Last spring Tony Driver (above), then a freshman, was shocked when coach Bob Davie asked him to switch from tailback to free safety. He reluctantly accepted, but after the Fighting Irish lost to Michigan State 45-23 on Sept. 12, Driver—upset and confused about his new role—went home to Louisville to evaluate his future. He returned to Notre Dame shortly thereafter and last Saturday helped the Irish beat Purdue 31-30 with two interceptions of passes by Boilermakers quarterback Drew Brees in the final two minutes. The first set up Notre Dame's winning field goal, and the second sealed the win. Here is Driver's account of his two picks.
Time was running out. Purdue had the ball on its 17-yard line, and we knew we had to come up with a big play. The cornerbacks were in man-to-man coverage, and the safeties were in an aggressive zone. When the ball was snapped, I surveyed the field and started backpedaling. I tried not to concentrate on Brees because he looks off the receivers a lot. I saw a guy running a slant over the middle; I was behind him and headed toward the middle too. As I was running, I saw that the ball was overthrown, and before I could think, it was in my hands.
The first thing I thought was that I hadn't been in the end zone in a long time. I felt like a running back again; I put my head down and tried to run as hard as I could. It felt great to set up the go-ahead field goal because I was having a subpar game to that point.
I knew I couldn't get too excited, because Purdue was getting the ball back with a little over a minute left, and Brees is a great quarterback. We were very focused during that last series, and, to tell you the truth, I don't remember how I got the second interception, with 37 seconds left. All I remember is catching the ball and thinking, Get to the sideline. I wrapped both hands around me ball and got there as fast as I could.
When I left school earlier this season, I wasn't sure if I was going to come back. While I was home, I prayed to God and asked him to show me a sign. Before the game I hadn't intercepted a pass, but just like that, I got two. I guess he wants me to stay at Notre Dame.