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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Captain Robert Hainsey Focused, But Having Fun in 2020

September 9, 2020

The two-time captain list at Notre Dame isn't a big one, but it's an elite list when it comes to offensive linemen. 

Zack Martin, Nick Martin and Mike McGlinchey are a few recent offensive linemen to hold the honor and on Tuesday, senior Robert Hainsey became the latest to add his name to the list. 

"It's really special just to know that your team and coaches have that faith in you and believe in you like that," Hainsey stated on Tuesday. "It's a great responsibility and a great honor, but it is a responsibility nonetheless. 

"You have to bring it every day. You have to be the same guy every day and let guys know you're not going to let them down. They’ve got to be able to trust you in the role that you're in."

Hainsey served as a captain for the Irish in 2019 and learned on the job. Now, the Pittsburgh native fully understands the prestigious role he has always wanted to be in.  

"When I came to Notre Dame, I expected this from myself," explained Hainsey. "I wanted this. I wanted to be where I'm at now. I'm very confident that I can get it done and I can be there for my teammates and be a good communicator with the coaches. 

"I think that anyone who has any problems can come to any of the five of us and we'll do our best to mediate them. I'm really confident in that role and that I can do it and handle the responsibility."

Captain might have been a personal goal for Hainsey, but winning the Joe Moore Award is the goal of Jeff Quinn's room. Notre Dame returns all five starters on the offensive line and the path is clear on how to bring the award back to South Bend. 

"Our No. 1 goal is always to help Notre Dame win," said Hainsey. "That's really where we start. We start by preparing every week, going out there to help Notre Dame win the football game. If we do that and we focus on our technique and we go out there with a mindset to get better and dominate our opponent and move them off the ball and protect Ian (Book) in the pass game, the Joe Moore Award will take care of itself.”

Moving people off the ball will get Notre Dame fans giddy and Hainsey knows the Irish have to be better in short-yardage situations in 2020. 

"I don't know how I would describe it, but one thing we always say is you need to dominate the obvious situations," Hainsey stated. "So, whether it's 4th-and-1 or 3rd-and-30 and everyone in the stadium and on TV knows what you're doing, that's when you have to be your best. 

"We make it a point to focus on that and really hone into those situations and know that when the time comes and our number is called in short-yardage yardage and we got to move the ball, that's what we're going to have to do."

The last month has also given Hainsey confidence the Irish offense can be better than a year ago. It was somewhat of an unknown as there wasn't spring ball and the summer was far from normal, but he’s has seen a group having a ton of fun every day.

"I think just how much fun we're having together and how much energy we have," Hainsey stated when asked why he believed the offense was going to be successful. "Going to practice, honestly, in my opinion, I've never been more excited to practice. Maybe that's because I got some football taken away from me last year. I think about it a little differently now, but going out there now, I'm excited to see what our offense does every day. 

"I'm excited to see how different guys play and just how we mesh and how we focus on getting better. It's just a blast. So, when you have that kind of energy and you're executing, you start firing on all cylinders and it's really hard to stop an offense like that. I think that's the biggest thing - just going out there and having fun together and playing to our standard."

Notre Dame Stadium will look and sound a little different on Saturday, but Hainsey couldn't be more excited to play. 

"I am so excited to play in Notre Dame Stadium,” said Hainsey. “I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. There was a time this year where we didn't even know if we were playing football. After last year and my last snap last year being in Notre Dame Stadium vs. Virginia Tech and all the questions this year about, 'Am I going to play?' I was like, 'Man, was that my last college snap ever?' 

"I don't care if there's no fans or if it's like a scrimmage. The fact we get to play football is such a blessing this year and anyone who is upset about the fans, I don't know where they're coming from. 

"It's just so exciting that we get to play football this year. That's all that matters to me and I think that's all that matters to my teammates. We're just going to go make the most of it, especially the guys who's last year this is.”

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