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Notre Dame Football

Tommy Kraemer & Notre Dame Confident Heading into Rose Bowl

December 28, 2020

It's been quite the ride for Tommy Kraemer over the last year. 

The 6-foot-6, 317-pounder battled back after suffering a season-ending knee injury against Michigan in 2019 and then got into a groove in 2020 before needing an emergency appendectomy following the win over Boston College last month. 

Luckily for Notre Dame, Kraemer wasn't out long and is now fully ready to go against Alabama in Friday's Rose Bowl. 

 "It was really weird," stated Kraemer. "I felt like it got to a point in the season where I was really rolling and I think I was feeling really good. Then all of a sudden, it just kind of hit.

"Afterwards, it was a little challenging to get some core strength back and stuff like that because they had to go through my stomach. But I think I'm 100 percent now. Those couple of weeks was a little weird getting all that back, getting back into shape and moving around. But our medical team did an awesome job. I feel 100 percent now." 

Notre Dame's offense will need Kraemer's experience and physicality as they look to rebound from the 34-10 loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. 

And to get back on track, Kraemer knows it starts and ends with the offensive line. 

"It just comes back to the details," Kraemer said. "It's not one thing or two things. It's just being detailed in everything we do, whether it's watching a little bit more film or getting a little bit more drills after practice.

"It always comes down to the details and our position. I think we've done a great job this week, and we'll continue doing it moving forward." 

What details has Notre Dame focused on? Physicality. 

"I don't necessarily know if we were missing details," explained Kraemer. "I think we were still on all our stuff. There were a few things here and there. We could have played a little more physical up front, but we learned from it. We're moving on and ready to take that to Alabama." 

The Cincinnati native will also be counted on to help whoever is playing center for the Irish. Zeke Correll or Josh Lugg will get the nod and neither has much experience at the position, but Kraemer is confident they've put in the time over the last few weeks to catch both players up. 

"I think the main thing is just over-communicate," Kraemer said. "Just pointing out things, helping them out in any way we can, seeing different stances in defensive linemen, different weight, anything we can. Then off the field, watching extra film with them, the guards and the tackles, everyone getting together and honing down the communication aspect.

"I think that's honestly the biggest thing in the center position, is communication and making sure we're all going to the right place and seeing everything through one set of eyes." 

The Alabama defense will be the most athletic and fastest group the Irish will have faced this year, but don't think Notre Dame's offense is intimidated. 

"They have a very good defensive line, linebacking corps," stated Kraemer. "They're big, strong, tough. No. 31 is a good player. Has speed, can make some moves out there.

"But it's nothing we haven't seen thus far. We're preparing to play the best every day. That's what we're ready for this upcoming Friday. We're excited to get after them. They have a great team, but we have a greater line. It's going to be a great battle." 

The last time Notre Dame was at AT&T Stadium, it didn't end well, but the Irish return four offensive linemen who started in that game along with quarterback Ian Book. 

Notre Dame learned from the Clemson game in 2018 and there is a belief they are ready for college football's biggest stage. 

"I think the biggest takeaway is that we can win these games," said Kraemer. "I think just hard work and everything we do together is what puts us in these situations. I think we're all really excited for this opportunity and ready to take it to them."

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