Getting Away from it All

Irish thankful for a chance to end on a high note and leave a familiar set of distractions behind.

Notre Dame canceled all media contact after Tuesday's 45-minute practice viewing but did provide a Q&A with the Irish captains and a few key players who shared their thoughts on this week's battle in Palo Alto.

A sampling:

Kyle McCarthy

On the challenges that the Stanford offense presents "They're a smash mouth type of team. Obviously it all starts with their running game and their talented running back. Their quarterback has stepped in this year and done a great job. They really run their offense very well."

On how you go about tackling Gerhart "You've just got to go full speed ahead. You've got to be physical and right back up there with him and just go get after him. As far as practice, I'm sure it will be a physical week of practice to get us ready for it."

On trying to end the regular season with a win

"Winning is very important to this team and especially the older guys. We just want to finish the season on a strong note. This isn't really how we saw things going but this is where we're at and we just have to finish on a good note and make the most of it."

Jimmy Clausen

On the development of (former high school teammate) Chris Owusu "Chris has done a great job at Stanford. He's a sophomore and he has been making plays ever since he was in high school with me. He's been running kickoffs back and punts back and he's playing really good for them right now."

On the biggest challenge the team will face this week "I think just getting off to a fast start and just moving the ball. Once we get in the red zone obviously putting the ball in and scoring touchdowns."

Eric Olsen

On the mindset of the team going into this weekend "The beauty of college football is that you have to show up and play another game every week and no matter what happens or what our record is we have to come out and play a good game this weekend. Stanford is obviously a really good team and we're going to have to play a good game. We can't be in the tank against these guys because they will just run all over us."

On the Stanford defensive line "They're just hard-nosed kids that play hard and have good motors and they are always around the football looking to make plays. As an offensive line it is another challenge for us to come out and play a solid, fundamental game and stop these guys."

On what a 7-5 record would mean as opposed to 6-6 "Having a 7-5 record versus a 6-6 record, obviously you can see the difference in the those two numbers. We want to put ourselves in a position to play the best competition in a bowl game and that's what we're looking to do this weekend."

On if there is a benefit to playing on the road instead of at home "Playing on the road is nice because you can expect everyone to boo you rather than be surprised by it at times. Going on the road is a hostile environment, and I know for me personally it is fun for me to play in that kind of environment when all the odds are stacked against you, and especially some place where the weather is as nice as Palo Alto."

Sam Young

On what challenges that Stanford poses "They are a very talented team. They have done very well this year and Coach Harbaugh has done a tremendous job of getting that team prepared week-in and week-out. It is going a great challenge from another tough defense but we are looking forward to facing them."

On what went through his mind when he returned to midfield after showering and changing and leaving the stadium for the last time… "It was just a private moment. I really just wanted to kind of soak up the moment."

Brian Smith

On what challenges Stanford will provide "They are just a power run team. They have some sets in there that are obvious run plays, but they are going to just try and run it down your throat. They are going to show you what they are going to run, but they are going to try and run it down your throat."

On the importance of finishing the season on a good note "You don't ever want to end the season on a loss, so we're hoping we can get a victory this weekend."

Darius Fleming

On what Stanford will bring with their game plan "We've seen them on film and they are a real run it and pound the ball type of team. They are pretty much like Michigan State, but they have a lot bigger guys and they just are coming after everything."

On what makes Stanford running back Toby Gerhart so good "He's just explosive and he keeps his legs moving at all times. He's one of the few running backs that keeps his legs running after contact. Besides him being a big guy, him being as quick as he is and as powerful as he is, is tough."

On using the road game as a positive thing "There is definitely going to be an advantage. Usually when you go on the road there is not an advantage, but I feel like this week it is going to help us to focus our mind on just the game and not be around all of the criticism that people are bringing up around here in South Bend."

On how important it is to tackle Gerhart low "We just have to swarm to the ball this week because he is definitely a big guy. He's probably bigger than me. We have to swarm to the ball and everybody has to get there because he can definitely run through arm tackles and sometimes people. We have to just swarm to the ball and make plays when we can."

Chris Stewart

On the Stanford defense "They have a very aggressive defense. They play very sound football. They are sound with their front guys and their linebackers. They run pretty good stunts. Their safeties are pretty sound and they just really try and keep the ball in front of them and make good open-field tackles."

On the importance of ending the season the right way "I think it's very important, especially if you look to the guys who are young and coming back for the next year in the program. It's always good to end the previous season on a win and get ready for the next season."

Golden Tate

On what breaking Jeff Samardzija's records means "It was great to break a record at Notre Dame. When I came here as a freshman I never even thought I'd have the chance to achieve something like that and it's a great honor to be mentioned with a name like Jeff."

On his progress at wide receiver since being a freshman "I think I've grown a lot but I still have a lot of growing. I think if I just keep working hard I can only get better."

On where he can still improve "I totally agree with Coach (Weis). Route running is getting better but there is definitely a lot of things I need to learn with technique and getting leverage on the defensive guy."

On worry that the team won't be able to bounce back "I can only speak for myself, but I'm going to show up and work and try to get the team up and show them that this is the most important game on our schedule. I'm just going to come to work and hopefully we can get a win."

Harrison Smith

On Andrew Luck "He's a talented guy. He cannot only throw it but he can run it too. He kind of presents that other aspect where he can leave the pocket if he needs to and make some yards with his feet. He looked like he could make all of the throws."

On the benefits of getting a road game "I think there might be. Just to get some new scenery and changing it up. Hopefully that will be good to us to be in a different place."

Kyle Rudolph

On how things went in practice last week "Things are going well. I'm starting to get more and more involved as we are going along. I'm starting to be able to do more things, but it is kind of up to them and what they want me to do and what they will allow me to do. As the week goes on we are going to see how I'm doing and how my arm is responding to all of the things I'm making it do."

On how the healing process has gone "I think I've recovered a little quicker than I thought and what they (team doctors) thought. Originally they said there was an outside chance for this week against Stanford. Just going along there really hasn't been any setbacks. There has been a lot of soreness trying to push it to get myself ready to play but other than that I'm just doing all of the rehab that they have me doing to try and get back on the field as quick as I can."

On any limitations in practice he may be under "As of right now I wouldn't think so. I haven't really tested it yet but we will see as practice goes on this week in how I'm able to use it. Obviously, if I'm limited in any way then they won't let me go. They're not just going to put me out there to put me out there. They want me out there because I can do everything like I used to be able to."

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