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Tigers Roar Past Notre Dame in Sugar Bowl, 41-14
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Published: January 03, 2007, 12:00 AM (CT)
Updated: October 29, 2009, 03:23 AM (CT)
by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports), LSU Sports Interactive

by Chris Macaluso
Special to LSUsports.net

NEW ORLEANS -- For the first 28 minutes of Wednesday night’s Sugar Bowl, LSU and Notre Dame traded offensive punches and moved the ball seemingly at will in a 14-14 fight that seemed as if it might last to the 12th round. 

For the last 32 minutes of the game, LSU pounded, beat and landed blows to the head and the heart of the Irish that Notre Dame could not return. The Tigers pounded the Irish unmercifully in the second half on their way to a 41-14 drubbing that left little doubt about which team was the fastest, quickest and obviously the most talented.

The Tigers were led by the strong-armed JaMarcus Russell who matched up against Notre Dame quarterback and Heisman Trophy Finalist Brady Quinn, and, frankly, cast a large shadow over the highly-touted Irish signal caller.

Russell completed 21-of-34 passes for 332 yards, two passing and one rushing touchdown and one meaningless interception on his way to being unanimously named the game’s Most Outstanding Player. He was replaced by backup Matt Flynn late in the fourth quarter and left the field to a standing ovation from the partisan Superdome crowd.

Quinn ended the game with 15 completions on 35 attempts for 148 yards and two touchdowns to go along with two interceptions after throwing just five interceptions all season.

“I’ve said it before, I think I have the best quarterback in the country,” Miles said.

Russell said he appreciated the accolades he received after the game and the comparisons to Quinn and his abilities but he wanted to spread the credit around to as many Tiger players as possible.

“My main thing is playing for my teammates and my coaches,” Russell said. “Everyone has their opinion about who they think is the best and you can’t change that. I don’t know why I wasn’t considered for the Heisman. But, I really do think I’m one of the best in college football.” 

In all, LSU outgained and stomped the highly regarded Notre Dame offense 577-291 after trailing the Irish in total yardage 261-244 at halftime. The yardage total was the highest of the season for the deep and fast Tiger offense that compiled 31 first downs, 19 of them in the second half. Notre Dame managed 17 first downs. 

Most of Notre Dame’s first half production came from tailback Darius Walker who gained 125 yards on 18 carries before the break. After halftime, Walker gained three yards while LSU’s Keiland Williams gashed the beaten Irish for 94 yards in the second half. In all, the Tigers out-rushed the Irish 245-143.

“When it becomes apparent that the game is going to become a passing game that is when our defense plays real well,” Miles said. “Notre Dame got some good yards early in the game on crack back rushes and rushes on the outside. Fixing that was the adjustment made at halftime.”

Early in the contest, it looked as if LSU receiver Early Doucet may claim the outstanding player award after catching five passes for 106 yards in the first half. But, Doucet’s production tailed off in the second half as Russell spread passes to seniors Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis and also found freshman Brandon LaFell on a 58-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter.

“I felt like these two teams matched up very well and I thought it was going to be a competitive game,” Miles said. “I have great respect for Notre Dame and Coach Weis, but we had a better team today.”

Notre Dame took the opening possession and ran nine plays good for just 14 yards thanks to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty whistled against Jeff Samardzija after the lanky receiver reeled in a first down catch on the drive’s sixth play. Samardzija led the Irish in catches with eight and receiving yards with 59. The Irish stumbled again on the drive’s last play when backup tailback Travis Thomas took the snap on a fake punt attempt at his 31-yard line but picked up just one of the three yards needed for the first down before he was dragged to the turf by Doucet.

Just 49 seconds later, LSU scored the game’s first points. Doucet’s name was called again as he gathered in a 31-yard pass from Russell on the drive’s first play setting up a 1st-and-goal at the Irish 3-yard line. Williams drove through the Notre Dame defense on the next play giving LSU a 7-0 lead with 11:16 remaining in the first quarter after the Colt David point after.

LSU’s second touchdown of the first quarter took slightly longer as Russell used his rifle arm and his massive legs to carry his team down the field in eight plays to make the score 14-0. The Tiger quarterback completed 4-of-5 passes in the drive and also ran for 21 yards on a quarterback draw on the drive’s sixth play setting LSU with a first down at the Irish 15. Two plays later, Russell beamed a laser pass to Bowe in the endzone giving the Tigers a two-touchdown advantage with 6:03 left in the quarter after the 3:31 march.

Notre Dame responded with an eight-play drive of its own to make up the stagger and cut the Tiger lead to 14-7 despite a sack of Quinn on the first play of the possession that knocked the Irish back to their 10-yard line. Quinn and Walker combined to lead their team down the on a mix of runs and passes that included a 21-yard pass from Quinn to Walker. Quinn then found receiver David Grimes just inside the Tiger goal line on a 24-yard pass with 1:26 to play in the quarter capping the 4:37 drive.

The Tigers made the Irish eyes smile two plays later as Russell was sandwiched between two Irish defenders and fumbled at the LSU 21. Defensive end Travis Leitko recovered the loose ball setting up what seemed to be a sure scoring chance for the powerful Notre Dame offense. But, a third down pass into the endzone intended for Samardzija was broken up and place kicker Carl Gioia pushed a 33-yard field goal attempt wide right preserving the LSU 14-7 lead with 14:40 remaining in the half.

LSU cornerback Jonathan Zenon had the rare chance to intercept two passes on Notre Dame’s next possession. The first came at the LSU 2-yard line on the eighth play of the drive when Quinn tried to find Zamardzija deep along the sidelines. Zenon appeared to come down with the interception but the play was overturned after review. Two plays later on 3rd-and-8 from the 36, Zenon stepped in front of a poorly thrown Quinn pass at the LSU 35 and returned it to the Notre Dame 42.

LSU gained 29 yards on the first play of the ensuing drive on a pass from Russell to Bowe and 12 more on a pass to Jacob Hester on the second play. But the drive stalled and David gave LSU a missed field goal from 31 yards to go match Notre Dame’s earlier miss.

The Irish responded by running Walker around one end then the other on an eight-play drive that ended when Quinn finally connected with Samardzija in the right corner of the endzone on a 10-yard pass to tie the score 14-14 with 2:25 remaining in the half. Walker carried the ball three times for 54 yards during the scoring drive that consumed just 2:39.

