Football

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Notre Dame Player Media Day Quotes

Aug. 16, 2011


Dayne Crist • Senior • Quarterback

on trying not to look too far into the future...
"I think it really comes down to the older guys on the team and the team leadership. That keeps guys on track and making sure that everyone understands that it is really one game at a time. You see great teams every year that slip up somewhere in the season because they're overlooking teams. We can't let that happen. We understand the type of potential that this team has, and we can do some great things through hard work, practicing and just taking it one day at a time."

on battling for the role of starting quarterback...
"I really just focus on showing the coaches my knowledge of the offense, making sure we're in the right play every play, not taking plays off, making sure that you've got a plan for every single play you step out there. Every rep is as equally important as the next, and you really got to take each rep one rep at a time. And just have a complete mindset that you're going to give your absolute best on any given play."

on his friendship with fellow quarterback Tommy Rees...
"I don't know how to answer that. I think a lot of guys want to make more out of it than it is. I've said this multiple times, but I really think he is like a little brother to me, and he sees me as an older brother. We spend so much time together that we've built a relationship and developed a chemistry that will last past our years of football. But we understand that it's about making the team better and pushing each other. We'll continue to do that, continue to push each other, regardless of outcome and do everything we can to make this team as good as we can make it."

on the difference between this season and last...
"Just the knowledge base that this team has across the board, and the experience. You can say that you gain experience going through a camp, but we went through a spring and fall camp last year, but had no game experience. This team has been through a complete season now, (and) we've seen the ups and downs of a season. We've grown closer in dealing with some of those hardships. It's really that same core coming back, and it's exciting to have guys out and see how hard guys are working every day is a positive. I think it's very different than last year."

on the possibility of not being selected as the starting quarterback...
"I'm sure it will be incredibly difficult. Any guy would be lying if they told you they were okay with it and it's not why you come to Notre Dame. But, at this point that's not something that I'm going to let sit on my mind, and I'm going to do everything that I can to be the number one. I'm going to be there for my teammates regardless, but at the same time, I'm not even getting into that mindset at this point, because there's so much left in camp, and so much work that needs to be done at this point."

Tyler Eifert • Junior • Tight End

on where how he feels going into the season as a starter...
"It is definitely different going into a season as a starter, but I still have to work just as hard every day to learn the offense more. It's all about going out there every day and getting better."

on where he has made the biggest advancements in his game...
"Getting stronger and working on my blocking techniques have been the biggest things that I needed to get better at over the offseason so that's where I focused my time this summer."

on the momentum that the team carries into this season...
"I think we are pointing in the right direction, and we have worked hard to make sure that continues into this year. We don't want another roller coaster like we had last year, so we want to be a more consistent team. "

on what the coaches expect from him this season...
"The number one thing they have wanted me to work on is my blocking. Like I think Coach Kelly said earlier, I have to be better at the point of attack. I need to be a player that they can count on now from a day-to-day basis. I need to be able to make plays for the offense, and that's what they expect out of me."

on the strength of this year's offense...
"I think our chemistry is going to help us out during games. Early in the year last year, you did not see a team with very good chemistry because everything was so new, but the last few games everything started to click and we were a much better offense because of it. "

Darius Fleming • Senior& #149; Outside Linebacker

on his weight change since last season...
"I was okay with the weight I was playing at (last year), but I felt that I was able to put on a few more pounds to become the player that I was trying to be. It was necessary for going up against the bigger (offensive) tackles. It was my responsibilities (on the football field) that allowed me to put on a couple pounds. I don't feel that I lost anything (speed, quickness) - I can still do my job on the field."

on the lofty standards the coaching staff has set for him...
"I have high expectations for myself. I want to be a great player. This is my last season, and this is my last shot to (be a great player). I know what I'm capable of, I know what I need to do to get better and I'm going to work on those aspects. I need to take what I did last year and carry it over to this year. The coaches have told me what they expect of me and I plan on beating their expectations."

