The Big Game
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JOHN HEISLER: Arnaz Battle is here with us. For those of you on the phone, we are doing a transcription of this, so this will be on our website or we can fax it to you at some point probably early this afternoon.
We're going to go to the electronic Q&A right off the bat, take it from there.
Q. Coach Davie raised the issue of your ankle yesterday and said there was some swelling when you woke up. Could you just tell us how it feels now? Do you remember how and when it was injured?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Well, I hurt the ankle during the second quarter. Rolled over on it. At halftime I was retaped. Went out and played the second half. There was some soreness in it. Jim batted it up for me. I was able to go. I wasn't going to let that hold me out.
Saturday night I had some swelling in it. Right now it's fine. I've been going to treatment. Most of the swelling is gone. I will be practicing today.
Q. You don't see that as a problem in terms of your preparation?
ARNAZ BATTLE: No problems with my preparation. I'm ready to go. I might not be a hundred percent as of today, but Tuesday, you know, I look towards going out there and going through the whole practice at a hundred percent.
Q. Were you recruited at all by Nebraska?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yes, I was.
Q. Did you make a visit?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yes, that was one of my official visits, here and Nebraska.
Q. Why Notre Dame over Nebraska?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Just, you know, Notre Dame has that mystique, being a great program. They offer the academic part, as well. That was a big thing. Just to have the football and academics, I couldn't pass on the opportunity to come to Notre Dame.
Q. Tell me about playing against Nebraska. Do you look at this as just another football game or is this a bigger deal than that for you?
ARNAZ BATTLE: This is a big game. You look at Nebraska, they're pre-season No. 1. This one of those games where if you go out and execute and win, it will put Notre Dame back where it's supposed to be. Give us some more momentum going into the rest of the season. It's a big game for us.
Q. You took kind of a frightening fall over the bench there and slammed into that concrete wall. Was that before or after you hurt your ankle? Did that aggravate things any? How did you escape getting hurt there?
ARNAZ BATTLE: That was before I actually hurt my ankle. That was one of my deals, they say you take your first lick, the jitters goes away. That was one of my first licks, just happened to be against a concrete wall (laughter). That loosened me up a lot. Kind of knocked the wind out of me. But I was able to go out. I wasn't injured, just knocked the wind out of me. One of those things that kind of loosened me up for the rest of the game.
Q. Question about the expectations of playing quarterback at Notre Dame, coming into this year. You hadn't thrown a touchdown pass. The pressure is on the team, the coach. I'm wondering how you handled all that.
ARNAZ BATTLE: I think just the team being close, you know, close knit helped us out a lot. Distractions and the pressures we have on this program. A lot of the players can look at the situation that Coach Davie is in. We just wanted to go out there and win. We feel we have a great team, great talent. This team has heart. We come out every day, every week, working hard to make ourselves better. Just one of those things where we have to come out there and focus on winning. Winning will take care of most of our problems.
Q. I think it was Media Day you had the comment about you thought Notre Dame had the talent to win it all. I'm sure you raised a few eyebrows with that comment. Is that what you think that you guys definitely want to get back in the hunt for the National Championship? Are you pointing to Saturday as the day when you make a statement like that?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yeah, we definitely want to get back in the National Championship hunt. We have to take it one game at a time, day-by-day, week-by-week. You know, playing Nebraska this week is a big game. That will help us out a lot, beating Nebraska, pre-season No. 1, put us back in contention.
JOHN HEISLER: We'll take a few questions from people here in person.
Q. When you visited Nebraska, did their offense intrigue you? Was that something that interested you?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Oh, yeah, it was a great program. You look at it, one big thing, a shocking thing I noticed, was the nutrition program, the way they had the diet for the athletes, the strength program they had, just the facilities.
You know, Notre Dame, as you know, is the pinnacle of college football. We also have great facilities, great staff, coaches. Just couldn't pass on this opportunity to come in another and be an Irish.
Q. Is the fact that Nebraska is coming in as the No. 1 in the nation, coming to town, makes it a bigger deal?
ARNAZ BATTLE: If you look at Nebraska, they've been very strong in the '90s, also in the past. They have a great team, defense is excellent. I think the offense is strong. They going to come in here and give us some trouble. We just have to stay together and work hard. I feel we can, you know, defeat them.
Q. Is this kind of one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities where No. 1 is here?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yeah, this is one of those opportunities where we can jump from here to there, big gap.
Them being No. 1, coming in our own stadium, is a big deal. This will be one of the biggest games this year, Notre Dame facing Nebraska. This is one of the opportunities that we have to go out there and just to prove ourselves to the country.
Q. Are you surprised with the way your body has held up with that hit on the wall? You think back to the Baylor game when you got the hit?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yeah, I was thinking about that Saturday night. I feel Mickey has done a great job with this team, preparing us physically for the abuse we're going to take this season. We didn't have any serious injuries, that was a blessing. This team has gradually improved ourselves, physical conditioning. If you look at guys across the board, we just look great this year. My body was able to sustain some hits that game. I took several that were pretty tough. I couldn't have taken them my freshman game. I think Mick has done a great job working with us.
ARNAZ BATTLE: One of the things, I was running off. I thought someone would grab me. They kind of parted like the Red Sea. Hit the bench. (Laughter).
Q. When you felt your ankle was injured after the game, did you ever think, "I'm not going to be ready next week," any panic at all Saturday evening?
ARNAZ BATTLE: No panic at all. We have a great training staff. Jim Russ and those guys, great doctors. I just felt that, you know, throughout my whole career, I've rolled ankles, sprained them, I've been able to bounce back. It goes back to getting us in shape, getting us physically prepared to take the abuse. We've done ankle exercises. I think that helps. He exercised every part of our body.
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yeah. I had stitches, too. After the game, I was given four or five stitches for my ankle, had my ankle looked at.
ARNAZ BATTLE: My left shin. That's nothing. That's just part of the game, taking a little abuse. I'm bouncing back, ready to go for next week.
Q. Which ankle is it?
ARNAZ BATTLE: The right ankle.
Q. You said your left shin?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yeah.
Q. Are you going to be able to go all out in practice?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yeah, I'll be able to go all out. I won't be a hundred percent. I'll kind of go at my own speed, just bounce back. I feel Tuesday I'll be able to go a hundred percent, run the options, full offense.
Q. No concerns?
ARNAZ BATTLE: No concerns, yeah. I'm doing good. No concerns right now, no problems, no worries.
Q. Do you have a couple things in the back of the playbook hidden for this week?
ARNAZ BATTLE: I'm not sure. Coach is a little conservative with the offense, being my first start. I feel that we did an okay job coming out, putting some points on the board. Defense did an excellent job holding them.
ARNAZ BATTLE: It's a great help, yeah. It's a big help having great athletes around you. That's one thing, I was able to go out there and play conservative at the beginning. I just execute. I have a great supporting cast. If I get the balls in their hands, they can make big plays also. Kind of surprising to see Lopienski go to the flat, catch two big ones for me, turn them up field. Just goes to show the type of athletes that we have - very versatile.
Q. (Inaudible) short patterns --?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yeah, just depends on the play. We have different plays.
Q. Yesterday Coach Davie was talking about the sort of program that's been developed at Nebraska could be developed at Notre Dame. He said that's one thing he's looking to do. Could you see this offense as being something that has staying power, something that year after year can be improved upon, be the focal point of this program?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yeah, I think if you look at Nebraska's style, it's kind of similar to when Jerome and those guys were here, just smash-mouth football. I think that's what we need to go back, to just being able to run the ball and being successful in the run.
But at the same time, you have to play defensive teams like Texas A&M, Nebraska, Michigan State. Not all times you can go out and run it. You have an official passing game. We plan on being versatile, just moving the ball downfield.
ARNAZ BATTLE: I think I started off a little kind of shaky with offense. We started with bad field position most of the time. Actually, that's what kind of kept -- Coach Rogers was conservative with the play calls.
Once we were able to move the ball, get in good field position, I felt the offense did a pretty good job of executing.
Q. When you look at Nebraska, one of the keys, what are you looking at now that you and the whole team have to do?
ARNAZ BATTLE: I think eliminate self-inflicting mistakes. Ball security, don't have any turnovers. That's a big thing. Just going out there and playing with heart. If we go out there and give a hundred percent, all 11 guys on the field, then, I think there's no stopping us.
Q. Have you had a chance to look at the whole game yet?
ARNAZ BATTLE: No, I haven't.