LSU and Russell responded quickly though, and reclaimed the lead. Justin Vincent rushed for 19 yards on the ensuing drive’s first play before Russell spotted and connected with Doucet 58 yards down the field setting up a 1st-and-goal at the Irish 5. Two plays later, Russell took a draw play across the goal line capping a blink-of-an-eye drive that lasted just five plays and 1:10 and gave the Tigers a 21-14 lead with 1:15 left in the half.

David redeemed himself from 26 yards out on the first drive of the second half as the Tigers drove 73 yards in 13 plays but were unable to cross the goal line when Russell misfired to Bowe from the Irish 8-yard line. The drive was extended on a fake field goal four plays before David’s successful kick when Flynn pitched the snap to place kicker Chris Jackson who raced for seven yards extending the 5:26 drive. The field goal extended the lead to 24-14 with 9:34 remaining in the third quarter.

David extended the Tiger lead to 27-14 with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter after another methodical LSU drive bogged down deep in Notre Dame territory. This time, he connected from 37 yards out at the end of a nine-play, 59 yard drive that ate 3:57 off the clock.

The LSU third-quarter scoring parade continued as Russell, facing a 3rd-and-8 at his 42 launched a 58-yard rocket to the speedy LaFell who raced past the Irish defense and was all alone at the 10-yard line. LaFell sped into the endzone with 18 seconds remaining in the quarter capping a five-play, 73-yard drive that lasted just 1:38. The score extended the Tiger lead to 34-14 after the point after.

LSU stopped the Irish offense again on the ensuing drive when safety LaRon Landry intercepted a tipped pass at the LSU 35-yard line. But, two unsportsmanlike conduct calls against the Tigers held up the drive that ended when Russell tried to find Davis in the endzone between two defenders. Safety Mike Richardson intercepted the pass in the endzone and returned it to the Notre Dame 20 with 12:42 left in the game.

The Tigers salted the game away on their next possession by using its running attack to pound the Irish into a pile of mush. Williams carried the ball on six of the nine plays of the drive including its last, a 20-yard scamper straight through the beleaguered Notre Dame defense to advance the LSU lead to 41-14 with 7:27 left in the contest. Williams rushed for 59 yards during the drive.

Allstate Sugar Bowl
LSU vs. Notre Dame
Jan. 3, 2007
New Orleans, La. Louisiana Superdome
LSU Game Notes

Team Notes
1. LSU’s game captains were 2 JaMarcus Russell, 41 Chris Jackson, 30 LaRon Landry.
2. LSU won the toss and deferred to the second half. Notre Dame received the opening kickoff.
3. Tigers extending their consecutive starts streak today were: FS LaRon Landry (48), CB Chevis Jackson (26), DE Chase Pittman (19).
4. With a three-yard touchdown run by RB Keiland Williams on the Tigers’ first drive, LSU has now scored on its first drive in nine of 13 games this season. Of those nine scores eight have been for touchdowns while the other resulted in a field goal.
5. LSU has recorded at least one sack in 19 straight games after a first quarter sack by LB Luke Sanders in today’s game. The last time LSU’s defense did not record a sack was against North Texas last season.
6. LSU has outscored its opponents 136-27 in the first quarter this season. Florida, Alabama, Arkansas and Notre Dame are the only teams to dent the scoreboard in the first quarter against LSU.
7. With the victory tonight, LSU’s senior class became the winningest in school history, posting a 44-8 record during the last four seasons.
8. With a win tonight LSU also improved its record to 3-0 all time in BCS games. The Tigers defeated Illinois 47-34 in the 2002 Sugar Bowl and Oklahoma 21-14 in the 2004 Sugar Bowl.
9. LSU rolled up 577 yards in total offense, its highest output this season. The previous high this season was 546 yards vs. Kentucky on October 14.

Individual Notes
1. RB Keiland Williams recorded his fourth career TD with 11:16 to go in the first quarter, scoring on a three-yard run. He added his fifth career TD with 7:27 remaining in the game on a 20-yard scamper. The freshman finished the day with a career-high 107 yards on 14 carries. Tonight’s game marked the first two-TD outing of his career.
2. With a tackle in the first quarter, FS LaRon Landry extended his tackles in consecutive games streak. The senior has now made a tackle in 52 straight games.
3. WR Craig Davis pulled in a 12-yard reception in the first quarter to extend his consecutive games with a reception streak to 35.
4. WR Dwayne Bowe pulled in an 11-yard TD reception with 6:03 to go in the first quarter to extend his consecutive games with a reception streak to 25 straight games.
a. The TD, his 12th of the season, sets a new LSU single season school record for touchdown receptions. He passed former Tiger greats Michael Clayton (2003) and Wendall Davis (1986) who each had 11.
b. The touchdown also marks the 26th of Bowe’s career, extending his hold on the LSU career receiving touchdowns list.
a. With five catches tonight Bowe moved into fourth place on LSU’s career receptions list with 153.
5. PK Colt David moved into third on LSU’s career PATs made list with four successful attempts tonight. The sophomore now has 95 for his career.
a. Following a pair of successful field goal attempts from 25 yards and 31 yards in the third quarter David is now eight-of-13 on field goals attempts this season. David was two-of-three on the night, missing from 31 yards out in the second quarter.
6. CB Jonathan Zenon pulled in his fourth interception of the season, and the sixth of his career, in the second quarter. The interception was his first since the Arizona game in week two.
7. Completing 21-of-34 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns tonight, QB JaMarcus Russell moved into first place on LSU’s single season list for completions (232). His final total of 3,129 passing yards this season ranks second on the school single-season list. LSU QB Rohan Davey threw for 3,347 yards in 2001.
a. Russell scored his first rushing touchdown of the season, and the fourth of his career, on a five-yard run with 1:15 to go in the second quarter.
b. Before having a pass intercepted in the fourth quarter Russell had thrown 119 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest such streak of his career.
c. Russell’s 332 yards tonight marked a career high. His previous career best was 330 yards against Mississippi State this season.
8. With a career long 58-yard reception in the second quarter WR Early Doucet went over 100 yards receiving for the second time this season and the second time in his career. He finished the night with a career-high 115 yards on a career-best eight catches. Doucet also had eight receptions earlier this season at Tennessee.
a. Doucet’s 115 receiving yards is the most by an LSU athlete this season. It also marks the fifth time an LSU receiver has gone over 100 yards this year.
b. With eight receptions tonight Doucet tied his career high single game total.
9. With a 12-yard reception in the second quarter RB Jacob Hester moved into sole possession of third place on LSU single season receptions by a running back list with 35.
10. Freshman WR Brandon LaFell scored the second touchdown of his career on a 58-yard grab with 0:18 to go in the third quarter. The 58-yard reception tied his career long as he also caught a 58-yard pass in the season opener against ULL.
11. FS LaRon Landry picked off his third pass of the season, and the 12th of his career, in the fourth quarter.

