Notre Dame defensive coordinator Al Golden met the media Tuesday night after practice. Here is the full transcript:
WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE FOR YOUR GUYS, WHEN YOU GET BIG PASS PRESSURE LIKE THIS, TO KEEP IN THEIR PRESS LANE AND HOW DIFFICULT IS IT?
Golden: “Yeah, you said it, fast lane discipline. Don’t be behind the quarterback. And that’s even more important when you have a guy who can run like the kid from North Carolina. They have a great tradition of guys who can scramble — not just to scramble, but the quarterback running game (too). Maye is the next guy out there in terms of that. He does a great job with the ball.
THIS FACT THAT HE IS A LITTLE INEXPERIENCED COMPARED TO THE FIRST THREE GUYS YOU MET WHO WERE SUPER EXPERIENCED, HOW DOES THIS FACTOR? IS THIS SOMETHING YOU CAN USE?
Golden: “I don’t know. I think he’s really talented. He’s perfectly suited to the system they’re using, and I think he’s done a great job. I can’t ask for much more from him. They scored lots of points, and he does a great job distributing the ball and he can beat you with his arm or his legs.
SO, ARE YOU SURPRISED WHEN YOU SEE A YOUNG QUARTERBACK (DRAKE MAYE) AS POSITIVE AS HE WAS RIGHT OUT OF THE FALL?
Golden: “Yeah, I would say that’s not normal. I think he does a good job of that, just playing with a lot of balance and not forcing the ball, getting the ball where it needs to be, and obviously playing with his feet too. So he can scramble the run or he can scramble and pass the ball downfield. So you have to be very careful.
WHAT DID BENJAMIN MORRISON DO TO WIN THAT START LAST WEEK, AND OF COURSE CLARENCE LEWIS PLAYED VERY WELL?
Golden: “I think you know, both guys, they’re going to keep competing. That’s just how it went last week, and we were with Ben. But they will continue to compete and fight. And we expect to see one or the other a lot, depending on who starts. This is usually played during the week.
JOSH DOWNS, DO YOU THINK HE’S COMING BACK THERE?
Golden: “We do. He’s a talent. Running after catching changes his tempo on the court really really well. So sometimes it’s hard to get beat on the road he’s on. So I think it’s is a very crafty and explosive receiver on the ball. A really talented young man.
WHAT DO YOU SEE OF HOWARD CROSS THAT ALLOWS HIM TO SET FOREFRONT PLATES BY REGISTRATION NUMBER THAT WILL BE REALLY GOOD FOR A LINEBACKER BUT DOES IT LIKE AN INSIDE LINEBACKER?
Golden: “Bat blocks, go down blocks and know how to finish. He has strong hands. Thus, he can surround a ball carrier and put him on the ground. The running back just doesn’t cross it. So, I think those are the things – he’s tenacious, he’s got strong hands and doesn’t stay stuck for very long. He can beat a block. So those are the three things that I think allow him to make games, no doubt.
WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES FOR YOUR OLDER LINEBACKERS AND WHAT DID YOU DO WELL DURING THE FIRST THREE MATCHES?
Golden: “Every game the challenges have been different, as they will be this week. It’s college defense these days. Every week is a different bingo board, if you will, how people attack you. So a lot orientation on the west coast last week. And it’s a little bit different now. So these challenges every week are about letting go of the latest game plan, figuring out exactly what we need to do, getting the races right and in that case we’re going to have to cover the halfbacks really well or tight ends our bottom coverage is going to have to be really good so again they’re doing a really, really good job consistently there on offense, challenging from many different facets of your defense, and linebackers will be a big part of that.
HOW CLOSE ARE PRINCE KOLLIE AND JUNIOR TUIHALAMAKA TO HELP YOU? AND IS IT BENEFICIAL TO EXPAND ROTATION?
Golden: “It’s possible, PK is right there. Junior, he took a few reps last week, but Prince got the injury, and it kind of set him back from what has been a great summer and a great summer camp, or spring/summer. But I feel like he’s really, really close. So I’m excited for him. And I know he’s looking forward to it, so hopefully this will be the week he can get into the rotation. He is close.
HOW IS THE WEEK GOING FOR JD (BERTRAND) MISSING FIRST HALF (DUE TO TARGET INFRACTION)?
Golden: “Just take a few reps off him to make sure everyone is ready. He’s a smart guy who did something stupid. I mean, that’s it. Guys like that who play hard, make good decisions all the time, try to do the right thing – when something like that happens they feel like the worst. So there’s no point in beating them. I just think he needs to get ready to go, and this week he’s coming out of the bullpen. So some of those reps are going to other guys right now. And we come to halftime, he will be back in the rotation.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN IDENTIFY FROM THE SECOND HALF OF THE GAME AGAINST CAL THAT SHOWED: HERE’S WHY THE DEFENSIVE LINE STARTED GOING HOME A LITTLE MORE?
