Notre Dame players keep quiet — very quiet — ahead of rare SEC test

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Dominick Sanders said it three times.

When asked what he knew about Notre Dame’s football tradition on Tuesday, Georgia’s senior strong safety told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and DawgNation.com: “I didn’t really know anything about that. But you know, my main thing is coming out and punishing them from the start. I really don’t care about what they’ve got going on.”

OK, got it. Moving on.

Or, maybe not.

“I just care about my guys doing what we’ve got to do: punishing them from the start,” Sanders repeated when asked a follow-up question.

And, if his stance was at all unclear, Sanders echoed it once more for good measure.

“This is just a regular game,” Sanders said, when asked if a trip to South Bend held any extra significance, “and we’re going to come out and punish them from the start.”

Of course, Sanders — a 6-foot, 200-pound senior — has doled out his fair share of punishment in the past. In 40 career games, the Bulldogs’ starting strong safety has piled up 119 tackles, 12 interceptions and two sacks.

And, despite the fact that No. 15 Georgia will be without top cornerback Malkom Parrish when it meets No. 24 Notre Dame on Saturday night, and despite the fact that starting cornerback Aaron Davis may also be limited, Sanders’ mission statement didn’t waver.

Something about punishing them from the start?

But Sanders will have to excuse the Irish if they don’t seem particularly fazed — or willing to return fire.

“You certainly hear it,” Notre Dame graduate student left tackle Mike McGlinchey acknowledged. “You know, it's just one of those things that they can say what they want to say, and we'll just stick to what we're doing. We're not going to sit here and talk about what Georgia is saying or what they're doing. We're going to worry about Notre Dame. That's all I can really say about that.

“We're going to go and play our hearts out on Saturday, and whatever team wins, wins. We hope it's us, and we're definitely going to work our butts off this week to make sure it's us. But other than that, we don't pay too much attention to it.”

Or, in the case of junior running back Josh Adams — who ran for 161 yards, 8.5 yards per carry and two touchdowns against Temple in a 49-16 Irish win last weekend — no attention at all.

“No, I'm not big on social media,” Adams said with an oblivious grin. “I only have an Instagram, so I don't really search for a lot of that stuff. No, that's interesting. I haven't heard anything about that.”

Nor had the 6-2, 225-pound junior heard anything about Georgia’s rich running backs tradition, which features names like Herschel Walker, Todd Gurley and Knowshon Moreno. That’s hardly surprising when one considers that no SEC program — Georgia included — offered Adams a scholarship out of Central Bucks South High School in Warrington, Pa., in 2015.

When asked for an evaluation of Georgia running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, Adams offered: “I actually just had a class end at 12:20, so I didn't have a lot of time to think about that. I rushed right over here. I have to get ready to lift. After that I have to go to practice, so my schedule is kind of tight.”

So, essentially, it would not be wise to expect many colorful comments from the 1-0 Irish. In fact, when asked if he believes the SEC is the premier conference in college football, senior rover Drue Tranquill invented a new conference instead.

“I'm going to stick one out there for the Independent Conference and say that's the best conference in football,” Tranquill said.

“You, BYU, Army …?” the reporter countered.

“Exactly, yeah,” a tongue-in-cheek Tranquill confirmed with a grin. “Notre Dame.”

mvorel@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @mikevorel

Notre Dame’s Josh Adams (33) celebrates after a touchdown during the Notre Dame-Temple NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN