Oct. 6, 2010
An Interview With:
Q. Dayne, can you talk about the distribution of the passes on the offense? Is it shaping up to be about what you guys would expect, what you guys would want? A lot of people think Michael (Floyd) and Kyle (Rudolph) would be at the top. Is this about what this offense is supposed to do? Dayne Crist: Guys like Mike and Kyle are going to draw a lot of attention naturally from other defenses, and all week I'm sure they're figuring out ways to try and limit their touches. But it's just great seeing that we really can spread the ball around and remain efficient on offense, and obviously when the time comes to get some of those guys the ball, you've got to take advantage of that. But just happy with the way I think we've been able to distribute the ball.
Q. How hard is it to find Mike? His numbers are not very far off what they've always been, but has it been difficult? Has that been difficult to lock in on him? Dayne Crist: I think so. He just attracts so much attention from other defenses, and even within the game, they're finding new ways to try and take him out of the equation. But I think we do a good job of, again, spreading the ball around, and when he is open and moving him around, we find ways to get him the ball, as well, and any time you get him the ball, he's going to make a play. He just continues to be reliable and a guy that we can count on.
Q. Mike, what would you say about that? Are defenses doing things you may not have seen before in your two years here?
Michael Floyd: No, it's kind of basically the same thing, but it's just somebody in the flat and then somebody over the top just cover two making sure I don't get a free release off the ball. But when you're talking about frustration, a lot of people would, but I think when you have when things are going right, there's no reason to get frustrated. Whenever the ball comes to you, you've got to make a play on it.
Q. Has it been harder in that way? Like I said, your numbers, your involvement, not really much different than they've always been. Has it been harder for you to get open to find seams or spots or whatever? Michael Floyd: No, I don't think so, but as Theo (Riddick) and T.J. (Jones) and (John) Goodman is getting better, defenses got to change. Whenever I get the chance or when Kyle gets the chance to make a play, he's just got to make it.
Q. Dayne, I know you're obviously focused here entirely on Pitt now, but can you just take us back to Saturday and what it felt like to get a win again? Dayne Crist: It felt great. Winning is like a feeling that you can't describe. It's like nothing else. It was just great seeing the excitement back in the locker room again and seeing guys happy and enjoying a win. It makes everything all week long just a whole lot better, and guys' overall wellness is just better. You just enjoy winning and you don't want to lose that feeling, and I think we'll remember that going into this week and the way that we prepare.
Michael Floyd: Losing three in a row, it's always stressful, so I mean, just getting a win under our belt and doing positive things in that game gives everybody a confidence booster, and going into this game, we know that we have a chance at doing what we need to do to get it right, and we should be successful.
Q. Can you guys just talk about how Dayne, you kind of mentioned that you get the win, you want to keep that feeling, how one win can kind of snowball in a positive way building the momentum for the next few weeks? Dayne Crist: Yeah, like Mike was saying, we kind of saw some good things from our offense, and just seeing that again just made guys feel confident that we could do this, and just the way we were able to start I think was huge for our offense. I talked about it a little bit on Saturday, but now it's just more about maintaining that tempo and that intensity, not stalling out drives and doing the things on our fence that are stopping drives. If it's something the defense does then we'll make those adjustments, but we can't be stopping ourselves. But it feels great, and it's something, like I said, we don't want to forget what that feeling is like and we don't want that to go away.
Q. For both of you guys, just talk about that first quarter (at Boston College). You talked about stopping yourselves. That was kind of an instance where you weren't. How important is that to build forward and what can you take away from that about what worked there that you can apply the rest of the season? Michael Floyd: Well, if you look at our other games, our front line, for example, Michigan State going down the field, and I make a fumble, and I mean, we could have went in for a touchdown right there, but we didn't. Just my mistake. Starting out against Boston College with a good game plan, good everything, and I'm going down the field and scoring is just a huge thing for our offense.
