A host of Irish players offer their insights on the close call vs. Purdue and this week's matchup with Michigan State:
Place-kicker Kyle Brindza on his errant first attempt: "I walked off the field and I thought to myself, 'Nerves are already gone, what did I do wrong? I was able to go back out there and do what I didn't do. It was just a mechanical error because of my nerves."
Brindza on his game-winning field goal: "It was just a blessing to even be able to go out there. My heart was racing. It was just all a blur after that because I couldn't believe what I had just done in my first career start. After the game when I went up to my mom I ended up finding out that she was crying. It was kind of a joy and excitement for me and my whole family, plus the team."
C Braxston Cave on the line's struggles vs. Purdue: “I don’t think we played as physical as we needed to. You come out against Navy two weeks ago and obviously physically we’re bigger than them. We get a team who’s more equal to us and we didn’t step up to the plate. We put that on our shoulders and we know when we struggle that it’s on the O-line. We’ve really been concentrating this week on firing off the ball, playing low and playing physical.”
LT Zack Martin on technique lapses in the running game: “It was all fundamental. We were in the right place, just our fundamentals weren’t what we were showing in practice or showing the week before. This week was just getting out there and showing the fundamentals. Anytime you can be consistent in the run and do it a few times in a row it makes it easier because you’re used to seeing it. If it’s pass, pass, pass and then run, it’s better for us to get it on the same page. It’s on us. The run game is pretty much on us.
NG Louis Nix on the game plan: "They have big guys that want to push me around so I have to push back."
Nix regarding his passes defended last week: "Those were great. You don't come across them too often. I swear I want an interception some day. I hope it'll happen." (Nix noted of his vertical leap on the plays): "About an inch or two (off the ground). Maybe a centimeter."
TE Tyler Eifert on his concussion: "I didn't take any big hits, but I was throwing a block. It was like a crack-back and it was just a big collision. He saw it coming and it was just two big guys running into each other.
"I was in for like three more plays after it happened, and I came off and some of the guys noticed that I wasn't right and grabbed the trainer. I didn't feel right during those plays. I was unsure of the plays that I was actually in after I had the collision, but I remember everything else."
Eifert on Saturday's matchup: "This is a huge game. I keep seeing the preview for it on ABC and it gets me pretty excited. They're always a good team."
TE Troy Niklas on replacing the injured Eifert last week: "We run all the plays in practice so I was prepared to step in and do his role at tight end. We're in a lot at the same time as you see in games so he also runs a lot of W while I run Y, so I'm pretty used to playing."
Niklas on executing in his first collegiate two-minute drill: "It was really cool. It was a good learning experience too. Everything is on another level: get the play, get down a lot faster. I'm just happy for Tommy (Rees) that he could drive us down to get the win like that."
QB Tommy Rees on trying to call a timeout with none remaining: "(Laughter). It worked for a first down. I wasn't in (previously) but I have to know there's no timeouts. I realized that pretty quickly and just made a play I guess." Asked if he used a "fake" timeout call as a ploy. "No. It worked out though."
Rees on the confidence Brian Kelly showed by inserting him for the two-minute drill: "That means a lot coming from coach. Anytime he puts you in with the game on the line and trust you to make things work shows a lot of trust to the player and I'm glad I made the most of my opportunity."
Rees on avoiding rust due to a lack of August practice reps: "It wasn't too bad. I had a lot of game experience in the past. The biggest thing for me was getting that timing (in August), try to imitate live timing as much as I could after practice and different drills, trying to anticipate different things, so when I got back into it it wasn't too much of a jump."
Rees on his role vs. the Spartans: "My job is to help Ev and to be ready if my number is called."