Michael Floyd • Senior • Wide Receiver

on putting everything behind him...
"The past is the past. I've moved on to the future, so I'm not even thinking about what happened anymore. I just have to make sure that the decisions I make are good because they are going to follow me forever."

on if things seem as though they are back to normal now...
"It does. This time of year, I can just focus on schoolwork and football now. It helps me move on from the past. It feels good to know that I can put that behind me now and focus on school and football.

on his goals for this up coming season...
"I'm just trying to make myself an all-around better receiver. My goal is to be the best receiver in the country, so I have to work hard every day to make sure that I have the best possibility for that. I am a guy that likes to be pushed. If you are not being pushed, then you won't perform to the best of your ability."

on how he can be better this season...
"When our quarterback is in trouble, I need to get out of my routes faster, and I need to work on my blocking downfield, which is something you can always get better at. It isn't all about catching the ball and running routes - you have to be able to do the little things that help the team win."

on the records he could potentially break this year...
"I don't even know what they are. I never look at things like that. Whatever happens, happens. I am just trying to win games for Notre Dame and this team."

Gary Gray • Senior • Cornerback

on whether he thinks the defense can be the anchor of the team this year...
"We just need to go out there and do our job - just handle our business."

on people like Lo Wood and Bennett Jackson working behind him, and how he tries to be a teacher to them on the field and in the locker room...
"I try to do that whenever they ask me questions. Lo has come a long way from the spring and last year. He has done some meaningful reps out there, making plays. Bennett, just switching from receiver, has done a tremendous job. As long as we can get those guys to come up with us and guide them through it, I think we have done a great job with that."

on what his individual carryover is from the success in the last four games of the year...
"It carries over a little bit, but this is a new season. We have to go out there and win the first game. We can build off last season, but it is a new season."

on what going up against a guy like Michael Floyd does to help him improve...
"I go against one of the best receivers in the country on a daily basis. That helps me, and then I also try to help him whenever I can."

on what sort of expectations he places on this year...
"I don't want to put any expectations on it. I just want to go out there and give one hundred percent, have everyone do their job on the defensive side. Handle your business and we will go from there."

Ethan Johnson • Senior • Defensive End

on his offseason training program...
"Coach Longo put us through a great program ... training table helped a lot. I ended gaining 12 pounds last year throughout the year. I was stronger, I was healthier and I was in better shape. Most people can't say that, throughout the season, they felt better (as the season went on)."

on his ability to stay physically fresh throughout the season...
"I never held back last year, I just feel that eventually - after you play a certain amount of games - your body starts to wear down a little bit. our coaching staff does a good job with keeping us fresh, but at the same time, I was not in good enough shape to play every down in the first couple of games (last year). I feel that I am in much better shape (going into this) year than I was (going into) last year. It makes me feel even better now that with a deeper defensive line I will be fresher in the later games."

Kapron Lewis-Moore • Senior • Defensive End

on the outside distractions that come with playing at Notre Dame...
"You can't pay attention to outside distractions. You have to take everything with a grain of salt. (The people that are saying these things) are on the outside, they don't know your training regimen; they don't know your workouts. They are out there blogging, talking 'smack'. You can't pay attention to all that, you have to do what you have to do (to succeed). You have to listen and trust your coaches and your strength coaches."

on playing with high expectations entering the season...
"As a freshman, (the expectations) would get to me a bit. But as a senior, I've changed. Last year, we saw glimpses of what we can be. With the talent we have, there is not reason why we can't achieve our goals this season."

Zach Martin • Junior • Offensive Tackle

on improvements from last year...
"I just need to keep working. Last year we didn't do what we wanted to do, and I think for myself, even though I was a first-year player, I didn't do as well as I wanted do. So I think that we can get better and I can get better throughout the year."

on the team's level of focus and 'wanting more'...
"In the past everyone has said, 'We are going to be better this year,' but I think that everyone on the team has really bought in this year, and we're clicking. Everyone on the team is getting along, practice is going well, so I think that we're headed in the right direction."

on knowing what it is to win and the momentum from last season...
"No team goes into a season thinking, 'oh, we're going to win eight games,' but I think this year everyone believes that we can go out and win every game that we play. People are buying in, and I think we're on the right track."

on the challenge of moving from an up-tempo to a more 'power game'...
"It's not really a challenge. We want to be a team that can do everything. So when Coach Kelly tells us to let it loose, we're going to be able to go fast and the team we were last November when we were going slower and running the ball, we can do that, too. So the dynamic of the team is one in which we have everything meshed together, and we can kind of do it all now."

on his preference as a lineman regarding a running versus a passing offense...
"You love running the ball because it keeps those defensive linemen getting teed off and running up field as fast as we can. So if we can run the ball, that's what we want to do."

on the incoming freshmen...
"They are really athletic and are really good players. A lot of them are probably a lot farther along that most freshmen when they just come in, and I think they can definitely help our team this year."

on his comfort level as a third-year player...
"I redshirted my first year, and then last year I was on the field and things were just going 100 miles per hour. I calmed down a bit by the end of last year, but I think this year coming into camp, just the comfort level and the experience of playing 13 games last year has really gone a long way. I'm confident in myself, in my assignments, with my technique, so I definitely think it is coming full circle in this third year."

