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    2009 Notre Dame Football Media Day - Player Quotes

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    FIGHTING IRISH

    FIGHTING IRISH

    Aug. 8, 2009

    Jimmy Clausen • Junior • Quarterback

    On how starting camp feels different as a junior...
    "Coming off the Hawai'i Bowl, we have a good taste in our mouth. In the off-season, this team worked really hard and we're just excited to get out there today."

    On Coach Weis' mantra of showing instead of talking...
    "We've got to go to work from day one. We can't take any days off during practice. We've got to get better each and every day. This team has taken that approach since the first day of summer and we've just got to keep it up until September 5th when we play Nevada."

    On how the team can get better this fall...
    "We just need to come out hot against Nevada. That is the biggest game on the schedule right now; it's the first game. We just have to keep working hard in practice and come out ready to go against Nevada. We need to build some team chemistry and go work hard."

    On how he can improve this fall...
    "There are a few things I want to work on. I've been working on pocket presence during spring practice. I want to take more of a leadership role with the team and be able to help everyone out to get on the right track against Nevada on September 5th."

    On what his leadership can mean to the team...
    "The biggest thing is to know what you're doing. You have to know the playbook and go out there each and every day and perform. Especially with the young guys, their heads are screaming with the playbook and installation today, so you just have to be able to help those guys out. When things were going bad the past few years, I got a little down, but Coach Weis says it the best -- `when things are good, you need to stay levelheaded; when things are bad, you need to stay levelheaded.'"

    On where he is this fall compared to his first two years...
    "There's no comparison. Coming in as a freshman, I was just trying to help the team. I had the surgery on my elbow and I really didn't know what I was doing with the playbook. Now I feel very comfortable with the playbook, the team and being in more of a leadership role."

     

     

    On the week-long visit of Golden Tate, Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph to his house this summer...
    "It was a fun time. Golden, Floyd and Kyle came out for about a week. We'd work out, starting at about eight or nine in the morning and work out all day. We'd go throw later at night. It was fun just to have a chance to bond with those three guys and hang out. We'd go to the beach and we'd work hard. I think it's going to help this team a lot. They know what I'm thinking on certain plays and certain routes and I know what they're thinking as well. We watched a lot of tape together and it was really good for us. Golden kept wanting to go back to In-N-Out Burger, but we wouldn't let him go too many times."

    On improving his touchdown-to-interception ratio...
    "The key is taking what the defense gives you. I'm watching more film, learning when there's not a throw, not to force it and check the ball down. I tried to take chances last year when the running game wasn't going so well, but the running game is going to go well this year so I won't have to take as many chances."

    On the desire of quarterbacks to take chances...
    "Every quarterback does (like to take chances). Every quarterback thinks they can make every throw in the world. You just have to take what the defense gives you."

    On the running game...
    "I've talked to a lot of the offensive line and the running backs and I think the key will be to be balanced. We have to be able to run the ball effectively and throw the ball effectively. Armando (Allen) did a great job in the summer and the offensive line did as well. They're ready to go."

    On the tandem of Golden Tate and Michael Floyd...
    "They're pretty good. They might be the best tandem in the country. They've worked really hard this off-season. They had a lot of things they wanted to work on, especially route running type stuff. They did a great job of coming out each and every day to work hard and get better. They're two really smart receivers. They know what to do in different coverages and with the different techniques corners use."

    On who he listens to for advice...
    "Whenever I talk to people, whether it's former players from Notre Dame, guys in the pros right now, my family or my brothers, they tell me different things and I try to pick out different things that will help me. I can't do everything that people say, but little things that are said that get my attention, I try to keep."

    On the pressure at Notre Dame and on Coach Weis...
    "There's always pressure at Notre Dame, but now that talk is over and we're just ready to get out there and start getting to work."

    On if the end of last season was difficult...
    "The very end of the season wasn't difficult at all playing in Hawai'i and getting a victory. We're just ready to go this year."

    On if the USC game at the end of last year made a difference in the Hawai'i Bowl...
    "I think so. Just going back and watching the tape helped us pick up on different things we did wrong and some of the things we did right. We tried to regain our composure and go out there (to Hawai'i) and have a good game and things worked out."

    On Golden Tate as an offensive weapon...
    "He's progressed quite a bit. He goes out there and works hard. He goes out there when no one is around and works on his hands, getting off the line of scrimmage, route running and different things like that. He can be as good a receiver as he wants to be. He's a ball hawk; whenever the ball is in the air he's going up and coming down with it. It's great to have a receiver like that who can go up and get the ball."

