Nov. 3, 2007
Q. Can you talk about your decision not to kick what could have been a winning field goal at the end of regulation, 41 yards?
COACH WEIS: It was going against the wind and in practice, he couldn't make it from there. That's why we didn't kick it from there. That was a pretty simple one. We had a position on the field that we had to get to going into the wind. And we hadn't gotten there yet.
Q. How close did you need to be?
COACH WEIS: About four more yards. We go by what we see, and the wind factors in. When you get to that, we weren't at that spot. That's what we did.
Q. Fourth and 15, first quarter, the fake field goal. Do you want to talk about that?
COACH WEIS: We had put that in situationally on that same spot. Once again, you know, we were having trouble kicking that way in pregame. We really had trouble kicking into the wind in pregame. We felt that if we got the ball the first time on left hash, we had the one way. We were trying to get it in there. If we couldn't, at least we could pin them back and not give them field position. We figured maybe we could get ten yards if we didn't make it and get them down to the 10 yard line and actually got the ball to the 15. I'd rather, the way Navy plays, to have them play on a long field than play on a short field.
Q. What did you see when you went in the locker room today?
COACH WEIS: Obviously, they are very disappointed. It has been an emotional week. We've had this emotional roller coaster you know with Robert's brother and everything. Getting them ready to play, I thought that they were ready to play. Obviously, Navy made one more play than we did. They were really down because I really think more than anything else in a game sometimes you like to even though you don't dedicate a game to somebody, I think you would like to sit there and win the game, you know, for Robert as much as anyone else.
Q. What do you do now?
How do you keep them going, keep them up?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think that the first thing we talked about was, you know, we're going to go ahead and watch each guy individually and how each guy individually played so we can make a critical evaluation of how they played. I don't mean just as the team, but offense or defense or as special teams. And sit there and keep on pushing each guy to do be the best you can. Hey, there is a lot of good things that came out of the game. Losing is never a good thing but there are a lot of good things that came out of the game. We haven't been running the football. We ran the football. There's I thought James and Armando both had good days at the office. Just wasn't enough.
Q. Your guys rallied around Robert yesterday. They rallied around him after he scored a touchdown. What did they show you, I guess, as men, not just football players, in that situation?
COACH WEIS: Well, I had told them and, you know, Coach Haywood had gone to Travis to talk to him about it. I told him the first time we went down the goal line, I wanted to give the ball to Robert. I said I was going to give it to him every play whether we scored or not. He was going to get it every play until he got it in the end zone. Fortunately, he got it in on the first one. I think that was a pretty emotional time for both Robert and for the team. When I got back a couple minutes later, I saw him on the sideline. He had that far away those far away eyes. You could see at the time he had just scored a touchdown, but he really wasn't too much thinking about anything other than his brother.
Q. You talked about handling situations as a father would earlier in the year. Was that the situation you were thrust into with Robert all week and today and just monitoring what he has been through?
COACH WEIS: I think that it has been a tough week for Robert's whole family. Obviously, Robert and his whole family because our team is a very close knit team, I think that they feel his pain and I think that they really feel bad about the outcome of this game and not just for Notre Dame, not just for the team but I think they feel bad personally for Robert.
Q. You're playing another option type team next week. How would you evaluate how your defense did against this one?
COACH WEIS: First of all, Air Force, I haven't studied them a whole bunch but they are a different type of team than Navy is now. You know, I think that obviously Navy is a grind them out team, two, two, two, two seven. It is just go, go, go and everything ends up changing. Now, I think we made some plays. We made enough plays to put us in position to win the game, okay?
But I think that at the end of the day when the game's played in the 40s, we just didn't make enough plays to win the game.
Q. There was a point it looked like Jimmy was warming up on the sidelines. How close were you to going with him, and do you have another evaluation to make this week?
COACH WEIS: Well, the intent in this game was to go ahead and was to play both quarterbacks in the game, but there never was an ebb and flow and it was not to play him as a replacement. It was, like, to substitute almost like the running back position. That was the intent in the game. But there was never an ebb and flow in the game where making the situation was very practical. You know, so I think that there had to be a natural time to do that. Like, if we would have ever got in the situation where we were up two scores what I didn't want to do was replace Evan. Evan understood this, and Jimmy understood this, that this was a possibility that we were going to do that. But it never the right situation to go ahead and make a switch never came about.