Notre Dame Football Post Game Notes
Today's Sugar Bowl game between Notre Dame and LSU was sold out, making it the 63rd in the last 69 games for the Irish away from Notre Dame Stadium that were sold out. The 2001, 2003 and 2005 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy at The Meadowlands, last year's game at Washington and this year’s season-finale at USC were not sellouts.
LSU won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. The Irish defended the south end zone in the first half.
Notre Dame was ranked 11th in the Associated Press poll at kickoff. LSU came into the game ranked fourth in the AP poll.
Tonight’s Loss to LSU...
... made Notre Dame 10-3 for the first time since 2002 and third time in school history.
... was the second straight loss for the Irish (the first two game losing streak under Weis and first since Notre Dame dropped the final two games of the 2004 season).
... denied the Irish 11 victories in a season for the first time since 1993 and sixth time in school history.
... dropped Notre Dame’s all-time bowl record to 13-15.
... gave the Irish a 2-2 mark all-time in the Sugar Bowl.
... extended Notre Dame’s bowl losing streak to nine games.
... denied the Irish a bowl victory for the first time since the 1994 Cotton Bowl (def. Texas A&M, 24-21).
... denied Notre Dame a victory over its highest ranked opponent since Sept. 10, 2005 (No. 3 Michigan, 17-10).
... evened the Irish at 5-5-0 in the all-time series with the Tigers.
... dropped Notre Dame to 0-2-0 in the all-time series with LSU in bowl games.
... dropped a ranked Irish squad to 3-2 all-time against the Tigers.
... dropped Notre Dame to 2-5-0 all-time against a ranked LSU squad.
... dropped the Irish to 1-2-0 all-time against the Tigers when both teams are ranked.
... evened Notre Dame at 2-2-0 all-time against LSU when the Tigers are ranked in the top 10.
... dropped Weis’ record to 19-6 overall, 0-1 against LSU and 0-1 against the SEC.
... dropped Weis’ bowl record to 0-2.
... dropped Weis’ record to 5-2 in night games.
... dropped the Irish’s all-time record to 821-269-42.
... dropped Notre Dame’s all-time record against the SEC to 21-13-0.

NOTRE DAME TEAM NOTES
The following Notre Dame players extended streaks for consecutive starts: senior QB Brady Quinn (46), senior OT Ryan Harris (45), senior DT Derek Landri (37), senior DE Victor Abiamiri (26), senior WR Jeff Samardzija (26), senior OL Dan Santucci (25), senior CB Mike Richardson (25), junior LB Maurice Crum, Jr. (25), senior FS Chinedum Ndukwe (25) and senior DE Trevor Laws (25).
Notre Dame attempted its second fake punt of 2006. Senior LB/RB Travis Thomas converted a fake punt on a 43-yard scamper against Penn State, but was unsuccessful on a similar play tonight against LSU.
Despite trailing, 21-14, at halftime, Notre Dame held advantages in rushing yards (137 to 74), total yards (261 to 244) and time of possession (19:31 to 10:29). The Irish also nearly doubled up the Tigers in total plays over the first 30 minutes. Notre Dame ran 50 plays in the first half, while LSU ran just 26. LSU turned in a complete reversal in the third quarter. The Tigers outgained the Irish 205 yards to 26 yards in the third quarter (LSU ran 18 more plays, 25-7).
Notre Dame managed just 30 total yards in the second half. On the other hand, LSU totaled 333 yards.
Notre Dame rushed for 137 yards in the first half, the second most rushing yards allowed by LSU for an entire game. Only
Arkansas, which ran for 298 yards, ran for more. Junior RB Darius Walker, who had 125 yards on the ground by himself, became just the third tail back to surpass 100 yards against the Tigers this season.
LSU allowed just four touchdowns on drives of 80-yards or more over their first 12 games of 2006. The Irish marched 80 yards on both of their second quarter touchdown drives.
The Irish converted 8-of-12 on third down in the opening half. The eight third down conversions equaled the Notre Dame single game high entering the Sugar Bowl. The Irish went 0-for-4 in the second half.

NOTRE DAME PLAYER NOTES
Senior QB Brady Quinn
NCAA History
... finished career with 95 career passing touchdowns to rank tied for seventh all-time in NCAA Division I-A history. Quinn is tied with Philip Rivers (NC State, 2000-03) and Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech, 1999-02).
... finished career with 11,762 career passing yards to rank 10th all-time in NCAA Division I-A history.
... finished career with 929 career pass completions to rank 11th all-time in NCAA Division I-A history.
... finished career with 1,602 career pass attempts to rank sixth all-time in NCAA Division I-A history.
Miscellaneous
... with his first completion, Quinn has now recorded a completion in 49 straight games (already a school record).
... registered his 46th consecutive start for the Irish (second most among active I-A quarterbacks).
... extended his school record for consecutive games with multiple touchdown passes to 12 (dating back to the season opener against Georgia Tech).
Junior RB Darius Walker
... finished season with 1,267 rushing yards in 2006 to rank sixth in single-season school history.
... extended streak of consecutive games with a reception to 28.
... eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the sixth time of 2006 and 15th time of his career (did so in the first half).
Senior WR Jeff Samardzija
... finished season with a school record 78 receptions in 2006.
... finished season with 1,017 receiving yards in 2006 to rank fifth in single-season school history (first Irish WR to ever eclipse
1,000 yards receiving twice in career).
... finished with 2,593 career receiving yards to rank first all-time in school history.
... finished with 12 receiving touchdowns in 2006 to third in single-season school history.
... finished career with a school record 27 touchdown receptions.
... extended streak of consecutive games with a reception to 26.
Senior WR Rhema McKnight
... extended streak of consecutive games with a reception to 24 (excluding the games he missed to injury in 2005).
... finished season with 67 receptions, 907 yards and 15 touchdowns.
... ranks fifth, seventh and tied for first in those single-season school records
... finished career with 170 receptions, 2,277 yards and 22 touchdowns
... ranks second, fifth and tied for second in those career categories.
Senior P Geoffrey Price
... the 55-yard punt in the first quarter was the 11th punt of 50 yards or more this season.
... added a 51-yard punt late in the third quarter for his 12th punt of 50 yards or more this season.
... recorded his third punt of 50+ yards (54-yarder) early in the fourth quarter.
... registered his fourth punt of 50 or more yards late in the fourth quarter.
... second game this season with three or more punts of 50 yards or more.
... finished season with a new school record for per punt average.
Sophomore David Grimes
... the 21-yard touchdown reception from senior QB Brady Quinn was his second TD catch of 2006 (second of his career).
Sophomore Terrail Lambert
... picked up a sack and forced fumble early in the second quarter.
... the sack was the first of his career, while the forced fumble was his second of 2006 (second of his career).
Senior Travis Leitko
... registered his second career fumble recovery (first of 2006) in the second quarter.
Senior CB Mike Richardson
... recorded his team-best fourth interception of 2006 and eight of his career.
The $10,000 gift that was received by Jay Specter in the “Lucky Fan to Kick” contest was donated to Catholic Charities of New Orleans announced Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins.

