Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

Irish come through grueling three-week stretch feeling strong

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It's been a long time since Notre Dame's second unit saw the field at the end of a 41-3 laugher against Miami at Soldier Field. In the three weeks since, the Irish have rallied to beat Stanford in overtime in a brutally physical battle, rallied to hold off BYU in a grueling affair, and knocked off eighth-ranked Oklahoma in an intense, high-pressure road environment.

That kind of stretch takes its toll.

"It catches up to you physically," Irish cornerback Bennett Jackson said. "But (strength coach Paul Longo) and the coaches do a great job of getting us in the ice tub, limiting reps here and there, and not throwing too much at you. Your body feels it, though. It's Week 10 or whatever week it is -- you lose track -- but I think we're doing a good job handling it."

The Irish may be feeling it physically, but they insist there's no mental fatigue as they head into a stretch of games that should -- in theory -- approximate Miami more than Oklahoma.

"We do a great job, we get a lot of reps in practice and prepare for physical, long games," tackle Zack Martin said. "Everyone's out there working and sweating, dead tired at practice, so I think we do a good job of conditioning ourselves in practice for the games. We have a lot of depth at positions that enables us -- if someone gets beat up -- to have someone that can step in, too.

"Those games are fun," Martin continued. "The Stanford game, BYU, Oklahoma -- it doesn't get much better than that. We love those kinds of games, and getting those hard-nosed victories we didn't get in the past."

That said, the Irish probably would welcome a few less taxing games over the next three weeks, with 4-4 Pittsburgh, followed by a trip to 2-6 Boston College, and then the home finale against 4-4 Wake Forest. Of course, the last four games against Pitt have all been nail-biters decided four points or less. Pitt won in 2008 and 2009, ND won in 2010 and 2011.

"No week's easy," linebacker Carlo Calabrese said.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Lazerus published on October 31, 2012 7:32 PM.

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