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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, November 02, 2017 6:30 am

Notebook: Irish subdued in reaction to CFP committee ranking

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

SOUTH BEND — They say you should act like you've been there before, and that's exactly what Notre Dame did.

When the College Football Playoff selection committee released its first top-25 ranking Tuesday night, the Irish were the No. 3 team. Players were scattered about, and there was no wild celebration like in 2015 when the CFP committee last put Notre Dame in the top four.

"Every moment is a learning opportunity," Irish defender Drue Tranquill said. "For those of us who were there, we remember that. We remember maybe our emotions getting the best of us there. I think we've been trained this year to realize in order for us to be where we want to be, we have to attack practice today. In order for us to be where we want to be, we have to beat (Wake Forest) on Saturday. That's the only way we can get to where we want to get."

Avoiding distractions is an area where Notre Dame has faced few concerns in 2017.

"I've been surprised with our football team this year," Tranquill said. "We've got a lot of young guys playing, a lot of young guys on our team. They have for the most part seemed to be able to quiet the noise. That's been very encouraging."

Senior linebacker Greer Martini said he was working on a group project during ESPN's broadcast of the rankings release. Another student showed his phone to Martini to let Martini know the Irish were No. 3. Then, just as coach Brian Kelly would prefer, Martini moved on.

"I don't think it really means that much to us," Martini said. "It's not going to help us win on Saturday."

#33trucking: Josh Adams' candidacy for the Heisman Trophy has become a daily topic of conversation. Because the Irish are about to face a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Kelly spoke Wednesday on the ACC coaches' teleconference and was asked right off the bat about his junior running back. He praised Adams from a physical-development standpoint.

"I think it's been his physical development since January," Kelly said. "You know, his lower-body strength, explosiveness. There's a maturation there."

Next man up: The loss of wide receiver Greg Dortch to season-ending surgery this week is a huge blow for Wake Forest's offense. On Wednesday, coach Dave Clawson said junior wideout Tabari Hines will be able to "step up" Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium and take on a much greater role in Dortch's absence.

The Demon Deacons will also have to lean more heavily on sophomore wideout Scotty Washington, junior wideout Chuck Wade and senior tight end Cam Serigne.

"Tabari Hines is a good player," Clawson said. "He's made a lot of plays for us. I certainly feel bad for Greg, and I feel bad for our program. Greg was having a great year, but Tabari Hines is a good player, and Scotty Washington probably had his best game of his career the other day. Chuck Wade can make plays and Cam Serigne, we got him more involved."