Golden: “That’s a good question. I think they went home more because they maintained their lanes better. We didn’t have guys behind the quarterback. I really thought our defensive tackles at the inside – Howard, Jason, all those guys, Jacob – did a good job of countering. So they kept the quarterback in front and then the cover – obviously the marriage of the front and the cover. We were able to go home us and get some of those sacks back, so I think that would be the most important thing. We let them out too many times early in the game, and it hurt us. It was a lot of rushing yards for nothing We had good coverage. All we have to do is keep them in the pocket. So. good learning lesson for everyone. And obviously the stakes are higher this week. Now we have a guy who is really a runner.
IS THERE A NEGATIVE TO HOWARD CROSS IS LEADING IN PLATES? ARE YOU NOT GETTING ENOUGH PRODUCTION FROM YOUR LINEBACKERS OR IS IT OVER-THINKING?
Golden: ” I’m happy for him. He’s a competitor. He plays a lot of games. And I don’t think that’s negative at all. Again, for me – I’ve told you this a lot – you know, win the game, outscore the other team’s defense on total points and then it’s the game. It won’t always be pretty. Yes, we definitely need to get turnovers to help our offense. But at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. keeping them out of the end zone, giving our offense a chance to score in a win, and I’m not disappointed with the production of any of those linebackers right now.
HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW (NORTH CAROLINA OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR PHIL) LONGO?
Golden: “I remember him back then. I’m really happy for him. He did an excellent job. This is certainly his plan. It’s a very, very unique offence. And really, if I looked outside, I’d be like, ‘Wow, I really like the stuff he’s done with it.’ So just the different concepts. I always merge them. But no, I’m really happy for him. Good work. He does an excellent job.
WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE THAT WE CAN UNDERSTAND?
Golden: “I don’t know. He’s got a bunch of different things in there that go really well together, whether it’s quarterback. the boot flash game, counter streak. He’s got the screen game. He’s got the quarterback draw. He has a lot of little things that really challenge you that we would call high-difficulty plays that you have to be ready for. So thanks to him and the offensive staff for putting this together. So it’s a great challenge.”
IS THIS OFFENSE AS EFFECTIVE IF YOU DON’T HAVE SAM HOWELL OR DRAKE MAYE, WHO ARE SUCH GOOD QUARTERBACKS?
Golden: “You’re right. I mean, I think they’re made for this. They’ve done a good job of recruiting for this. And I watch Sam’s movie last year. And then I juxtapose that with the fact to look at Maye and you can see a lot of similarities in what they’re asking him to do. So I don’t think it’s a big difference. And they’ve had a bit of time to settle here.
WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO IS GET THE BALL IN ALL COURTS. THEY CARRY THE BALL TO THE TIGHT ENDS. THEY BRING THE BALL TO THE RUNNING BACKS IN PASSING PLAY. THEY HAVE 1,000 YARD RUSHERS. THE SHORT QUARTERBACK. IS IT LIKE EVERY COMPETENT POSITION ASPECT OF THEIR OFFENSE IS ADDRESSED AT ALL TIMES?
Golden: “Yeah, and that’s what I was saying earlier in terms of just looking from a football perspective. It’s really well done in attack. So they’re going to challenge every facet, every level of our defense and we’re going to need to have answers.
WAS THERE JORDAN BOTELHO THE OTHER DAY?
Golden: “I don’t know if he played the other day.”
WAS IT AVAILABLE FOR YOU?
Golden: “Yes, he was available.”
SOMETHING IS HAPPENING ?
Golden: “No, no, there was nothing there. It was just the way the game went. The week before, it was more of a space game. It was a bit different in terms of how they led the attack. That was it.”
RAMON HENDERSON SEEMS TO HAVE CREATED A NICHE. IT IS ALMOST LINEBACKER LEVEL AS SECURITY IN YOUR SPEED PACKAGES. HOW DID YOU START DEVELOPING THIS?
Golden: “First of all, he’s smart. It has length. It is sudden. It can cover the tight end. And as we’ve seen in recent weeks, it’s a more than adequate blitzer. He can close, so he’s not afraid. Like, you can grab safeties or wedges or nickels and put them in that position and blitz them, but they won’t feel comfortable enough to sneak in there. Bullets fly and he finds a way to get home, even if it’s not perfect. So it’s all to his credit. And now that he can see it, he’s a threat. So we will continue to use it in that capacity.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR MARIST LIUFAU? WHAT IS THE NEXT LEVEL FOR HIM?
Golden: “The next level for him, honestly, is if he’s just doing his job and the details of each game, he’s got enough talent to make the explosive games happen. All of those things, whether it’s “an interception or a sack/fumble or a caused fumble, those things will come. If he really sticks with his job, just does the little things right, I think they’ll come. If he starts to s Worrying about this stuff, it won’t happen.