Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2022*

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

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28 NOV. 26, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED HEAD COACH MARCUS FREEMAN … On junior tight end Michael Mayer: "When your best player is one of or the hardest worker, that's the ultimate example. Right? When you can point and say this is our best player, everybody knows it, probably the most dominant player we have is Michael Mayer. "But they also can watch him in practice and say, 'Okay, he works as hard as anybody in this program.' To me, that's the ultimate example. That's who he is. He's a captain as a junior. He's a great leader, leader by example, leader by his words. And he is an unbelievable football player. So it's been unbelievable to have him here." On former walk-on wide receiver Matt Salerno: "What a great example for our team, a guy who said, 'I'm choosing Notre Dame because of what this academic institution will do for my future. But I'm going to bust my tail and pay for school.' And he busted his tail, and now he's on scholarship. "And to get his first touchdown, I'm glad to hear that. He deserves it. But he's been a huge addition, just a huge part of the success we've had. A guy that goes in to block sometimes. We put him in to block. And he doesn't bat an eye. He goes in there and he does his job. Selfless individual." On senior defensive end Isaiah Foskey: "He's a reflec- tion of so many things. He didn't come back just to break [Notre Dame's all-time sack record]. He came back to win a national championship, just like you said. "And you know what, he didn't win a championship this year. But what he did for this program and what those seniors did for this program, to me, will be the reason why we do win a national championship in the upcoming future." On Notre Dame: "This university attracts resilient people. If you're not a resilient person, you're not going to make it here. And that's something that I've learned in my short time here. This place weeds non-resilient people out. And it even happens in the football program. "If you're not a resilient, tough-minded person, this prob- ably won't — at some point — won't be the place for you. And you'll say, 'Hey, I'm going to go somewhere else.'" JUNIOR SAFETY XAVIER WATTS … On playing more with Brandon Joseph out: "I've just been taking it day by day, just focusing on myself, just trying to help out the team in any way best possible. BJ has been a great help to me. He's very experienced. He's a captain in the safeties room. He's like a big brother to me. "In the short amount of time, he's been helping me step up and be able to play well." On playing in the snow: "It didn't affect me as much. I don't think it affected safeties much either. We don't have to catch the ball. It's more so having to just go tackle. "And I guess it was a little difficult coming out of the breaks, coming out of the posts. But other than that, it wasn't too bad." FRESHMAN CORNERBACK BENJAMIN MORRISON … On his first interception: "I've got to give all my credit to my defensive line. Without their pressure, that wouldn't have come. Once I saw them get in the backfield, I knew I had to plaster — Coach [Mike] Mickens emphasized all week plaster- ing the receiver. "When the quarterback scrambles, I've got to make sure I'm on my man at all times. I saw my opportunity, I went to go get it." On his 5 interceptions in three games: "I figure that's just a lot my relationship with God because throughout the whole season, I've stayed steadfast with him. I pray for these moments. And it's just a testament to just my faith and just staying through it like the whole seasons. "There could have been moments after games where I was frustrated I was just not getting my opportunity. But it strengthened my faith and allowed me to lean on him even more. And now these moments, I'm here glorifying him." On his mindset following recent success: "Just stay in the middle. Just never allow yourself to get too high or too low. Just know that you have another game next week, but you also have to enjoy the moment. "I feel like a lot of people try to move too fast. This is a mo- ment that you don't get every single weekend. When it does happen, you've actually got to appreciate it and live in it for a little bit but know that next week, it's on to the next." FROM THE LOCKER ROOM Junior safety Xavier Watts recorded his first career sack versus Boston College. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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