UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 6, 2017
Q. Mike, how would you evaluate pass protection in the game against Temple?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: It was solid. We definitely did a good job for the most part all day. But definitely wasn't where we wanted to be. We want to pitch perfect games, and we didn't do that, so that's all we can do is keep improving and try and do our best to keep Brandon upright.
Q. What makes Georgia's front different?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: They're big, they're strong, they're fast, and they are play sound football. They're going to do a great job of using their hands, getting off blocks, and we just have to do our job to stay on them. They're going to be a group that plays real hard and a group that plays real fast, and they're just going to bring it on Saturday, and we've got to do the same.
Q. Just you envisioned what Brandon was going to look like on the field, now that you've seen him in a game situation, were you surprised the number of hits he took in that game?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I don't know if I'm surprised by it. Part of Brandon's game is running the ball, and obviously the hits that he took in drop-back pass protection can't happen. Again, like I was just saying earlier, we've got to do our job to keep Brandon upright as much as possible, but I think part of his game is opening up the field and using his legs, as well. I don't know if it's necessarily surprising, but I mean, we obviously would like to keep Brandon healthy.
Q. You said you were sound in assignments. As the season progresses, as you kind of settle in, does that get better, generally speaking, as far as just being assignment sound?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Absolutely. I think the more experience you get throughout the year, the more preparation, the more that you're used to preparing throughout the week, and being able to see looks that you are going to get in a game, the more assignment sound you become. We got to knock off the rust with the first week. It was tough because we didn't actually watch a whole lot of Temple film because of them having a new staff and new scheme to be put in place. But there's no -- we've just got to keep grinding at it, keep preparing as hard as we can, keep studying our opponents the best we can and put ourselves in a position to be on our jobs at all times on Saturday.
Q. Brandon made his first start last week, but he's a junior, so I'm sure you don't look at him like a new guy. On the other side, your opponent will be blocking for a true true making his first start. You probably have to concern yourself with protections and stuff like that when you're blocking for a very inexperienced quarterback?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: In terms of offensive line, like taking over the protection --
Q. Yeah, that, and just in general do you have to be more conscious of, hey, we're blocking for a guy that doesn't have nearly as much experience?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I don't think you need to be too conscious of it. I think you just need to trust him. They've gone through -- we've gone through a whole nine months with Brandon, and I'm sure that Georgia's freshman quarterback has gotten his fair share of reps, as well. His teammates are going to trust him, and whatever the game plan is, they're going to stick to it. I don't think you need to be more conscious no matter who's taking snaps at quarterback they're a pretty valuable guy to your offense, so you need to block as hard as you can and as well as you can, no matter who's back there.
In terms of just seeing things together, that's probably where the gray area comes a little bit because you're used to a voice behind you that's different or the quarterback might see things a certain way that you've worked on for a long time that maybe you don't have the same kind of sync in just a week's preparation. But in terms of being conscious of just having a true freshman back there, I don't think that they're going to have anything different.
Q. You guys are obviously accustomed to playing ACC teams. You know a couple Pac-12 teams. You've played against Big Ten and now SEC. We in the business are always speculating about who has the better conference. When you go up against a team or a couple of those teams from a conference, do you get a feel for who the better conferences are? Can you recognize that?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Well, being at Notre Dame, I think you align yourself with teams, not conferences. I've never put a lot of stake in that. You get good teams in every conference, and Georgia certainly is one of them in the most hyped conference in college football. They're going to be a great opponent, but no, I don't really -- I have no opinion on which conference is better. There's great teams in every single one of them and great teams that have given us a fair share of pains and problems over the years.
I can't really speak to which conference is better, but there's a lot of great teams in the SEC, and Georgia is one of them, and they're going to bring it on Saturday for sure.
Q. Are you of the same opinion, I guess a lot of people -- it's changed a little bit, the ACC gets more publicity now, especially with Clemson's rise, but do you ascribe to the thought that the SEC is the best conference?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I guess that's kind of the general consensus. They normally have a great amount of top-25 teams finishing the year. But you know, there's great -- like the National Championship team came from the ACC, the Rose Bowl team came from the Pac-12. It's kind of all over the place.
