Irish corner Jackson says criticism motivated secondary

Four weeks ago, Notre Dame had an epic celebration on the field at the Los Angeles Coliseum after beating USC. After all, Notre Dame was booking its ticket to the national championship game.

During the wild celebration, Irish corner Bennett Jackson was running around screaming, "talk about the secondary now. Say we couldn't do it now."

I talked to Jackson Thursday about what he was saying that night two days after Thanksgiving.

"I don't even remember to be honest," Jackson says with a laugh. "It was a little crazy."

Jackson of course didn't deny saying those things. The moment was a little much for him to remember exactly what he said.

"There was always people saying that our secondary couldn't do it," Jackson explained. "Which was expected. We had a bunch of new guys in there--a bunch of injuries. We expected to take all the harassment from the outside world."

Notre Dame was expected to head into the season with Jamoris Slaughter, Austin Collinsworth, Zeke Motta, Jackson and Lo Wood being the secondary's main players. Collinsworth and Wood were injured before the season and Slaughter was out just a few weeks in.

Rookies like KeiVarae Russell (cornerback) and Matthias Farley (safety) were thrown into the mix, forced to start with no experience at all behind them. Russell was a wide receiver in high school. Farley was a soccer player.

And it's all come together.

"We used it as motivation coming in every week and the way we performed," Jackson explained. "Continuously having people say stuff about us and then just people saying stuff about our team in general--you just play with a chip on your shoulder. You try and ignore it but it's not always easy to ignore. You always hear it. We just use it as motivation."

Notre Dame faces Alabama January 7th in the national championship game.

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