Q. Following up on that, as you go into this week, do you still give Evan most of the reps?
Do you look at it first before you commit to that?
COACH WEIS: We're going to continue like we did this week, and I will have to wait and see the tape. I imagine Evan will still get more. Jimmy is getting healthier. I'm not saying he was once again, he wasn't injured but he has been hurting. And he's getting better and better and closer and closer. And I think that Jimmy will continue to get more reps as well.
Q. I have to ask a little bit of a big picture question. People in New England who have seen your offenses obviously with the Patriots and what you did here in the first two years are puzzled, shall we say, as to why you're in the situation you're in. What could we say to them as to why you're in this position?
COACH WEIS: Jim, not to be evasive, it is too broad a question at this time right now because there's a whole litany of things I could talk about. The bottom line is we've tried to do a number of different things this year either by scheme, personnel group, formation, motion and have basically been inconsistent on offense. That's probably the best word I could say. And I can sit there and make excuses for all for lack of production. But today there's at least for example, in the running game, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Today was a day where you can sit there and say, okay, we can take and run the football. I think the sooner we start resolving problems, the better off we're going to be in the big picture.
Q. Delaware put up a lot of yards on these guys.
COACH WEIS: It was a different game. You look at the first half, we had the ball four times and scored three touchdowns. So, I mean, in the second half they got the ball first and used eight minutes. It was more than eight minutes. We got the ball back with six and change. You have got guys sitting on the bench what felt like an eternity before you get out there. And we go down and drive the ball down the field and end up dropping a touchdown pass and missing a field goal. But that's the whole third quarter, the way I remember it. Did we only have one possession in the third quarter?
Q. Clearly, offensively that's a very good football team. But defensively, I think they only had five sacks all year.
COACH WEIS: That's the number that's on the sheet right here. I will have to go back and look at it. Sacks happen for a different reason. One time we just blew it. I don't know if people got run out. I will have to wait and go see it right there. The bottom line is you put yourself in the position there is only a couple plays that I was really dissatisfied on offense for the day to tell you truth. You can talk about the two point play, but the strip sack fumble for the touchdown, obviously, was one play that sticks out for me. You know, we dropped a touchdown pass. That's another play that sticks out for me. But for most of the day, moving the ball was not the issue today.
Q. You've been to three or four Super Bowls before he came here. Two straight BCS bowls. This is so different for you. How hard is this for you to deal with on a personal level?
COACH WEIS: Personal doesn't really make a difference. I think that my job is to keep moving the team forward and talk about the future of Notre Dame football. That's my job. My job is to prepare the team on a weekly basis to try to win that game and develop the team and develop the individuals so that the program can move in the right direction. I think that's where we're going to head.
Q. Talk about the third overtime there, the wheel route there that they got and then their two points and your decision.
COACH WEIS: My decision?
What decision are we talking about?
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH WEIS: We have been practicing that play for six weeks. That's the play we were going to call we have plays that you run from the three versus plays you run from the 1 1/2. So after the pass interference, you now went to a goal line play versus a two point designed two point play you have been running for quite some time. So I mean, it is one of those wins, they don't hit them, we probably catch the ball and it is a two point play. If they do hit him, we get another shot and we go to a play with a little different look at it but the same play. We have been running the ball effectively all day from a different look, and they end up stopping us. To Navy's credit, they made one more play than we did.
Q. Did any of Robert's family make it in today?
COACH WEIS: As a matter of fact, they did. From what I understand, his mother and his sister and his uncle there was a fourth person. They get four. I am pretty sure they came down. They were here for the game. I know that's who was down there and talking to I don't know if it was Robert or his uncle, but I knew they were coming down here today. He had gotten back late last night.
Q. The significance of losing the streak being a part of it
COACH WEIS: Time out, time out, time out. Streak doesn't mean anything to me. I mean, this is we lost to Navy. That's who we lost to. Next year we will play Navy again. I mean, the only streak is in your eyes. It is really not in the player's eye. The streak they are worrying about is how many games how many games they lost on the road, at home. That's what they are worrying about. How many games we played since UCLA when last we won. That's what they are worrying about. They are worrying about the here and now. These kids are 17. Do you think they're worrying about 43 years?
They are worrying about right now. They would like to beat Air Force. I think that's the streak they would like to beat on.
Q. Robert's scope, do you think it has an impact that you couldn't control?
COACH WEIS: Enlighten me on what you are really getting at. Maybe I am just dumb here.
Q. The broader impact of being a part of Notre Dame history rewritten.
COACH WEIS: To me that was a loss. That's the part of history we just had. We just lost to Navy. That's who we lost to. I mean, you can write whatever you want. I'm not a big excuse maker. To me, we lost by two points to a team in triple overtime. It was an hell of a game, and Navy had one more play than we did. You want to know something?
It is really that simple for me.
Q. In terms of because it was a tough game and a tough loss, does this game approach sort of the low point of the season, given obviously that you were favorites going in?
COACH WEIS: Low point is when you get beat 38 0. That's a low point. A low point is when the game is going okay and one team is pulling away from you and they're making plays and you're not making plays. This was a the low point for me is the fact that we didn't win the game and I wanted Robert Hughes to be standing up on that chair singing the fight song in the locker room. You want to know what's really important to me?
That's what's really important to me. What you look at as important is different than me. I wanted that Number 33 to be standing on that stool in the locker room singing a fight song so all of his teammates could be sitting there hugging him. That was really the most important thing to me today and that didn't that wasn't able to happen. And to me that's what's really important. So it is a little different for me because I look at it personally as well as professionally.
Q. I think a lot of Notre Dame nation was kind of looking I think the team somewhat, too. This was kind of a four game sort of second season, so to speak. Do you reevaluate the goals now through the last three?
Does anything change for you?
COACH WEIS: Now it is three games. One's gone. Now you evaluate each person individually like we had talked about and then you move on the Air Force. That's what you do. Hey, no one wants to lose and no one wants to worry about as a coach being the guy that's got to figure out a way to get them up for the next game. Okay, no one wants to do that, but that's what we do. We do that for a living. That's what we do.
Notre Dame Player Quotes
On matching up with Navy's option offense...
"That's what they've been doing all season to score that many points. They did a good job making adjustments (to our defense) and things like that."
Senior TE John Carlson
On Robert Hughes' touchdown...
"I don't know what was going through his head. I'm sure he had a lot of thoughts running through his head, but I'm happy for him, happy for his family and happy for Tony."
On if it's the toughest one to lose...
"It's never easy to lose. To say that this loss is any easier than a 38-0 loss-they both count the same. We made some plays on both sides of the ball and on special teams tonight, but unfortunately for us Navy made more plays. It's discouraging."
On the fourth-down play...
"With the play call I had, I had the in route and I knew that obviously I had to get to the first down marker. Evan gave me a ball that I could go up and catch and I went up and caught it. That's not very descriptive, I know, but that's the way it happened. It happened so fast, it's not like you plan that out.
Junior QB Evan Sharpley
On his thoughts on the streak...
"We're not worrying about that. Now our focus is on Air Force. We didn't get a win today so we have to try to move forward and try to get a win next week."
On the failed two-point conversion...
"They made a good play and they made one more good play than we did. That's what happens in football and it's unfortunate that that's how it ended up."
On thinking if he made enough plays to win the game...
"I thought we were in a position to win, but we came away one play short. That's how it ends up sometimes."
On consistently coming up short and if it makes the loss tougher...
"I don't think losing is any easier or tougher. It's still a loss and it's still frustrating. We want to win and that didn't happen."
Senior center John Sullivan
On if it's a tougher loss than usual...
"We're not focused on what's happened in the past between the two teams. Today was tough because today was another loss. All the losses were tough, but I'm proud of our team. We fought hard and played hard until the very last play and we just came up one play short.
On if it's easier losing when it's close, rather than when it's a blowout...
