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‘Bring the extra juice’: Drew White intends to improve through the season

| Friday, October 22, 2021

Drew White has been on the field for the Irish since 2018. Back then, he played four games on the season with 2 tackles of his own and 6 assisted. Since then, he’s had only one goal: to improve.

In 2019, White saw all 13 games. 8 total tackles became 80, 48 of them on his own. His career total is currently 171 tackles, 95 on his own and 19 for a loss (TFL) with 3.5 sacks.

None of his stats compare to this year though where, in six games alone, he’s had 27 tackles, 16 of them solos with 2 for a loss. He can expand that tally to include 2 deflected passes and one interception that he was able to take back to the house for a touchdown. The interception came during Notre Dame’s 41-13 win over Wisconsin.

The numbers shape up to improvement, but despite his individual success, White notes that every guy on the defense, including him, has to really execute. Especially now that he’s a captain, he says they’ve done the work, they just need to get the results.

“We were prepared for everything,” White said about the home loss against Cincinnati, “But at the end of the day, you just got to make plays.”

White said the adjustment from the loss would be within reach though, as it was an execution issue more than anything else.

“Really, at the end of the day, I think Notre Dame beat Notre Dame, made too many mistakes. Didn’t execute well, that was that.”

Specifically, White said they found themselves caught in the red zone, a space where the defense can usually make the stop and hold a team to a field goal, but Cincinnati was able to convert on their first trip down. In the spirit of improvement though, White highlighted that the second drive they were able to hold the Bearcats better.

“We stopped them to a field goal, the second time. The first time they were down there, we got to be better than that. Held them to third down and then they were able to do a pop pass, which we practiced all week. We were prepared for and we just got to execute,” White said.

In true captain fashion though, White kept the team focused on their games and goals ahead, letting the Cincinnati game fuel them but not hang over their heads.

“I told the guys it’s the 24-hour rule,” White said, “Same as a win. So you know, we’ve had a lot of wins. We celebrate that win for 24 hours, then we’re back into work. And that’s exactly how we’re gonna handle this loss. For 24 hours these guys are going to be down. We’re going to be watching film, we’re not going to feel good about it. But coming in Monday, and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, we’re going to be ready. We’re going to prepare, we’re going to be ready for Virginia Tech because it’s going to be a good game. And they’re going to try and beat us too. And so we can’t let one game define the rest of our season. We need to continue to battle and come back.”

Cut to a week later on the Virginia Tech field. Come back is exactly what the defense did and White was proud of what they could accomplish. It was a turnaround for the Irish from the week before.

“I thought we prepared really well,” White said. “I think we had a good idea of what kind of game plan they were going on with or going to come in with you know, at some point guys are gonna make plays. Their offensive players, made plays. I thought Burmeister was great. The way he’s able to use his feet. You know, but I thought the defense played really good. The best part about it was the reciprocalness of the offense and defense kind of bouncing off of each other is great and it really tells the story of what kind of guys we have.”

One of those guys White says is integral to both the entire team’s success and his own success is fellow graduate student, Kurt Hinish, the Irish’s starting nose guard. Hinish was back for the first time against Virginia Tech after a concussion that took him out before the Wisconsin game. White was thrilled to have his best friend back.

“It’s amazing. I mean Kurt’s one of my best friends on team I’ve played with the guy for like three years, maybe four years now and just to know that he’s in front of me taking on double teams, and he ain’t moving so yeah, you were able to see him making TFLs and disrupting the running game. So it’s great.” White said. “It just, it feels better when one of your best friends is lining up right in front of you. Like, just personally. I mean, all of our defensive tackles and nose guards are capable, but having a veteran guy in there, a captain on our team, to just have that look in his eye and have him communicate with us through the line is very useful.”

Now, looking to the rest of the season, White wants to continue to push the team and to execute and that requires being on their A-game.

“We have the mindset to come in and be physical, every game,” White said.

But, he says the work is not over yet either and he intends to take the good and work on the bad.

“We have a lot of things to work on,” White said. “But you can’t sell yourself short for you know what you can accomplish and it’s a W on the schedule. That’s a lot better than an L so it’s easier to take lessons from the covenant of being positive and bring the extra juice you got to keep keep improving during the season.”

White and the rest of the Irish will take the field against the Trojans this Saturday, Oct. 23 at Notre Dame Stadium with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The game will be broadcast on NBC.

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About Mannion McGinley

Mannion McGinley is a class of 2023 American Studies and Sociology major with a Journalism minor. She is a member of the Glynn Family Honors program and is Sports Department Editor at The Observer.

Contact Mannion