POST-GAME QUOTES

An Interview With:
COACH LES MILES
JAMARCUS RUSSELL
THE MODERATOR: We will go ahead and begin while we wait on the most outstanding player quarterback, JaMarcus Russell. We'll start with LSU Coach Les Miles. Coach, congratulations on being the 2007 Allstate Sugar Bowl champions. If you could start us off with your thoughts on the game.
COACH LES MILES: I thought that the team played extremely well in all three phases. You're looking at an offense that had a dominant performance, a defense that was stingy all day and had a dominant performance, special teams that contributed very significantly. It was a team victory. I'm extremely proud of this team. This is the winningest senior class in LSU history. A year ago a graduating senior class had set the bar and was eclipsed today by one victory by the '06 seniors. I really felt like our teams matched up very well. I thought it was going to be very competitive. We have great respect for Coach Weis and a great Notre Dame team, but our team was better today. I have great respect for their great quarterback, Brady Quinn. He has every ability, and I've said this before, I just think I have the best quarterback in the country. He played well again for 11 victories and a Sugar Bowl championship. It's been a great year, a great team.

Any questions?
THE MODERATOR: JaMarcus, if you could start us off by telling us your thoughts for the game.
JaMARCUS RUSSELL: I thought the game was pretty great. We got up on top pretty fast. My thing was to tell the team not to get too high because there was a lot of ball left to be played.

Q. Coach, would you talk about the possessions in the first half? Notre Dame had the ball significantly longer than you, but in the third quarter they only had seven plays. Did y'all do anything different?
COACH LES MILES: In the first half they had the ball minutes and really didn't get out of their own end zone. It just seemed that they were picking up 1st downs and losing yards, and seldom did they have a real significant drive. We get up 14 and really get them back in the game with some errors, but our defense was stingy the whole night. They got a couple runs going, a little block back and pull and a little crack sweep, but by and large, an adjustment was made at halftime; that was really closed off. When it became obvious that it was just a passing night, our defense becomes really, really good. While they had balance, they had their best chance of moving the football.

Q. Can you guys just talk about the 58-yard pass play before halftime, just how crucial that was? Coach Weis said it was a big downer for them. Could you guys just talk about that play?
COACH LES MILES: Well, it led to a score and very significantly just before the half it gained tremendous momentum in the game. It was a great play, great pass, great reception to Early Doucet coming across. It was a tremendous play.
JaMARCUS RUSSELL: From the looks, the way they were playing coverage-wise, they had the linebackers playing on one of the slot receivers who seemed to have a little bit of speed. Coach called a great play and it was up to us to execute, which thankfully we did very well.

Q. You talked about adjustments at halftime. Were they necessarily adjustments or just fine-tuning what you guys thought you could --
COACH LES MILES: It was -- necessarily adjustments are best when they're just small, and that's what it was, some small adjustments in alignments and a crack replace role needed to be put in place. And beyond that, we played coverage pretty good, got off the field and got off Quinn when we could. Let me say this about our staff. I think our offensive coordinator, our defensive coordinator, special team coordinators had great nights, great plans. Our staff implemented them extremely well, prepared this team very, very well. As we came into this game we had great confidence in the plan, and our players, like they always have, come to compete. It was just a matter of time.

Q. Can you talk about JaMarcus and how good he is? Expand on what you said just a second ago. And then for both of you, in your opinion why was he never mentioned in the Heisman Trophy at all, and JaMarcus, what are your thoughts about that, as well?
COACH LES MILES: First, JaMarcus has all the natural skill that any quarterback would want to possess. He's got great vision, great height, extremely accurate, great arm, nice fluid throwing motion, very capable. What people don't understand about JaMarcus is how smart he is. He is a very bright quarterback, understands what he's looking at. He seldom comes to the sideline, even when we disagree. He says, this is what I saw, and generally speaking, that's what he sees. He has a great leadership quality; the team loves to follow him. He is a unity counselor. He is one of the core leaders of our team, has a very commanding opinion and great respect given him by his team. If there's a characteristic that a great quarterback has, I suspect JaMarcus Russell has that characteristic. I don't know why he's not mentioned for the Heisman. I can tell you this: In short order, he has to make a very difficult decision, and it's going to be one where he will be offered a pile of money and he'll have to make a very independent decision, a personal decision, but if he returns, he certainly will be a Heisman Trophy candidate. Michael Bonnette, sports information director, he had better get the mock-ups ready (laughter).

JaMARCUS RUSSELL: My thing is not really playing for the Heisman, but it would be great to go out and win and show we're one of the best on defense playing in college football. My main thing is playing for my team and my coaches. People always have an opinion and you can't take that away from them. I really do think I'm one of the best in college football, and like I said, you cannot take that opinion away from me.

COACH LES MILES: You know, he makes mention there, he's never been anything but team, not from start to finish. We ask him to do difficult things; we may ask him to handle motion checks and then checks upon checks, and he does extremely well, whatever you ask of him. Maybe his greatest characteristic is his team.

Q. It just seemed like the overall ball control, they ran 50 odd plays in the first half but then 20 in the second half and four of those were punts. Was the key keeping the ball in your offense's hands as much as you could, one of those minor tweaks or adjustments you made at halftime?
COACH LES MILES: We went to the line of scrimmage many times with a run and a pass check, and they were in a position where they didn't want to be beaten by the pass, and so we ran the football. And then when it got to a point where the score was such that we wanted to run the football, that's what we did, and ate the clock up. So in the second half as the score mounted after plays, that was exactly what we wanted to do was run the football. It was because of the ability to take what the defense gave us.

