DALLAS (WNDU) – Thursday was media day for the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, a chance for players and coaches to discuss how their teams are progressing before Saturday's matchup between Notre Dame and Clemson.
Media day provided an opportunity for NewsCenter 16's own Alex Wilcox to meet one-on-one with several Notre Dame and Clemson players.
One of those he spoke with was Irish quarterback Ian Book.
Alex: Ian, we’re just a couple days away from probably the biggest game you’ve ever played in. How are you feeling?
Book: Extremely excited. Very fortunate to be in this opportunity. We’re that much closer to our end goal of winning a national championship, so really there’s not much more to say. Being able to play in here, as well, just makes it that much more exciting.
Alex: Given the big stage you’re on and the huge venue you’re playing in, how much has getting to practice here (at AT&T Stadium) helped prepare you for Saturday?
Book: It helps a lot. Just being able to embrace the moment, practice out here, you see it for the first time. It’s going to help both teams. I think it’s huge that we’ve been able to practice here.
Alex: We’ve talked to you guys a couple times since the USC game, and every time the game has felt so far away. Now it’s right here. Does it feel real yet?
Book: It does. It feels real, we all know how close it is. We’re ready to play, we’ve been practicing the way we have all year, and we’re just ready to play.
Alex: Both you and (Clemson QB) Trevor Lawrence became the starter in the middle of the season. How difficult is that?
Book: It’s difficult. It’s something I pride myself on this whole entire year is my ability to prepare like I was the starter and just be ready for that shot, because you never know when it’s coming, and I just want to be ready.
Alex: Big news this week is that Brandon Wimbush will be transferring. He’s the guy you replaced but also a good friend of yours and someone you're close with. What was your reaction to the news?
Book: I’m happy for Brandon and whatever he decides. Whatever he decides to do, he’s going to excel at. It might be a big deal right now to some people about the news, but it’s a credit to Brandon, because you can just tell how focused he is on the game and that just shows the type of person Brandon is, because this could be a distraction, but we’re all focused on this game, and he is, as well.
Alex: The other big news is the positive drug tests from a couple Clemson players, including star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. If he can’t go Saturday, how much of an impact would that have? Would it make it easier on you to not have him flushing you out of the pocket?
Book: He’s a great player, and it’s actually something that our whole entire team hasn’t talked about. We don’t know if he’s going to play. We all think he’s going to play, we’re preparing the same way every day and controlling what we can control.
Alex: What do you think is the key to this game?
Book: Just doing what we’ve been doing this whole entire season. Preparing the same way we have, and making the really big plays when it matters, that’s how you win these playoff games.
To view the full interview, click the video above.