Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Drew White, safety Houston Griffith, running back Chris Tyree, and offensive lineman Josh Lugg talked about new talent, the structured Wisconsin defense and more ahead of the upcoming Shamrock Series game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
White addressed the adjustments for the Irish linebackers this season and said, “Originally… we’re down some players and it’s ‘next guy in’ and I’ve had experience with that with my younger years here and it’s a great thing. I talked about it during fall camp that we had a lot of depth and a lot of playmakers at the linebacker position and so we’ve seen that with JD Bertrand stepping up and different guys filling in their roles.”
While the new season marks a significant shift at the linebacker spot, much of the Irish game has stayed the same. White said, “It’s still football… assignment-sound, getting to the ball, ‘effort and attitude,’ like we say.”
On the upcoming neutral site faceoff against the Badgers, White said, “It’s gonna be a physical game; I think that’s what it’s gonna come down to, and then discipline, being in your gap, being assignment-sound. Wisconsin does a great job of really just opening up creases and the running back is really good at finding those creases, so anybody that’s out of position will make you pay for it, so I think that’s really the point of emphasis for this week.”
The Irish have a shot at redemption for some shaky showings. Griffith said, “We’re just gonna put pressure on the receivers. When the ball’s in the air, it’s ours… give our offense a chance to get back on the field, because... they do a great job at controlling the possession of the game, so we just got to get off the field and get the offense the ball back and let them do their thing.”
The Wisconsin game provides the opportunity for Notre Dame head coach to lead the team to the most wins in program history. While Griffith says the thought of head coach Brian Kelly surpassing Knute Rockne’s 105 wins is exciting, he explained, “Coach Kelly just wants us to have tunnel vision, one-game focus.”
Getting inside the Badgers’ heads hasn’t been Tyree’s main priority. Though he is excited to face off against an especially “disciplined” defense. On Wisconsin’s preparation for the Irish, Tyree said, “I’m not really sure. “I’m so locked into what we have to do on offense.
The Irish running back summed up the mindset heading into the Wisconsin game and said, “Stay patient; stay consistent on our reads. We understand that the big plays will come.” He went on to say staying focused on the passing game “keeps the defense honest.”
The Notre Dame offensive line features some new talent. On the possible advantage of pitting an unknown o-line against the Badgers, Lugg said, “We treat opponents as a faceless opponent; I’m not sure how they look at us, but… if we execute our fundamentals and go back to the basics at a high level, then we’re gonna be good when it comes to Saturday.”
Lugg went on to explain that building cohesion on the offensive line involves effort from the most experienced players, in particular to include the freshmen as well as, “...seeing things through one set of eyes, executing at a high level. You just gotta come together all the time.”
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