Q. Any part of it? As you're looking at yourself out there, I just wondered, what struck you?
ARNAZ BATTLE: I feel my maturity, just keeping my composure. Start things off well. Get into the second quarter, just able to keep my composure and stay positive and levelheaded helped out a lot. I was able to go in there and not worry about the play before, the series before, just look at the future and try to do better the next play. Things start falling into place, good things start happening.
ARNAZ BATTLE: Well, the USC game, just come off an injury, not knowing, you know, the majority of the offense, what I needed to know. That was just a tough situation to be in. That was just one of those nights nothing went right.
Q. Can you relate to what the three freshmen are going through right now in terms of trying to learn this, being overwhelmed by it?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yeah.
Q. Coach Davie says one hasn't stepped forward among the three yet. Can you see the process going on?
ARNAZ BATTLE: I totally understand the situation that they're in, just trying to learn offense, just the magnitude of the game at this level. Go from high school, playing in front of thousands of people, in Notre Dame stadium, nationally televised, 80,000. Tough situation to be in. I'm behind them a hundred percent, trying to help them out with their progress, help them be better quarterbacks. I think they're coming along very well.
ARNAZ BATTLE: Looked at it as taking one game at a time. We had to defeat Texas A&M first. I think there was some focus put on Nebraska in our gameplan with Texas A&M. We've been looking at some of their defense, their scheme. We're a little ahead of where we were last year, preparing for games, down the schedule.
Q. You don't have any time to relax after that first game. (Inaudible)
ARNAZ BATTLE: It's just one of those things playing at Notre Dame, tough schedule on and off the field. Just have to come out, you know, every week and prepare hard for the next team. It's going to be 12 straight weeks of it. Just have to like stay focused and just take it one day at a time.
Q. Coach Davie talked yesterday about the impression of Nebraska's win over Tennessee. Do you recall that game?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yes.
Q. What are your feelings about (inaudible) --?
ARNAZ BATTLE: They came out and just played a physical game. They just dominated Texas A&M -- I mean, Tennessee, on the frontline. Looking back on that game, it was kind of just amazing to see having such a great defense, defensive front, speed and strength. Nebraska just came on and manhandled them.
It's one of those things we are trying to get back to, you know. I feel we have the capabilities of doing it. We have the heart to do it. Now it's just going out there and doing it.
Q. Talk a little bit about the defense that you see? What are they going to do that will cause you the greatest problems?
ARNAZ BATTLE: It's just one of those odd defenses. They give you so many crazy-looking deals with the fronts, linebackers, the blitzes. I feel they do a great job of disguising a lot of things. One thing I have to do more this week is sit down and watch more film, don't get their scheme down, what they're trying to do. I feel Coach Rogers is going to put us in the best situation and scheme to try to win.
Q. San Jose State was able to get a couple of points off them. Does it seem a little easier?
ARNAZ BATTLE: That was a little encouraging to see those guys go out and put some points up to show they can be beat.
Q. The first game of your freshman season had an atmosphere very similar to what this weekend might be. Michigan was coming in, having won a share of the National Championship. Your team was coming off a disappointing season. It was looked upon as a chance to really make a statement. Did you learn anything from watching the way that game played out that you might be able to use this week?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yes. Just watching Jarious, how he handled his first starting game, helped me out a lot. He stayed focused. He didn't let any distractions get to him. Just wanted to go out there, have fun, play ball. I learned so much from Jarious, he's been a big help the two years that he was here. Just looking back on that Michigan game, I was able to learn that game and carry it over to the Texas A&M game.
Q. If he had been coming toward the sidelines, would you have stepped in front of him and prevented him from hitting the ball?
ARNAZ BATTLE: Yeah, I would have grabbed him (laughter). I'm going to watch that film and find out who moved on the sidelines (laughter). I can go back and talk to them.
Q. I was wondering if you expect to talk to Jarious at all? You said he called you Friday night before the game. Do you spend a lot of time talking to each other?
ARNAZ BATTLE: I'll probably call him this week. He called me last week. I'll check with him, as well. He's doing good with Denver Broncos. He's doing successfully. We'll always keep in touch, always be friends. We'll just back each other up a hundred percent and encourage each other.
Q. Did he call you after the game?
ARNAZ BATTLE: No, I haven't talked to him since the game.
JOHN HEISLER: I think we're all set. Thank you.