    Michael Floyd • Sophomore • Wide Receiver

    On getting ready for the season in the next two weeks...
    "I'm just approaching it with a positive attitude. It's a new season and we aren't doing a lot of talking. We're just ready to get out there and play and get the season underway."

    On the difference between talking and doing...
    "A lot of people can talk, but you have to go out there and back it up with your playing. The coaches have impressed upon us this year to show how good we are going to be and not talk about how good we are going to be. We are just trying to keep it quiet and go out and perform and let our actions on the field do the talking for us."

    On the strength of the receiving corps...
    "Just in my mind, I think we have a very strong receiving corps, but that is not the only thing we have going for us. We also have a lot of weapons on both sides of the ball and everyone will have to contribute and put forth their best effort this year for us to be as successful as we hope to be."

    On the experience of the team this year...
    "I think the experience we have gained over the last year as a team is really important because we are hoping to have a good year this year and we will need the experience on the field, as well as the experience off the field. We have a lot of people who know what they're doing on the field this season and have done it for several years, and that is an important asset for us this year."

    On the depth of the receiving corps...
    "Up and down the depth chart this year, we have great talent, but we all have something different we can bring to the table. I really like that because if someone is not playing well that particular day or if someone goes down, we have someone else that can step right in and produce for us. It is a nice thing to have this year."

    On building on his freshman season...
    "I will have to continue to do the things I have been doing, but I will just have to work harder. I did the summer lifting at home and worked hard on my own time. If you do not put in the work in the off-season, then you are not going to get any better. I just have to keep working hard and do the things I need to do to get better as a player."

    On the chemistry with Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate...
    "I think it helps that we have a good connection with one another. I think the trip we took out to Jimmy's this summer helped us tremendously with our chemistry and just getting back into the swing of things. It is important for us to have that chemistry because it helps so much on the field to know what he is going to do before he does it and vice versa for him. He knows how we run our routes and he knows what we are going to do before we do it."

    Kyle McCarthy • Senior (5th year) • Safety

    On the off-season football player progression...
    "We want to get on the field and see what each other can do. I think we had a great off-season and we are just excited to get out there and compete and try and get better."

    On the depth of the defensive secondary this season...
    "I think the defensive backs, speaking for those guys, I think the sky's the limit for us. But then again, we have to go out there and perform and show everyone that we have the ability. As far as talent-wise and experience-wise, we have all the talent in the world. But, of course, we have to go and prove it."

    On learning from the previous season's experiences...
    "It felt good to show people what I can do. I know I could perform at a high level. I'm excited to show people what I can do this year and keep proving people wrong."

    On the expected statistical production this year...
    "The biggest key of the success of the defense, obviously, is if the entire defense improved. I feel like I had a big part in that as well. Just being a leader out there, directing guys, and getting the defense better for one. From a personal standpoint, you always want to improve and get your personal numbers up. Sacks, big plays are the keys for not only me, but for the defense for this upcoming year."

    On the lack of "big plays" on the defensive side of the ball in the past...
    "We can practice that. Coach Tenuta and Coach Brown have a great scheme. We just have to believe in that. We have to practice making big plays and think about it. They will come, they will come in due time. It also depends on where the game is. With the schemes we have and the players we got, I think we're going to have some (big plays) this year."

    On the competition between the wide receivers and the defensive backs...
    "Obviously, the DB's (defensive backs) are better. I'm biased because I'm a defender. Obviously, both groups have tremendous talent. Like I said, the sky is the limit for both groups. You could have all the talent in the world, but if you don't prove it on Saturday, it doesn't mean squat. We will have to wait until the season, though, to see that. The competition we are going to have in practice is going to be tremendous with this talent. It has been the most we've had since I've been here, and this is my fifth year. So I can't wait for practice to get here and I'm sure we will be playing at a high tempo."

    Kerry Neal • Junior • Defensive End

    On the defense heading into the season...
    "It is time for us to go out there and prove ourselves, and go out there and play 100 percent and make ourselves better. I can't wait; the first game is a couple of weeks away and we kick off camp today, so it is going to be exciting."

    On why the team can be better...
    "We have a slew of talent at all the positions on the field and we have experience all over the field. We just have to get out there and play and show what we got on the field."

    On feeling pressure of maintaining your position...
    "That is good to have pressure because it brings out the best of everybody's game. You can't slack off; everyday you have to work hard."

