Mike Martin and Jordan Kovacs
Question: It seemed like the defense on third and short really seemed to rise to the occasion. What is the mentality there?
Mike Martin: “Every day in practice that is something that we stress being stout in short yardage and in that situation we were ready for it. It is something we prepared for all week and all camp. It was nothing new to us. We had a mentality and we’ve always had a mentality to make play when there is short yardage.”
Question: Can you talk about the interception and how that sort of turned things around with you guys when you were back on your heels?
Jordan Kovacs: “I don’t want to give too much away, but I think we did a good job of disguising the defense. I think the quarterback thought we were blitzing, checked out of it to a sprint out and he didn’t see us drop into coverage. I got to credit the defensive line on that. It was a big play for us because two plays later we threw the ball down to Junior Hemingway and he made a big play. I think that was a turning point in the game, but there were several turning points in this game.”
Question: This defense has been very opportunistic for the first two weeks, forcing turnovers, because most of those turnovers were at opportune times. Did you attribute that to practice habit, like ball drills?
Jordan Kovacs: “I think that’s something that Coach Mattison stresses is if you get hats to the ball good things are going to happen. If you fly around, you might not be in the spot at the right time, but if you get after the football, you’re going to cause some turnovers. That’s one of things that he stresses and that’s one of the things that we try to do.”
Question: How did the defensive play overall in your opinion?
Mike Martin: “A football game is never going to be perfect but on the defensive line, but we did step up and make some big plays. Throughout the game we had some adversity but it made us better throughout the game and I think we did a really good job of stepping up and making plays when we needed to.”
Question: Talk about Michael Floyd?
Jordan Kovacs: “He’s a great athlete, great receiver, probably one of the best in the nation. He made some big catches. You can never eliminate a guy like that or take him out of the game but that is something that we’ve tried to do. We couldn’t do that at times but at the same time I don’t think he made any real big catches on us. We’ve kind of corralled him in that aspect. He’s a great player and he was going to get his catches, but we couldn’t let the rest of team beat us.”
Question: Was there a moment when you felt you hit rock bottom in this game?
Jordan Kovacs: “I don’t think we ever felt like we hit rock bottom. I think that’s the unique thing about this defense is we’re going to fight, no matter the score, no matter the situation, we’re going to keep fighting. We might give up a touchdown but we’re going to come back and forget about it and move on and I think that’s what we did today and at times we played well and at other times it was tough. We just put in the past and kept fighting and we knew good things would happen.”
Question: When you did give up a touchdown and fell behind with 30 seconds to play, what was it like watching that last drive on the sideline?
Mike Martin: “That was something…we never lost faith. Whatever the situation was, we knew that we couldn’t quit. So whatever it was, we knew the offense was going to handle their job and whenever it was our time to go back out on the field we had to make sure we did what we had to do. On both sides of the ball, there was never a loss of faith and that’s what you need to be successful.”
Question: How do you feel this team is different or better than the last couple of years when you had fast starts?
Mike Martin: “I think it just goes down to our mental toughness as a team. Coach always stresses that since he’s gotten here. Whatever the situation is, if it is positive or negative for us at the time, we’re going to keep playing hard. We’re going to keep playing as hard as we can and it ended up for us positively this game. Like I said, you can never quit and we never did that and we never gave up and it benefited us at the end of the game.”
Question: How much of a sense of history did you have tonight? How aware were you of the fact that this was the largest crowd ever and obviously, it was the first night game. Were you swallowed up at all on the experience of the game?
Jordan Kovacs: “I think Michigan Stadium was rocking. It was an unbelievable scene. It was a great game to be a part of and it was fun. I think Mike would agree that we had a lot of fun out there and I’ve never seen the stadium like that and I’ve been coming here for quite a long time. It was a fun night game and it was a pretty sweet win.”
Mike Martin: “I would like to add, I think that is something that great teams know and really need to feed off. The energy in there, the guys really did a good job of not getting caught up in all the other stuff and really focusing in on the game. Guys did a good job with feeding off the energy and feeding off each other and making plays.”
Question: This is the second game with Coach Hoke, can you take us through the locker room afterwards and did you see something from him that you did not expect to see from Coach Hoke?
Jordan Kovacs: “We did what we do after every game, we sang ‘The Victors’ and it was an exciting locker room, we were obviously pretty happy and at the same time, we are moving on to Eastern Michigan.”
Question: Did you every expect to play a game of this magnitude under the lights?
Jordan Kovacs: “No not really. I’ve never been a part of any game like this. I’ll take it in stride. I’m having the time of my life right now and I’ll take and run with this.”
Question: Can you talk about Tommy Rees and how you guys game planned for him and how you think the game plan worked?
Jordan Kovacs: “I think you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Tommy Rees, I think he’s a great quarterback. We knew that coming into the game. We knew that he was not too experienced and we wanted to get after him and rattle him a little bit. I thought we did that at times, but there are times that is something that we’ve got to improve on.”
Question: This is the third time that you’ve guys have done this to Notre Dame. What does it feel like, why is it we’ve had these three games and would you rank this one the best of the last three?
Mike Martin: “I’ve never been a part of a game like this. I don’t think anybody on the team has been part of a game like this. This game ranks excitement wise, the most exciting game I’ve played in. Whether it is the Notre Dame series or any game. Notre Dame, it is always a big game playing against Notre Dame and it always means a lot. There is a lot of tradition with both the programs, so going into the game, we’ve got the mentality that it is a big game, obviously under the lights and all that and it was important that we did what we needed to do to make sure that we were successful in the end.”
Question: You guys run a ton of checks, you disguise things obviously, there is a ton of communication that needs to take place. How do you feel it went from game one to game two especially when you’re facing an offense like this?
Jordan Kovacs: “I think we’re getting a little more comfortable with the defense, but that’s an explosive offense. They can do it all. They can spread you, they can pound you. I think it is going to be good film to watch. We obviously have got a lot of work to do in the running game and the passing game. I thought we handled ourselves well and we kept fighting and that’s all that we can ask. Obviously, it is somewhat of a bittersweet victory after the way we came off the field, but we’ll take it and watch the film and improve.”
Question: What was going through your head at the end of the game when you saw Jeremy Gallon running wide open?
Mike Martin: “I knew Jeremy was going to make the play when the ball was in midair and I saw them running their routes. I knew he was going to come through and make the catch. Jeremy has been working hard since I’ve been here. It was exciting and I think Ryan Van Bergen just laid on the sideline. He was just like, man, I can’t believe this, this is crazy. It was one of the most exciting games we’ve played and I knew Jeremy and the rest of the guys would come through make the play.”
Question: You talk about the job they did in picking up your blitzes, any frustration there when you’re not getting home on some of those?
Jordan Kovacs: “Yeah. I think they did a great job of picking up our blitzes. They changed up their snap count on us quite a few times. We kind of caught up on that and we started disguising a little better. It is something that we’re going to have to work on and improve on.”
Question: Their running game, Cierre Wood seemed to be gashing you guys a lot. Was that a scheme thing or were guys tired?
Mike Martin: “It was a bit of a scheme wise. We just had to make sure that we’re a little bit stouter at the point of attack with some areas on the defensive line. I think we did a good job of adjusting at halftime especially with getting a few those kinks worked out. We came back and did a pretty good job in the second half. We’re going to have to look at the film. It is going to be some good film for us to look at to get better for next week.”