"Competitive games are always fun. Unfortunately you come up a little short sometimes. That's what happened today, but being in a competitive game-back and forth, the way the football game was played-it was a lot of fun.
On if he knows what happened on the two-point conversion play...
"No. I'll see tomorrow on tape."
On seeing Navy celebrating at the end...
"Obviously disappointed. We'd like to win every game, but hats off to them. They made one more play than we did and they played hard all day long. They're a great football team."
Sophomore OT Sam Young
On handling the loss to Navy...
"It's not easy. Anytime you have adversity, you've got to go into the next week and regroup and stop the bleeding and keep plugging it. No one likes to lose. We've just got to keep plugging away at it."
On Navy's defensive line and its pass rush...
"They did a good job of pressuring us and we made some mistakes, so I've got to tip my hat to them for making those plays."
On what he has learned during the season as a veteran on the offensive line...
"You've got to learn to push through adversity. It's hard to know exactly what the team feels, but each day you have to come out like it's a whole new ballgame. You've just to keep plugging away like it's a whole new ballgame."
Senior SS Tom Zbikowski
On his initial feelings when thinking about the loss to Navy...
"They made one more play than we did."
On Navy's running game...
"That's their offense. They've been putting up points like that no matter who they're playing. Obviously, I can say it again; it came down to them making one more play (than we did). We had the opportunity to make that play, too.
On defending the pass during the third overtime period...
"That's part of their offense. They're going to run it, run it, run it, then hit you with a big play on a pass like that."
On Notre Dame's winning streak over Navy coming to an end...
"It's another loss (for Notre Dame). I don't care about the streak. We lost today and that's all that matters."
On stopping Navy on its last offensive possession at the end of regulation...
"We tightened down and got a good play out of Darrin (Walls). Anytime you can get them in third-and-long or second-and-long, it kind of takes them out of their comfort zone."
Q. Three overtimes. Lots of plays, lots of scoring. What's your take?
James Aldridge: It was kind of special to be a part of something like that. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world. Always a special team.
Q.Can you talk about your day a little bit?
James Aldridge: I just wanted to go in and run hard as much as I can, do as much as I can to help the team.
Q.What about from a teammate's standpoint with all that's going on with Robert Hughes?
James Aldridge: You got to be there for any support that he needs, any moral support, anything. There is only so much you can do. But the stuff that we need to do with Rob or anything he needs, we are there for him.
Q.How about when he got in the end zone there?
James Aldridge: That was a special time. I think that he really needed that. I'm glad. I'm glad for him. I'm very happy for him.
Q.Can you talk about the emotions?
James Aldridge: They ended up making one more play than we did. There is nothing we can do about it now. It is in the past. We have to focus on Air Force now.
Q.Coach Weis says you don't think about the streak at all. As a player, do you pay any attention to the streak?
James Aldridge: I got interviewed earlier this week, and you were talking about the streak. It is all the same for me, it is just another game. I wasn't even around, you know, when this team first started. So this is my second time playing against Navy, and I'm focused on this time playing against Navy, not a big streak or anything.
Q.From an individual standpoint, this was obviously your best game. Do you feel like you are hitting your stride now?
James Aldridge: I am just going in and running hard. I am trusting in my linemen, trusting they open up some holes and take advantage of the situation. It is an opportunity game and get some yards and take advantage of it.
Q.Coach said one of the pluses of the game was the fact that the running game was so effective today.
James Aldridge: All the running backs really took advantage of any situation that was presented to them. I'm happy as a running back; and as a running back core, I think we had a good day. Obviously, it wasn't good enough.
Q.How did you feel out there, 100% with your ankle?
James Aldridge: I was able to make the same cuts I always was. It is going to be a little sore because it is a sprained ankle.
Q.Keeping up the morale of the team, what kind of season have you guys had?
James Aldridge: I think it is much more easier to keep the morale up when you focus on each week instead of worrying about what happened in the past. If you think of each week like a new week, it won't be a problem keeping up the morale of the team.
Q.You go into it with the attitude like
James Aldridge: It is a brand new week.
Q.Is this the kind of play we will see when you are healthy? You were very productive today.
