Notre Dame's defense is its pride and joy. The offense is a little more humble.
But offensive coordinator Chuck Martin bristled at the suggestion quarterback Everett Golson might not be ready to perform on such a big stage.
"Take any quarterback this year and try to figure out if they've been through as much as Everett Golson - it's not even close," Martin said.
"Our football team is pretty battle-tested. I don't know if we're good enough to beat Alabama, but I think our kids have shown they are a pretty resilient bunch. They've been told for 12 weeks that they weren't good enough to get this far. Well, somehow we're sitting in front of you guys answering questions.
"So he's pretty battle-tested."
Golson said he's concerned about what he can control.
"I don't ride the wave too much," he said. "I'm just focused on what's played between the yard lines. I can't focus on what's off the field because that's out of my control."
Defense is as defense does
Alabama and Notre Dame don't just have the first and second-ranked defenses in the country in most categories, they run similar fronts.
Alabama bases out of a 3-4, but shifts into multiple looks. That might bother Notre Dame less than it does other teams.
"That was one of the nice things about the last month was that similar fronts that Alabama uses are the same ones that Coach [Bob] Diaco [defensive coordinator] uses on our defense," Martin said. "When you go against your starters a lot of times it's good work because you're getting speed on speed and big guys on big guys, but the schemes are completely different.
It has helped us prepare because we've got to see those every day in practice."
A player weighs in
Offensive lineman Zack Martin agreed playing against a great defense will help the Irish on Monday.
On the style of Alabama's defense…
"They are similar to our defense, which we see every day," he said of Alabama. "They have big D-linemen who can stop the run and rush the passer. Also, Alabama has mobile linebackers who can make big plays and an active secondary, so very similar to our defense. We will have to be ready."
Not so hot
Zack Martin said the first day of practice in Miami was pretty tough on the Northern boys. It was 20 degrees in South Bend and about 80 degrees in Miami.
That will have no effect on game day, he said.
"It takes about a day to get used to it," he said. "We'll be fine."
It's not the heat, its the humidity
Alabama defensive back Robert Lester said the Miami weather took a little getting used to, even for the Southern guys.
"The humidity was a little bit of a shock," he said. "But we were ready for it and adjusted. I am glad we are able to get some practices down here and get used to the weather. However, we are used to the weather from Tuscaloosa in the summer and the beginning of the season. We'll be able to adjust quickly."
Saban is what?!?
Linebacker Nico Johnson may be the first person in history to use the words "Nick Saban" and "laid-back" in the same sentence.
Asked to describe his coach, Johnson said, "People think coach is an uptight person or something. When it's business time, it's business time. We respect that. When it's joking time, he jokes around with us all the time, especially in practice.
"He's a laid-back coach to me, and this is my fourth year with him. He tells jokes all the time."
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