I think there's a certain number of teams that are consistently that great every year from that conference, which is probably why the SEC stays as the top conference in college football. Well, and like I said, it's because of the teams that are in it, not necessarily because of the conference.
Q. I know you're on the other side of the line with the two young tackles, but have you had an opportunity to have a conversation with them after their first game, and what kind of advice do you give them as they start the game a little bit more experienced?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Well, I think the only advice you can keep giving them is to just be that. They don't have to be the next Ronnie Stanley, Zack Martin, Mike McGlinchey; they have to be Rob Hainsey and Tom Kramer. The better they can get at that, the more success is going to come their way. They need to worry about doing their job. They need to worry about working their butts off throughout the week, and that's really all you can ask from them. They've done a great job in taking coaches from Coach Hiestand, from listening to anything I can throw their way, to anything that has been thrown at them, and they've done a great job in their preparation, and they're going to only keep getting better.
It was a solid first week for the two of them, and I only expect nothing but better stuff to come from the two of them, as well.
Q. When you hear Coach Hiestand talking to the two of them, does it bring back any memories from things he said to you when you were young?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Definitely. I see a lot of myself in those two. They're at that point where -- in your career with Coach Hiestand, it's kind of the make-or-break point. They're getting thrown into the starting lineup. They're the youngest guy on the line, and it's a -- they take their lumps for sure each and every day at practice. But it's about how you respond to that, and I joked with them before the game because Tommy and Rob both asked me last week, like what's it like, man, what's this going to be like on Saturday, and I said, to be honest with you, it's a lot easier than Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, because the stress that you're dealing with isn't really hard-nosed stress that we deal with throughout the week.
But it's easy because you're free. You can play on Saturdays, and the two of them, I see a lot of myself, and not necessarily my game, but definitely the things that they're experiencing right now for sure.
Q. Same process?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Exactly.
Q. You were just talking about Notre Dame plays in huge games all the time. Georgia and Notre Dame playing for the first time in 37 years, supposedly tens of thousands of Georgia fans are coming up here for the game, how does that resonate for you guys as players? Are you aware of it? Do you care that these two played in a game 37 years ago for the National Championship?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I mean, I do. I'm a Notre Dame history buff, so I guess I kind of love that, that aspect of it. But in terms of the collectively as the two teams, I don't think it's going to have much effect of what's going to happen on Saturday. We're very excited just because of the historic nature of not just our program but Georgia's, as well. They're a top-notch program just like we are, each and every year, and this is one of those games that when you see it come out, you circle it on your schedule, like that's going to be a big one, and I think nationally that's been responded. I think it's the highest priced ticket in all of college football this year. It's one of those things that Georgia is coming to town, we're really, really excited about it, I know they're excited to come play us here, and it's going to be one of those games that people are going to be watching and people are going to be excited, and Saturday is going to be a hell of a time for sure.
Q. You said you're a history buff. Are you aware of the dynamics of that game that happened 37 years ago? Do you know anything about it beyond maybe the score?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I don't, not much. I haven't done much digging into that, but I probably will, depending on how this outcome goes.
Q. A couple of Georgia players were I don't know if you'd call it trash talking or whatever, but they said they want to punish Notre Dame. Did that reach you guys? Do you hear that kind of stuff?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Yeah, you certainly hear it. You know, it's just one of those things that they can say what they want to say, and we'll just stick to what we're doing. We're not going to sit here and talk about what Georgia is saying or what they're doing. We're going to worry about Notre Dame. That's all I can really say about that. We're going to go and play our hearts out on Saturday, and whatever team wins wins. We hope it's us, and we're definitely going to work our butts off this week to make sure it's us, but other than that, we don't pay too much attention to it.
Q. What do you think it's going to come down to, your offense versus their defense, your impressions of their defense, and what it's going to take to be successful?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I think the same things it's going to take to be successful every single week. You've got to be disciplined in your assignments, be consistent throughout the day with your emotions and trust your teammates and make sure everybody is doing their job. It's a game of the most consistent team and the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins. That's how football is, and I don't think it's ever going to change no matter who the opponent is. So we're going to do our darndest to make sure we don't make more mistakes than Georgia, and hopefully we can come out on top.
