The Sam Advantage: ND prepares for Hartman’s former team

Extra emotions tied to Saturday’s matchup because of Senior Day
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 7:30 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The Notre Dame football team has just two games left on the schedule, with this week being the home finale.

The opponent is very familiar for Irish starting quarterback Sam Hartman, as the sixth-year veteran played for Wake Forest for five seasons before transferring to Notre Dame.

Hartman’s teammates are excited for the opportunity he has this upcoming weekend against his former team.

“This is his last and final game — a great opportunity to go out against a team he played for for five years — so I’m happy for him, excited for him,” said junior running back Audric Estimé. “Great opportunity for the team as a whole, and especially for the seniors. We gotta finish strong for him.”

Meanwhile, the Irish defense is excited about getting to pick Hartman’s brain for a little bit on the Wake Forest offense.

“He sat down and watched a couple of games with me, which obviously helps,” said senior linebacker JD Bertrand. “They are gonna have some wrinkles here and there knowing that Sam played. But at the end of the day, I think it’s nice to be able to have a quarterback that’s been in the system and just be able to have a deeper understanding of the system.”

However, defensive coordinator Al Golden doesn’t think those conversations need to be too extensive.

“I think the thing with Sam — I have a good relationship with Sam, we’re always talking shop — those conversations are over,” Golden said. “We don’t need to burden him by asking him too much on our side of the ball.”

This Saturday also has extra emotions tied to it. Not only does Notre Dame want to bounce back with a win, but it’s Senior Day as well, which means some players will play their last game at Notre Dame Stadium.

“Time of the year where emotions are high,” explained senior cornerback Cam Hart. “There can be a lot of distractions around that, right? Just making sure that everybody knows that. Just being the best leader I can be, right? Doing what I can for the other seniors that are out here to make sure that they aren’t leaving on a bad note and doing everything I can.”

Bertrand also said it’s important to stay focused on the task at hand against the Demon Deacons. While the Irish are already bowl eligible, the results of their last two games will go a long way in determining which bowl game they’ll head to.

“For me, I’m trying to push off those feelings and not think about it too much until it comes,” Bertrand said. “Saturday, I’m sure before the game everyone will be a little emotional, but the biggest thing is we’re playing a really good opponent. We’re playing a team battling for bowl eligibility. We know they’re going to come in ready to go, so we need to keep that main thing of the opponent we’re about to play.”

Kickoff on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m. EST. You can watch the game right here on WNDU.

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