Dayne Crist: Any time you're able to go and score on three consecutive drives that says a lot about the intensity that your offense is displaying. It just shows that we've got the potential to come out and score quick and do the things that we've talked about all year basically. But now it's about finishing games and just making sure that we maintain that intensity throughout the course of the game, and if we're able to do that, there's some good things that can happen for our offense.
Q. Is it more frustrating when you're stopping yourself as opposed to the defense gets a really good call? Dayne Crist: Absolutely. Any time you're stopping yourself, you're just so frustrated because you work so hard in preparation all week to make sure that you're limiting the mistakes, that you're doing all the right things, and you've just got an attention to detail. And any time that you're stopping yourselves, it's the complete opposite. It's just frustrating knowing that it's kind of your doing and not so much what the other team is doing, and that's what makes it the most difficult.
Q. When you're watching tape of the games, how often are you coming in here on Sunday, flipping on a tape and saying, I can't believe I didn't see that receiver there? Dayne Crist: Any time you're watching film, so basically every time every Sunday we're coming in here and watching film, there's always two or three throws you wish you had back. But you know, it's becoming a little less and less as the weeks progress, so I guess that's a good thing. Now it's just about just correcting the large scale things that we can work forward to to the next week and take with us to the next week, and then honing in and focusing on what needs to be done for our individual opponent.
Q. When you say you're looking at throws you wish you had back, is that more, I should have been more accurate with this or I wish I would have made a different decision? Dayne Crist: A combination of both, whether it was not staying in the pocket for an extra second and delivering a throw and maybe taking a hit or just the decisions. But those have been kind of cut back each week as we progress. So that's a good thing. But obviously we don't want to end the game thinking that at all.
Q. This is for both of you: Dayne, with Jimmy (Clausen) and Michael, with Golden (Tate), you both had guys at your position that went on to the NFL. A, have you been in contact with them at any point during this football season? And B, what advice have they given you about maybe your career here or what you need to do to improve to get to that level? Michael Floyd: Well, I talk to both of them mostly every day, and they're both doing well, just so you guys know. But I think I mostly get it from Jimmy, the quarterback's eye on what he sees. I think the most advice he gave me, and I try to tell Dayne and all the other wide receivers and tight ends, that we need to watch film more. Film is very important, and you can see a lot of people's different moves and different ways they play things. So film is the most I take out of both Jimmy and Golden's advice.
Dayne Crist: I talk to Jimmy multiple times in a week. We have a pretty good relationship and always have had that. So we're always just kind of keeping each other informed of what's going on, both sides of where we're at. And we've had that same conversation with watching film with other guys, and especially with one another, and just kind of some of the things that they do in the NFL. But more than anything, it's just making sure that we're just doing well and just maintaining a relationship that was already strong?
Q. For both of you, there's a whole lot of hoopla that goes into a Notre Dame home game before you even get to the actual game, starting Friday and all that sort of thing. Is it sometimes more relaxing to be on the road because you can just focus rather than have to go through a bunch of different junk? I don't want to say "junk," but a bunch of different things. Dayne Crist: Yeah, I think so. I enjoy playing on the road. Don't get me wrong, I love playing at home in front of our crowd and our fans; that's a great feeling and great experience. But I can see where you're coming from in terms of being a little bit more relaxed playing on the road. There's less distractions. You know, you've only got the guys that travel with you, your coaches and just the immediate football family, whereas there's a lot more of, like you said, stuff going on on campus and you've got to go to class and see an additional 80,000 people around campus. It kind of just creates a buzz and more distraction. But I think that we've done a great job of limiting those distractions and just making sure that we're focused on the game stuff.
Michael Floyd: Yeah, just being on the road, like Dayne said, I think it's more relaxing for me personally, just because home games family comes in and stuff like that and there could be a distraction. Just being away, not too many family members come to away games, so you can just relax and enjoy the time.
