Blue and Gold Illustrated

October 28, 2023

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

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30 OCT. 28, 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH MARCUS FREEMAN … On graduate student cornerback Cam Hart's forced fumble, which led to senior safety Xavier Watts' touch- down: "It's something that we practice, the ability to stab the ball out. We talked about if we have awareness, you can stab the ball out, stab it out, and it was a teach tape." On calling a timeout at the end of the first half after freshman Vyper Boubacar Traore's sack, which he and two others celebrated instead of lining up: "Yeah, because we were going to get a penalty. I stood there by the ref, and we were either going to get 12 men on the field and still have a free play, or call timeout, it really didn't matter." On the offensive line rebounding after the loss to Lou- isville: "They take a lot of pride. They take a lot of pride in what they do. You know, they want the challenge. They em- brace the challenge. As I told them, I said, 'The perception is we can't run the ball because of our offensive line.' "That doesn't mean it's reality, but take that as a challenge. I love the way they attacked in practice and performed today." On what he told Watts after his second interception: "[I] probably said something like, 'So proud of you. Way to go. One play, one life.' That's what I always say to them. I say the same thing to Sam: 'One play, one life. Whatever happened on the last play, I'm proud of you. I love you. Move on. One play, one life.' "We have to move forward. That's the process we talk about, is continuing to win the interval on this play is all that matters." NOTRE DAME GRADUATE STUDENT QUARTERBACK SAM HARTMAN … On what the win means for him: "It's incredible. We don't like saying 'I' around here and you guys rarely hear it, but it's special for me. I hugged Coach Freeman after and I was like, 'I finally did it.' Really, our defense did it. I mean, I threw the ball a couple times. "But it's, again, kind of like I led off with, it'll be a special mo- ment for me and I'm excited to get back in the locker room. Just to see the fans and the support we get continuously and the walk and the football culture here, I hope it never changes. If I'm blessed to have kids, I hope I can bring them back and they play a highlight. Probably won't be as cool as Joe Montana, but — you know, I met Joe Montana to- day. That was pretty sweet. "And I think that is going to be something I can kind of cher- ish for the rest of my life. And the memories with those guys in the locker room, to bring it back to the team. Cam Hart, you see that guy and his disappointment and his frustrations of last week, and to see him bounce back and just see the entire team, just it was a full, complete game. "I'm so grateful for that. Grateful for this fan base and ev- erything. "I freaking love the Irish." NOTRE DAME SENIOR SAFETY XAVIER WATTS … On if this is what he envisioned when he moved to safety: "Not really. I mean, I was kind of just going along with the flow. Just kind of just came every day just tried to work and get better at my craft every day, be the best player I could be. "I didn't really think about anything this big or how any- thing would go. Just kind of playing it by ear, going along, and it ended up going well, I guess." On his favorite play from his career night: "All of them are great. Like I said earlier, none of that happened without my teammates, the pressure they brought, coverage downfield. So I would say they helped me out. "If I had to pick one, probably the fumble that Cam stripped. Thank you to him. Then obvi- ously scored off it, so that one was pretty cool." NOTRE DAME GRADUATE STUDENT LINEBACKER JD BERTRAND … On his fourth-down stop in the second quarter: "Yeah, the big thing was the clock was tick- ing down. Sometimes I'll hit that blitz, but then right there I knew the play clock was ticking down and so I just got up there and took my shot." NOTRE DAME JUNIOR RUNNING BACK AUDRIC ESTIMÉ … On his and the offensive line's attitude: "We just wanted to come in and play physical, as hard as possible, come in and im- pose our will. We knew it wasn't going to be a pretty game. "… We just had to take one play at time, and all five of the offen- sive linemen did great with the tight ends, and we just got the job done." — Jack Soble FROM THE LOCKER ROOM Graduate student quarterback Sam Hartman completed 13 of 20 passes for 126 yards with 2 touchdowns in the 48-20 win over USC. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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