Tommy Rees • Sophomore • Quarterback

on how camp is going this year, compared to last season...
"I think it's just the whole understanding, taking the offense to the next level, and keep progressing within it, and that's built in with extra timing and extra reps we got in with all the guys. The comfort level keeps growing for all of us."

on his relationship with fellow quarterback Dayne Crist...
"I think it's because we both have 'team-first' attitudes. We're not selfish out there and we want what's best for the team. We go out there and compete, we help each other, and we have each other's backs. We're great friends off the field and we carry that on to the field as well."

on what he will take away from the end of the season last year...
"I think it's just more game-time experience, which helps with working with some of the guys. It adds a little more confidence to myself knowing I can play and play well in games, and I feel confident within myself."

on what he thinks the quarterback competition will come down to...
"I think it's going to come down to some consistency, and valuing the football. Like I said, we're going out there and doing everything we can, so it's up to Coach to make the decision, and whichever way he goes, I think both of us will support the other and do what's best for the team."

on his reaction if he was chosen as the second quarterback...
"obviously, I would be lying if I said I wouldn't be disappointed. Being the starting quarterback at Notre Dame is something that a lot of people want, and I'm one of those people. But, you've got to have that 'team-first' attitude, and you got to be there for Dayne or whoever that starter may be. Just support your teammates, come to practice everyday, and like last year, you never know when your moment may step up, so you just have to stay prepared and keep your head high."

Trevor Robinson • Senior • Offensive Guard

on the momentum he has been able to build from Coach Kelly's positive response to the offensive line...
"I think that as a group we are excited about what we are going to be able to do. Everyone keeps asking us, and I think the biggest thing that helps is just the continuity that continues from year-to-year. I've never had the same tackle and the same center back, and the same offensive line coach and the same offensive coordinator, and everything adds up and you feel more comfortable and there is less that needs to be figured out on the offensive line. You kind of just know what's going on and what the guys around you are going to be able to do."

on the typical preseason hype that surrounds the Notre Dame defense...
"I would like to think that as an offensive line we will be able to take us where we need to go. That's not to say that our defense can't because I know they can and they showed us that at the end of last season. They were able to play some very good teams and not just beat them, but dominate them. I am confident that that's what they'll be able to do. We've seen guys that physically matured over the last year to the point where there are a certain number of guys during the year that you play and they seem like they're the guys that are physically on another level, and now those are the guys on our team. We're sitting there watching them and thinking that these are the guys that are going to make a pretty big name for themselves."

on the improvement of Notre Dame's defense and how that has been an encouragement to the offense...
"As strong as our defense is, there is a lot of times that I think [the offense is] doing exceptionally well against them, moving the ball. We do some situational stuff, some situational periods where our guys were able to do what we needed to do, and I think that's kind of a confidence boost because we know how good our defense is. For us to be able to execute against them and show that we can do well against us really bodes well for us."

on his personal improvement...
"My weight room numbers weren't really down. Last year, I was really susceptible to getting pushed back in the pocket, I've never really thought that I've gotten beat too much on a move, but I was getting pushed back a little bit. Now I can feel it in my hips when I fell that bull rush and I'm able to sit down and go up a little bit sooner and keep the depth in the pocket that the interior is responsible for."

on any changes in his weight training...
"There haven't been many changes. our strength program is pretty consistent. A lot of it has just been my diet and the calories and protein that I needed. I feel really comfortable with that right now."

on the team building that took place during a team trip to Diamond Lake...
"I think for the guys on the team it breaks up the monotony of camp. When you come in and you check in on a Friday, it's 15 to 16 days until camp is over, and we're all here to and we understand that work needs to get done, but when it's that same day-to-day grind it starts to drag a little bit. So having that in the middle kind of breaks it up and gives guys something to look forward to in as a bit of a day off. Any time you have the team hanging out, you build relationships and that obviously helps everything."

