Kurt Hinish is the mood.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan, offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson, defensive lineman Kurt Hinish and linebacker Jack Kiser checked in with the media after another close call for a W against the Toledo Rockets and ahead of the game against the Purdue Boilermakers.
The Irish QB didn’t let himself get too worried about his dislocated finger during the Toledo game. He said, “I knew it wasn’t broken just by the way it looked… We got the best trainers in the country.”
Describing what went through his mind in the following drive, “It was an unbelievable moment, the line did a great job protecting, obviously, Mike (Mayer) made a great move to get open and an unbelievable catch at the finish. It was pretty crazy.”
Coan is expecting a challenge against the Boilermakers. He said, “They’ve always been a super talented team. I know whenever we played them at Wisconsin, they always played us super tough. We had some very close games, so I’m expecting the same thing… very talented…”
On freshman quarterback Tyler Buchner, he said “We have a great relationship. He’s one of my best friends on the team, and, honestly, I don’t even need to give him much advice on anything. He’s a truly special player.” He went on to explain that the two have no jealousy for one another as they develop in their roles. He recognizes Buchner helps the Irish win games and said, “Honestly, the only thing I care about is winning… Whatever gives us the best chance to win.”
(level-headed) “Look at the first two games, every game’s been coming down to the wire… so you can’t look too far ahead of you.”
Explaining more on Mayer, Coan said, “He’s always gonna be open… gives you a ton of confidence out there.” However, he did stress the importance of “not locking onto one guy like Mike.”
“Keep communicating… and just going back to our base fundamentals…. Just play low pad level, tight hands… that’s the biggest thing we need to do right now.”
“We did have some younger guys in key positions, but we have a lot of good football players and a lot of really good senior leadership as well on the offensive side of the ball”
On shifting into a more experienced role on the offensive line, Patterson said, “I get to help these guys out every week, prepare, try to help them out mentally as well… Seeing these guys grow… excites me most…”
As for the winning drive, Patterson said, “Having Jack back there, he’s a veteran guy… we were all confident….”
Looking ahead to the Purdue game, Patterson explained both squads know the rivalry stakes and said “They’ll bring pressure; their linebackers are downhill… it’s gonna be a really physical football game.”
Hinish emphasized the team’s work to “clean up” the setbacks that have come with a fast approach. “When you play fast, mistakes are gonna happen.” He explained the need to find a balance between speed and a focus on the details. When the team reaches this equilibrium, Hinish is confident the Irish will be “a very dangerous group.”
On the shaky start to the season, Hinish said, “We’re still a baller defense and have we given up a couple points? Yeah, but we’re still a group of ballers and we’re gonna be a group of ballers… We’ll be aight.”
He went on to address the stumbling blocks and the learning opportunities and said, “Going back and you watch the film it’s always one missed tackle, one missed assignment, and that just comes with details and that comes with playing fast… One of the things we’ve been harping on… during practice… is tagging off on the hip and getting fitted up into position to where you’re gonna make that tackle. I’m probably three or four tackles for loss this year because I wasn’t in the correct position to make that tackle.” As far as truly accounting and planning for this in practice, Hinish said, “What’s killing us on defense is tackling, and that comes with details,” and explained the coaching staff is not letting up and that everyone shares the sense of urgency.
Giving some props to his teammate, Kiser said, “JD Bertrand might be the hardest worker on the team, and so if anybody deserves what’s happened to him, it’s definitely JD, and it’s no surprise to anybody in the locker room; I’ll tell you that… He played every defensive snap last game. That’s really hard to do.”
On responding to Purdue quarterback Jack Plummer, Kiser said, “He’s… sneaky on getting outside of the pocket… We’ve just gotta get him contained and eliminate those throwing lanes.”
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