Notre Dame Captain Q&As, Sept. 13
Four of Notre Dame's captains addressed the media today to discuss several topics including wrapping up the Georgia game and previewing Boston College.
Read below to see what the players said to each question posed. Featured players: linebacker Greer Martini, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, linebacker Nyles Morgan and rover Drue Tranquill.
LB GREER MARTINI
Q: How has your role maybe expanded a lot? Do you feel like you have to worry about or keep track of guys maybe a little bit more?
GREER MARTINI: “I think so a little bit to a degree but for the most part these guys on the team really don't need many people telling them what to do. I think everyone is really focused on the next goal and that's beating BC.”
Q: What do you see from these guys the last three days, like that they are going to be all right?
MARTINI: “Yeah, you get kind of 24 hours to be kind of sorry for yourself after a loss like that. Sunday night, you you've kind of got to get refocused. Monday we woke up and we were ready to get back after it.”
Q: Notre Dame playing BC, how would you characterize it?
MARTINI: “I think it's going to be a tough, hard-fought game. They always play us really well. Yeah, I think they are just a good football team and it's should be a good football game.”
Q: Are they one of the more physical teams on your schedule? I know you don't play them every year, but would you say that?
MARTINI: “Yeah, I think they are a really physical team and I think there's also a lot at stake here. We are both Catholic institutions and there's a little pride involved with that, as well.”
Q: When you look at their offense, what do you think are the keys to you guys on defense having a successful day?
MARTINI: “I think that in the run game, just filling the holes, not letting them push us around. I think ultimately, just flying to the ball. As long as we're moving and playing aggressive, we'll be all right.”
Q: What do you see from the red-shirt freshman quarterback, Anthony Brown? Is he a dual-threat? How would you summarize his style of play?
MARTINI: “Yeah, I think he's a dual-threat. I think he's a good quarterback. But for us, it's more about focusing on our job, because we really haven't done that much scouting report on them as much as we're just kind of getting down the scheme for ourselves.”
Q: After two games, how would you summarize how the linebacker play has been? MARTINI: “I think it's improved. I think it's getting better and better. We want to be one of the best linebacker course in the country so we're working towards that goal. We're obviously not there but I think we've gotten better from week one to week two.”
Q: Talk about this defense and the things that you like about the scheme and what it allows to you do.
MARTINI: “Yeah, I think it allows us to play fast. I think we're playing confident, and having those things just allows us as a defense as a whole for us just to play, to progress and to be physical, not really think about things. We're just out there playing for each other and running around and it's been fun.”
Q: You guys were 0-3 last year in true road games, and this program was 5-11. What makes going on the road difficult and what do you have to do to make sure it's not the same result that it's been?
MARTINI: “Yeah, I think that for someone that's already traveled to away games, it's not that big of a deal because you already have that routine but for the younger guys that it's their first travel game, I think that's the hardest thing is to get them to know what we do on away games.
“Not speaking about last year or anything, I think that we're ready for this game. We're going to be ready to go in there and get a W.”
Q: Is that in the back of your mind? Does your role change?
MARTINI: “I don't think it really changes. You just have to be kind of extra wary of guys coming out with maybe being a little bit slower, maybe having a different attitude, and this team hasn't showed that at all. Been really pretty focused yesterday in practice and just getting ready for BC.”
Q: Does your role maybe expand, even for older guys, that you're going three in a row last year; let's get is that stat out of the way and let's get to the W and get rid of that notion that we can't win on the road.
MARTINI: “Yeah, I don't think it's really in the back of our minds. I think this is a new year and this new attitude and at least for me, speaking for myself, I don't really feel that way. I think it's just all about our game planning, going in and executing.
Q: Looking at the growth of the defense, you touched on Saturday. You were pleased especially the fourth quarter getting those stops. How critical was that for the confidence of this defense moving forward just to show you guys, hey, we can do that in a big game setting?
MARTINI: “Yeah, I think Georgia was a great team and showed us that we can kind of go out there and play with anyone. As a defensive unit, obviously there's things we need to clean up and could have done better, but I think as a whole defensive unit that we can go out and play with anyone.”
