Player Quotes

Several of the Irish players met with the media following the decisive victory over the Michigan Wolverines. Irish Eyes was there to report their comments.

Sophomore Receiver Golden Tate

How much harder is it to catch the ball when it is raining that hard?

"It's tough. It's more than catching it; you've got to stop it first then worry about catching it. For the most part, we didn't have to worry about catching balls because of the rain and we had the lead. So we just ran the ball."

Coach Weis says your confidence isn't hurting at all. You are a legend in your own mind. Is that right?

"I just go to practice and work hard and trust my ability to play, and I trust Jimmy to get me the ball and he got me the ball this week."

How was your confidence in that first half when you had 116 yards?

"Absolutely, I felt like I had a chance with any defensive back so I took advantage of it."

How big is this win for you guys?

"It's a great win. It's always good to beat Michigan. With the rivalry and everything, it's a great feeling."

Have you been here long enough to realize how sweet it is to beat a rival like Michigan?

"After today, yes, the history behind it even makes it better."

Junior Offensive Lineman Eric Olsen

How much of a confidence-builder was it to score quickly from the red zone?

"One-hundred percent. Being able to score in the red zone on those two short fields that we had right off the bat, it just put them under from the beginning and any time you get on top of a team like that, it's a great thing to just keep it going and keep the pressure on and keep your foot on their throat."

Was this a statement game?

"Definitely, especially after last year we had something to prove. We came out and tried to do it against San Diego State but we were a little rusty and had to knock the rust off. But I think today we really proved something."

Where would you say the confidence level of the offensive line is now?

"Definitely up. With Terrence Taylor and Will Johnson inside they're great players, there's no doubt about it. I would say we held our own against them to say the least. That's definitely a confidence-builder. You know those guys will rank up high on the draft board and anytime you can go out there and win a game 35 to 17, the offensive line has to be a big part of it to put 35 points up. To put those many points up against those players, it's definitely a confidence-builder."

Special Teams Player Mike Anello

I noticed one time they had a double-team on you. Has that been happening much?

"The problem with that is I was jogging out and as I was jogging out I felt my left calf cramp up a little bit. So as soon as I got off the line both calves cramped up and I don't know if you saw me run off the field but I was hobbling off. They were still cramping a little bit but I was able to work them off and get back out there for kickoffs and punts."

Do you get double-teamed a lot now?

"That was actually the first time this year. Last year I got double-teamed against Michigan almost every time down there."

What is making you so successful?

"Just running out there and trying to get the guy. There's nothing really to it. I've been lucky they have put me in the right place at the right time so it has worked out well."

What happened on that fumbled kickoff?

"I just saw the ball on the ground. As soon as I saw that, I just came in as hard as I could; just dove and it ended up perfectly in my arms. I was laying at the bottom of the pile and I had two arms covering it. And everybody had cleared off me and I was just waiting for the refs to say, ‘Okay, you can get up. It's Notre Dame's ball.' I was still sitting there curled up in a ball. He told me to stand up and put the ball up."

Sophomore Quarterback Jimmy Clausen

Do you feel like you guys had everything working right today?

"We felt good today, not just offensively but special teams and defensively. We felt strong throughout the 60 minutes that we played."

How about the opportunities just finding fumbles and getting the ball back?

"That's why you play the game of football. It's just not a 30-minute game; it's a 60-minute game. You have to take each play one at a time and play your best at each and every play."

How much did the fourth quarter last week help you with the quick start today?

"I think it was huge. I think last week in the fourth quarter when David (Bruton) and Kyle (McCarthy) got that fumble, that started the season for us. I think we just moved forward from that play and we're just going to keep on going."

It seems like your confidence and play is growing greatly. How would you assess it?

"It's just not me being confident; it's the offensive line being confident, the wide receivers, the tight ends, backs, myself. This team is really confident. We just have to go out each and every day and keep working hard and we just have to move on to the next game. Michigan State's next. We're going to celebrate this win tonight and get ready for Michigan State on Monday."

You said early on that your mental ability compared to last year, there's a huge difference. Where do you think the feeling is for this team from the fans and from everyone who has seen this confidence?