Q. I wanted to talk to both Coach and JaMarcus, from day one Coach Weis talked about all the offensive weapons that you had both in the running backs and the receivers. If you guys could talk about not only the unselfish attitude that those guys had to have in terms of the game plan and giving plays and calls and if using all those different guys that we saw tonight wore Notre Dame down. It looked like at the end they couldn't hang.
JaMARCUS RUSSELL: You know, having guys like that, everyone knows their ropes. You always do your individual team effort. You can't be selfish when you have everybody on your team making plays; it wouldn't be a team if you were doing it by yourself. Coach always talks about the team, go out and do it for the team, no matter what it is.

COACH LES MILES: The receiving corps blocks extremely well and it takes a toll on the defense and on the secondary, and we're very physical. That's what you saw; you saw big strong men really imposing their will on their opponent.

Q. JaMarcus, to what degree did the success that you guys had in the running game with Keiland and Justin, how much did that help you in the passing game softening up that defense?
JaMARCUS RUSSELL: A lot. Knowing that someone was behind you able to make the yards and plays by running, sometimes you look forward to it where you say pick your poison. If they're going to drop back and run up. It was a one-two chance of taking it.

Q. Can you talk a little bit more about Keiland Williams and other players that stepped up that maybe Notre Dame wasn't expecting to show up like they did?
COACH LES MILES: Keiland Williams is a true freshman, a guy that kind of showed up just before camp started, and he gives us fresh legs, big strong back and very capable player. I think we're probably going by an offensive line performance that was pretty significant tonight. Offensive line blocked really, really well and really spawned a lot of these runs. I certainly want to give Keiland Williams and Justin Vincent great credit, but this offensive line played extremely well. The quarterback put us in the best play, and kind of what JaMarcus said earlier, it was the team thing to do. When you get the ball, your offensive line is blocking for you, you'd better get you some yards.

Q. JaMarcus, on the big touchdown pass to Brandon, what is the name of that play and what did you do and he do to make it successful?
JaMARCUS RUSSELL: It was sort of a rope double snake and see how the back gets in. My thing was to work backside, got a little pressure and pushed me to the right and up field. I knew I had the play, just an opportunity to throw and make the catch.

Q. It's kind of interesting to me at least that last year at this time Matt Leinart was the more heralded quarterback, Vince Young, a junior outplays him in the Rose Bowl, comes out early. If you don't mind could you comment on the similarities there and how basically JaMarcus did outplay Quinn tonight, could vault over?
COACH LES MILES: I think that by comparisons, I think JaMarcus Russell has any number of advantages over any quarterback in the country, not just Quinn. I think the observations that you make are about a game that's played for the National Championship and about a very significant evening for Vince Young to say, I just won the National Championship and I outplayed what would be the next quarterback. I think there are some similarities there. I think the fact that we played for a Sugar Bowl championship, the MVP is JaMarcus Russell, I think there are some similarities there. I'm not trying to make the point where he goes out early. Now maybe you're supposed to make that point.

Q. JaMarcus, could you comment on that?
JaMARCUS RUSSELL: From the standpoint of what happened, I think there are some similarities, but at the same time my main focus is just to come in and play, not really thinking about leaving early right now. I have a lot of time to sit down with my family and coach and just talk about that situation. Right now I'm just happy we got a victory.

Q. Coach, could you address the first half defensively where you had Ali Highsmith out for most of the first quarter and Daniels out for the whole half, how you had to adjust, and then the second part, what you did defensively in the second half?
COACH LES MILES: Highsmith hurt an ankle and Jason Spadoni played a lot of football in that first half. We were very comfortable with Steltz in at safety instead of Daniels. I don't think- the adjustments were as significant and as the score mounted our defense continued to play with intensity, and it was just a matter of time that we kind of bottled them up.

Q. You mentioned Justin Vincent. Can you talk about, I guess, the decision to give the workload you gave to him tonight, and then obviously his last game as a Tiger and playing his best game in a long time, just how you felt about the way he played tonight?
COACH LES MILES: There's a guy that's been extremely unselfish with his time and his dedication to his team. He plays special teams, his team, he'll do. We handed the ball to him a couple times and he seemed to have the hot hand, and we felt like it would be appropriate to keep the hot running back engaged, and so we didn't take him out, and he performed. I think it's very appropriate that he have such a big night in his last contest for LSU.

Q. 41-14, you got a lot of style points tonight, and believe it or not you're going to finish 2 or 3 in the nation when the dust settles. How do you and JaMarcus feel about that?
JaMARCUS RUSSELL: I think it's great. Early in the season we had two tough losses. We didn't think we'd be in such a big Bowl game and come out on top?
COACH LES MILES: After the Florida game this football team was stunned. We didn't expect to have two losses. This team had resolve and hung together and played as a team, came out and won at Tennessee, put seven great victories together, and I think they're very deserving to be second ranked or third ranked. This is a great football team. If you look back, except for a ball bouncing here, an instant replay there, this may have been for the National Championship.

Q. Coach, the fake punt early in the game, just your thoughts on that and how pivotal it was for you guys to make that stop and cash in on it.
COACH LES MILES: The tragedy is we didn't get seven. We lined up to kick a field goal -- you're talking about their fake punt? We kind of figured that they had run that fake several times -- really one time. Coach Peveto does a great job in scouting and they did exactly what we might expect. Prior to that snap we had alerted our guys on the field that it might well be a fake. We played with leverage. Those fakes still have a chance to get out; you have to make a play. Defense played extremely well, that gave us a short field and an immediate seven. It appeared to us that they might be willing to take those risks, and so he -- the point was made that we had great speed, and if he was trying to let us know that we felt like we had advantages, we listened, and in those instances we were kind of prepared for unusual plays in the kicking game.

Q. JaMarcus, could you talk about the battle of the trenches, especially in the first half, and did you feel that your offensive line was holding up for the most part? Did you feel pressured at all or did they let you do your thing for the most part?
JaMARCUS RUSSELL: In games you have times where your offensive line, he might slip and the guy might get past. That's why there's four quarters. You always have time to back yourself up and do it again. It was a career high passing day. I didn't know it until it was said, but I give it up to the offensive line.

Q. This just happened today. What about Saban going back to Alabama? Do you have any thoughts about that?
COACH LES MILES: I don't give any thoughts to Alabama after a great victory. We certainly enjoyed playing in the Sugar Bowl. We felt very touched to be able to represent Louisiana at home in the Sugar Bowl. I can't tell you how many people came to us to say thank you for being here, thank you, and then telling us about their Katrina story. We were glad -- I don't want to give much thought to any school that has a red in their color or an A to start and is in a distant area, irrespective of their coach.


