Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Cotton Bowl | Tranquill: "We have to stop the run"

December 26, 2018
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DALLAS - As the Cotton Bowl is just days away, Notre Dame linebacker Drue Tranquill wasn’t hiding what the Irish defense needs to do to beat Clemson on December 29th. 

“If we can’t stop the run, we’re going to be in trouble,” boldly stated Tranquill. “If they’re able to establish a good run game and off that get us with playaction pass, it will be a long day for us.” 

Clemson running back Travis Etienne would be guy Notre Dame would love to stop or at a minimum contain on Saturday night. The sophomore from Louisiana has rushed for 1,463 yards and 21 touchdowns this fall, but Etienne is also averaging an incredible 8.3 yards per rush. 

“We have to stop No. 9 and the run game,” Tranquill once again stated. 

If Tranquill and the Irish defense needed a little spark, they got it on Sunday as former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith returned a fumble 69 yards on the very field they are practicing and playing on this week.

Smith made sure to see the team on Monday evening following Notre Dame’s practice. 

“He was hanging out with a couple of our guys the other night,” explained Tranquill. “He’s a close friend of mine from Fort Wayne (Ind.) He’s excited to have us here and we’re excited to have him here. 

“It’ll be cool to play in his home.” 

Smith and Tranquill grew up training and playing against each other, but the Notre Dame captain admitted he wants to model many things after the Cowboys linebacker. 

“He’s a special human,” stated Tranquill. “Not only is he a great football player, but he’s a great person. He’s very intelligent and smart. He’ll be a successful businessman off the field. 

“Watching him play, we all see the explosiveness and the ability to run sideline to sideline. We might not have the athletic traits he has, but you aspire to have them on a day-to-day basis.” 

Tranquill, unlike Smith, returned to Notre Dame for his final year of eligibility and while he knew the Irish had the pieces for a successful season, he wasn’t expecting this. 

“It’s surreal,” Tranquill stated. “When I decided to come back last year, I didn’t have any certainly on us being here. I knew we had the pieces to make it here, but there’s a lot of question marks in between that and where we’re standing now.

“It’s amazing and I don’t think you could paint it up any better. It’s been an incredible blessing.” 

Tranquill has led the Irish to playoffs and will be leaned on to keep emotions in check as the Cotton Bowl inches closer as Notre Dame will rely on several young players on Saturday. 

“They are doing a great job,” said Tranquill. “What makes our team unique is the depth of our leadership. We’ve got 10-15 guys who can wear the ‘C’ on their chest. When you have that, young guys are able to follow those guys and we can build a culture of accountability. 

“When you have great leaders, the young guys can learn and take part in a great culture. It’s been pretty seamless on that end.” 

 
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