FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Notre Dame didn't drastically change its offense when Chuck Martin made the unusual move from safeties coach to offensive coordinator after Charley Molnar left after last season to become head coach at the University of Massachusetts.
But he did make things easier for the No. 1 Irish (12-0), who play No. 2 Alabama (12-1) in the BCS championship game Monday.
"He makes it so simple, you're not even thinking while you're playing, almost," running back Theo Riddick said Friday. "It makes you feel like you're in high school again."
Martin's move from defense to offense also added stability for Notre Dame, which averages 421.3 yards and 26.8 points.
"I think they're more organized, starting on Monday when we get our game plan," left tackle Zack Martin said. "We're not changing plays at the last minute."
Having everyone on the same page was one of the main reason coach Brian Kelly moved Martin, who worked under Kelly at Grand Valley State and took over the Division II program when Kelly left for Central Michigan, to offensive coordinator.
"I think it starts with the offensive staff being on the same page all the time, and walking out to the practice field with a plan, whether it's a good plan or a bad plan, (and making) sure the kids understand the plan and why we're doing the things we're doing," Martin said. "It becomes simpler for these guys when you're not going with the military, 'You do this because I'm the coach.' ... If you tell them what to do, hey, shut up and do it, they'll shut up and do it because that's how they're wired. But they'll think it's simpler when they understand why you're doing it.
"(You tell your players), 'OK, we're running this route versus this coverage, and here's why we're going to do it, and this is why it's going to be successful.' And then they look at it – and we're fortunate at Notre Dame we've got some very, very, very intellectual kids that want to know the whys. (Quarterback) Everett (Golson) doesn't want to just see a new route and say, 'OK, I'll run it, Coach.' ... I think getting our kids to understand the whys and not so much the hows has been a big benefit, and something that they take a lot of comfort in."