James Aldridge: I just wanted to take advantage of it. I can stay healthy and keep taking advantage of any opportunities I have.
Q.You've gone through a lot of adversity with the injuries, all the way back to your junior year in high school in that Penn game. Do you feel like you are pretty close to 100% now?
James Aldridge: I feel like I am. I think, you know, I pretty much get to the point where I can just get better with experience really.
Q.It is easy to say you are going to start a new week. You said that probably eight or nine weeks in a row. What's the one thing you know for sure you have to do so it feels like a new week? You as an individual and then take it to the team.
James Aldridge: Just really not even talking about what happened in the past and getting everybody in the mind set for what's right ahead of us, that's the most important thing, I think.
Q.You may not want to talk about the streak but the college football fans, this is a special day because Notre Dame and Navy mean the names themselves mean something. Did it make you feel better to see Navy come over and stand for your alma mater?
James Aldridge: They came and stood with us?
Q.Did you not know that?
James Aldridge: I didn't even look behind us.
Q.And their coaches were very adamant that they come back over. You guys knew you were going to do that because that's Coach Weis' respect for the Academy.
James Aldridge: Yeah. That just shows what kind of people Notre Dame and Navy, the characteristics that we have for one another. It just seems like everybody it is besides sports. We care about each other.
Q.It is a little tougher to do that after a tough loss like that, but do you feel good about giving them their respect when you went over to their side of the field?
James Aldridge: You have to. You have no other choice. They played a good game. You have to pay respects, respect for the things they do.
Q.I would like to hear a little bit about how the Notre Dame family of players rallied around Robert Hughes because it is bigger than football.
James Aldridge: Yeah, you got to understand that. This is just a game. There is a million other things that goes on in people's lives besides football, and that's what you got to realize. I think coming to a place like Notre Dame gives us that viewpoint times ten because it is those things that revolve around football.
Q.Do you feel like you were able to give Robert some comfort through the week and he felt the Notre Dame family, the extended family?
That has to make you feel good when you've lost someone.
James Aldridge: You have to be there whenever is necessary, for any moral, emotional support, that you are willing to give or that he needs. That's something that a lot of Notre Dame guys do. So especially to be a part of something like that, as everybody comes together and kind of spreads their love to another team, that's a good thing.
Q.Was there emotion after the touchdown, did he show it?
James Aldridge: He was just happy. You could see he was with something like that you are not going to not think about what happened, but, you know, he was happy and I can tell, you know, there was he was in a good mood but he still kind of thought about it. He got better. He is smiling now. Cracked a couple jokes with him in the shower.
Q.Did you go to the funeral?
James Aldridge: Yeah.
Q.What's that like for a guy like yourself? You're 20 years old to have to deal with a friend's tragedy like that, another young man.
James Aldridge: When you are at a funeral like that, you kind of put your put yourself in his shoes. I am thinking about I'm sorry for Rob, and I'm thinking about what if this happened to me, what if this happened to my little sister, that's when emotion kicks in. You see how hurt everybody is. It kind of gets to you. But you got to be there for moral support. Even if the whole team didn't travel down there, we would still found a way to get down there. It was good everybody was down there for the moral support.
Q.Do you get philosophical in those times? Do you start to think things like "Why would something like this happen"?
James Aldridge: I think you know I think everything happens for a reason. This type of time of adversity is going to build Rob's character and I really believe that.
Q.We all like him. He seems like a good kid and the few times we've gotten to meet him as teammates, does that make you fell more for him, knowing the kind of guy he is?
James Aldridge: I spent a lot of time with Rob. I know what type of guy he is. To see something like that happen is bad. I give him all my prayers to him that he is able to recover from something like this. You are going to have times like this in people's lives, and you can't avoid it. Things like this happen. You got to be there for the moral support.
Q.Does it force people to grow up in a certain way? Not just Robert but you guys to have to face this, go through this with somebody. Does it change you a little bit?
James Aldridge: It helps you to deal with adversity, to stay on your feet and mentally and emotionally, you never know what's going to happen.
Q.Does it give you perspective at all about football, what football means?
