Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 32 of 47 JANUARY 2021 33 HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY … On if it's frustrating to lose in the College Football Playoff by such a wide margin once again: "The margin is not the issue. Losing is losing. I don't really know what the inference is. This football team battled. And they made a few more plays on the perimeter. I'm not sure, really, what the question is. When you lose football games, there's a few more plays that you have to make. We had the oppor- tunity. You watched the game. I watched the game. "We did not score in the red zone when we had oppor- tunities. We moved the ball into the red zone. We missed a field goal. We had two opportunities in the red zone to score, where this would be a competitive football game. And we didn't make enough plays. This wasn't a matter of getting knocked off the ball or not having enough players to compete against Alabama. This was about making plays. "I guess everybody needs to continue to carry this nar- rative that Notre Dame is not good enough. Look at the scores of the games that Alabama has played all year, and I think we need to start to change the narrative a little bit. This team was out there competing and having a chance to win. And I'm proud of the way our guys competed." FIFTH-YEAR SENIOR QUARTERBACK IAN BOOK … On overcoming their offensive woes early in the game: "We just kept saying focus on the next play or one play at a time. No point in looking to the future or no point in looking back at the past. We knew we were going to have some good plays. "And we were playing a really good team. We knew they were going to make some plays and we'd have some bad ones. That's part of the game. It's about forgetting about it and moving on." SENIOR ROVER JEREMIAH OWUSU-KORAMOAH … On if he'll return to Notre Dame next season and what the university means to him: "I haven't yet announced anything, but what this university means to me is just the people who are in this university. I think that's what makes up such a prominent place. I've been here for four years, and I love the brotherhood that came through here, love the coaches that have coached me and just the pro- cess in which we've always worked to fulfill not only the football player, but also the man himself. "So I'm thankful for the coaches, thankful for my team- mates, and also thankful for all my professors and things like that." SENIOR RIGHT TACKLE ROBERT HAINSEY … On what he told Book after he had thrown his last pass at Notre Dame: "I told him I love him to death, love him with all my heart. He's been a great teammate and a great quarterback. And I couldn't put it into words how much fun it's been having him as a friend. He's a true friend and we're going to be friends forever. "It's been a great four years. I can't wait to see what he does next. The kid's a winner, and all he's going to do is go on and be the best he can be, the best Ian Book he can be. And that's all that he needs to be." SENIOR LINEBACKER DREW WHITE … On how they planned to slow down the high-powered Alabama offense: "They're an extremely talented offense. I think the whole country knows that. Our game plan going into it was to make them make the big plays and line it up and snap it as many times as they can. In the first quarter, it was really communications and just not executing the de- fensive structure well. So that was attributed to those scores. "Then battling back the rest of the game, I thought we did a pretty good job. They have an electric offense. Of course they're going to make big plays. The real emphasis was to down the ball and live another day and make them drive the field." SIXTH-YEAR SENIOR SAFETY SHAUN CRAWFORD … On his time at Notre Dame: "I want to just thank Coach Kelly for continuing to stick with me throughout all the adversity, throughout all the years. He's trusted me with playing different positions and learning new positions. I'm grateful for just being named the captain this year, being a part of this 2020 team. "Each year I've been on the team, the teams have been close, but there was never one like this. So I'm going to definitely miss it the most. I was a leader on this team, and just the young guys stepped up when their name was called. So I was just proud to see that. I was grateful to play with some All-Americans throughout my time here and see some All-Americans, as I was sidelined." — Andrew Mentock FROM THE LOCKER ROOM Head coach Brian Kelly was quick to defend his team's performance after holding the Crimson Tide juggernaut to nearly 19 points under its season scoring average. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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