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    Player Interviews From Friday's Press Conference

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    FIGHTING IRISH

    FIGHTING IRISH

    Dec. 8, 2000

    Below are player comments from the following members of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team:
    Matt LoVecchio (Quarterback), Joey Getherall (Flanker), Anthony Denman (Linebacker), Tony Fisher (Tailback), Lance Legree (Nose Guard), Anthony Weaver (Defensive Tackle).

    Matt LoVecchio

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: I think whatever Arnaz is going to play on the field, whether it's quarterback, halfback, flanker, he is a leader on this team. He's helped me so much since I've been here. He made it a lot easier for me just learning things. He's been a great help all the way. He is a dynamic, exciting player. When he gets the ball, watch out.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: You always hear rumors flying in and out through the press and players and whatnot, but I just go about my business. And I found out when it became official.

    But, you know, I am just happy that he's happy. And, like I said, whatever Arnaz is going to play on the field, whether it's quarterback or flanker, he's going to be an exciting player.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: I think just the help of other people has gotten this team this far. Since the Stanford game and the Michigan State game, there has been total confidence in me and everyone.

    And I think when we all work together, when we just play as a team, it makes it easier for me. And I think the rest of the guys feel comfortable.

    Q. You are the one out there throwing the fastest and facing a rush. What about your own personal development?

    MATT LoVECCHIO: I am giving everyone else the credit. I think just all the confidence and all the offensive linemen that they have, all the receivers, all the patience that everyone has had, all the coaches developing a young quarterback, all the mistakes, it's easy for someone to lose their patience. Just all the patience that the coaches and players have had, just the confidence we all had with each other, that's why we're here right now.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: Yeah, the things you know in high school, I don't think - you know, you come here and the coaches are going to get on you. They're going to yell at you and try to get the best out of you.

    I was really never babied in high school. I've been yelled at before. I've been told what to do. I had that. I respect coaches coaching you. I want to get coached. I want to learn as much as I possibly can out of the position. I want to get better. I have the willingness for me to take coaching, and to take it to the highest level I possibly can.

    Q. (Inaudible)?

    MATT LoVECCHIO: At times, I think, you know, as the season's progressed, you do get the comfort level out there as far as the crowd and the opponent. The experience definitely helps. I think going out there, just slowing everything down is the most important thing.

    As the weeks go along, you see different defenses week in and week out. It starts to get repetitive after a while, something we've seen earlier in the season, or later in the season it is going to be the second time you are going to see it.

    I think defensive recognition. Earlier on, it was the first time I saw the defense. But now, it is going to be the second time, so I think it's going to be a little easier.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: Looking back to the West Virginia game, I probably could have had three interceptions in that game. I remember throwing the ball across my body to David Givens.

    I think I remember in the Air Force game running out of bounds, five yards out of bounds. That's pretty much a sack on my own part, just throwing the ball away.

    And making good decisions is something I tried to develop as the season has progressed.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: Absolutely. I think none of those. I think those guys up front are doing an unbelievable job. I think Coach has put us in a great position. Like we were against USC, that big pass to (inaudible) -- that makes it a lot easier on the receivers.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: These guys are great. They've had nothing but support since I've been here. We all have the same goal in mind, and that's to win football games. We've been doing that.

    Right now, the reason I think we've been doing that is because we are playing as a team. You know, when we do play as a team and we work together, good things are happening.

    As far as earning those guys' respect, I think since day one when I went into that huddle, I think the most important thing for them to see in me is I am not going to go in there and be soft-spoken. If they see weakness in me, that would be me not knowing what I'm doing.

    I took it upon myself to go in prepared. If I had to go in and study on my own, I would do that. Letting them know I know what I'm doing, I think, was important for me.

    Q. (Inaudible)?

    MATT LoVECCHIO: I think I am the way I am right now. I'm not hiding anything. I go out each day and practice. And, you know, I think the way the coaches - the way we work on each rep in practice, you go out there, and I think you're just so prepared by the time the game comes, you go out and play and you have fun. It makes it even more exciting. That's the reason we play.

    As far as being a bundle of nerves, I don't think I was.

    Q. (Inaudible)?

    MATT LoVECCHIO: Like I said before, just going out there and just being confident in my ability. And, you know, with everything that is going on with the offense, I think that since day one I've been trying to take everything day by day and take everything in stride. If it's Monday and I'm worried about Saturday already, that's not going to help me or anyone else.

    Just learning the game plan from the start of the week to the end of the week, and take everything in stride is how I've been doing this.

    Q. (Inaudible)?

    MATT LoVECCHIO: Probably the Finals.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: I think here at Notre Dame anything can happen. So many things have happened this season, and, you know, you just have to - you can't come in here with expectations.

    I am going to back up this year, and then I am going to start this year. You just have to work as hard as you possibly can on the field and off the field and just, you know, keep your goals in mind and just work as hard as you can, and I think things will work out for you, especially here.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: Pretty much that's how I am, I guess.

    Q. There is nothing wrong with that. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: Just to be a normal freshman, just to come in here and get used to going to class, to being away from home, to living in a dorm, a roommate, playing football. I mean, learning a new system. There's just so many things when you come in here you can think about, but you have to take it day by day.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: I think just the balance of -- it's a busy day here. You wake up, you go to class. It doesn't really stop for me until about 10:30 at night. It's hard work, but I think it's all paid off, and we're in a position right now where it's all worth it. I think -- we are into December now, and I think, you know, I pretty much call this place home right now as opposed to back in October where I was still a freshman who was, you know - I don't know - not really accustomed to this place yet.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: Probably the weight room, getting bigger physically, and just throwing the ball as much as I can in the off-season.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: As much as everyone says that, I mean, I think so many people have contributed for us to be 7-0 right now. You can play these people in every single game. To field goal blocks, to plays we made on defense, it's just been a total contribution from coaches and players.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: I try not to read too much or to watch too much. I think, you know, I guess it is just a part of being the quarterback at Notre Dame, and that's one of the reasons you come here. It's a dream to be in the position we are in right now. It's just unbelievable.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: I don't know. You know, we got 23 other really good freshman quarterbacks right now. Going into the spring, I am just going to be excited to go out there and compete and have fun.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: I don't -- I think wherever Arnaz plays on the field, if it is flanker, if he plays a little quarterback, if he plays a little halfback, I think he's going to be a great player. As far as saving the two other freshmen, I think we all get along great. We've been throwing. We've stayed since the last game. And I think, you know, they have their things all set, and they've been working hard, too.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    MATT LoVECCHIO: I think they're both really, really good quarterbacks. And, you know, I feel when we go out there every day for practice, even though we're throwing to each other and we are going through drills, I think we're all competing with each other at the same time.

    Off the field, I think we all have a good relationship. When we are on the field, we are competing and learning together, and I think it's making us all better at the same time.

    Joey Getherall

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I think it means a lot to me and a lot to all these guys. I think we think we came here with the thought of going to the National Championship Games and going to a big-time bowl every year. That hasn't happened.

    The chance to go to play in a big-time Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, is a dream of mine, so, hopefully, I go out with the win.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I'm pretty familiar with the PAC-10, and I know what types of players we have. And we probably should have a lot of Ju-Co players on that team. And I'm familiar with that, being there are a lot of junior colleges out in California.

    I played with several guys that went off to junior colleges and went out to colleges. I'm pretty sure of the types of players they have a lot of hustlers, a lot of guys that can make plays out there. So we have a lot of respect for them.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I think he's been the same coach. I think every year you got to change, adapt to what type of style of game is being played out there.

    I think this year he's been probably a little lenient with us because we've been winning some games. Practice has been a little less hitting out there. I think that has been helping us.

    Last year, we weren't winning too many games, and he thought practicing harder would make us get better. But we had a little more rest this year, and I think it helped in the long run.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I think a lot of us, after those two losses, we lost a little bit of confidence. We all knew what we were capable of. We knew we were two plays from being undefeated.

    The year before, we were in the same situation. We lost two very close games with Michigan and Purdue.

    Last year, we folded up a little bit, and we kind of got -- Michigan State beat us pretty bad at home. And this year, we didn't want to fold up. We just kept going out there, giving 110 percent.

    We had a meeting with all the players, and this time, we all told ourselves, we weren't going to give in, we were going to go out there and give 110 percent. We went 7-0. I think the record speaks for itself. We went 7-0 for the long run out there.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I think that shows you how much depth we have on this team. There are a lot of guys that are capable of stepping up at any time. We have a lot of guys who are backing up who are great players.

    Tony Fisher and Terrance were ready to play at any time when Julius got hurt. Tony Fisher, last year he would have started, and this year he had to deal with being the backup. This year, they got to show what they're capable of. I think Tony and Terrance could play anywhere, but Tony finished up the season as a starter. And I think he is one of the greatest tailbacks in our League. He can catch the ball.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I think it's real hard. I'm sure he had the thoughts in his head, "I'm not starting." He had those, for example, negative feelings.

