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Adjusting to weather as excitement builds

Allan Joseph | Friday, January 4, 2013

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Earlier today, I opened the door to the balcony of our hotel room. I stepped outside into the sun and experienced one of the most disorienting feelings for a lifelong Midwesterner in early January: nothing. The temperature outside exactly mirrored the pleasant air-conditioned interior, and that will to take some time to get used to.

The Irish are going through something similar – except instead of just looking at views of downtown Fort Lauderdale, they’re adjusting to playing football outside in bright sun, warm temperatures and a hint of humidity in the air. Suffice it to say, that’s not exactly what they left when they boarded their charter flight Wednesday.

“It’s been a little difficult, especially the weather. It’s a lot warmer down here than we’re used to,” junior receiver T.J. Jones said. “Even up in South Bend we were practicing inside and the humidity down here you just can’t duplicate up there, so it’s been kind of difficult.”

Senior offensive tackle Zack Martin said it would only take the Irish a day or so to adjust to the conditions.

“The first day with the weather was a little tough, but that’s just flying the day before and going from 20 degrees to 80 degrees,” he said. “It takes about a day to get used to it. We will be fine.”

Notre Dame is practicing this week at Nova Southeastern University, which hosts the practice facility of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Irish coach Brian Kelly spoke highly yesterday of the Dolphins’ facility and his team’s first practice outdoors.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been outside for practice. Acclimatizing to the weather and getting our guys to catch the ball in the open spaces are all things that matter a little bit in terms of getting your timing. It was good to get out here to get our timing back,” he said. “I don’t think that it’s too much for our guys. I think that it’s about right where they get a chance to really start to play the game again. When you’re indoors it becomes a little artificial at times. Now they are back out playing the game.”

With the game just days away, the long layoff is drawing to a close. The excitement is palpable, and the Irish are feeling it.

“It’s been slow and painful. There’s a lot of anxiety; you’re ready to play,” Jones said. “And finally getting down here, with all the weeks you’ve sat out of practice, I guess it’s here now and we’re excited.”

Senior running back Theo Riddick said the practices had reached a new intensity in South Florida.

“You start to get the buzz. You start to get a little more intense,” he said. It’s really like a reality check. We had so much time off and to be down here, everything starts to hit you.”

Except, maybe, the weather outside.

Contact Allan Joseph at ajoseph2@nd.edu