Q. Would you speak to the importance of the development of Theo at the Z receiver position in particular? Why is that spot and Coach Kelly has talked about how important it was to make sure that he was involved. Why is that spot and him in that position so key to your offense? Dayne Crist: Well, he's very important to our offense and with what we try to do conceptually by just the nature of his athleticism and his speed. He's able to stretch the field in ways that some other guys may not be able to. And then you take into consideration teams want to roll over Mike or roll over Kyle, well, they're just creating space in the middle of the field where Theo has been able to really take advantage. And when the attention is going to those guys, there's less attention to Theo, really. And just to have an impact player at that position has been really critical for our offense. And also, any time you guys have seen it. Any time you get the ball in his hands, there's the potential for some big plays. Just having kind of that third piece of the puzzle and Mike and Kyle and now Theo stepping up pretty big, that's been pretty huge for us.
Q. And what about in terms of the kind of match ups that the guy at that Z position gets? Dayne Crist: Normally that guy, depending on the personnel they have in the game, that's typically a linebacker or a safety so they're a little bit more stiff than if he's on a corner. So just matching pure athleticism, he's going to win that match up nine times out of ten. So that creates some match up problems for defenses.
Q. So that's a position most receivers would want to play? Dayne Crist: Yeah.
Q. I'm leading to asking Mike whether he would like to play that Z position because you think it matches up against linebackers and safeties? Michael Floyd: Yeah, but I think it would just change the coverage around, so him being in the slot I mean, me in particular being in the slot, they might roll over on that or try to double team that, so that would leave the outside open. So just having Theo in there makes a big difference, just knowing that you've got speed in the slot, and most people don't see it as a mismatch, but we see it as a huge mismatch.
Q. I know in the early games that you're usually to the boundary side, correct? Michael Floyd: Yes.
Q. And you were getting more double teams than maybe anticipated. Now that Theo is catching more passes, is he loosening things up in terms of the kind of coverage and attention that you're getting to the boundary side? Michael Floyd: Yes, I think so. I think it's just going slowly. It's still kind of the same, but as Theo grows and as all the other wide receivers grow, I think it'll make everything spread out more.
Q. I have a question about the progress of the the rate of progress of the offense and your comfort with it. Have you reached a point where you look back and you wish you could play some of these games over and you think if I knew then what I know now, it might be different? Are you making that kind of progress? And can you kind of illustrate maybe a play or two that's happened in the previous games that would be different now because of what you know? Dayne Crist: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, after every game I kind of feel that we're making great progress in terms of my comfort level and familiarity with the offense. A lot of it has to do with just playing just being a spread quarterback and just playing in the system. You're just going to gain a lot more comfort as each game progresses, and we have more game experience. But in terms of protections and checking protections and sliding protections and knowing your just all sorts of things that we'll continue to improve on but have helped us open some things up on offense so far. Against Purdue late in the game, I was having some issues with protections and knowing the best protection. Early on in the season it was kind of paralysis by analysis. There was just so much in the inventory that I really didn't know what was best in a certain situation. I knew we had things and I could use them, but I never knew what was best in a game situation. Now that I'm able to kind of use those things and go through it and react to what the defense is doing with what I know works best, we're seeing some definite progress in the offense.
Q. Mike, can you talk about going up against Darrin Walls, whether it was in training camp or practice, and how much progress you've seen him make from last year to this year and how that can translate to Saturday going up against a guy like Jon Baldwin? Michael Floyd: I think it has a tremendous he's been getting a lot better. Same with everybody on our defense. But him in particular, you know, he's just getting stronger and being able to press, and I think he's done a very good job with that and getting better at that, and speed, also. An Interview With:
Q. Darrin, after all these years is there still anything to playing Pittsburgh for you, anything that gets you more involved, more interested, just by guys you know or being your hometown? Darrin Walls: Every time I play Pittsburgh, this is the second time now, it's exciting. Just knowing a few guys on the team and playing against my hometown is always exciting, and I'm always looking forward to it.
Q. You made some very interesting comments before the Michigan game where you were asked to assess your career and at that point you were kind of hard on yourself. I'm wondering if this season has updated those thoughts when you said you had like an average career back then. Through five games has anything changed, have you updated that assessment in any way? Darrin Walls: I think from a career standpoint, these first five games have put me on the way to the season where I think I want to be. I don't know, I think it's going good so far, so I'm just going to try to continue to make it better.