James Aldridge: It puts some perspective. There is way more things that matter besides football. This is just a game we play. There is people's lives out here that are at stake. You got to realize that. You got to put things in perspective. And put life first. Where football may fall into place after that, that's where it falls.
Q.You can give your all on Saturday and still know that, right?
James Aldridge: Right, right.
James Aldridge: You can only dwell on it for so long. You can't sit here and talk about Navy for the rest of the week. We got Air Force right in front of us. That's the thing about college football. You can't sit there and throw a pity party. Just got to get in and get back to work. Yeah, it is frustrating but we got to deal with it, get over it.
Q.You were kind of the first guy down after the game. What was that walk like after this loss?
James Aldridge: Obviously, you know, the students are going to be there. It never changes. No matter what, it just seems like the students are always there. To see that they're still there is good for moral support for the team, just to know that your fans are always going to be behind you.
Navy Head Coach Paul Johnson
COACH JOHNSON: Wow, what a game, huh? It had to be a great game for a fan to watch. It was back and forth and up and down. I'm just so happy for our players, especially our seniors because, you know, it is a big win for our program. It is a big win for the Academy, and I'm happy that I don't have to answer anything else about a streak every time we play.
So it's like but I thought that both teams played hard. And in the end, we just made one more play than they did, so it was an exciting game and we feel fortunate to have come out on the upper end.
Q. Coach, could you talk about the passing of the third overtime, calling a pass there.
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, well they started firing the corners. I mean, they were made some adjustments and they were going to, you know, stop the run.
I was really mad at myself at the end of regulation there because the pass we scored on in overtime, I was going to run on the first play. And just the way our season is going, with three minutes to go, I was thinking even if we hit the thing, it is stupid on my part, but I am thinking I wanted to take some time to get down there as opposed to hit a big play.
I didn't want to do it in a third down or whatever. But I felt like it was there because in the second overtime, you know, they hit us on the option. They fired the corner. And if you're going to do that you can't fire the corner and cover the wheel. So, you know, and Kaipo did a nice job finding him and Reggie did a great job catching the ball.
Q. Paul, were you surprised on Notre Dame's real last possession of regulation that they didn't attempt a field goal?
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, a little bit, but I don't know his team. He knows his kickers and that kind of thing, and I guess the kicker had been struggling. I know he had been from film.
I think probably they thought they were going to get it a little closer. I tell you what, I told Charlie after the game to go for it on fourth and 14 from his own 30 yard line with about seven minutes was a gutsy call. And we blitzed and get a guy free, and we just can't get the quarterback down. And they take it down and score. So he made some good calls.
Q. I don't know if this has even processed for you yet, but just your emotion?
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, it's processed for me. It is a big win. I'm excited for our players and, you know, I think as a football coach, what happens is you inevitably, when you win, you never enjoy it as much as when you beat yourself up when you lose. I find myself doing that all the time and, you know, we had a celebration in the locker room and I told our guys we got to come back Monday and get ready for next week.
And that's kind of the way it is. I'm sure that when we have time to sit back and reflect on it a little bit, you know, maybe it will be a bigger deal. But right now I'm just kind of I was really kind of into the game and just kind of numb that it's over.
Q. Coach, this is your third overtime game of the year. Did that help you any, do you think?
COACH JOHNSON: It probably didn't hurt. But, you know, it's the first overtime game we played this year only lasted one play for us. We fumbled on the first play, so ...
It was interesting. And, you know, I think it is a credit to our kids that they did what they had to. You know, our kicker was struggling a little bit, and, you know, I think he showed a lot of fortitude and a lot of gust to go out there and make that field goal in what was it?
the third overtime and second overtime. You know, so it was it was just a neat game.
Q. Coach, what did you tell the defense after the pass interference call to kind of regroup for that last play?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, the same thing we've been telling them, is they were going to run the bell. We were selling out. We were bringing all 11. We just crashed.
And it's never in there until it's in there. And there is two or three times we felt like we hit the guy in the back field; but to his credit, he would break a tackle or squirm free or whatever. Got to keep playing. They got to get it in there.
