It’s all about football fundamentals.
Following an Irish victory against Navy, Tyler Buchner, Jacob Lacey, Drew White and Joe Alt met with journalists Tuesday to talk about the mental side of football, drop some names, and clue fans in on the Virginia Cavaliers’ offense.
Buchner explained Jack Coan has been responsible for much of his progress from his arrival at Notre Dame and said, “I think from the mental side of things, he’s great and I think especially the emotional side of things, he’s very well-leveled… a great balance. He always keeps his emotions stable; that’s something I would like to have at some point in my career, and from that level I think he’s taught me the most.”
Comparing the preparation for the Navy game and that for the Virginia game, Buchner said, “For us it’s the same. This week we definitely know we’re gonna have to score points. It’s the same as every other week.”
As for his chemistry with roommate and Irish wide receiver Lorenzo Styles, Buchner said, “…it’s great having a roommate on the same schedule. Zo works really really hard… he’s got a great work ethic, he works hard in school, he works hard in football… he keeps me in line…”
On communication with offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, Buchner said, “Every once in a while… over the phone, he’ll give me a phone call, say, if I have a play that’s gonna start the drive, or maybe at some point he wants to get to a play that we haven’t really talked about or we haven’t run since early in the week… he’ll let me know something changes scheme-wise…”
On the strengths of the Cavaliers’ offense, Lacey said, “I think they play really well together. It’s one cohesive group… they’re very crisp on what they do… You guys know they’ve been throwing 400 yards a game…”
As for adapting to such an offense in practice, he said, “Obviously you gotta switch it up facing a team that throws the ball 40 times versus four times a game, but that won’t stop us getting to the quarterback and helping out guys in the secondary that’ll cover. We have to do our part in the pass game, too, so we look forward to that.”
Explaining the evolution of the defensive line, Lacey said, “I think it’s just a matter of finally playing as a unit. We have great players from the first guy to the third guy…. Playing from the front, to the linebackers, to the safeties, it all comes together…”
Lacey acknowledged the frustration that came with last year’s injuries, but said, “…I’ve definitely grown a tremendous amount from that. It allowed me to drop weight and focus on gaining muscle and things I needed to do from the beginning…” He later noted his most significant improvement this season is punch off the ball.
White explained that success against the Cavaliers will come down to going back to the basics and said, “I think stay disciplined. They have a lot of different motions… just a lot of different looks; that’s what they do; they’re pretty unique in that… It’s really just the fundamentals… communicating, making sure you’re on your guy, and then block destruction and tackling. A lot will carry over from what we needed to fix versus UNC, but I think for our defense it’s kind of like a revenge game. We’re trying to sharpen our tools.”
On the leveling up of both Coan and JD Bertrand, White said, “The funny thing is, I feel like their consistency and their preparation has helped them for their success now. Since they’ve gotten here, they’ve been up there with the hardest workers on the team. I just remember the recovery aspect, the diet, the film; those guys have always been on top of it.”
White believes the team is ready regardless of Virginia’s QB situation but said, “I think (Brennan) Armstrong will be out there.”
On the transitions leading up to his current role, Alt said, “The biggest adjustment for me has just been making sure the technique is staying perfect.” He emphasized the importance of preparing his feet and maintaining physicality.
As for the cohesion of the offensive line, Alt said, “Chemistry’s been building over the season… We’ve mixed up the groups the whole year, so just being able to work with different people has just been allowing chemistry to build throughout the year.”
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