Q. Coach Kelly said yesterday that your approach is very professional. What does that mean to you? How would you characterize your approach? Darrin Walls: I think probably just being at the center of the game, learning every day what it's going to take and knowing my opponents, I think that's probably what he's getting at. But I just go out there every day and try to get better, as we all should. I think that's what professionals do.
Q. How banged up are you? How much have you played through so far? Carlo Calabrese: I'm pretty banged up, but I've been going at it every day and getting through it, so that's a part of the game I'm pretty sure half the country is banged upright now.
Q. Starting with you, Carlo, you've used the term proper fit in talking to you several times, and it's something Coach Diaco refers to. How would you explain when you talk about getting the proper fit defensively? Explain what that means from your perspective? Carlo Calabrese: I think there's a reason for your keys, and just knowing the formation and knowing what they're going to do, like the plays out of that formation and just reading your keys and just knowing where the ball is going to be.
Q. Does it also refer to your path or your lane to the football? Carlo Calabrese: Oh, yeah. There's different paths, different steps you've got to take to the football.
Q. Darrin, how about your perspective on that question? Darrin Walls: Going off of Carlo's answer, I think we have a responsibility in our defense, and that's just being where we're supposed to be in every defense, and there's a different assignment on different defenses. So just making sure we're where we're supposed to be so the ball doesn't crease us.
Q. Carlo, Coach Kelly made a reference a couple weeks ago about he wasn't quite sure what they were going to get from you in a game because they weren't sure quite what they were getting from you in a practice situation. Do you feel like on game day you're just a better player than you are on the practice field or is that an inaccurate depiction of your practice mode? Carlo Calabrese: It's a lot different in the game, speed is different, and just the looks. And I just think it's a lot clearer during the games what the team is trying to do, and you know, I just make my reads and just play ball.
Q. Is it hard to get motivated for practice every day? Carlo Calabrese: No, not for me.
Q. Do you know who Bob Ross is? Carlo Calabrese: Bob Ross?
Q. He's that guy that you and Manti watch paint? Carlo Calabrese: Oh, yeah.
Q. Can you talk about how that got started? Carlo Calabrese: Me and Manti, we go down, eat breakfast, have a couple meetings and then come back up to the room, and we've got some time before the game before we leave, and we're just flicking through the channels, ESPN, whatever is on, and then one time we flicked to a channel and it was just this guy with an afro painting. I was just looking at it, and I like art and all that, so I was like, okay, what's this. And then I looked at Manti, and he was liking it, so we just started watching it, and now we watch it every week.
Q. Can you kind of talk about you guys' relationship, you and Manti? Carlo Calabrese: Yeah, we got real close this year with me lining up next to him and just watching film with him. We're real close.
Q. Manti said yesterday that you're responsible for teaching him how to play like Tiger Woods Golf or something like that. How is he? Carlo Calabrese: I still beat him all the time. I don't know if he can beat me at Tiger Woods. But yeah, me and him in the dorm rooms, we played in the summer, and he was usually a Call of Duty guy. I was like, come on, you've got to try this game. Me and him played it, we tried it and he started liking it, but he was horrible in the beginning but then he got better and better, and he started liking it.
Q. Has he ever come close to beating you? Carlo Calabrese: Sometimes, but I always win.
Q. Darrin, kind of going back with the Pittsburgh angle, Jonathan Baldwin said this week that he wasn't really sure who you were last year. Is that kind of a little bit of bulletin board material for you and what are your thoughts on that?
Darrin Walls: I've seen what he said. I really don't care really about it. I know that I'm a different player from last year, and so is he. I don't really talk much, and we'll see a lot on Saturday.
Q. What is the biggest challenge that he presents? What's the toughest part about his game to defend? Darrin Walls: Probably just going up and beating him for the ball. He's sort of tall and goes after the ball. He catches everything. I haven't really seen any tapes where he's dropping balls. I think that's big, catching the ball, at a high point, and out defending him?
