ARLINGTON, Texas — Preparations continued for the College Football Playoff National Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl on Wednesday for the third-ranked Notre Dame football team, with media interviews and practice taking up the bulk of the day.
Christmas celebrations took place Tuesday night at the team hotel, as the players, coaches and support staff joined their families to celebrate Mass and eat dinner together. Even Santa Claus made an appearance as the Irish enjoyed a festive Christmas night celebrating together.
Wednesday morning was an early one for John and Bobbie Arlotta Family Offensive Coordinator Chip Long and Bob Hinton Defensive Coordinator Clark Lea, along with student-athletes Drue Tranquill, Te’von Coney, Alohi Gilman, Sam Mustipher, Ian Book and Miles Boykin, who met with the media at the Cotton Bowl Media Headquarters in downtown Dallas.
Lea had an opportunity to pontificate on the challenge of facing ever-evolving college offenses, including Clemson.
“I think defense is a mentality,” Lea explained. “I love defensive football. The challenge is inherent. And defending modern offense requires some ability to process and think and be creative. And I think that’s a fun part of what we do. It’s just a — it’s a game of strategy.”
Long had a chance to boast about his two starting quarterbacks this season and the relationship between Book and Brandon Wimbush.
“They’ve been great,” Long said of the duo. “Ian was right there with Brandon when he was the guy. Brandon is a great teammate, great person. He loves being around his teammates, and he loves Notre Dame. And that’s why he came to Notre Dame, is to be a part of it. He’s won a lot of big games for us. To go in and have to go through that and still come in and play as well as he did against Florida State, it’s just a testament to him and the kind of person he is. That’s why he’s going to be a success the rest of his life.”
After a third practice at AT&T Stadium in the afternoon, the Irish will head back to the hotel for some rest and recovery before players have chance to attend tonight’s Dallas Mavericks-New Orleans Pelicans game.
Tomorrow is the full-scale media day for both teams at AT&T Stadium, with every student-athlete and coach available for interviews.