    But I think you have to go out there with a positive mindset. As long as we're winning, I think that's the main thing. If we're winning, everyone is going to be happy. I think it would be a whole different situation if we were losing and he wasn't playing, I think he would be a little upset. Everyone is going to be happy and not going to complain and cry because we're winning.

    I think Tony and Terrance understand the situation that when things are going good, you're not going to change things. When we started with Julius, I didn't think Tony was going to complain. He understood his role, he kept playing out there. And when he got his chance, he showed everybody on the team, the coaching staff, that he could step in at any time and do just as good or better.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I really, you know, those are the things you are going to be faced with. You are going to have your critics. I never minded that. I had no problem with that. I think everyone is going to have something negative to say about you. I understood that and never got upset about that. I am happy with my progress here.

    With the injury in my freshman year, they said I was too small. When they said that, they just wanted to make excuses for me. I wasn't going to go out there and say, "I am going to give up because I'm too small." I had to prove to everyone that I could play on this level.

    Hopefully, I get rid of that - whatever you want to say - that "being too small, you can't play out there." I think a lot of players like Tim White, Wayne Chrebet, I don't hear anybody saying that they're too small now, because they're excelling at the next level. Hopefully, I get the opportunity next year.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: Well, no doubt. It has been a great accomplishment for me. It would end my career -- I am going to end my career on a high note, going to a big-time Bowl. It is the only big-time Bowl I've been able to go to.

    With this opportunity in our hands, I think we've got to take advantage of it. We have got to go out there next week and give it our all in the practice that we are going to practice at.

    But I think it's going to be all business when we get up there.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I am not going to say I am going to play out there. I am not going to be cocky and say, "I am going to excel."

    It would be a dream of mine to play at the next level. You should be lucky to have the opportunity to go to the next level. It is a privilege to be up there. And, hopefully, I get that opportunity.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I can recall a little bit. I'm sure my Dad remembers every little bit of it. He probably can remember everything, a lot of things. It's just like more of a blur to me.

    I just remember going to his office that day, telling him how much I wanted to go here. He asked me some questions. He was real committed and upbeat about the situation. I said that it's an honor to go here. He said, "I am giving you a scholarship, you should be excited." I am not a person who is going to show all my emotions right there, but I was so excited inside.

    Thankfully, I brought my highlight tape. And I think if I hadn't brought that, I don't think I would have been offered a scholarship here. I showed Coach Meyer and Coach Colletto, and they were pretty ecstatic about it. They said they told Coach Davie about it.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I think everyone gave a speech, all the seniors. Everyone gave a heartfelt speech out there, and they talked about their experiences. A lot of people talked about what they've been through, their memories and friendships they've had.

    I remember guys talking about how they're going to miss putting on the helmet, going to practice. Even though you don't want to go to a practice, these are the things you are going to miss and remember. The tough times, going out there when you're sore and messing up. You don't want to go out there on those days, but those are the things you are going to miss and cherish forever.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: Jim Jones is great. I came in here in my freshman year. I remember him being on the scout team for my freshman and sophomore year. I think they made us switch spring going into my senior year or junior year.

    He made a big transition. He got better these past two years. I think he has the chance to go to the next level next year.

    Q. How is he in the weight room?

    JOEY GETHERALL: He is a strong kid. I think he bench presses 500 pounds. He's more of a real relaxed guy. He doesn't say too much. He keeps to himself. He's hardworking out there. I think he's going to be a great player.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I think they might have a little flash, but they're players just like us. They're individual athletes. They have a lot of athleticism out there, a lot of speed, a lot of track guys out there.

    I am not going to take anything away from Oregon State. They have a great coach in Dennis Erickson. He brought a little bit of that Miami to them - that flashiness, that cockiness. They believe they can win this game. And both teams should believe they can win this game. And we are going to go out there, and I think it's going to be a battle out there.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I think that means a lot. I think Grant really cares for this team. He is out there at practice every day. Even though he's not going to be able to practice, he's out there with his helmet on. He comes out there with his cleats on. He wants to be a part of this team. He loves this team like every guy on the team. He loves all the players on the team. He wants to be out there to be with the guys.

    The memories - you want to remember them forever. You want to be out there and play with them, just to have that chance to be with our guys 24 hours a day, like we did in the fall with two-a-days. We were together 24 hours a day.

    Those are the times you can remember. Those are the things that he wants to remember.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I don't remember anything that he did, but it's more so the whole team. This is a team that, like Matt even says, it's not Matt LoVecchio. It's his team, actually. Everyone out there helps him. We all rallied around him to help him out. Receivers have to make plays. Running backs have to make plays. Offense has to block.

    We knew we had to step it up for him. We knew what he was capable of. We knew he had a lot of - a lot of - talent and he was capable of leading this team. He played better and better each and every week.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: No, I really don't have any advice for them. It's going to be real, real funny what they do with him next year. Are they going to put him at quarterback for option plays, or do various things with him? Who knows what they'll do?

    I think he's real talented. I think he's one of the most athletic players in the country. To just go out there like he did at quarterback, go out there, have fun, use your talent to the best of your ability, and he'll do fine out there.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: I think that hurt a lot of guys. We lost all those games each and every week. By the end of the year, it was kind of like most of the guys -- it was a relief that it was over, because it hurt so much.

    And we knew what we had to do in the off-season: Get ready for this upcoming year. I think Mikey was ready. All the players were ready that were coming back to get back in the weight room, get back to running, and come back in the summer. And by that time, we were just ready to play the game.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    JOEY GETHERALL: It made me real nervous. I am just thankful for the BCS and the Fiesta Bowl Committee for allowing us to play this big-time game. I'm thankful to Oklahoma for beating Kansas State in that game. I knew that game had a lot of meaning to us to be able to go to a Bowl game in Tempe.

    I think for a lot of the guys it was a waiting game. I think we just went out there, we couldn't really do anything. It wasn't really in our hands. It was up to the whole BCS to do what they felt was right. And I'm thankful they gave us this chance. It might be unfair to Virginia Tech or maybe Nebraska. I think college football is a business, just like a lot of things are a business. I think they knew Notre Dame would attract a lot of fanfare. A lot of people want to watch us win - or even watch us lose. That will attract a lot of fans and, hopefully, get some good ratings for the TVs.

    Anthony Denman

    Q. What has it meant to be voted MVP by your teammates?

    ANTHONY DENMAN: I think it is a tremendous honor. It shows my teammates respect my athletic ability and my leadership ability. There were a lot of candidates that could have easily got here, you know, Joey Getherall, LoVecchio. I just have to thank my guys basically.

    Q. Was it a surprise?

    ANTHONY DENMAN: It did come as a surprise. A lot of guys could have been easily in my position, MVP, and I'm just thankful.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: I saw highlights of Oregon, showing Oregon State, the receiver. I haven't watched any film yet, but I will be pretty soon.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: I guess you can say that I just try to be humble and not try to -- I just try to be humble basically.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: People in the beginning of the year say we were going to be 0-5, get blew out by Nebraska. The perseverance and the mindset that this team has, we don't care what anybody says. Even the media said that we weren't going to do anything this year, Coach Davie will get fired and things like that, it's kind of sweet to be in this position right now.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: Actually, I'm coming back for a fifth -- no, I'm not coming back. I wouldn't mind coming back. Like I said at the banquet, it's been a lot of fun. I remember coming in as a freshman and a lot of guys leaving and thinking it's kind of bad, but it's been worthwhile. Now I feel like I want to come back for another year and play with my boys. Just do this thing over again. And win the Championship next year, win the National Championship next year. I think I am going to tell the boys if they don't win the National Championship, I am going to come back with a bat swinging. They have some tough games on the road like Nebraska and Texas A & M, but I don't care about those teams. I think this team has confidence now to take it to the next level and this is a National Championship type of a team, so.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: I am going to be watching it, every game.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: You know every person goes through some hard times, and I thought I would be in a different position. I didn't feel comfortable with the situation, and I don't know, people were leaving, even getting kicked out of my class. It is a kind of tempting to take the easy way out and leave, but I think it paid off persevering through it all.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: No, I didn't have no -- (Inaudible) -- last year I felt we got some bad breaks in the beginning, that kind of put a damper on the rest of the season. We lost a lot of close games. Last year it was just bad all around. Those guys, they didn't deserve to go out like that. It's unfortunate, but we've done a lot from last year.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: My grandmother wouldn't let me, that was out of the question. I was just talking like, I hate this place, but it worked out in the end.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: He's been on all the defensive players back to get my production and play more aggressively and play fast. You've seen the style on the field, it is a critical part, and Coach Davie coming in and being more hands-on. Going back to the old days, to be our defensive coordinator and getting down and dirty with us.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: We would have started crying. No, he didn't cry. We got our scholarship taken away each year, but that's not a -- we can't affect that, we can only affect things happening on the field. We concentrated on things we could affect. We worked out in the weight room, ran together, and kicked it. We just had to worry about the things on the field. We couldn't worry about the probation, we're not on the NCAA Board or anything like that.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: Yeah, I mean, a couple of years ago we had a lot of incidents. This year we didn't have too many incidents of players getting in trouble, we had maybe one or two, that was cut down. It was totally different.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: People -- it's out there for you. You just sitting in your room and trouble can come to you, you just have to know what to do when it gets there, to make the right decision.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: I think all of those guys are heart and soul. I think you can't have one without the other, just the chemistry and the bond. All those guys play hard, I don't see anybody loafing. I think it's mutual respect for your teammates. You want to run for the ball and do those little things to help out your team. Everybody is going to emerge next year. They have a lot of talent coming back and a lot of experience. I am looking for big things. I am looking for them to play in whatever bowl there is next year, the National Championship.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: I think what brought that about was probably the embarrassment of last year, every guy that came here or most of the guys that came here came from winning teams in High School State Championships. They were winners. They won individual awards. Everybody came here as a winner, that's what you get in Notre Dame. I think that pride and sense of urgency that we had from last year, 5-7, it happened and we didn't want it to happen again. We used all the other stuff as motivation. People saying we were going to be 0-5, things like that, we used that as motivation to fuel our engines to come out and do something good this year.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: I think you have to make that switch. When you are on the field, you get a different mindset. It's like, you know, competition, kill or be killed basically, not like that, kill or be killed, you know what I'm talking about. But off the field, I am a totally different person, I am not a bad guy.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: I thought switching was an opportunity because Corey, he was a starter. They had a lot of guys behind them fighting for the No. 2 spot. Autry Denson had the tailback spot locked up. Nobody else was getting the carries for a couple of years besides him, I knew that. I just wanted to get on the field and contribute to the team. That is where my focus was. And that's why I changed and became a linebacker.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: It's been kind of funny sometimes, because we tell him, we kid him a little bit about bringing his helmet out to practice and running around. And I say, Grant, take that helmet off, man, your season is over. And he's like, yeah, yeah. No matter how much I kid him about it, he still keeps it on. He still lives in that dream and still wants to be a part of it. I think he is still a part of it. He just wants to be a part of it, I don't blame him.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: We make fun of him all the time. Grant is everybody's boy. He is a great guy. He makes me laugh all the time. He was my roommate. We cried together the first day freshman year when our parents left. It was like a rollercoaster ride. It is like a precious moment, I guess. I am about to cry now.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: I've thrown Weaver a couple of sacks. The D-line is in very good shape this year, they have been destroying guys, just pillaging and killing people. And Weaver, man. They've been protecting me all year. I just want to give them a little love there. They set this up this year. People said we didn't have any pass rush, in the preseason and Notre Dame will be picked apart because their DBs are slow and they suck and their pass rush is non-existent. But this year we had 30-something sacks and they responded it man to it, man, you know, to y'all. They're doing a great job this year. At the USC game, the coach they had, that was the best D-line they faced all year. That just goes to show you this D-line is real.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY DENMAN: I really don't care to be honest. Talking about us being on the bottom and stuff like that. You have to use that as motivation.

    Q. Have you always paid so much attention to what the media says?

    ANTHONY DENMAN: Well, whatever. People like tell me they said this and this. I don't really care. They were talking about us being 0-5 and stuff like that. You got to use that as motivation. Either you're going to fold and be 0-5 or you're going to say, hell no, and do it, you know.

    Q. Do you take pride in proving your skeptics wrong?

    ANTHONY DENMAN: We take pride, you know, just in being together and proving to each other that we can do this. We use it as motivation, like I said, but deep down we're just happy that we accomplished something together and trying to bring our name back to where it's supposed to be.

    Q. There was no joking around at the end of last year. From that far down you guys, or that far up this year, is there a realization of how quickly it can turn back and what you have to do to keep it where it is?

    ANTHONY DENMAN: A lot of sports teams - St. Louis Rams, the year before, they had a losing record, and then all of a sudden they were in the Super Bowl. We had the confidence last year, but things just didn't work out and this year we are having fun on the field playing as a unit, just having fun with your friends on the field. That's what it boils down to, making plays.

    Tony Fisher

    Q. I wanted to find out what exactly do you know about Oregon State, if anything?

    TONY FISHER: We know their offense is very explosive. They have a great tailback, quarterback and real nice receivers. We know our defense is going to have everything cut out for them, but we are just going to go out there and play real aggressive. As far as defense, they have some real good defensive ends. So you know, it's going to be a challenge for both teams because both teams are very similar. Whoever comes out with the hardest punch is going to win this game.

    Q. Do you think you guys are going to have any problem running the ball against them?

    TONY FISHER: It's hard to say. Whatever offensive line come out ready to play, I think we should be able to control the ball. But if their defense plays harder than our offensive line comes out playing then we'll have some trouble.

    Q. Is there any competition with you and the running backs of Oregon State, that they have gotten a lot of press, that you want to go out there and show them you are a top-of-the-line running back as well?

    TONY FISHER: I think me, Terrance and Julius we want to go out there and establish that we are three of the top running backs in the nation. I think Oregan State's running backs want to go out there and do the same thing. I think it will be a challenge for us, but we're not going to worry about that. I think the biggest thing is both teams want to go out there and win a game. With Notre Dame we want to come out there and establish that we are a team that's on the rise and go out there and win a game, no matter who is running the ball the best.

    Q. Have you seen a film of your counterpart Ken Simonton and what are your thoughts about his running style?

    TONY FISHER: I haven't saw too much film on him yet, but I've heard he is a real jitterbug. And he is a hard runner. In due time I will be able to evaluate. It is hard for me to say anything about him right now.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    TONY FISHER: There is no disappointment. I think it is a big marquee matchup, they're ranked No. 5 in the nation. There ranked ahead of us. So for us we just want to go out there and prove ourselves to the nation. We're still opening up people's eyes right now.

    Q. Do you let any negative press on this matchup get to you? Do you hear that or do you just dispel it and say we are going to get the job done on the field?

    TONY FISHER: We just have to dispel it. We have to go out there and win a game. We can't worry about what the press is saying. We have to go out there and do what we have to do.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    TONY FISHER: We don't worry about their speed because our team has a lot of team speed too. We matchup with any team in the nation with the aspect of team speed, I don't think that should be much of a problem for us.

    Q. How do you stay focused early enough in the season when you hear that Julius is the featured back -- (Inaudible) -- how do you stay focused enough through that?

    TONY FISHER: I think for me it was more family and being around Terrance. We just helped each other out. We didn't know who was going to be the feature back at the beginning, but then as time went on, I think it became quite obvious that Julius was going to get the ball more than us. For me I think it was kind of hard considering I was only getting the ball a few times a game.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    TONY FISHER: I think it did help a lot. I think if I really didn't have any close friends on this football team, then it would have been really hard for me to stay focused, probably even stay here. But with Terrance being around and having my family and having their support and encouragement, it made it real easy for me.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    TONY FISHER: I'm looking forward to the challenge to go out there to Arizona and play against Oregon State. I think it's going to be a great game.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    TONY FISHER: I'm not worried about the finals right now. I am trying to get everything done this week. When the finals come, I am just going to do the best I can. I know I am going to pass all mine anyways.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    TONY FISHER: I mean it played a big role, I guess. But I mean at the beginning of the season I think there was some selfish thoughts, but as the season went on, we was winning the games that counts, had the close games. When our number was called, we were able to be productive. And right now I am not even worried about it. I think all three of us deserve playing time and all three of us will go out there and be productive.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    TONY FISHER: I don't think anything went the way any of us thought it would go. I wanted my role to be real big at the beginning of the season. My role didn't get big until the end of the season. I think that happened at the end of last season too, when I was a sophomore. Hopefully my role will be increased next year and continue through. I just want to continue to be as helpful to this team as I possibly can.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    TONY FISHER: I don't think it was an ego thing because all three of us were still starters. Just because one person goes out there first doesn't mean that he's necessarily a starter. All of us was basically getting the same amount of playing time. It was just one person was getting more carries. When you look at our stats, I think somebody said I led the running backs in playing time, but when you look at all of us, we played around the same amount of plays.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    TONY FISHER: I think Jim Jones has been a great leader up there. Jim Jones and Mike Gandy, those are our best linemen, they're two of the strongest linemen. They open up some great holes for the running backs, so they've done a great job. Jim Jones has made drastic improvements since last year.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    TONY FISHER: I hope so. I think we have some long drives against USC more than the ones we did against Boston College. Since USC was very athletic and they thought they had better athletes than us, they was just going to go out there and stop our run and be able to stop our passing tempo. We went out there and proved otherwise. We was going to go out there and establish a strong running game and when opportuntity presented itself, we were able to pass the ball too.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    TONY FISHER: I think it did. The running backs got a lot wiser reading the holes. We got more comfortable with -- our line was blocking, so I think that did help our running attack.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    TONY FISHER: I mean off the field, Jim Jones, I played basketball a few times with him, so I know he's a great athlete considering how big he is. When you look at the weight room, Jim Jones is just a powerhouse in the weight room. He stayed dedicated to the game this year and I think that's what will help him out at the next level, he improved drastically. Last year you might worry about what Jim Jones was going to go out there and do, but this year you know what Jim Jones is going to go out there and do.

