(Thanks to David Nasternak for providing audio from South Bend)
Jim, what do you think of the team’s performance and is there a level of disappointment with how it all went today?
“Yeah, we would’ve liked to come out victorious. Congratulations to Notre Dame,thought they played a very good ballgame.”
Jim, not many explosive plays offensively, what wasn’t happening there?
“Just a few, not enough. What was happening? Yeah, we didn’t make enough explosive plays. Probably didn’t run the ball as well as we would’ve liked. Credit to Notre Dame’s defense.”
Jim, Ambry (Thomas’) 99-yarder, can you talk about what you saw in terms of maybe some key blocks and also what Ambry did on that play?
“Yeah, it was a middle return. He was able to break some arm tackles and then show some real burst when he got into the open field. Was able to finish off that, gave us a great spark.”
Jim, was there any communication issues between Shea and the offensive line. It looked like maybe with the snap counts he was hurrying, were they off-balance, were they not on the same page?
“No, I thought they were. I didn’t see any communication issues between Shea and the offensive line.”
Jim, the way your team came out, Notre Dame hit some big plays, third down, on your team right out of the box. Did you feel like your team came out slow, trying to ease its way in or something? Even on offense, with some of the playcalling, did you feel that way at all?
“No, I didn’t feel like our team was trying to ease their way into the game.”
How about the defense on third down? They hit some huge plays, defended, were they picking on you guys? Blitzes, or what do you think?
“Third down conversions were about the same for both teams. Definitely some big penalties that kept drives alive and were converted into touchdowns.”
Jim, what’s missing from your program now? You guys are not winning big games.
“You know, onward. Just good old-fashioned resolve. There’s more we can do, there’s — this can be a very good football team. We have confidence in it.”
How would you evaluate Shea tonight?
“I thought he competed well. Thought he was doing the things that we were asking him to do and, for a first time out, with his new team, I thought he did a good job.”
Coach, what are your biggest takeaways from tonight, about your team?
“I don’t really have all the biggest takeaways. I thought our guys, thought they played fast. Thought they competed hard. Yeah, there was — there’s improvements to be made. Mistakes were made, but I thought they fought hard.”
You gave up 21 points in the first half, then cut that down to three in the second half, and I think only 60-aught yards for the offense for Notre Dame. What changed for your defense? What got better, what improved?
“Really, I thought we were stopping the run well. Brandon Wimbush made some big plays throughout the game, running the ball, getting out of the pocket. Credit to him. He played a heck of a ballgame. Thought we limited that in the second half.”
Can you talk about how Dylan (McCaffrey) played when he got in there?
“Yeah, I thought Dylan played well. He showed some real moxie in there and ran the offense, made some good throws. Coming in off the bench like that, I thought he acquitted himself really well.”
Why did you make that decision to go with him over Brandon (Peters)? Was that this week that you knew he’d be second-string?
“Yeah, that was this week. Brandon in practice, on a rollout, had tweaked his knee. And he hadn’t taken any reps since Tuesday, so wasn’t 1000 percent for today. So, elevated Dylan to second-string.”
Jim, Brandon Watson, big interception and pinning the ball down, I think it was in the first quarter, on a punt. Can you just talk about Brandon’s play and what he brought tonight?
“Yeah, I thought that was a spectacular play Brandon made, and like I said, there’s good play to be pointed out throughout the team, and a lot of good things to build on. But didn’t come out the way we wanted it, but, it’s not the end, it’s the beginning for us. That’s the way we’re approaching. I was really impressed by the play Brandon made, the way he played all night.”
Jim, still had a lot of pass protection issues that were sorta similar to what we saw last year. Is that what you guys saw in camp? Is that coming along, or is that not what you expected?
“Yeah, they got us on the one inside blitz that we didn’t pick up. They were — there was good pressure that their front was bringing the entire night, some we blocked, yeah. Could be better, yes. We’ll work to improve it.”
How much has, overall, offensively, still limited on what they can do? Shea (Patterson), new quarterback, new guys, new spots, still working through all that?
“Yeah, sure, sure. The guys really, really prepared well for this ballgame. Not the outcome we anticipated or wanted, but we just gotta dig deep. Make no excuses. Give credit to Notre Dame and move onto the next week.”
Where are you in terms of finding that identity on your offense? Is it gonna — are you close? Does it take a little while in your mind to getting the identity that you want for this offense?
“Where are we at? We’re at the beginning.”
Jim, with all the excitement of a new season, does this feel like a setback for you guys?
“It was a big opening game. Did not come out the way we wanted, but we gotta dig down.”
Does it feel like a setback though?
“It’s the beginning. It’s the beginning for us. We’re not treating it like the end.”
Jim, despite everything that kinda went sideways in this game at times, you had the ball with a chance to drive and tie the game late, where you wanted it. What does it say about your team that you were in that position despite all that went wrong?
“They fought hard. We did well. There’s things to build on.”
Thoughts about Will Hart, and any update on Brad Robbins at all?
“Brad’s gonna be out for a while. He did have a back surgery.”
And how Will performed, other than the dropped snap?
“Yeah, he had the — he pinned them in. Did a great punt, down to I think like the 4, 3, 4-yard line. Had some other good punts. Things to build on there, for Will.”