Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea hasn’t fully taken the time to look around and enjoy the atmosphere of the College Football Playoff since arriving in Dallas for Saturday’s Cotton Bowl game against Clemson.
He doesn’t plan on doing so and it doesn’t sound like it’s a decision he expects to regret down the road.
For Lea and the Irish, this is the cliché business trip.
By Christian McCollum/Irish Daily News
“Arriving in Dallas and seeing all of the pageantry around the game and the history of the game and getting a feel for that has been fantastic,” Lea said during a press conference on Wednesday morning. “To be honest, we’ve been so moment-by-moment, you don’t have the luxury to have big picture thought process. It’s just, ‘Are we accomplishing what we need to do today to affect the 29th?’
“Though we’ve enjoyed arriving and being in Dallas and being with the Cotton Bowl folks, we’re also just narrowed in on what we have to accomplish.
Lea said the Irish’s first-ever trip to the College Football Playoff is the culmination of a journey that’s required physical and emotional sacrifice from the entire team. But they understand there’s plenty of work left to be done.
“These guys are going to be ready to play,” Lea said of his players. “Now, we’re going to use every moment we have from now until Saturday to prepare ourselves, but they are locked in. They are focused.”
And they’ll need to be heading into a matchup against the second-ranked Tigers.
“They are clearly as talented offensively as any team in the country,” said Lea. “They have a quarterback that can distribute the ball wherever he wants to. It’s really impressive with how quickly he releases the football.”
Lea referred to Lawrence as “exceptionally talented” and noted that he isn’t your typical freshman quarterback.