Q. I know that throughout the preseason at least you guys talked about how the offensive line wants the ball, the onus is on you guys to run the ball to win. How does the challenge kind of evolve against this kind of defensive front to run the ball?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I don't think the challenge evolves, but it's certainly a bigger one. You know, they have a great front, and they're ready to play ball, and so are we. You know, we want this kind of a challenge up front. We want to be able to say, hey, we're going up against the best in America, and I think that's -- Georgia is certainly in that upper tier of teams and certainly defenses that is ready to play football and play it well. Up front, the five of us or the six of us, I guess, want that job, and we want to be able to respond to that kind of adversity. And I think that we have a great game plan in place, and we're going to keep working at it all week with Coach Long and Coach Hiestand, and we're going to do our job and play our hearts out and hopefully -- not hope, but work to the fact that we're ready for this challenge and going to see what happens on Saturday and just play well.
Q. I realize that everyone is always like, oh, the preparation is the same, but there's always this talk about SEC defenses. Is there anything that you have to do not differently but as far as maybe just kind of facing these guys that is special or unique?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: I don't think like from the football aspect, I don't think it's very different. They're going to play a defensive front that we've -- it's not creating something new, but they do it extremely well, so we're going to have a little bit more of an attention to detail on specific things that we're going to try and do to exploit their defense and try and score points. But I think that the biggest adjustment comes in with the emotions and that kind of a thing, and that's what you've got to do a little bit differently this week. You've got Georgia, one of the biggest opponents we've ever had here at home, coming to down, and certainly especially for guys -- I'm excited, and I've almost started 30 straight games. I can't imagine what a Brandon or a Tommy or a Rob is kind of going through in their mind. My first start was against LSU, so I kind of had the same deal.
But it's one of those things that it's going to be a big week. People are talking. Everybody is talking about this one, and you've got to -- the biggest adjustment is staying true to what we do each and every week and your preparation and staying smart and stay consistent with your emotions throughout the week and not letting this be bigger than it is. The more you can control that, the better you're going to be on Saturday.
Q. How fun was it for you guys as offensive linemen last Saturday putting up over 422 yards and then with Josh able to give you guys the game ball after that one?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Yeah, it was awesome. It was a lot of fun. You know, that's the kind of game we like to play, we want to play. 400 some yards is no small feat, but we had a lot of mistakes that we need to clean up, and if we don't clean them up, it's going to be a longer Saturday against Georgia. It's just one of those things that, yeah, we had a great job on Saturday, we rushed for whatever many yards, we had three guys, whatever. But it doesn't guarantee anything against Georgia, and we've just got to go back and try and do it again.
Q. I know that you said how the demeanor of Brandon throughout practice and throughout the entire off-season, always calm and confident, but was he the same way during that game type atmosphere last Saturday?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: He was exactly the same way. He was a great leader, great with his communication, great teammate, he was great on the sidelines, and never faltered. He was the same guy the whole day, and that's who Brandon is, and that's who he's going to continue to be.
Q. After 300 yards rushing last week and from what you know about Georgia right now, what gives you guys as an offense confidence that you can have another good day running the football against them, however you guys define a good day, whether it's maybe not 300 again, but however you guys would qualify that.
MIKE McGLINCHEY: Well, I think the success just comes in how you look at the film on Saturday and whether or not you had a successful day or not. But I think the confidence comes in just ourselves. You know, I think we've built ourselves to the point where we have a lot of confidence in our abilities up front, and we've got a lot of guys that can make a lot of plays behind us. That's where our confidence comes in. It comes in with us, and it certainly comes in from Coach Long and Coach Hiestand. They've done a great job of building that confidence throughout our entire offense, and certainly within our group in the O-line. And that's kind of where it comes from. We're going to have a great game plan for them. Coach Long is one of the best in America at doing that, and we're really excited for the opportunity, and just got to make sure that that confidence turns into success.
Q. Do you go into a game like this with a goal number saying we want to get X amount of rushing yards?
MIKE McGLINCHEY: No, not at all. Whatever wins us the game will win us the game. We don't really care about the total number of rushing yards as great as it is to talk about afterwards. But we're just going to go out there and do our best to beat Georgia. No matter if it's through the air, through the ground, whatever it is, whatever gets the job done that has more points on the Notre Dame column, that's all we want to do.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports