Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Irish Blocking Out Distractions

October 12, 2018

Early season games are important but being 6-0 ramps up the pressure, especially at a program like Notre Dame. College Football Playoff talk is warranted, but also something programs have to block out. 

Fifth-year senior Drue Tranquill has been down this path before and knows maintaining a focus on a week-to-week, and day-to-day basis is essential to not losing the focus on the big picture. 

“We can’t think about what it will be like to go on the road and play in a semi-final game and then for a championship,” explained Tranquill. “Those thoughts don’t lead you to winning during the week. Those distractions can lead you astray from the game plan, and you’re not as clean or as crisp on Saturday.” 

No. 5 Notre Dame will host Pittsburgh on Saturday after a top 25 win on the road at Virginia Tech last weekend. There is always a concern for a letdown, but senior receiver Chris Finke isn’t worried about the Irish taking the week off.

“I don’t know what the vibe is outside of our team,” stated Finke. “In here, we have the focus at all times, and we try to prepare each week the same no matter who the opponent is. When we’re on the path to such a high goal like winning the National Championship, you think about how could you take a week off? 

“The stakes are so high, and everyone knows how urgent it is to prepare for this game.”

Finke and Tranquill both realize focus is the important thing and they’ve worked to keep the focus on moving to 7-0 before 12-0.  

“If you don’t focus on that and don’t realize this game has implications on our season goals then it’s easy to lose the energy of going on the road against a top 25 team in a hostile environment,” said Tranquill. “If you get those thoughts, you’re leading yourself down the road of losing.” 

For Finke, the Ohio native made sure to bring up the point inside the receiver room as the Irish started preparations for Pitt as Notre Dame is aware No. 1 Clemson (2016) and No. 2 Miami (2017) were taken down by the Panthers. 

“I try to remind the guys in our room about what we did the last two weeks against two really good opponents and the way we prepared those weeks,” Finke explained. “I said on Monday, ‘Hey guys, let’s treat this week like the last two weeks and get in whatever extra film study this week. Get your body right and let’s go work hard at practice and we’ll have the same result this Saturday.’”

The other distraction Notre Dame is battling this week is not looking ahead to the bye week. Senior kicker Justin Yoon believes head coach Brian Kelly has sent a clear message to the team and the Irish are all in on Pitt.

“A lot of minds might be on the bye week, but for us, it’s another important game,” said Yoon. “Coach Kelly has been saying this is part of what leads us to the National Championship if we get this chance. There is so much talk about it, but my point is all about the little things. 

“If we can continue to do what we’re doing and focus on what our dreams are, then we have to do it. Everyone is focused and more willing to step up their game because they know if we win this one, then we have a week of rest.” 

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