Notre Dame delivered a compelling 45-14 victory over Stanford in the final game of the 2021 regular season. With the win, Notre Dame reached 11 wins for the third time in the past four years. The Irish have now won 42 straight games against unranked opponents, the nation’s longest active streak, and have not lost in the month of November since 2017 (16 straight wins).
Here’s what the Irish players Michael Mayer and Justin Ademilola had to say after the victory.
MICHAEL MAYER, TIGHT END
On breaking the program’s single season receptions record for a tight end
"I’m just so appreciative of what everybody has done for me here. Coach [Tommy] Rees, Coach [John] McNulty, Coach [Brian] Kelly, Coach [Lance] Taylor, all of the offensive coaches. Game in and game out they put in an awesome game plan for me, an awesome game plan in for the offense. I don’t beat this record without any of those coaches and secondly, obviously the 11 people who are out there with me on the field. Jack’s [Coan] done a great job this year of getting me the ball and it’s been an accumulation of a ton of things this year. This record isn’t broken by me it’s broken by the entire team."
On team’s overall passing success against Stanford
"Even throughout the week, some of the looks we were seeing, we knew they ran a ton of man. I love man. I love running routes against man coverage. I think I said this in the beginning of the year but I believe no one can cover me one-on-one. That’s what we got and we took advantage of it."
On team having to wait and see final College Football Playoff rankings
"It’s not very difficult for me because I come in with the same mindset every day. I’m going to come in to work, it doesn’t matter where I’m playing, who I’m playing, that type of thing. Coach Kelly just said this when he was giving us a speech after the game, he was saying we did what we could with the games we had left and so now we sit and wait. I really believe that we’re one of the best four teams in the nation."
On pancake block he delivered in the first half
"I take tons of pride in my blocking. I’ve definitely upped my blocking since last year, 100%. It’s something I take pride in, it’s something I’ve been working with Coach McNulty a ton on, and George Takacs too. Me and George, I don’t think there’s a better 1-2 punch of blocking tight ends in the nation."
On not being chosen as a finalist for the Mackey Award
"I think the social media reaction spoke for itself. I’m focused on the next game. I’m not going to worry about the things I can’t control."
On teammate George Takacs touchdown reception
"Takacs has worked his tail off all year. I’m glad it’s kind of coming to fruition a little bit. We repped that play all week, we knew it was going to be open, Jack knew it was going to be open and I’m so happy for the dude. He comes in, he works his tail off every day and he finally got his for the season today."
On defensive improvement from his perspective
"Coach [Marcus] Freeman has done a fantastic job with our defense. They’ve gotten better every game throughout the season. They’re climbing and they’ve been climbing the entire season. They’ve been doing fantastic."
JUSTIN ADEMILOLA, DEFENSIVE END
On his personal development this season
"I’m not a finished product. I knew during the offseason that once I got more snaps, because I’m a very hard worker, I knew I could string everything together. Credit to the people that played my position before me and credit to [Isaiah] Foskey because me and Foskey are working every practice, after practice, before practice, extra meetings. We’re always working to get better so when I get my opportunity out there I just execute and do my job."
On growth of the defensive line
"We have really good leaders on our team along the line. We have senior leaders, juniors, even sophomores. Guys are learning from each other, and we’re just a huge, big family. It’s all love in the locker room and when we’re on the field we’re competing but we’re also taking notes with the guys next to us. You have guys taking notes from my brother Jayson [Ademilola], the 3-techs, the ends are taking notes from Foskey and we’re just all going back and forth. If everyone’s on the same page, everyone is going to get paid, everyone’s going to execute and that’s what we teach here. FTB: For The Brotherhood, we’re just going to keep on going on with that."
On the team’s tackling improvement
"Since after UNC, we had a few missed tackles that game, we’ve just been harping on tackling in practice, when you’re supposed to thud the ball carrier up. Every day our last period we work on tackling. Really, we just use more work practicing it and just translating it to the field. We work on tackling like 2/3 times a week during practice.
"For me, I missed a few tackles early on in the season and those drills that we’re working on in practice helped me with finishing at the point of attack.
"Coach Freeman’s always saying ‘Through it, not to it’. We’ve just been working on that."
On the defensive line being able to consistently force turnovers
"We’re just executing. Coach [Mike] Elston and Coach Freeman, they do a great job having a detailed plan, especially on third down, so when we’re out there we’re just executing and the plays are coming to us, they’re really coming to us."
On team’s three game streak without giving up a touchdown ending
"We weren’t focusing on that, we just knew that we wanted to dominate the opponent. Sometimes, some stuff is going to happen, but it’s about the next play mentality so that’s what we did."
On his forced fumble and subsequent fumble recovery
"Rylie [Mills] was next to me, he saw the tackle in a 2-point [stance], he was like, ‘Justin. [Indecipherable name of a stunt call x3] so I’m like alright let’s go’. We worked the stunt. Rylie set it up for me, he wrapped around, picked the guard and the quarterback was trying to move out of the pocket so I was right behind him and just reached my arm and I got him right there. Credit to the guys on the line with me, credit to Rylie for pointing that out and we just executed it."
On Coach Freeman
"Coach Freeman is a great coach, first and foremost. He does a wonderful job making sure that the whole unit is on the same page. We harp on communication, we harp on execution. When you love the guy next to you, when you love your coaches, then when you’re out there on the field you just want to execute. You want to do everything you can for the guy next to you, your brother and your coach so that’s why our unit is playing the way we’re playing because it’s true love for the brotherhood and true love for our coaches."
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