As the Notre Dame Fighting Irish prepare to switch the focus from USC to UNC, tight end Michael Mayer, offensive lineman Andrew Kristofic, safety DJ Brown and defensive end Isaiah Foskey met with journalists to discuss Kyle Hamilton’s exit from last week’s game, the beginnings of a new flow on the Irish offensive line, and more.
Mayer said he’s been able to get past some “tightness” and “soreness” after sitting out for the Virginia Tech game. Moving forward, however, Mayer clarified his goal to improve every aspect of his play and explained, “I gotta improve on everything: my route running, my speed, my hands.”
Drawing from his own experience against the Tar Heels, Mayer explained the Irish will be up against “...a lot of depth... some good linebackers… speed in the secondary.”
As for injuries and the resulting delays and frustrations among the Irish tight ends, Mayer said, “This tight end group has had a lot of adversity. I’m not gonna lie. We’ve got some injuries, here and there, but we’re brothers; we’re all best friends in that room. We’ve stuck with each other, and we’re gonna do that the rest of the season.”
Kristofic addressed his transition into a new role and said, “It’s been a lot of hard work… switching positions down to center and guard, so it’s just been a lot of hard work and preparing for a long time now… no matter what capacity it’s in, if it’s coming in relief or if starting just going out there, trying to help our team win in any way possible.” He went on to say, “as the ‘next man in,’ you’re preparing to play the whole game anyways.”
Kristofic explained the Irish offensive linemen are making the effort to make the chemistry on the offensive line more cohesive and said, “We always talk about raising the standard, too, with each year of play, so it was a good step in the right direction, but we’re nowhere near where we want to be right now, so we’re gonna keep working.”
On Kyren Williams, Kristofic said, “He’s someone you get excited to block for ‘cause you know how hard he’s gonna run… he’s got your back… He’s an easy guy to just play as hard as you can for.”
As for Jack Coan, Kristofic explained “Jack’s an awesome guy… everyone’s happy for him and we understand we didn’t put him in some of the best positions early on, so we were happy to put him in some better positions and help him be successful… If your teammate’s out there doing well, you’re gonna be happy for him.”
Brown described stepping in for Kyle Hamilton and said, “When the opportunity came, I wasn’t fazed, it was just something I’ve done every day. It was a great game. I played great, so I’m happy with my performance.”
He went on to describe the emotions that came with seeing his injured teammate head out and said, “It was really tough. Kyle, like all of us, he works really hard during the week, so it’s always tough to see someone go down… For me, I just wanted to prepare, throughout the week, just in case something like that happened or if my name needed to be called... It’s kind of bittersweet, but I know Kyle will be there for us…”
Foskey said the Tar Heels’ main threat will be, “Quarterback running. I feel like that’s the biggest challenge that I’ve seen… other teams going against UNC…. [Sam Howell] being a running quarterback and being accurate when he throws the ball, too, that’s just something we have to take into consideration.”
As for his own game, Foskey explained he has confidence in his hustle, but is working to become, “more consistent on first and second down with block destruction,” in particular.
On possible NFL plans, Foskey said, “That always crossed my mind, going to the NFL this year, but right now I’m just playing it by ear, and just waiting ‘til the end of the season, seeing where everything’s at.”
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