can you really say when you lose 38-0. We've set our goals to win these last four games and we just have to play better."

Senior Defensive Back Tom Zbikowski

Tom, where do you go from here?

"We've got the bye week coming up and we just have to do everything we can to beat Navy. We have to shift our focus on that."

It seemed like it was a pretty competitive game and then it got away from you. What happened?

"I'm not sure. We definitely have to go back and watch film and see exactly what happened. I think we just really got outplayed in the second half and we didn't make the plays to be competitive."

As a captain on this team, what do you tell the younger guys to give them hope that this is going to turn around?

"You just have to have pride in yourself and as long as there are games left on the schedule, you have to play 100 percent every game, no matter who the opponent is or what your record is. We represent Notre Dame and we have to do that to the best of our ability."

Even though you had a big loss today, do you think this team has been making strides defensively?

"Definitely, we have become better as a team each week. Hard work and practice has definitely been paying off. We just have to get back and get ready for Navy and, obviously, any loss is tough. The way we lost today, and being at home and playing Southern Cal, doesn't help at all."

Senior Tight End John Carlson

Where do you go from here?

"I think first and foremost we need improvement. We have a little time here to make some adjustments and move forward and do what we can to beat Navy."

Does this loss at this point in the season feel the same as the loss to Georgia Tech in the first game of the season?

"I will never accept or get used to losing. This is as disappointing a loss as I have ever experienced."

When you guys were going down for that last series, were you hoping to at least get a score to keep that shutout off your backs?

"Of course we wanted to score points. It's not a goal of ours to go scoreless in a game. It's disappointing that we played so poorly offensively and, yes, it would have been nice to have scored at the end."

Have you ever faced defenders who closed as well as they did?

"I can't say enough good things about their defense. They were big, fast, strong, and athletic. And they play hard. So hats off to them."

How hard is this loss by a score of 38-0 after you guys seemed to be making some improvement?

"It's really disappointing and I'm starting to sound like a broken record. But we understand that it is not acceptable to play the way we did today. I do feel in recent weeks we have made some strides and improvement. They have a great defense and they played well. I have to give them credit."

Senior Linebacker Maurice Crum

Do you feel it's good that you have a bye week coming up?

"Yeah, we have some stuff that we have to work on. We need to get better and get back to basics."

How do you handle emotionally the way the season is going?

"You have to look at each other and play for the hundred guys in the locker room that come to work every day and play for their fans who are going to be here no matter what; and play for the University. We still have to represent Notre Dame."

Do you think some of the guys might not have much left to invest in the season?

"No, I don't believe we have those kinds of guys on the team. Everybody is going to show up and do what is expected of them."

Are you shocked at today's results when two weeks ago it seemed like you guys had made lots of improvement?

"It's always tough. You never expect what happened today to happen."

Do you feel like they were 38 points better than you guys?

"It's tough to say until you see the tape, but they made the plays to get the points."

Do you feel like the progress you made the last few weeks is gone now?

"Whatever happens in the past, we have to put behind us. We are definitely ready to build and try to get better."

Do you have to win out these next four games to get this team started in the right direction next year?

"Definitely, the ultimate goal is to win, regardless of the situation, regardless of the record. That's what we play for, that's what we practice for, and that's what we expect."

Junior Defensive Back David Bruton

How big was it not to get points after the blocked punt?

"You know the job is to get points when you're on offense. As a defense, you just have to answer the call, whatever. Of course, it's going to be deflating when momentum has just shifted to your favor. And then it shifts away and we just have to go out there and make another big play."

Are you glad that there's a bye week coming up?

"This was a tough one emotionally, it's USC. We feel like we could have put up a better fight and we weren't able to show it."

You guys seemed to have been making some progress in the past few weeks and then you had a back-slide today. How frustrating is this?

"Yes, it is frustrating knowing that we were making great strides and making plays and becoming more cohesive as a unit. It's something you wouldn't expect and shouldn't allow going against such a good team, such a big team, and such a great rivalry. It's just tough."

Any explanations for that?

"I really couldn't answer that one."

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