    On Coach Tenuta calling the defensive plays...
    "It remains to be seen, but it will probably be more aggressive calls because that is Tenuta's mentality, but I think it is even better for the defense as a whole."

    On the team's attitude going into the season...
    "There is no need to talk about it because we all know what we need to do. We just have to get out there and play and practice hard and it starts today."

    Eric Olsen • Senior • Offensive Lineman

    On the restructuring of the offensive line...
    "Coach Weis' and Coach Verducci's philosophy is to always get the best five guys on the field, so in order to do so, we had to make a couple of moves as far as personnel on the line and switch a couple of positions. It ended up that I got the reps at center."

    On playing experience at center in the past...
    "This spring was the first time I've ever played center in a somewhat live setting. Obviously, it's practice and not a game, but that was the first time."

    On when the proposition to switch to center arose...
    "It was maybe around halfway through spring ball. Once the idea came out there with the possibility that it could be an end-all decision and a full-time move, it was something that was exciting to me."

    On reaction when approached about the position switch...
    "I was excited. I am very comfortable in the offense now as I go into my senior year. I have a great grip on everything and I feel like playing center is a good position for me personally, as a player and a person. I feel comfortable making the calls in the middle of the assignments. I was really excited and I'm excited now."

    On the difficulties associated with the center position...
    "There's definitely technical aspects that are difficult, but I feel that I have picked it up pretty quickly. As far as the calls and stuff, I like that responsibility and I am bracing that responsibility with having to do all of that stuff. I pretty much do all that mental thinking before the play anyway, so that's not that much of a change. As far as snapping the ball, that's just something I've been working on with Jimmy (Clausen) in the spring and all summer long and that's obviously coming together."

    On being referred to as the "heart and soul" of the offensive line by Charlie Weis...
    "Obviously that is a very nice thing for Coach to say about me. I embrace that and I want that responsibility and I feel like as a center you have even more of that responsibility on the line, being the anchor right in the middle."

    Kyle Rudolph • Sophomore • Tight End

    On his confidence level after seeing playing time a year ago...
    "I definitely feel a lot more confident. It's kind of a comfort thing. I kind of know what to expect. I'm more comfortable with the playbook and stuff like that. Now I'm not having to worry about what I'm doing every play. I can see what everybody else is doing and kind of get a feel for that."

    On the use of tight ends in Charlie Weis' offense...
    "That was definitely a big thing for me in deciding to come here. Watching Anthony (Fasano) and John (Carlson) get the ball and see multiple tight ends on the field at one time is exciting."

    On his camp goals...
    "For me, just day-in and day-out working on fine-tuning everything. Everyone knows the tight end has to be able to run, be able to block; they can't just be one-dimensional. So I'm just working on my route running, my blocking, and trying to get better at everything in general."

    On the Irish having something to prove...
    "I wouldn't say we have something to prove. I feel like now it's time for us to go out on the field. We can't just keep talking and telling people we're going to do something. It's time to go out on the field and start doing it."

    On his trip to Jimmy Clausen's home in California with Golden Tate and Michael Floyd...
    "It went well. We would go out, run routes and throw the ball around, try to get the timing down and just spend time together. We were getting to know each other even better. For us, it was like a vacation before coming back to school, while also getting some work in."

    On the team chemistry...
    "I think it's very important. I think there's great chemistry between the whole team, from the freshmen all the way up through the seniors. It was a great summer, as far as getting to know the new guys and the new guys getting to know us and building chemistry."

    Brian Smith • Junior • Linebacker

    On the summer workouts...
    "We got some extra work in. There is nothing wrong with getting some extra workouts. Armando (Allen), Duval (Kamara) and myself would go to the weight room and work with the trainers doing speed drills and lift weights. We had team workouts at four o'clock; in the past some of the team would work out in the morning and the other part would work out in the afternoon. It was a good thing because it built camaraderie and then you see everyone work hard and it makes everyone compete in the weight room."

    On his overall excitement for the first day of practice...
    "I have been up here all summer, I went home once over the Fourth of July weekend. I've been up here watching film on past games and I'm just ready to get back here. It has gone fast but it hasn't gone fast enough."

    On proving everything on the field...
    "I'm from (right next door to) the `Show-Me' state (Missouri). You have to show me and I have to show you at the same time and that is the theme among this team. Talk is cheap. We have to go show the world with our play on the field."

    On why the team is ready to show what they have on the field...
    "We are confident and we have knowledge and experience on both sides of the ball and we are ready. We are better, we are wiser, we are smarter and we are ready to play."