OT MIKE MCGLINCHEY
Q: As down as you were after Saturday's game, as a captain, it's your job to pick the other guys up. Who picks you up when you're as down as you were?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: “That's a pretty tough question. I think it's more just of an understanding that football is one of those games that's going to have ups, downs and it's going to take you sideways. It's a very demanding, emotionally, game. Saturday, definitely was a horrible one for me, especially. You know, I vent to my mom and my girlfriend, my best friends, my dad, but none of them really bring me back up. It's just more of an outlet to speak on what I was feeling and all that kind of stuff.
“But it's more about yourself to bring yourself backup. Just knowing about, how hard of a game football really is and the only thing you can do is keep working to get better. Like I said before, you can vent about it all you want but nothing is going to change unless you go back to work and that's all I've been focused on from Sunday to Monday on, and feeling a lot better than I did on Saturday night, that's for sure.”
Q: What's the process you go through? Does it take until Tuesday where you can now focus on the task ahead instead of letting what happened before fester? McGLINCHEY: “I think so. I think you get back out to practice yesterday, on Tuesday and you can kind of wash the stink off of you. I mean, you sit there all weekend and just watch that one play over and over and over again, and you kind of drive yourself insane.
“But it's one play. It's one of those things that I've got to -- I guess I've got to work on the timing of my misses because it was a pretty brutal one. But no, you can't really get fully back into it until there's a game plan in front of you and there's a next opponent. Just go back to work on what you can control, and the team that we're going to face this week in Boston College.”
Q: The role of the captain, how does it expand after a loss? What do you guys do together as a group to make sure this happens or this doesn't happen moving forward?
McGLINCHEY: “Well, I think that's where we screwed up last year in the fact that we tried to do too much. I think that -- I talked with Coach Hiestand about it all the time. When you mess up a play or when you mess up a game as a team, you wind up on the losing side of things; it's normally just a couple small things here and there that you've got to alter, that you've got to change. Where we're going to be a lot different is we're not going to go into panic mode.
"We're not going to go into anything that's too drastic because we know we are a good football team. We've got a lot of talented players and a lot of great leaders, and we're going to just be as consistent as we can, as possible, to get our jobs done and to eliminate the mistakes that were made.
“And that's all you really can do moving forward. It's the coach's job to point them out, it's the players job to fix it and that's all you can really do. As a captain, I'm just going to help; I'm going fix myself first, and then wherever I can help, I'll help.”
Q: So you don't have to talk maybe as much this year as you did last year? McGLINCHEY: “No.”
Q: Mike, when you think of playing Boston College, what comes to mind? McGLINCHEY: “Family. For me, at least. You know, I've got a guy that I've looked up to my entire life since I was a little kid that went there. And my football fandom started by watching Boston College and what Matt was able to do on Saturdays there, and that's when I really, truly fell in love with the game of football and started to dream a little bit.
“Playing BC, it's a great program. I was very interested in going to school there when I was a high school kid. Luckily I chose to go here, in my personal opinion. “Yeah, it's just one of those things that it's cool because I have a lot of family ties there. Matt went there. My uncle, John Locker, played there in the early 80s, and yeah, just it's one of those things that it's a cool game for me.
“It was cool back in 2015 when we went to play at Fenway and there's a lot of history between the two of our programs. We've got two Division I A Catholic institutions in America and the Holy War, I guess, you can call it.”
Q: They are always good in the trenches defensively, and maybe leading into the answer, but what's the key to having success against BC's defense?
McGLINCHEY: “Being fundamentally sound. Being schematically sound. They are going to move a lot. They have a lot of great players up front. You know, just doing your job and not making anything bigger than it really is.
“Like I said, not fixing too many problems or being too drastic on how you fix the problems that arose last week, and just look at this: It's a new game, it's a new week, it's a new opponent and they are going to do different things out there.
“Just studying all week the tips that they are going to give you; the way that they play the game, and you know, how hard you play, and that's really all that you really can do to win success, especially up front in football every Saturday.”
Q: How would you describe Landers' game?
McGLINCHEY: “Well, obviously he's a fantastic football player. I think he had 16 and a half or 17 sacks last year. Obviously doing something right. He's a really good football player. Quick off the edge, strong, shifty and he has a high motor, and that's normally a good combination for getting past offensive tackles like myself. We've got to do a good job this week in preparing for him and the rest of BC's defensive ends.
“The good thing about the offensive line is that most of what happens out there is in my control. So Harold is going to have to react to what I do to him more so than I'm going to have react to what he does to me in terms of how to block him. That's what I like about playing my position is that I just can keep working and working and working until I feel comfortable with how I'm moving, how I'm setting and how I'm getting on blocks.”
Q: Do they move him around or do you expect to be going head-to-head with him the bulk of the night?
McGLINCHEY: “I think they do move him around. They are primarily an over front, so they shift to the tight end with the three-technique and he normally is with the nose guard. So they will move back and forth.”
Q: Does he have a signature move or is it varied?
McGLINCHEY: “Varied. But like I said, a lot of speed, tries to get you around the edge most of the time but he throws a lot of different combinations of things of how he does that for sure.”
Q: Mike, I know you guys have practice this week and have to be focused on that and preparing, but at the same time, when you come off a loss, is there a hunger inside to get back on the field and show everyone what you guys are made of? McGLINCHEY: “Absolutely. It's going to be a big week for us. Like you said, we do have to go out and practice and we're not going to win on Saturday, unless we win Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“It's definitely a great challenge. BC is a great defense and they are going to have a lot of things ready for us and we're Notre Dame and we expect everybody to throw their best shot at us. There's nothing really, other than that, that you can really prepare for.
“We're going to play our hearts out. Everybody's kind of angry, kind of pissed off and ready to get back out and see another team again, but we've got to take it day-by-day first. (Applause by Coach Kelly in the back).”
Q: What did you think of that?
McGLINCHEY: “(Laughs) I saw somebody out of the corner of my eye. I did not know it was him. But thank God I answered that okay. (Laughter).”
Q: You guys have struggled on the road, really since you've been here, 5-11 during your time in true road games. What makes the road difficult, and what do you have to do to be successful?
McGLINCHEY: “I think that college football in general to just get wins is pretty difficult. I guess the added things that come along with going on the road, I mean, you can't really make an excuse because everybody has to do it. You know, there's different wrinkles about traveling and different crowds and things, and it's just you're not in your element.
“So adding the road is just a different wrinkle but it's hard to win at home, too, clearly. We've had our fair share of losses at home, as well.
“You know, college football is just hard to win in general. There's a couple logistical things that come along with playing on the road that makes things more difficult than they needed to be. But every week is really, really hard to win a game, and we've just got to do our part to make sure that we win both home and away from here on forward.”
Q: Did you have to say anything to younger guys who haven't been in a road situation before to get them prepared?
McGLINCHEY: “Not necessarily. I think the coaches do a fine job with that. I don't really have to plug myself in anywhere that they have already plugged themselves into our lexicon and what they are saying to us.
“Just when I'm asked about it, when I'm asked about the younger guys and what's to be expected, it's much of the same. Just have to make sure you take care of yourself, like I said, logistically, with how you're traveling: Get your stuff in, make sure you're taking care of yourself as a normal day-to-day person when you're getting on the road. There's just certain things that happen. You can't forget anything.
“You can't prepare any differently, but it's just the logistical things that are taken on to the road that provide a little bit different of a wrinkle or a challenge.”
Q: Just going up against -- I don't know how much in practice or fall camp you've went against Jay Hayes, but what's led had his rise and evolution along the defensive line?
McGLINCHEY: “I think Jay's done a great job, I mean, his whole career I think. He's a senior now. He's ready to go. Has kind of chipped away his entire time here and waiting for his opportunity, and it's starting to come.
“He's done a great job since the spring and getting into the position he is now of studying football and training really, really hard and making sure his body is taken care of, and taking coaching real well and understanding what his role is as a defensive end on our football team. He's had a lot of success so far this season and I don't expect anything but more of that to continue.
“Jay is a great person. He's a great teammate and he's going to continue to work his butt off to make sure his job is taken care of each and every week, and he's shown some signs of domination, as well. You know, he's put a lot of time into this game, and certainly evolved as a player since he first got here.”
Q: How specifically can you guys create more balance in the offense?
