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‘100% until the whistle blows’: Tremble brings physicality to Irish offense

| Friday, November 27, 2020

After tight Cole Kmet departed the Notre Dame football program to become a second-round NFL Draft pick of the Chicago Bears, many believed junior Tommy Tremble would carry on the tradition of Tight End U. It wasn’t too much of a stretch considering Tremble’s sophomore year numbers (16 receptions, 183 yards, four scores) were better than Kmet’s as a sophomore (15 receptions, 162 yards, no scores).

So far, Tremble’s 15 receptions, 152 yards and one fullback carry for four yards hasn’t lived up to the statistical standards Kmet set last year with 43 catches, 515 yards and six touchdowns. Even so, that doesn’t mean he is any less integral to the success of this Notre Dame team than Kmet was to last year’s.

Tremble’s presence has been felt, quite literally, by every opponent the Irish have faced. While not tasked with the route running responsibilities Kmet shouldered last season, Tremble has delivered on equally immense duties as a blocker, a role that he relishes.

“Making a great block, moving one person from point A to point B, is better if not the same as scoring a touchdown for me,” Tremble said. “I love doing that. You know what I mean? It’s just, who wants to play some real football, smash-mouth football? I love that.”

Irish junior tight end Tommy Tremble runs downfield during Notre Dame’s 35-17 victory over Louisville on Sept. 2, 2019 at Cardinal Stadium.

Tremble says that mindset — one in which he seeks out contact — was instilled in him not just through playing some of the most physical positions football has to offer, but by his father. Even as an undersized tight end going against guys 10 to 20 pounds heavier than him, he never faltered.

“Growing up, I played defense mostly, so I always sought contact,” he said. “I played running back, too. I never shied away from that. My dad kind of taught me that. He’s like, ‘Never be scared of contact; the more scared you are, the more hurt you’re going to be.’”

Tremble hasn’t looked scared this season, and neither have the Irish as a whole. From the outset, their default setting has been to line up and bully opponents into submission. Both Duke and Clemson, teams with arguably the best secondaries the Irish have faced this season, had defensive backs limping off the turf.

“I think we brought that kind of fearlessness overall on to our offense,” Tremble said. “No one’s shying away from contact; everyone wants [it]. You see [sophomore running back] Kyren [Williams] in his pass blocking, everything he’s doing. He’s never shying away from that contact; he’s embracing it. And that’s really shown the physicality we have as a team.”

Tremble reiterated that team mentality and explained how the unit adopting it has made him more comfortable in the offense.

“Going into the fourth quarter, we’re always going to be the team that is like, ‘When we’re tired, we’re going even harder.’ We’re never just like, ‘Let’s end this, let’s get out of here, blah blah blah.’ We’re 100% until the whistle blows at the end of the fourth quarter,” he said. “I think that’s helped not only our team, but me individually — being able to [be] confident knowing that the man next to me is going to go just as hard. It’s an amazing program to really be around.”

Part of Tremble’s development in particular has been under the tutelage of first-year tight ends coach John McNulty.

“Coach McNulty has been amazing this year,” Tremble said. “Especially in the route-running game, and in the blocking game, he just taught us to calm down and just focus on each one individual play and just making us better every single day we were out there with him.”

With three games left in the regular season before a presumptive rematch with No. 3 Clemson in the ACC Championship game, Tremble will be tasked with doing the dirty work for a little longer. But that’s not a problem for him, nor for a team that knows the consequences of straying from a winning formula both on and off the field.

“We’ve dealt this entire year, we know the implications if we were just having a slip-up,” Tremble said. “Even just one little slip-up, it could really just have pretty bad repercussions into the program. So all of us, everyone on this team, is 100% into the program, and we’re ready to make those kind of sacrifices, even if it’s not as fun or not as lavish. We’re on a mission, you know what I mean? And we’re down to stick to that routine.”

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About Hayden Adams

Hayden is the former sports editor of The Observer. When he's not working toward his four majors (physics and film, television & theatre) and three minors (journalism, ethics & democracy), you can probably find him hopelessly trying to save his beloved Zahm House from being wiped out. He plans to attend law school at a TBD location after graduation.

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