No. 9 Irish getting legs prepared for Love, No. 20 Stanford
By JOHN FINERAN
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) For the Notre Dame defense, it's all about legs this week: theirs, those on the Thanksgiving turkeys and those belonging to Bryce Love of No. 20 Stanford.
After spending 42 minutes and 42 seconds on the field last week trying to stop Navy's option attack and hanging on for a 24-17 victory, the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish (9-2, No. 8 CFP) have been getting their legs back as they prepare for the more conventional offense of the Cardinal (8-3, No. 22 CFP) in Saturday's game at Stanford.
"I was definitely fatigued in the fourth quarter," senior rover Drew Tranquill said. "That's to be expected when you are on the field against a team like Navy that's going to show sustained grit and sustained effort throughout the game. I definitely felt it after the game but I was able to get some good treatment on Sunday, so I feel good heading into this week."
It's a short preparation week from the Irish, who will leave for the West Coast on Thursday evening to get acclimated to the three-hour time change and final preparations for the 5-foot-10, 196-pound Love, who is second in the nation in rushing yards (1,723) and yards per carry (8.84).
Remarkably, Love has been playing through the pain of an ankle injury, one that keeps his game status "day-to-day," according to Stanford coach David Shaw. Love, who had 101 yards on 14 carries, including a 57-yard touchdown run in Stanford's 17-14 victory over California, expects to be ready for Notre Dame.
"You have to swarm tackle (him)," Tranquill said. "He has the ability to get into open space, he's quick laterally but he's explosive running up and down the field."
When Stanford got the ball back with 7:25 remaining in the fourth quarter against Cal, Shaw turned to junior Cameron Scarlett and he pounded the ball behind the Cardinal's physical front 11 straight times for 49 yards, including two yards on a fourth-and-1 at the Cal 18. Stanford ran out the clock with a 14-play, 46-yard drive.
"We're preparing for Love to play," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday. "But when Scarlett was in the game, they were very effective. He's a big back. He's 220 pounds. He's physical. Obviously, he doesn't have the home-run ability of Love, but he's a very accomplished back, and he's going to get you first downs, and you'd better tackle him. They felt like in that situation with Love not available that they were going to play smash-mouth football, and he's a guy that they certainly can do that with."
Kelly isn't worried that his defense won't have its legs.
"There's some guys that are a little sore, but it's all hands on deck," he said. "I mean, let's go. You've got one game. Today is their last day of school. They've got a few days off. You know, rub some dirt on it."
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Updated November 21, 2017