McGLINCHEY: “I think that you just have to kind of study. You know, study and figure out where -- I guess it's not really for us to study, but our coaches. They study the game plan and put the things in place that they feel is going to best attack defenses and this week we have Boston College.
“Then it's our job as players to execute to the best of our ability and no matter what the play is called, everybody has got a specific job on that play and you've got to make sure that you're doing it.
“And if you're not doing it, that's when a lack of balance comes or the lack of, however you want to call it comes, and it's just those things that certain defenses do a lot of different things to take things away from you, especially if they watch you on film and see strengths that your offense has portrayed over the weeks prior and it's our job to combat those things and execute to the best of our ability and make sure that our offense has the options to do whatever we can to put points on the board.”
LB NYLES MORGAN
Q: What do you see Sunday, Monday, Tuesday from the guys, despite the loss, that you'll be all right?
NYLES MORGAN: “Guys will get back after it. Guys will, you know, scheme and practice, like yesterday. Guys were really into in practice. Guys were really dialed in. Guys really were focused.”
Q: Could you sense a difference between the loss this year, maybe as opposed to late last year, where you say guys are more dialed in and determined to get this thing back on track?
MORGAN: “We're not worried about last year. I'm not worried about last year. It's on to the game next and worrying about playing BC.”
Q: What would a road win do for you right now?
MORGAN: “Road win, home win, same thing. A win's a win for us. You know, trying to get them all.”
Q: Nyles, talk a little about this defense this year and what you like about this defense? What does it allow you and others to do?
MORGAN: “I would say, you know, it allows us to play fast. You know, play to the best of our abilities.”
Q: I told you, you've had a couple opportunities to play against BC, at least one. How would you characterize a Notre Dame/BC game? What goes through your head preparing to play hard?
MORGAN: “They are a hard-nosed team, another Catholic institution, and they are going to give us their best shot and we're going to give them ours.”
Q: What do you see as you prepare for your offense? What do you see as the keys to slowing them down?
MORGAN: “You know, we've been evaluating their game plan for this season, last season, and they change up a few things. We're going to just run with our game plan.”
Q: They have a red-shirt freshman at quarterback, presume it's going to be Anthony Brown. Do you consider him a dual-threat or what kind of game does he play? MORGAN: “I would say that he's a dual-threat. He can run and throw. So we have something in store for that.”
Q: When Coach dials up a blitz for you personally, what goes through your head? What are the emotions you feel when you know it's on you?
MORGAN: “I think about the sack, TFL -- just playing football.”
Q: I don't know how many times you've blitzed, probably a handful of times in the first two games, do you think you've been effective?
MORGAN: “I haven't blitzed as much as you think. That's part of the game.”
Q: Just going on the road and that mentality, what's necessary to win games when you're on the road, as opposed to when you're at home?
MORGAN: “Like I say, you know, home, away, we're trying to get every win. Doesn't change, not for me, at least. Maybe for other guys, maybe different atmosphere, different stadium. Biggest thing I always say for the entire team, just stay focused on just the game. Don't get caught up in here or there. We have a job to do.”
Q: Is that something as a leader on the team, you have to talk to the other guys about? What do you say?
MORGAN: “Same thing I say to you guys. Make sure we're sticking just to the game plan and focus on what you need to focus on and pay attention to the details of the game and not the atmosphere.”
Q: When you go back and maybe feeling the next day on Sunday or looking back on film, what steps did you like that the defense took in week two that makes you feel good about where you guys are headed as a unit?
MORGAN: “Guys are really dialed into their assignment and executing their defense at a high level, I feel like. Obviously, you know, it's football and things happen but overall standpoint, pretty pleased.”
Q: Obviously you guys wanted to win the game, there's no question about that, but do you feel there's still confidence from the defensive side of the ball with the way you guys played?
Q: Can you just expand on that and why that is?
MORGAN: “I would say just as I said before, guys are executing their assignments and guys are playing through the defense.”
Q: What Tim asked regarding blitzing, you said you haven't blitzed that much, but yet you have been pretty active, getting a couple tackles for losses. What's happening in those plays?
MORGAN: “I would say I'm just triggering the ball -- when they run a certain play, everybody has a certain fit and they are shooting in my fit.”