    On winning games for Coach Weis...
    "That is our head coach and we want to do the best we can for him, but we are not going to have the past stuff about him and his job in our mind. We are just playing to win every Saturday and we want to be 1-0 every Saturday. That is our goal."

    Harrison Smith • Junior • Safety

    On the playing experience being a factor for future success...
    "That's really something I realized in the off-season. I've already been around the block, made a bunch of mistakes. That's important because you don't have that huge nervous feeling. You have already been through that. You already know what to expect and how to deal with certain things. It's really a big thing that helps you through it (the season)."

    On the change of philosophy to go along with the change of position (from linebacker to free safety)...
    "I was at home working out with Charles Petrone. He has just stressed a lot of hip movement and the ability to run and turn and little things like that."

    On the great plays and minimization of bad plays made last season...
    "The great plays will give you confidence, and I made a lot of bad plays as well. Those are just things you have to learn from. Hopefully, I don't make as many this season."

    On the excitement of switching positions...
    "It's a lot of fun just moving around. You get to move all over the place before the snap."

    On the comfort of playing in the secondary...
    "I started to feel comfortable down there, playing SAM (strong-side linebacker). But, I never felt quite as comfortable as I do now playing a little further away from the ball and the bigger guys."

    On the level of contact between the positions (linebacker and safety)...
    "I'll miss some of that contact you get every play down there. But I think we are going to have plenty of at safety."

    On the defense's attitude coming into the year...
    "Pretty much everything we do is not as tight or constricted. It's just the feeling around that everyone is real comfortable with one another. The coaches are a big help (with staying loose). Everybody is just loose and happy to be here, but still focused on what we have to do (to succeed)."

    Golden Tate • Junior • Wide Receiver

    On how it feels to be back on campus and starting football practice...
    "I never really left. It's good to be back into the swing of things and being around the guys.

    "It's good because I get to work on my fundamentals again. We've been doing 7-on-7 drills this summer and now I'm working with Coach again. It's good to be there with coaches because you can show where you are as a player and what you've done over the summer."

    On the experience of the players on this season's team...
    "I think experience is very important. When it's late in the game, we can say that we've been there and done that. Our linemen are veterans and it's going to work out in our advantage."

    On the team's mentality heading into the season...
    "We're not talkers. You don't win games by talking. Talk is cheap. You win games by playing. If Jimmy (Clausen) says he's going to throw a perfect pass, I say `show me'. If Brian (Smith) says he's going to tackle me, I say `show me'."

    On the team's confidence heading into the season...
    "We'll come out and show them what we've done and what we've been working for to put Notre Dame back on top."

    On the depth at the receiver position...
    "We're excited. We know we have some great receivers in the lineup. Even our fourth, fifth and sixth receivers on the depth chart are just as good as our top receivers. They're just as capable of making big plays and doing great things for our team this year. We have plenty of depth and we're excited about that."

    On how he fits into the Notre Dame offensive system...
    "It's simple: I do what Coach Weis tells me to do. Whatever he tells me to run, I run it to the best of my ability. Coach Weis knows what he's doing, obviously, so I never question him. When he says `jump', I ask how high."

    On what he learned after last season...
    "We need to finish games. We're going to do that this year. We're going to finish games."

    On the development of junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen...
    "I don't know how the kid does it. Mentally, he's there. Physically, he's gotten bigger. He's faster. His arm is strong. There were times this summer when I busted my lip expecting a soft ball and he delivered a tight spiral. He's developing fast and I'm excited for to see him lead the team this year.

    "Jimmy was our leader last year. When he gets into the huddle everyone stops talking and we listen to Jimmy."

    On spending time with Clausen and other teammates for workouts in California this summer...
    "It was great. I had fun. We knew what we were there for. We were there to work and get better. And my bed was comfortable.

    "For the most part, we'd work out in the morning and run the sand dunes. We'd get lunch, work out, get a snack, watch some television, then throw and run routes.

    "We had a trainer who worked with us and whatever he told us to do I'd say `All right, whatever it takes to look like you!'

    "All of our workouts were videotaped and I've spent a lot of time breaking that down. At first, we would walk the routes, then jog them, then 75 percent, then 100 percent. We'd do that over and over for the muscle memorization.

    "And both Jimmy's mother and father are fantastic cooks. I only ate at In-N-Out (Burger) twice."