Q. I guess when a guy is 6'5" and he catches the ball at its highest point is there a lot you can do about that, because unless you've got a 50 inch vertical jump it's hard to get up there? Darrin Walls: Yeah, his vertical is probably about 40 inches. We use different techniques that will be used on Saturday.
Q. What's the technique, try to get into his body a little bit more? Darrin Walls: That will be displayed this week.
Q. Darrin, just continuing on the big picture aspect, can you just talk about maybe the meaning of this game facing against Pitt from how far you've come from missing a season, just what it means to you to be playing against a hometown team for the final time? Darrin Walls: I mean, really just another game for me. I'm just trying to go out there and help my team win, and we need to play well and we need everyone else to play well. That's the mindset I have going into this game. It's big because I'm from Pittsburgh, but the ultimate thing here is the big three.
Q. Being from Pittsburgh, not getting the victory last year, that must mean all the more reason for you to want to get a victory here. Darrin Walls: Yeah, we have to come out with a win, and I think we're doing everything this week to do that and get that done.
Q. What's been the biggest part of your game that has changed over the last two years that has allowed you to get to this point? Darrin Walls: I'd say the biggest thing is just playing with confidence and not guessing so much, just knowing what the offenses are going to do and receiver routes and knowing where the quarterback is going with the ball. I think just playing with confidence and knowing that my preparation has prepared me to play well.
Q. Carlo, can you just talk about the energy level when you guys are out there and you or Manti are making a big play, how you guys feed off each other in terms of the excitement when you get a big tackle or a sack? Carlo Calabrese: Yeah, the energy level is through the charts. If Manti makes a big hit, it pumps me up and it makes me want to make a big hit the next play, so we're feeding off each other a lot, and we're not only feeding off each other, we're feeding off the whole defense and the whole team. The offense, if they score a touchdown, we're pumped and we want to get a three and out. Everybody is feeding off each other on this team.
Q. You saw Ray Graham had 277 yards rushing. What was the first thought that went through your mind? Carlo Calabrese: I know he's a good player and he's a playmaker. I know he's a big key for their team, and we've just got to do what we do on defense. We can't do anyone else's job, we've got to do our job and just stop him.
Q. My question is for Darrin. Can you talk about the year that you had off? What was it like to go through that, and when you went to Notre Dame did you see the quadruple overtime game there or did you see it at home, and what was it like to see the game decided on a fade pass on a guy you might have been covering? How hard was that for you to deal with? Darrin Walls: The year off, it was tough watching at home. But I kept my energy up and my kept talking to the guys, and my spirits didn't get down too much. Yeah, I came up for the game, and it was tough watching knowing that I could have and should have been out there with my teammates. But yeah, I was down on the sidelines when the game went into overtime and it was tough watching, but I mean, I was rooting for my team, and we didn't get it done, so it was tough.
Q. Can you talk about coach talked about you having a more professional approach to it. How much did that year off change everything, the way you came back and wanted to have a different attitude? Darrin Walls: Yeah, I think I just looked at the game differently. When you see it from a distance, it's not the same, and I think I matured from it and learned a lot just watching. I think the biggest thing I learned was not taking anything for granted, and this year is probably one of my biggest years I need to have for my team and for myself, and just knowing that I can't take anything for granted, I'm just going to do the best I can to prepare myself and play well.
Q. To bring you back to the recruiting thing, Pitt was one of the schools that recruited you heavily. How close of it was a call picking Notre Dame over Pitt, if it was a close call, and is that ever extra motivation for these type of games? Could you have seen yourself on the other side of this rivalry? Darrin Walls: Now that I'm here, I don't see myself anywhere else. Pittsburgh was in the running. It was between Pittsburgh, Florida, Michigan and Notre Dame, and I chose Notre Dame. But yeah, now that I'm here, I couldn't see myself anywhere else, and I think I made the best decision to come here.