Q: Is it safe to say that it's typical that it's frequently your fit to be in that role? MORGAN: “Well, the Mike linebacker is in the middle of the defense. So I feel like they should always be kind of like around the ball.”
Q: How do you feel about the fact that you guys defensively really made a couple of key stops in the fourth quarter and gave the offense a chance to win? What sort of things do you take from that?
MORGAN: “I take positive things from that, especially against an SEC team with two good running backs, a lot of positive things.”
Q: What type of growth or steps forward have you seen from Jay Hayes from the start of spring till now? And for the defense as a whole, how important is it to get strong play from that position specifically?
MORGAN: “I've seen Jay Hayes, especially if you saw this spring, he's got bigger, stronger, faster, more explosive and really setting that edge for us. I saw Damion back there more than anybody else I think from my standpoint. He's really holding things down on the front end.”
Q: Similar question about Coleman, relating to his confidence, if you can talk about that, improved a lot from spring to now. As a captain and as a leader, how do you help a guy along with confidence that is struggling?
MORGAN: “I would say in Nick's case, just keep talking to him. Just keep letting him know that he's going okay and that he's doing fine and that as long as he's executing the things that he's doing in practice, he'll be fine. “Like on Saturday, I think he did a great job coming down, playing the run, and I see that confidence building every day.”
Q: Is that the best you've seen him play?
ROV DRUE TRANQUILL
Q: Drue, Mike just got a round of applause from Coach Kelly. I was wondering what you would like to say to elicit the same response?
DRUE TRANQUILL: “Mike got applause?”
TRANQUILL: “Oh, Mike McGlinchey. I was like, well, we can give Berts a round of applause, too. He does a great job. “What was the question? (Laughter).
Q: McGlinchey was speaking about you guys are obviously angry and I guess the motivation of going into this game. What are your thoughts on that and how much are you guys want to go get back out there?
TRANQUILL: “I mean, we really want to get back out there. We're disappointed with the outcome because we know what we've put in since this thing kind of started back in January. So we're disappointed.
“Losing is losing and it's unacceptable around here. We could make any excuse in the book, none of them are valid, and so we are just looking for an opportunity to get back on the field, build our traits and continue building this thing into what we know that it can be.”
Q: Postgame McGlinchey said, "I blew it" and took full responsibility. What does it say about him that he's willing to do that and own it to that level as a leader on this team?
TRANQUILL: “I think he embodies anything and everything you want in a leader. He's an incredible player and we all know that. And so for him in probably one of the biggest moments to take responsibility like that says a lot about his character and who he is.
“When a leader is willing to do that, guys just want to come behind that guy so much more. No one likes a leader who always has to be right or never has to be, you know, wrong, or it's never their fault.
“So for him to come forth, and it's not even -- it's not his fault. There were plays left all over the field, even on the defensive side of the ball. I come through the line untouched and have an opportunity to potentially strip-sack the quarterback and then he gets away. I mean, we end up stacking him and Nyles makes a great play. But even I left plays out there. So we all left plays out there. “So for him to say that, I think it says a lot about his character.”
Q: Touching on the defensive play, how big of a step do you feel Saturday was for you? Obviously you want to win the game but how big of a step it was to how far you guys have come from a year ago?
TRANQUILL: “I think we've taken steps to improve and I think there's areas where we still can improve. I think we gave up, you know, our big play ratio was lower than what we wanted. We had an explosive play every 17 plays, and we want to keep that up near one every 25.
“So there are still areas where we can improve defensively and I think that's the message this week, right, is: You can come out and have a good performance but it's about consistency and being able to bring that week-in and week-out. Just continuing to improve. And watching the film, we see areas, where, wow, this one play defensively could have changed the outcome, no matter how the offense was performing or doing.
“We saw areas on the film where we could have honestly changed the game and then changed the game and the outcome. We are just looking to take advantage of those opportunities moving forward this week.”
Q: How about the fourth quarter, the fact that you were able to make some key stops to put your team in position to potentially win the game? How critical is that to the progression of the defense to be able to do things like that?
TRANQUILL: “I think it's big. I mean, sitting down there on the sidelines, that was our message was let's just keep getting stops. We're going to have to get three or four or five more stops.
“Let's just give the offense the ball with two minutes left with a chance to win this game, and that was our message on the sideline, what our coaches were telling us, and Jay Hayes comes up big on the third down with a third down stop and we were able to get off the field.
“But obviously we've performed well on third down in the past two weeks and I think that's been huge to our defensive success. So continuing to do that and then improve in other areas will be key for us.”
Q: The program has struggled on the road in recent years. You guys didn't win a true road game last year, and 5-11 since the start of 2013. What makes going on the road so difficult, and what do you have to do to make sure you guys can be successful on the road, and obviously for the next four weeks?
TRANQUILL: “I mean, I think going on the road with young guys is difficult. They haven't necessarily experienced it. I can't really, I'm kind of focused on this year and so I guess we'll see how we perform on the road this year.
“But our message is consistent, whether we're playing at home or playing on the road. Offensively, there's going to be adjustments obviously with crowd noise going on the road and potentially have to go on silent snaps. Defensively, going on the road is a little bit easier. It's not as loud. You're able to communicate better.
“Yeah, we are just focused on BC this week and I guess we'll all see how we play on the road moving forward.”
Q: What gives you confidence that your defense will continue to improve as the season progresses?
TRANQUILL: “I think just the consistency in our coaching staff and the consistency in guys's desire to come and work on a day-to-day basis. It hasn't changed since January.
“So whenever something is constant like that, I don't expect it to change. Kind of like equilibrium in engineering, right. You don't expect things to go out of equilibrium (laughter).
“Things are constant on their end and constant in the work input, in the preparation, and so I can foresee us continuing to have success week-in and week-out on defense.”
Q: Does part of the confidence, is that part of that derived from the fact that so many guys are actually making a significant contribution on that side of the ball? TRANQUILL: “I think honestly it's more so of guys just belief in one another. I think obviously when you make plays, your confidence is going to go up. But I think it's just guys pouring into one another, believing in himself them, believing in himself their ability to make plays.
“We've got a lot of guys stepping in. Specifically on the defensive line, we've got a lot of young guys playing, a lot of guys rotating in. And just the belief in that group, the belief us captains, the older guys, are trying to put into these younger guys, I think it's been great. We, a defensive whole, we talk a lot about as 11 as one, and I think guys are really buying into that.”
Q: What do you think of when you think of Boston College football?
TRANQUILL: “I think of a tough football team, a team that loves to play Notre Dame their absolute best and gives Notre Dame everything they can handle every time they come out. “So I expect a tough, physical football game. I expect them to come in, probably a little trickeration on offense. Probably want to establish the run game. They are going to play physically defensively.”
Q: They have a red-shirt freshman quarterback. What have you seen from him? What does he provide for their offense?
TRANQUILL: “I think he provides a little bit of dual-threat. I think he's composed. I think he puts the ball up a little -- how do I want to say this. Last week, had the turnovers; I think his coaching staff will make adjustments and put him in better positions to make plays this week.
“And so I expect him to come back and bounce back, poised, and play within their offense. I think their coaching staff will do a good job of establishing balance for him and allowing him to be successful.”
Q: What's the role of a captain after a loss?
TRANQUILL: “I think a captain's job is just to keep the message consistent and keep guys moving forward. I think a lot of guys can sulk in the fact that we lost and that we lost the way that we did, and guys's minds can maybe even drift back to last year when we lost a lot of close games.
“But I think our captain's job is to bring guys back into the present moment. Make them trust their training and make them realize what we've done to get to this point. And really just continue building the traits and trusting the process; the things that we've talked about and that you guys have heard over and over again. That's really the role I see myself and other captains see themselves.”
Q: What do you do to find that balance of being worried and concerned about working on your game but still serving as a captain and kind of talking with other guys and doing the things you need to do as a captain out there?
TRANQUILL: “I mean, I think that's something I've worked on this entire off-season, right, is integrating like being able to work on my own game but also being able to encourage and work with other guys. I find that teaching and encouraging and being with other guys, I actually learn a lot myself and learn a lot about my game.
“So it kind of become an integral process of learning to do those both in parallel, as opposed to, I have to spend time developing my own game and teaching these guys, too. It's kind of been a balance of learning to do those things in parallel.”
Q: From Sunday, Monday, Tuesday what have you learned about this team? TRANQUILL: “I think their just response to adversity and love for one another. Offensively, I think all our guys would say, you know, we didn't play to the best that we could have played and there wasn't a single defensive guy pointing fingers. There wasn't a single offensive guy. There was no one pointing fingers at anyone.
“It was a total responsibility taken on part of our team, and I've just seen guys come around each other and just guys on the sideline -- and Coach Kelly talked about this on Monday, was guys just like they are uplifting one another; they are encouraging one another.
“So I think our response to adversity, our grit and our ability to bounce back, that's been what I've observed. Obviously what we'll see on Saturday and Saturdays moving forward. But there just seems to be a bond of this is us and it's not just one individual's fault, and we have to take responsibility as a full team.”
Q: Yesterday Coach talked about how teams will play their best against Notre Dame regardless of how they have done in the past. How do you prepare for this as a leader on this team, knowing that teams might play better than they play on the film that you see?
TRANQUILL: “We prepare for this on a week-to-week basis. I've heard that message since I've walked in as a freshman, and I've seen it from playing Purdue my third game freshman year and a team that we were highly favored over but came out and gave us be absolutely everything they have.
“I think just with the tradition and excellence, it's something to be proud of here at Notre Dame. It's something with so much tradition and excellence. Teams are excited to play Notre Dame.
“You look this past weekend, Georgia was excited to come here, if you look at all the fans that came and made the trip out here. Teams want to play Notre Dame and when that occurs, they want to give you their best. It's a privilege and an honor and we owe it to them to give them our best, too. That's kind of our mindset going into each game.”
Q: Were in the same position group as Nick Coleman last year when his confidence took a hit. What did you see over the course of last season and what does it say about him that he was able to rebound all the way to how he played against Georgia last Saturday?
TRANQUILL: “Yeah, Nick played terrific against Georgia. I think Nick's a guy who, like you said, maybe doesn't play his best football last year.
“Kind of took on a new position. Something that he has not necessarily played here at Notre Dame.
“And I just saw a kid who came into his own and acted like a sponge and was just absorbing coaching; was absorbing everything the strength coaches were telling him; and was just looking for an opportunity to help this football team in the capacity that he could.
“I think you've seen him come into a role and he's starting to thrive there. But just his ability to take coaching and apply it to his game; I think you see a guy who wants to be great in the capacity that he can, and so his confidence just continues to grow and I'm so excited for the kid because he really embodies what it means to be a Notre Dame football player. He's great on and off the field.”
Q: Do you guys as veterans who have seen how much he's struggled get more juice out of what happened on Saturday to him than he would? Do you get more excited about seeing him have some success based on what's happened to him in the past? TRANQUILL: “Yeah, when he came down and made that hit on third down, the biggest smile came across my face. He's had his ups and downs, but just to see him starting to come to fruition and really come into his own and feel that, that energy, was just really exciting, and it was exciting to see.”
Q: From a skill-set standpoint -- you've played back there. Why is he a good fit for that spot? What do you think he brings to that position that he maybe could be a little bit unique or an upgrade to that position?
TRANQUILL: “When you bring the coverage skills from the corner position and put him back at safety, he's able to do some unique things in coverage for us.
“So the big question with him was: Is he going to be able to come downhill and tackle in space and be physical in the run game, and I think he really took that with a chip on his shoulder in the off-season. He worked really hard in the weight room. Put on some weight, gained some strength and I think you've seen that in his ability to come downhill.
“He's answered that bell. Obviously brings some unique things in the pass game and has been great in the run game the past two weeks.”
Q: How has Jay Hayes enhanced the play of the defensive line and the defense in general?
TRANQUILL: “Jay just brings a juice. He's an exciting guy to be around on a week-to-week basis. Brings a lot of energy. He's consistent in that. And so he gets guys excited to play and then, you know, when you bring the energy of his own play and he's coming through the defensive line and taking TFLs and doing things that he's done the first two weeks, it's hard not to get excited.
“Especially a guy like him, he's such a clown. He's a goofball. The guys love him. He makes us laugh. He brings a light tone when things are serious or dull, and so he's kind of been a spark for guys ever since he walked in the building. So to see him making plays, it gets guys fired up.”