2007 ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL
LSU POST-GAME QUOTES

DB Jonathan Zenon #19
(On Defensive Play)
We had a great game plan and the secondary played great. As a unit we knew what we had to do out there tonight. We put a lot of pressure on Quinn and disrupted their timing. He had to get it out of his hand quicker than he wanted.

(On the Interception)
It was a great play. I’ve been practicing really hard and Coach Miles told me to keep my eye on the ball. I just went up there and tried to catch the ball.

(On Playing in New Orleans)
It was just like being home in Baton Rouge. You’ve got all our fans here as well as our family and friends. It’s always special being in New Orleans with the rebirth and it is a sign of New Orleans is getting stronger again.

(On Nick Saban Going to Alabama)
He is a great coach and I’m looking forward to playing against him next year.

DE Chase Pittman #94
(On the second half improvement)
We were not playing our kind of ball in the first half. We missed tackles and we missed assignments. But we started making plays in the second half and we showed what we can be like when we do what we’re supposed to do.

(On LSU’s bowl success)
I don’t know if you want to play LSU in a bowl right now. Hopefully we can keep doing what we’ve been doing and be ready for next year.

WR Craig Davis #3
(On JaMarcus Russell)
I think this was one of his average games. He has had some amazing games and some amazing comebacks, but an average game for JaMarcus Russell is better than most quarterbacks.

(On the game plan)
Exactly what we saw on film is exactly what they played. We executed very well on offense and on defense and we were successful in the passing game and the running game.

DT Glenn Dorsey #72
(On the Sugar Bowl)
It means a lot for the state of Louisiana for us to play in the Sugar Bowl. We like giving back to the community and playing for the fans. Our crowd was tremendous tonight. It really felt like a home game.

(On the NFL)
I will sit down with my parents and my family and get a lot of advice to make the best decision for me, my family and my team. Without a doubt, I will talk to my teammates also. We will all sit down and talk about it. But if this was my last game, it was a great way to go out.

WR Early Doucet #9
(On getting off to the fast start)
I was real excited coming into the game because last year I was hurt and didn’t get to play in our bowl game. We ran the play, JaMarcus hit me, and we got off to a great start. I think we just wanted to stay focused on the task at hand and not have a letdown because Notre Dame is a great team, and they are capable of coming back. We just wanted execute our plays that were being called and just continue to play tough football for four quarters.

(On the play of JaMarcus Russell)
He has a tremendous night. You all saw the game. He made throws that were unbelievable, and he made throws that a leader should. We played as a team tonight and came out victorious.

(On JaMarcus Russell going to the NFL or coming back to LSU)
JaMarcus and I have a great relationship, and I am behind him 100 percent in whatever decision he decides to make. I know he has a family around him for support and will help him make the right decision for him and his family.

RB Justin Vincent #25
(On the victory)
We put a lot of preparation and hard work into practice these last couple of weeks to come out here and put on a great show for our fans. We wanted to finish the season strong.

(On winning the Sugar Bowl)
It feels good. We started my freshman year by ending here and everything happens for a reason. I feel lucky to be here.

(On Notre Dame’s team)
They put up a great fight tonight. They have a great front and quick guys in the secondary. (Tom) Zbikowski seemed to be all over the field tonight.

(On JaMarcus Russell’s play)
He definitely put a stamp on the game that he can be one of the best quarterbacks in the country. There’s always the question on if can he play in the big game. But a lot of people don’t realize JaMarcus might be the comeback king at LSU. When the game is on the line, I think I want him to be my quarterback.

WR Dwayne Bowe #80
(On JaMarcus Russell)
If it’s his last game, he went out on a positive note and I’m proud of him. He’s the best quarterback that’s ever stepped on the field in Tiger Stadium. I’m sure of that.

(On Notre Dame)
I don’t think they’ve seen a big group that’s fast like us. I think we showed them the SEC is big and fast.

(On preparing for this game)
“I made every practice like it’s my last, and I played the game like that as well.

(On the energy of the crowd)
It felt like the whole city really had our back. Win or lose, I know New Orleans was behind this team.

S LaRon Landry #30
(On rushing Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn into interceptions, throwaways and mis-timed throws)
Our cornerbacks did a phenomenal job playing press, and in the second half it looked like they came out kind of timid. Our defensive line’s (pressure) made it possible to make our interceptions and stop their runs.

(On advice to JaMarcus Russell, whether to stay or leave)
Just to make the best decision for him and his family, it’s something he should really sit down and think about. It was always in my heart to come back. It all depends on what his passions are, what goals he’s trying to accomplish and what he wants for himself.

(On his interception)
I always have a picture in my mind going into the game. I always try to focus on something and have a vivid picture of what I’m going to do in the game. I saw myself having three picks, but it didn’t happen. You see that picture in your mind and you go for it, and sometimes you make opportunities for yourself. So I feel really great, but I thought I’d have more than that.

(On what the Sugar Bowl win as a senior means)
“It didn’t matter what bowl game we played in. We wanted to come out and dominate. But being in the Sugar Bowl, we were happy to be playing in New Orleans, and to come back in the first Sugar Bowl after Katrina, that’s really what we’re supposed to win and give back to the community.”

An Interview With:
COACH CHARLIE WEIS
TOM ZBIKOWSKI
BRADY QUINN

COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, I'm really disappointed in how that game turned out. We give credit to LSU, from right before the two-minute -- that little two-minute touchdown they got right before halftime, for the rest of the game they really laid the wood on us. I'm very disappointed for the fact that the first 28 minutes of the game you play an even-steven game and really back when you're down 14-0, come back and score two touchdowns and tie it up and we both traded missed field goals. Obviously giving up that score before halftime was a little bit of a downer, but I felt in the locker room at halftime that things were calm and under control, and I saw no signs that we played a completely crummy half. It was a completely crummy second half. The defense gave up points, the offense was going 4 and out the first drive and then I think 3 and out for the next bunch of drives after that, and the defense got worn out. I think that you've got to give credit to LSU, but we're very disappointed with our play, especially in the second half.

Q. Tom, this question is for you. Second half, seemed like JaMarcus Russell had plenty of time to throw the ball and had opportunities to kind of pick his spots. What happened in the second half that you weren't able to get the kind of pressure you would like?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: I'm not sure what was going on with the defensive line but obviously we were giving them too much space to throw the ball, receivers too open, not being physical enough with them, just drop back and be able to throw off the timing and he'd hit his receivers.

Q. Tom, how did this offense compare to some of the other top offenses you've seen this year, USC's, Michigan's?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Solid offense. I mean, put up some points, but we gave them too much. Any time you give them too much they're going to look pretty good, but they've got a lot of weapons, a lot of talent. You've definitely got to give them credit, but we definitely didn't play the way we wanted to.

Q. (Inaudible)?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: No, I didn't see any speed that we haven't seen before.

Q. Brady, it seemed like you had some time tonight but weren't getting a lot of completions.
BRADY QUINN: Obviously it was a team effort, and we really weren't converting on 3rd down, making plays when we had the opportunity, and really when you look at it, we weren't productive.

Q. Brady, it seemed like Darius had the kind of first half that would have kept y'all right where you wanted to be. You seemed to have the balance you needed. How did you feel after the way he ran the ball in the first half and what happened in the second half?
BRADY QUINN: That was a big help. I think that obviously opened up some things for us, once we saw the running game take off. Our line did a great job of handling some different movement and fronts that we were seeing, so you've got to give them credit for getting downfield and being able to make some moves.

Q. Coach mentioned the touchdown right before the half. How deflating was that because it seemed in the third quarter you did hold them to field goals. Did you feel like you were one play away from getting a turnover, making a stop and changing the game?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Those were big plays we can't give up, which is why they put so many points on the board. You've got to be able to hold them and not let receivers run down the field wide open. You've got to take the blame for that being the defensive back. You've got to make plays, but we didn't. Any time a team can make a 50-yard completion with two minutes to go, that hurts.

Q. Brady, can you in any way put into words the emotions I guess you were feeling the last few minutes and then now after the game, now that the four years are over?
BRADY QUINN: You know, it's tough. Notre Dame has been a great place for me, somewhere that I've grown to love, and I think the best part about it was the people. Coach Weis and his staff, they did nothing but really drive us, push us, make us better, push us past our limits, and I can't forget these guys up here, Zibby and the rest of the class I came in with and the fifth-year seniors, we've been through so much, and it's really a testament to the type of people that they are. We've made some relationships and bonds that will never be broken. I just want to thank the University for giving us the chance, supporting us and doing everything that they've done for the past four years since I've been there.

Q. It seemed like LSU spread the field out with four or five wide receivers than they did in the regular season. Playing the game tonight did you expect LSU to spread it out as much as they did?
TOM ZBIKOWSKI: Yeah, I think so. Watching them the way they used their screens, and they do try and spread out the ball, we were expecting that, but they definitely ran a little bit more than what we were expecting. Some of those quarterback draws and some of those zone plays, but they definitely ran a little bit more than what we were used to -- four wide than what we were used to.

Q. Charlie, can you talk about the decision to go for that fake on the first drive?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: When they put their field goal safe team on, any time you get past your own 40 yard line and leave their defense on the field, so we had determined the first time we got the ball between the 30 and the 40 yard line, okay, as long as they gave us a balanced front, which they ran on that play, as long as they didn't overload to the right-hand side where we were going to run, we were going to call it. It was a check with me, and they gave us the look that we had practiced it against, and they made a play. But if you're going to put in a play like that, when you call it, the first time it shows up, you're going to run it and we ran it.

Q. Although you guys didn't come back and tie, did you feel, hey, maybe --
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: No, I didn't feel that it had an impact in the outcome of the game. They came back and scored a touchdown. Obviously I was the most concerned I was in the game in the first half when it got to 14-0 where here it is, and this team outscores everyone so bad early in the game, this game was capable in the first half of getting away from us. I thought the guys battled back well and overcame that 14-0 lead in the short field after the stop on the fake punt on the first drive.

Q. Did LSU do anything that you didn't expect them to do? And second, compare the LSU team to Michigan and USC, the other two losses.
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Let's just talk about LSU. I don't want to get into comparing other teams. But I will answer the first question. One thing they did do, it wasn't like we weren't ready for their four-wide package, but they ran a lot of empty (backfield) tonight, and in their four-wide package, JaMarcus pulled it down a few times for a couple of big plays. So they did a nice job of going in and out from spreading the field with three wide receivers to four wide receivers to them putting down two wide receivers, and I think they called a nice game and put a lot of pressure on our defense.

Q. In previous games where you've struggled, the offensive line struggled. Seemed like you had a lot of time today but had season low passing. Did you think Brady was off?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think we practiced a lot of three-step drop passes that we threw in the game and we ended up not having them thrown and caught. One gets tipped, one arm gets pulled down, one we drop, one the ball bounced up. There was a combination of a bunch of those things. We weren't looking to hold the ball a long time in this game and we really didn't. We wanted to establish the running game, which we did, but now it gets to the third quarter and it's 24 and it's 27 and now it's 34 and the game is starting to get away from us.

Q. Can you comment at all on Brady's legacy here, so many passing records set, but this year when you look at the three losses, just wasn't able to get it done?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I don't think he was the biggest problem, though; that's the problem. The quarterback is the easiest one to blame. Hey, I'm the head coach, I'll gladly sit there and take the bullets for the team. But the quarterback is the easiest one to look at when you say, well, he's 15 for 35. I think when we go back and look at this game and look at the game film and look at a lot of the potential plays that were out there, it wouldn't have made a difference for us winning the game but it would have made the game a lot closer. I don't think he was the sole problem out there.

Q. The strip, the fumble at the start of the third quarter, what was the explanation that you got from the officials and how big was that turn in momentum?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I thought it was significant. I thought it was significant. Now, of course, I have the naked eye, so it's easy for me to sit there, of course I'm going to argue and say it's our ball. But they said it was a fumble, but our guy did not have possession of the ball when he was going out of bounds. So with that being said, I said, "you mean to tell me that upstairs they could come to that judgment," and they said "yes, they came to that judgment." So what am I supposed to say? Who am I to say when they have 50 replays that they can judge by? But I thought it was potential momentum-changer because here you have a 21 to 14 game and now all of a sudden you're getting the ball on the plus-31 yard line and you go in to score and now it's 21-21, who knows what's going to happen. I'm not saying that determined the outcome of the game, but I think momentum was starting to go the other way right there.

Q. Charlie, it's been said 9 and 3 isn't good enough, so where would 10 and 3 register with an ending like this one?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I'd say for me personally it's disappointing. That's where it is. 10 and 3 is just the fact that you played one more game. I'd say losing that game -- you know, I'm very disappointed with how this played out here at the end. You end the season with two games, USC on the road and a Bowl game, got handled pretty good in both those games. I'm going to have to do a better job.