    Lance Legree

    Q. (Inaudible).

    LANCE LEGREE: It feels real good. I think this team, as a whole, it deserves it. I think we've been through so much, it just shows our work ethic and what we decided to do from the start of the spring training. It is a good thing that we're able to receive this reward for our work this season.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    LANCE LEGREE: Well, you know, I think he feels good with what we're doing right now. I think that, you know, over the years I think Coach Davie has taken a lot of heat for what the team has been doing with the losing season that we had. But I think a lot of times just him being here, he takes a lot of the heat because of what he is. I'm glad he's getting the rewards also for what we accomplished this season. I think that was one of the main things that we, as a team, we thought it was wrong for what they were doing to Coach, because a lot of the pressure they put on him. We lost a lot of close games, not necessarily because of the coaching, but because of the bad plays made by us. So I am glad for him this year.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    LANCE LEGREE: I'm very anxious. I heard they were a very good team and they had a good offensive line. They had a very good tailback and also a very good quarterback. So I'm very anxious. Hopefully they won't be too --.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    LANCE LEGREE: Well, you know, I think that every time you play a ballgame you have to be prepared for the team's best shot. Everyone has played eleven games during the season and everyone has been through a lot. Every freshman is now a sophomore and every senior is now a fifth-year senior and every person is very experienced. They're going to give it their best shot. Even if they're not that good of a team, we know they're going to play their best game because of the stadium that we're playing in and also because of the time of the year it is.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    LANCE LEGREE: I think that happens a lot because of Notre Dame and what it stands for. But we know every Saturday we go out there, it is going to be one-on-one against the person you are going to be playing against. And ultimately, the best team is going to win the game.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    LANCE LEGREE: I haven't. I'm not going to say anything like that. I don't know. I have respect for -- sometimes you play, everyone has different talents. I played against some good offensive linemen this year from Nebraska that was really good. I can say I have a little bit more respect for the guys I play against.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    LANCE LEGREE: Definitely, definitely. One of my goals this year was to be able to go to a big-time ball game, to be able to be successful in the season. We had minimum success when we went to the Gator Bowl and the Independence Bowl, so I really want to be successful.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    LANCE LEGREE: Well, I guess not really. I don't really think it affects us that much. We knew that we were under a microscope when that happened and we all -- of course, we always knew we under that microscope. But with that, it's just added pressure. Everywhere you went people were asking you what happened with that and how has that affected you guys. And we just took it in stride. And if we did what was right, all that would clear up and we would forget about it.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    LANCE LEGREE: I don't know. Grant is a good friend of mine. I think him just getting out there and showing his support, because you know he's a great player, him just being out there with us, I think it is a tremendous thing that he did. He is the captain of this team and we voted him a captain because of this because we knew he was a very strong leader and a very good person and he would stand by us no matter what. Most guys, if they were hurt, they wouldn't be out to practice. Grant stayed with us everyday. Grant was hurt and he had his helmet on and his jersey on, so I respect Grant a lot for what he did.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    LANCE LEGREE: We gave Grant a lot of heat, we respect him but we gave him a lot of heat for it.

    Q. Give us examples.

    LANCE LEGREE: We would be in meetings and, you know, Coach would ask us questions and Grant would just answer. We were like, Grant, why are you answering, you are not going to be playing this week, just things like that.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    LANCE LEGREE: We have been talking about that too. We know the type of talent that is on this team. And we know the type of guys that we have on this team and the kind of push that they have. And without a doubt we don't see that there is any way that they would not be - if they don't win it, they would be in the hunt.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    LANCE LEGREE: If they don't take care of things, there is going to be some trouble. We are going to take care of those guys.

    Anthony Weaver

    Q. What does it mean to go to the Fiesta Bowl?

    ANTHONY WEAVER: Last year when I was sitting at home this time, it is a huge accomplishment. If you had the opportunity to play a game with guys like Denman and Lance, it means so much to me because those guys are like my brothers. To see them go out like this, on top, where they belong, it's special, it means a lot.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY WEAVER: He is a great guy. In my opinion, he is First Team All-American. I see this guy running around making plays. He makes it like he's third team. He's a great guy. We hang out all the time. He's not a cocky individual. He doesn't care whether he gets all the accolades, what he does on the field, he does it for people that matter to him, his parents, his family, his teammates. He plays hard for us. I think he is a great player, an amazing player. As far as him downplaying, that's just his personality.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY WEAVER: This victory would be huge. We said this isn't the last game of this year, it is the first game of next year. If we win this game, it will give us a good start, probably preseason rankings next year. If we can win on the road next year, we'll be in the driver seat, that's our goal. Next year our goal isn't to be to go to the Fiesta, it will be to win the National Championship from the beginning of the season until the end, this game is just our first step. Put us back on the map so we can get a victory and prove that we deserve to be in the BCS. If we go out there and win this game, we'll prove to everybody that we deserve to be in there, that we are one of the top teams in the country.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY WEAVER: I heard that from him to. I hear that from him all the time.

    Q. He says that to you guys all the time?

    ANTHONY WEAVER: Yeah, we always clown around with each other.

    That's our goal, that's the whole reason we came here, we didn't come in here to be 9-2. We definitely didn't come in here to be 5-7 like we did last year. You come to Notre Dame to win Championships, put another name on the bottom of that sign when you walk down the tunnel. We're all trying to be part of something special. That's our goal next year to win the National Championship. We know we have the talent and the ability to do it, it's just a matter of coming together. Guys like LoVecchio throwing touchdown passes, but...

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY WEAVER: Grant's special, man. That guy, man, he was out for the season. I don't know, I think we were playing Stanford or something. We will be in meetings and Grant will be like, Coach, are we supposed to hit that stunt? I am like, Grant, you are not hitting any stunt. Don't ask any more questions, okay. He'll be out there stretching with us. I'll be like, what are you stretching for? Wearing his helmet, he's different. You gotta love him for that.

    Q. Is he naive?.

    ANTHONY WEAVER: He's not naive, he always want to be playing football, he loves the game. He's trying to learn new things, trying to get better, even when he can't practice. He's a man of strong character. He's always happy. When he was out for the season, it hurt him, but he didn't say forget this team, I am going to sit in the back. He was out there helping us, supporting us, doing whatever he can, even with his injury.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY WEAVER: You know we knew that Coach Davie was a great defensive coordinator. We were confident in his play-calling ability. We were confident in Coach Madison's ability too. We know the two of them together, bring their minds together and collaborating and making the play calls, it helped us tremendously. Instead of just having one guy carry the burden, having the two of them definitely helped us in the long run.

    Q. (Inaudible) -- what difference did you see from last year to this year?

    ANTHONY WEAVER: I think the two of them got together and decided with the talent we have, we have to be more attacking in front, just be more of an attacking defense. Last year we sat there a little bit and took their best shot. We never really attacked them. We were always on our heels and they were always the ones attacking us. This year we attacked them and they had to make the plays, where as we were just sitting back trying to stop them from getting that ten yards.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY WEAVER: Honestly, you know, we joke around a little bit, but we don't really mean it. We think we should get some Play Station 2s or something like that. We just clown around. We really don't talk about it that much, I guess.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY WEAVER: Honestly, I really don't think it affected the team at all. If anything, it motivated us because they were trying to put like -- it was kind of like our university was on a downhill spiral or the athletes weren't good enough, like we had to lower our standards in order to be a good team academically. But it motivated us to go out and work harder to prove that we are good athletes and capable of winning, we're not just good students or average athletes. It motivated us to workout and work hard and show what we are capable of.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY WEAVER: I know this is probably a bad thing to say, but I don't respect O-linemen at all. I think they're just all want-to-be athletes. My whole goal is like when I go out there and it's one-on-one, I am going to try to beat them. I know there are probably some great O-linemen out there, but they're probably all ex D-linemen. I am trying to go and beat the guy in front of me, it's a one-on-one battle and may the best man win.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY WEAVER: I heard some Jim Jones stories. He's a great O-lineman now, you have to give him credit.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY WEAVER: Not when I was here. I know one guy Vollers, was on the D-line and he was all right. But, you know, he's where he belongs now.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    ANTHONY WEAVER: No, but you know, I love all those guys, I do.

     

     

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