Gilman Focused On Keeping It Simple

Notre Dame will report to Dallas on Sunday to finish up preparations for the Cotton Bowl on December 29th.  Safety Alohi Gilman will fly in from Hawaii but don’t think the few days at home is going to be a distraction for him.  “Clemson is great,” stated Gilman. “Clemson is great at putting together drives and their run efficiency is high. The quarterback can make every throw on the field.  “It comes down to executing the scheme, our defense and staying on the details.” The Irish have been practicing for the Tigers for the last two weeks and the 5-foot-11, 202-pounder has seen a laser focus from his teammates.  
“Everyone is definitely focused,” explained Gilman. “There’s a difference from not playing for a few weeks so that rust has gotten off our shoulders. We’re getting into the scheme and the mental side of the game.”  When it comes to Clemson’s team speed, Gilman isn’t worried about it. “No problem,” Gilman said. “I’m not worried about that part.”  While Notre Dame might not have played a team as fast as Clemson, Gilman believes the team has been prepared for this moment throughout the entire season.  “It’s an overall culmination of the season,” stated Gilman. “We understand what our strengths are and what we need to work on. That’s where our confidence is built on.”  The Hawaii native had a big first season at Notre Dame with 76 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and two interceptions.  However, the key to the game is simple for the Notre Dame defense.  “We definitely have to get them on the ground,” said Gilman. “The running back is explosive, so it comes down to tackling and getting them on the ground. We have to take great angles. “Everyone is a huge part of the scheme. For me personally, I have to focus on stopping the run, being a sure tackler, communicating well and being a leader.”  Notre Dame is at a disadvantage as the Cotton Bowl will be the programs first playoff experience and Clemson has over 40 players who have played in a playoff game.  Clemson might have the playoff experience, but Notre Dame is focusing on it being a one-game season.  “As a team, we’re keeping it the same as we have all season,” explained Gilman. “It’s a new season for us. We’re not 12-0. We’re 0-0. We’re focusing on this week only and what we can do to beat Clemson.  “It’s a 0-0 season and we’re focusing on it day by day.”  To make it a two-game season, Gilman and the Irish will have to slow down freshman sensation Trevor Lawrence. The Clemson signal-caller has thrown for 2,606 yards, 24 touchdowns to just four interceptions on the year, but it’s a challenge Gilman is looking forward to on the 29th. “I’m not a big freshman or senior type of guy,” said Gilman. “I was a freshman once and I thought I played pretty well. No one looked at me as a freshman. I respect anyone who is out there. Anyone can compete on any given day.  “I’m excited to play against the kid. He’s a great player and you can tell he’s skilled. I’m just ready to play.”