Q. All season long you've been talking about limiting as far as mistakes. How much do you see that this loss has mental mistakes compared to LSU being a better team?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I'm going to have to go back and I'm going to have to really watch the defensive tape because sometimes during the game, even though I hear the defensive calls I'm trying to get the offensive stuff straightened out first. I'm going back and forth between the two. I didn't think the offensive game came down to mental mistakes. I think it came down to not very good execution in the second half. That's really what I felt. Defensively I know that they were well balanced and rushed for over 300 and threw for 300. I'm going to have to go back and evaluate and find out whether the mistakes were physical or mental, but at this point it would be premature on my part.

Q. You said 10 and 3 is disappointing. What do you think needs to happen for the program to reach the next level where you're no longer disappointed?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think the first thing that's got to happen is everyone has got to be thinking the same way I'm thinking; they can't be content with going 10 and 3 and going to a Bowl game and getting their clocks cleaned. I think that that's my responsibility. It's easy for me to sit there and blame the players, but I'd really be at fault for doing that. Okay, what I need to do is figure out a way to get these guys -- I wouldn't say motivated because they definitely are motivated, but we've got to turn the corner because right now we're just a nice team. We're a nice, solid team, okay, but you want to be an upper echelon team. You don't want to be just a solid team, you want to be a team competing for a National Championship. That just won't cut it with how this ended.

Q. Between the big pass plays and the second half turnover that was turned over, did this remind you of the Fiesta Bowl in some ways?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: You know, if you're just referring to the Zibby play last year that was a potential game-changing play, maybe so, but look at the stats. When they have over 500 yards and we have under 300 yards and we dropped some balls and missed some throws and catches, really the one bright spot is we came into the game wanting to control the line of scrimmage, and to be honest with you, we controlled the line of scrimmage. That was everyone's -- the big thing is, well, we're not going to be able to handle them. I thought that's the one thing we did do, but we didn't make enough plays, and really that's what it comes down to. Offensive football comes down to play-making.

Q. Two things: What happened to Landri, and secondly, Carlson, did they do something to take him away?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: We had to use him a little bit more on protection, so we kind of took him away a little bit by what we were doing because what we didn't want to do is hang Sam out to dry over there, over on the right side. So that's why he probably wasn't utilized as much as he was in some other games because I didn't want a freshman right tackle to be exposed to their best pass rusher in a one-on-one setting the whole day. It's also the reason I'm a little reluctant to go into two-minute (drill) because on two-minute when we are releasing Carlson on every play then you're exposing him just the same. He had a knee. I don't know the severity of the knee, but I know that they told me that they were going to bring him in and put an ice bag on him and that he was going to be returning to the game.

Q. Did you go in with the idea of using a lot of defensive linemen because you seemed to rotate.
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: As a matter of fact, I told Jappy (Oliver) this morning that I didn't want all the twos to go in at one time, but I told him to start rotating after about ten plays, rotating guys through there so we weren't dying in the fourth quarter. Really the reason you're dying in the fourth quarter is a complementary thing where the offense is going three and out, they're on a long drive and it's three and out and now they're on the field most of the second half.

2007 ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL
POST-GAME QUICK QUOTES
NOTRE DAME PLAYERS

Wide Receiver Jeff Samardzija
On Notre Dame’s disappointing performance
“It sucks. Anytime you put that much work into one game where you’re almost putting five regular game weeks of work into one game you expect a lot. It’s tough to put a lot of hard work into something and have high expectations and to come out and have that turnout.”

On LSU’s execution
“There’s parts of the game that you have to look at that are big parts and such things as them getting a turnover and us missing a field goal, not getting seven points for one and missing the field goal. That’s a big part. The end of the first half play was a big play. It just disrupts the game in one minute. Don’t take anything away from LSU, they’re a great team. We just have got to go out and make more plays.”

On his time at Notre Dame being over
“It’s pretty crazy. It’s been a long four years. There has been a lot of ups and downs. I’m happy with the guys I’ve met and we’ll be friends for a long time.”

Running Back Darius Walker
On his second half performance
“Really, in the second half, I didn’t get a chance to run the ball a lot because we were down. Naturally when you’re behind you can’t run the ball as much because you’re trying to score points. When you get even further and further behind you might as well forget about the running game because you need touchdowns right away. “

On LSU’s pass defense
“You see they did a great job. We didn’t have that many plays or that many passes that were really big for us. So kudos to them, they did a great job with coverages and stuff and they had a couple of interceptions. Turnovers and stuff kill you as well.”

“They just did a great job (of covering me). Their linebacking corps, specifically, they have a lot of speed and they’re very physical. So that makes it kind of difficult for the backs coming out of the backfield. Or even in the passing game, they’re dropping back into coverage so that always makes it difficult on offense.”

Free Safety Chinedum Ndukwe
On holding on after LSU’s two second-half field goals
“I can only speak for myself personally, but I never feel like I’m out of the game, or our team is out of the game, because I’ve been a part of comebacks that people thought couldn’t happen. Up until the fourth quarter when we finally got pulled that was the first time that I realized that this is about it, this is over.”

On the touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell
“It’s one of those things where we didn’t come to play. I can only speak for myself that I didn’t make a play on that. They were throwing deep balls all over the place.”

On the speed of LSU
“They’re no faster than any other guys we’ve played and we’ve played some of the best teams in the country with the best receivers in the country.”

Wide Receiver David Grimes
On the physical play of LSU’s defense
“I wouldn’t say that. I guess they just had our number today. They switched up the coverages. Some bump-and-run, they bailed, they squatted. We didn’t see much of a blitz but they did a good job.”

Left Defensive Tackle Travis Leitko
On his years at Notre Dame:
“These last five years I have truly grown as a person. I have gone through a lot of hardships and trials, and I think that has really helped me see who I am and what I value. I’m confident in where I am right now, and confident in what I have done.”

On the game and defensive performance:
“We expected a lot of what they did. They ran a lot of shot gun and three-wide sets, but we just didn’t make the plays that we needed to. There were a lot of guys in position, but it just didn’t happen. But I think that there was a lot of effort on our side, and our guys played with a lot of heart. It was just the way the game fell.”

Right Cornerback Ambrose Wooden
On comparing LSU to other teams on there schedule
“I can’t judge them as a team. I am not a coach. I’m just a player myself. I can’t judge who’s the best team or the best player. I’m not judging LSU, but I think they are a very capable team.”

On if the defense got worn down:
“You can say that, but it was also miscommunication. It could have been a whole bunch of things. We just have to find out what the problem was and try to correct it. I knew they were a great team and they would come out and play. I just tried to do all I can, and there were some things I would like to take back. But that’s how life is. You just have to learn how to handle adversity.”

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