Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Cotton Bowl | Dexter Lawrence Or Not, Mustipher Will Be Ready

December 26, 2018

DALLAS - Everything is bigger in Dallas and that applies to the news Clemson released earlier this week as Dabo Swinney announced defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence had failed a drug test. 

The status of Lawrence’s availability for Saturday’s Cotton Bowl is still in the air as of Wednesday afternoon, but neither team will make last minute changes to the game plan. 

“I studied a lot,” stated Notre Dame center Sam Mustipher. “Watched just about all their games from this year and a few from last year. “He's a good player and I'll believe it when he doesn't show up on Saturday.”

Notre Dame’s captain will be counted on to lead his offensive line against one of the best defensive lines in the country with or without Lawrence. 

“I learned a long time ago you have to prepare to play the best. No matter whether he plays or not, we’re going to do the same job.” 

Mustipher did admit it would be a significant loss for the Clemson defensive line if Lawrence is ruled out. 

“They're talented and I have no doubt in my mind that Coach (Brent) Venables is going to bring someone up to fill in that void if he's not playing,” stated Mustipher. “If he is there, then he'll be attacking the same area he was on film.” 

Senior Albert Huggins figures to step into the starting lineup for Lawrence and the 6-foot-3, 315-pounder has production and experience. 

Huggins has played in 32 games and has recorded 63 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. 

If Lawrence does somehow become available on Saturday, Mustipher is ready to embrace the challenge and quite frankly, is looking forward to it. 

“As a competitor, you want to play those guys,” Mustipher said. “This is the type of stage you want to be on and face these guys. Like I said before, I'll believe it when I see it. 

“They have a talented front and it's deep. That roster is so deep in talent I'm not concerned we're not going to get a good challenge up front. I know we will and we're looking forward to that.”

No matter who is starting across from Mustipher, he’ll be prepared for the challenge. 

“We're just focused on executing what we do and our fundamentals and technique,” explained Mustipher. “If we play like we're capable of, I think we'll be fine. When a guy goes out, it's not the fundamental things.

“It’s what he does differently than the guy in front of him. He escapes blocks differently. It's just learning those things. A lot of the backups we've already studied, so we know what they're going to do when they come in.” 

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