David Ruffer • Senior • Kicker

on finding a balance between strength and accuracy...
"Some of the lifting that we do as kickers specifically isn't made so you get bulky. The big thing for us is to stay loose and stay long. For us, we need to have a long arc in our swing and have a lot of speed through our swing. If we bulk up, we can have too much weight without keeping up the range of motion. We can lose that aspect of what makes us good."

on where he's at this year, compared to this time last year...
"I try to keep the mentality I had last season. My job right now isn't to focus on my goals, but how I can best help the team. So if I only kick five field goals this year, that's a win for us because it means we are scoring a lot more touchdowns."

on what the experience at last year's Sun Bowl taught him...
"I can really leave everything from last season in last season and just focus on what is ahead of us. Just look at the road ahead and control what I can control and not try to control what I can't."

on what it's been like to wear the Notre Dame jersey...
"I never really thought about what it would be like to run out of the (Notre Dame Stadium) tunnel because I had never played football. So everything has just been so much more. When I was able to dream about it, it has been so much more than that. It has been phenomenal. It's really hard to describe."

on whether he's excited for any particular game...
"I have to say I am really excited for the USC game. It's the first night game they have had here in over 25 years, so it's going to be a crazy environment. It's going to be wild."

on how competition has affected him...
"one thing I think I am fortunate to have is a lot of internal motivation. I don't really need to worry about whether there is somebody behind me because I have my own personal standards of success - I always have. So, to a degree, it makes little difference to me whether there is somebody behind me or not, but having somebody there certainly does up the ante a little bit. You know maybe you need to push your own standards a little bit higher."

Harrison Smith • Senior • Safety

on being captain of the Notre Dame football team...
"It's a big responsibility but I'm very honored to be in this tradition. At the same time, I just have to lead by example and show the players how to do the right thing. I have been here awhile so I know how to do things, and I just want to show them the right path and be there for anyone that needs advice. on the field, we have to go out every Saturday and lay it on the line. That's how everyone plays. That's how everyone feels. Every Saturday, our passion and pride comes out."

on the importance of the defensive backfield being vocal...
"As safeties, we are the ones that need to make the calls. If you are back there and you know what you are doing but you aren't speaking up, you aren't getting your job done. That might take a little more time in the playbook, but you just have to have that commitment. When you are out there, you have to have the confidence to speak up."

Manti Te'o • Junior • Linebacker

on the differences in defense from last year to this year...
"I think you are going to see a completely different team. We will be more seasoned and confident. We have become more comfortable. The more comfortable we get the smoother things will be."

on the play of the linebackers so far in practice...
"It has been good. The competition has been there. Every day, we are critiquing ourselves and the coaches are critiquing us. There are a lot of linebackers, so that puts in place a competitive environment where every day you know you could lose your starting spot if someone else outperforms you. No place is guaranteed to anyone on the team. It makes the team that much better."

on the advice he gives to new players...
"The best advice I could give anyone is to be humble. Second is to always remember where you came from and whom you represent. Third is to be coachable. As a freshman you don't know what is going on. You are in a totally different environment. College football is a completely different game than high school. You have to be able to accept criticism from both the coaches and other players in order to make yourself a better player and person."

Robby Toma • Junior • Wide Receiver

on how the summer been going...
"It's going really well. We were here about two months ago. We've been working. The team looks really good. Everyone is competing at summer camp. obviously it is a grind, but it's what we need. "

on his reaction to Coach Kelly's comment that he is really showing himself to be a leader, even though he doesn't necessarily have that starting role, and what he's done to earn that attention...
"I'm just trying to help out the younger guys because when I came in, I was reluctant. George West, Robby Parris, Duval (Kamara) made sure I was okay and I knew the plays. Now I'm just try to help out the younger guys and make sure they know what they are doing."

on his goals for getting on the field this season...
"I would love to get the starting job, but I feel like I have shown that I can play and I feel like Coach has some confidence in me. So, whatever way I can help, I would be glad to get on the field."

on the strides the Irish offense has made between year one and year two of Coach Kelly's tenure...
"I would say the pace of our offense has skyrocketed. The defense comes off the field after the first day and said the offense was going really fast. I feel like now we know the plays, we know the offense a lot better, so we are no longer thinking, we are just reacting."

on how he thinks the wide receiver corps here at Notre Dame stacks up with other schools...
"I feel like we have a lot of experience now. There are about five of us who have started a game and played over a hundred snaps. I just feel like we have a lot of experience now and guys that can make plays."

 

 

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