Q. During the week, you said that the streak didn't mean as much inside the team as it did to the media and the fans and the people outside the program. Do you revisit that?
COACH JOHNSON: I still stand by that. These guys were our senior class was 0 3 against Notre Dame. I don't think you can give them credit for what happened from 1963 on. I know I don't want any credit for it.
So it is like, you know, each team is its own. You know, I guess, this is my sixth time playing Notre Dame as a head coach at Navy and three of them have gone down to about like this. Eventually, if they keep going like this, law of averages, you're going to get one and today was our day.
Q. Paul, any type of pregame speech?
And then what did you say to them after the game?
COACH JOHNSON: The only thing that I told them today, I said when we had our team meeting before we left, I said there's three factors in winning the game today. Number one, you got to believe that you can win. Number two, you got to believe that you can win. And number three, you got to believe that you can win.
And that was pretty much it. And at half time, we made a bone head play right before half time and we came in and we talked and made a couple of adjustments. And I asked them again, I said, "Do you believe you can win?
" I think they never gave up and always believed we could win the game. I think pregame speeches are probably overrated.
Q. And then afterwards, what was it like in there?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, it was exciting. I mean, it was like any game when you have a big win like that, an overtime would be. You know, those guys, for the senior class, that's going to be something, you know every time I have somebody from a class of '63 talk to me, "We're the last class to beat Notre Dame three times." I mean, that's what they would say. They can't say that anymore. They can't say they're the last class to beat Notre Dame. This class will have that option to be able to do that.
It's important for the seniors because this group has had a lot to do with us getting the football program turned over at Navy. They've done everything we've asked them to do. They've really bought in into everything I've asked them, and they play hard.
We might not be the biggest or the fastest, but they play with a lot of heart. They play really hard.
Q. Coach, can you talk about your quarterback today and just how he ran your offense so efficiently?
Only the one turnover. COACH JOHNSON: Right, and actually that was just kind of a fumble. I mean, you have to give Notre Dame some credit. They came up and knocked out Wright.
But Kaipo has done a great job all year in executing the offense and he made some plays, two point conversion. He toughed it out and got his pads down and got across the line. He gives us the chance to do some things because truth be told, we're not going to line up and block Notre Dame. They're a lot bigger than we are.
What we were able to do is not have to block them all. And you have to give him some credit for that. He would read his way out. There was two guys we didn't have to block.
Q. How important was it to stay in second and short and third and short the whole game instead of being second and 9 or second and 10?
COACH JOHNSON: It is real important, and that's why I call plays the way I do. There are probably some things we could have had in the passing game. There is no use to take a chance when you know you are going to have four downs to get I am not real smart in math, but three a pop will get you 10 four tries. And that's kind of the way we play and the way we have to play where we are.
Q. Coach, how hard is it to get a team to believe they can win when for more than 40 years they hadn't and last week you lost to Delaware?
And as a second part of that question, what is there about this Navy team that you were able to win?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, I think they believed that they were going to win. Like I said, this team hadn't lost these years. Delaware is a pretty good football team. Nobody might not know about them, but they got a pretty good quarterback that's going to get drafted in the first couple rounds. They got a tightend and some pretty good players. They got a pretty good offensive team.
And so, you know, we were disappointed we lost but we thought we could win. I mean, when we looked at the tape, we felt like we could win. We knew we would have to play well.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH JOHNSON: I don't think any Navy team I coached didn't come in here and think they couldn't win. Two times ago I believe they beat us on the last play of the game with a field goal. That group thought they could win. The team who came in here the last time and got beat pretty good thought they could win.
So I don't know that that's any different. I think every time our kids line up they think they can win. They believe in what we're doing, and I think they believe that if they play together as a team that they can overcome some of the deficiencies sometimes.
Q. Could you just talk a little bit about your defense coming up with some big plays today that you might not have seen too much of previously.
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I thought that they did a really good job. We got a couple stops. Coming into the game I felt like if we could get three stops, we could win the game. It was a really crazy game. We had the ball three times in the first half and I'm not sure that wasn't the way we needed to play to win the game. You know, we needed to And then when you can do that and you limit the possessions, then it makes a stop a big deal.
