Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Clark Lea Notebook | 12.15

December 15, 2018

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea spoke on Saturday morning before the Irish hit the practice field. 

On linebacker play:
“On the field production speaks for itself. The contribution from a leadership standpoint, you can’t put a value on it. It’s one thing when you have really good players that play at a high level on the field, but it’s another thing when really good players buy into everything the programs stands for. It’s about building a legacy for them. It wasn’t just about coming back and strengthening their footing for their future career and competing for National Championship. I think they wanted to leave this program better than they found it.” 

On the value of Te’von Coney and Drue Tranquill returning:
“Their experience on the field allows us to do things that makes my job easier. Beyond on that, I can make mistakes as a play caller, and they will make me right. I don’t know if there’s any more comforting feeling.” 

On being the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame:
“I’ve had a blast. I’m still submerged in it, so I haven’t had a chance to reflect on the year. I’m sure there will come a point in January where I’ll be able to do that. I’m more in the moment and focusing on what we need to do to put our best product on the field against Clemson.” 

On the challenges Clemson’s offense brings:
“They are very skilled. It’s going to be a game where they are going to do everything to get their skill matched up on yours. They are going to put us in one-on-one situations, and they are confident they can win those. They have proven that through the years. 

“The tailback is really talented. The offensive line is well coached. When you have that many weapons, you have to choose strategically what you’re going to do and take away on each snap. That’s a dangerous game to play. For us, it’s not going to be venturing too far from technique, execution and finish. We have to play a fundamentally sound game and play hard. We can’t deviate too far from who we’ve been. Our team believes in each other and our ability to make plays at critical points. 

‘I’m excited for them to play and have this stage to put on display they have put forth since the spring.” 

On year two the system:
“We’ve been able to drill down on some of the things we started to incorporate last year. That’s been easy to do, and more importantly, they are mentoring the young players and bringing them along. It won’t be felt this season, but we’ll feel it moving forward.”

On Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence: 
“He’s really strengthened his game since he’s been the starter. It’s going to be a challenge. Anytime you go into a game, we’re looking for ways to be disruptive for the quarterback. I don’t see him as a guy who loses his composure often. He’s very steady and capable. We have our work cut out for us.” 

On defense taking national media shots personally:
“I don’t want that to be where we spend our time. It has been a journey to discover who we are as a unit and a team. That hasn’t changed. When you put too much stock into what other people think or the opponent is doing or who the opponent is, we’re trying to be the best version of Notre Dame. We’re trying to be the best version of Notre Dame's defense. 

“We’re lucky to be able to continue this and hopefully for two more games. We’re looking to evolve. It’s human nature, and we all have chips on our shoulders. I don’t want that to go away, and that’s something we talk about daily. At the same time, we need to hone in on what’s actually important, and that’s playing the best we can play.” 

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