    Darrin Walls • Senior • Cornerback

    On getting back into competition...
    "Well, I wouldn't say I'm back on top, but we have a lot of good guys that can play and that's one of the good things about us this fall is that we have a lot of guys who can come in and play. The competition is going to be high this fall and it's always a good competition. We always compete to make each other better so it can only make us a better team."

    On the depth of the secondary and the difficulty of competition...
    "It's really not difficult because that competition is what makes us a better team and a better unit. It just makes practice and everything we go through so much better because you have good guys who are going to have your back if you get hurt or something like that. It was really a good spring leading into the fall."

    On maintaining focus through the previous fall and the workout regimen...
    "It wasn't too hard to focus because I knew I had to come back and we are in better shape than when I left. The focus wasn't too hard to maintain. It was really more just trying to separate myself from Saturdays and not be able to play. I worked out four times a week. I would wake up at six o'clock, I ran and then I would lift and do some agilities and then I would go to work so I was busy. Plus, I had class at night."

    On his employment...
    "I worked for the University of Pittsburgh and I worked in the medical center distributing medicines to each local hospital that worked with that unit. I had a very busy schedule so there was a lot to keep my mind off of football."

    On the advantages of working out with a personal trainer...
    "The advantages were that we were really secluded so we got to do everything that we wanted to do. It's early in the morning and there were not that many people in the gym, so just working alone gave me an idea of how much I need to work and how much I really missed working out with my team. I tried to work as hard as I could while I had the time."

    On his emotions of missing Saturday football...
    "I came up with a couple of things that really helped me a lot. Seeing my teammates play and talking to them on the phone and through text messages throughout the week, but actually coming to the game really gave me a sense of how much I missed this place and how much I needed to get back and what I need to do to get back. I kept in contact with most of the guys in the secondary and they kept me updated on their routine. It was tough to get through especially seeing a couple of the games that we lost, especially Pittsburgh, but that's beside the point. It was tough overall, but I got through it."

    Ian Williams • Junior • Nose Tackle

    On the feeling of coming into training camp this year compared to years past...
    "In years past, it has been like a little letdown, kind of, but now I feel something special coming on this year after going through summer workouts. I feel like we are really going to step up this year and have a good year."

    On why he believes this year feels special...
    "It's hard to explain, but we all have that camaraderie now and we are all together and we doing harder things just trying to get better so we can get ready for Nevada."

    On the effect going through the tough times and good times with teammates...
    "To be good you will have to go through some hard times like 3-9 and 7-6. Going through hard times makes you a better person, so after those past two years, we've been looking back like `no, we don't want to have that year; we want to have a championship-type year'. That's what we look forward to this year."

    On the coaches' attitude of proving themselves on the field...
    "When we first got here, it would be `we are going to talk about this and talk about that'. It is time to get past that. We are juniors and seniors now; we are upperclassmen and we are not young guys anymore. It's time for us to show on the field that we can actually do what we said we could do."

    On the statement he thinks the defense can make this year...
    "This year we have great expectations, but we are focused on Nevada right now. We are going to make the country realize that we're back and the defense is here."

    On the confidence gained from last season...
    "We are not really focused on last year, but after winning the bowl game and getting that monkey off of our back, we need to get focused on this upcoming season and trying to win a championship."

    Sam Young • Senior • Offensive Tackle

    On the chemistry of the offensive line heading into the season...
    "I think that there is enough of a comfort level. We've got a mature enough line and there is enough cohesion that I don't think that is going to be a problem. I don't think we are going to prepare any differently than we would in any other year, in a sense that we are going to start working hard and go through camp and come out the other side once school starts and really maintain the same focus."

    On the chemistry with new offensive line coach Frank Verducci...
    "So far, we have really been gelling well. He really focuses hardcore on the technique and the fundamentals, which is really good for us. If you grasp the little stuff, then the big stuff will take care of itself. But, like I said, it really starts again today and we had a really good spring but it's time to move forward."

    On the confidence in the running game entering the season...
    "We have to get a lot better (in the running game). That's something that starts today in a sense of working hard and going through practices with a purpose and competing. We've got a chip on our shoulder, but we have got to go out and prove it. I could say we are going to go out and average 15 yards a rush, but we just have to go out and prove it."

    On the improvement of the team entering the season...
    "Coming out of Hawai'i, we really kept that momentum going into the spring and through the summer. We just got off probably the best summer we've had since I've been here. We've got a really good group of guys together who are all focused on one goal, which really hasn't been the case in some of the past seasons."

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