Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2021

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

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30 DECEMBER 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY … On senior wide receiver Braden Lenzy's involvement in the offense: "That kind of confidence and speed that we have with him, he's been really a quiet, consistent performer for us the past month and a half. It's really helped us. "When we lost Avery [Davis] we had to rely on more balance throughout that entire receiving corps. It couldn't just be Lorenzo [Styles]. 'Hey, go be Avery Davis for us.' It had to spread out, and that's where it picked up a lot for us." On sophomore right end Michael Mayer's season: "He's one of the best, if not the best, tight ends that I've ever coached at Notre Dame, and we've had some great tight ends. He's complete in every facet. He's a beast in-line block- ing, he's a guy that you double, he finds himself open. "He's a leader both on and off the field, he's a difference maker down the field vertically." On senior wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr.'s season: "We probably put a little too much on him after not play- ing for almost two years. Put a lot of that pressure on him and maybe him on him- self in terms of what you wanted to do, and I think it weighed heavily on him. "He relaxed, worked hard in practice, and then started making some plays. That confidence came back, and I think we saw the real version of what Kevin Austin can be and will be moving forward." NOTRE DAME SOPHOMORE TIGHT END MICHAEL MAYER … On awaiting a postseason fate: "It's not very difficult for me because I come in with the same mindset every day. I am coming to work, doesn't mat- ter where I'm playing, who I'm playing. "Coach Kelly just said this actually when h e wa s g iv i n g u s a speech after the game. He was saying we did what we could with the games we had left, and so now we just sit and wait. I really believe that we're one of the best four teams in the nation." On his blocking: "I take tons of pride in my blocking. I defi- nitely upped my block- ing since last year 100 percent, and it's some- thing I take pride and working with Coach [ John] McNulty and George Takacs, too. "Me and George, I don't think there is a better one-two punch in the nation." On not being named a Mackey Award finalist: "I think the social media reaction spoke for itself. I'm focused on the next game, next bowl game, whether it be New Year's Six or a playoff. I'm focused on that, and I'm not going to worry about the things I can't control. "A couple coaches tweeted some things out and I talked to pretty much every coach about it in the group. But I'm not going to say what was said to me. Just like I said before, just going to keep working and can't get caught up in what I can't control." NOTRE DAME SENIOR DEFENSIVE END JUSTIN ADEMILOLA … On his season: "I'm not a finished product. I knew in the offseason that once I got more snaps, I'm a very hard worker. I could string everything to- gether. Credit to the people who played my position before me, and credit to [Isaiah] Foskey because me and Foskey were working every practice, after prac- tice, before practice and extra meetings. "We're always working to get better. When I get my opportunity out there, I just execute and do my job." On improved tackling across the defense: "After UNC, we had a few missed tackles that game, we've just been harping on tackling in practice. When you're supposed to thud, thud the ball carrier. And every day, our last period is a working on tackling emphasis drill. "Really, it's just doing what we prac- tice and translating it to the field. We work on tackling two to three times per week during practice. It's definitely been more than earlier on." On the defensive line forcing turnovers: "Coach [Mike] Elston and Coach [Marcus] Freeman do a great job of having a detailed plan, especially on third down. When we're out there, we just execute. "The plays are coming to us. They're really coming to us." On the defense finally allowing a touchdown: "We weren't focusing on that. We just knew we wanted to go dominate our opponent. Sometimes, some stuff is going to happen. But it's a next-play mentality. That's what we did. "The next play, we got better. And got better as the game went on." On his sack/fumble recovery: "Rylie [Mills] was next to me. He saw the tackle in a two-point stance. He called out to me and I said, 'Alright, let's go.' We worked the stunt. Rylie set it up for me. He picked the guard. "The quarterback was trying to move out of the pocket, and I was right behind him. I just reached my arm out there and got it. Credit to the guys who were on the line with me, and credit to Rylie for pointing that out." FROM THE LOCKER ROOM Lenzy, who set a new career high with four catches against Stanford, was described as a "quiet, consistent performer" for the Fighting Irish by head coach Brian Kelly. PHOTO BY CHUCK ARAGON

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