You know, if you play a game where there is eight or nine punts, one stop is not as big a deal. If you are playing in that kind of game, one stop is huge and, you know, the biggest play of the game was when they sacked the quarterback and (inaudible) picked the ball up and ran it in. You know, it was huge. We needed a break like that.
You know, we didn't get in the first half when the guy fumbled the kick off, the ball rolls around. It went right back to him, he did a nice job. If we get that ball, maybe we go in at half up 21 14. And then the game could have been a little bit different. So, you know, it just kind of evened out. We needed to catch a break and we did.
Q. Can you talk about that sequence of the pass interference call on the two point conversion.
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I was disappointed but, you know, I'm on the sidelines and that's what they pay the officials money for. He made the call. You got to move on.
Like I told our guys, okay, it was pass interference. They're not in there yet. Now we know they're going to run it. The ball's on the 1 1/2 yard line. If they throw it, they throw it. We know they are going to run it full out.
Come on, all of you, corners, safeties, everybody come get them. You know, we crashed and made the guy bounce and we had some guys coming over, and they kept him out.
So, you know, they weren't in there until they got in and that time they didn't get in.
Q. You mentioned the fourth and 14. Ram was the guy that missed the sack and then he makes that leap over the guy
COACH JOHNSON: Same blitz, same play. Right before the end of the game, Ram just made a great play. Leaped a running back and got a sack and really gave us the ball with a chance to maybe go down and do it.
I probably mismanaged that. But I didn't want to play for overtime. Wanted to move the ball. But that's not us. We're not a quick strike. We probably should have run the ball and played for overtime. It worked out.
Navy Player Quotes
Sophomore FB Kevin Campbell
On breaking the streak...
"It means a lot. It's been 40-odd years. That's a pretty big accomplishment."
On believing they could win...
"It started at practice, actually. All week, that was something that was in the back of our minds - preparing to win. I thought we did a good job of going out there and having composure and having faith."
On winning the game for others...
"It feels good, knowing that we lifted a weight for everybody."
Junior QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada
"It feels great to get and pull out the win. It was a hard-fought game that went down to the wire. Personally, I wouldn't have wanted it any different. I want that type of competition. We went out and executed our offense and the defense stepped up and made plays."
On ending the ND winning streak...
"It's an amazing feeling. I don't even know what to say right now, I'm still in awe. I hope I don't have the same question like Roger Staubach had to answer every year."
"It's not just a great win for the team, it's not just about stopping the streak. It's about recruiting now. Not just for football, not just for athletics but for the whole Academy. This opens up a lot of people's eyes that the Naval Academy is maybe a good choice. For the young kids out there who are thinking about joining the military, it's a great option. Number one, you get great leadership and you are around outstanding people. Number two, you can be set-up for the rest of your life."
On winning the game with a TD pass and a pass on the two-point conversation...
"Coach Johnson was pulling stuff out of his sleeves. It is crazy how he does it. He is an offensive genius and my hat goes off to him."
On the pass interference call in OT during the first two-point conversation...
"I'm thinking it is a pass-interference call and we made a bad play on defense, but they have to go out and do it again. All the pressure is on Notre Dame to perform."
On his mindset during the game by high-fiving ND players and pumping the crowd up...
"I just wanted to be out there having fun. We love this atmosphere. We love the Notre Dame fans and to have them pumped up, pumps us up. So that's just was I was trying to do."
Senior DE Chris Kuhar-Pitters
On Notre Dame as a team...
"This is a really challenging game. The best athletes are recruited from all around the country. They came out to play every snap. Those guys are great competitors. But the team came together and made plays when we had to make them."
On whether it was a "big game"...
"It's a big game. It's been 43 years. But it's emotional every time. Some people say, 'This is a big game,' but to us out there, every game is a big game. And the next one is always bigger than the one before."
Senior OLB Matt Wimsatt
On believing in themselves...
"We talked about it all week. It didn't just start at halftime. It's been all week."
"Everyone works just as hard as I do. There's a lot on the line. There's a lot on the line every time."