"Like me and David said last week or two weeks ago, the sky is the limit for this team. We've just got to keep going out to practice every day and working hard. We can't take a day off. We have to work hard to get better and get ready to go on Saturdays."

Senior Defensive Back David Bruton

Do you feel like you should have scored on that interception?

"There's no doubt in my mind I should have scored (laughing) but, you know, things happen."

Is there a knack for making plays inside the five-yard line?

"I have no idea where it comes from. It's practicing what we preach. It starts in wet conditions, ripping at the ball. Coach Brown and everybody says to just rip at it and just do what we do in practice. In the wet conditions, I had a chance to get my arm on the ball and tugged on it just before it hit the ground."

Sam McGuffie seemed pretty tough to bring down. He was bouncing off you guys out there. How difficult is he to bring down?

"He's a tough runner. He runs hard and puts forth a lot of effort. I take my hat off to him but we as a defense just have to wrap up. There's no excuse for any back to be bouncing off us; we just have to wrap up."

Last year, it seems like the turnovers went against you. Do you feel like it's sort of catching up this year?

"We make things happen. We're not waiting for it to happen our way. We have to put forth the effort. If we want it done, we have to do it ourselves."

Talk about the play-making abilities of Brian Smith?

"He's always around the ball. He's come a long way from a young guy. He's someone I can talk to as a man. He knows what he's doing. He looks them in the eyes and he sees no way for them to stop us. He's just a strong mental individual."

Sophomore Linebacker Brian Smith

You probably should have had a touchdown last week too, right?

"Last week was last week, but I wish I would have had two touchdowns under my name. As long as we can get the W at the end of the day, I'm happy."

How huge was it getting those 21 points off of turnovers?

"Coach Weis made the emphasis before the game that it was going to be a game of turnovers and field position. So we go out there as a defense and we always want to set the bar at three. We want to get at least three and then more to set up scores or even score ourselves. Every time we step out on the field, we are trying to take the ball away as many times as we can."

Do you feel like your play out there today said to hell with Michigan?

"It did. I was kind of irritated. I was stretching in the end zone before we all came out as a team. I'm in shorts and everything and I think it was their running-back coach came over and he said, ‘You've got to get off the end zone.' I said, ‘What are you talking about, I stretch here every week. What're you guys doing coming over here?' They say like it's NCAA rules. So I finished my routine right in the middle of them stretching. I wasn't going to move for Michigan. It was like them coming into my house and saying, ‘Let me watch your TV, you go to your room.' I'm not going to let that happen so I was kind of irritated. I was pumped up for the rest of the game because of that."

How does this team move forward? How do you take it to the next level?

"Just keep the momentum going and keep putting together solid days of practice. If we have a down day of practice, it's like a step backwards. We want to keep the practice tempo up and come out every day playing like a championship team."

Sophomore Running Back Robert Hughes

Talk about the evolution of Golden Tate from last year to this year?

"He has turned it around and everything is working out the better for him. Jimmy is throwing the ball well. The offensive line is protecting and he's catching the ball and getting yards after the catch and that's what we are expecting from him - big plays."

Is this a little bit different beating Michigan today?

"It feels great. Anytime you get a win, it's great. Last week felt great even though it wasn't as big a win as this week. But you feel good when you're going against a rival and you beat them."

Did the emotional pump that Coach Weis gave you guys before you came out make a huge difference – did that statement hold true for you too?

"We were pretty much pumped up. I was pretty much pumped up in the hotel last night. I knew it was Michigan and that's enough to be said."

How do you think having the 1988 team here helped?

"They helped pretty well. At the pep rally you see the guys that were on a National Championship team and they were fired up. They actually said they wanted to get out there and play Michigan. It was a great feeling having those guys around."

What was it like to get that first touchdown?

"It felt really well knowing that we went to the goal-line package and we scored on the first play and it felt well."

How much does it help the confidence level not turning the ball over in those extreme conditions?

"We work on ball-security every time. The coaches always say, ‘Protect the ball. Protect the ball,' and that has been a strong emphasis on our part. When it's raining and muddy like this, you have to protect the ball and we did." Top Stories