Irish Eyes

Any questions concerning Notre Dame can be directed towards <b> Matt Root.</b> FSU coaches are interested in Irish schemes and tendencies, especially along the offensive line. Teammates are curious about historic landmarks such as "Touchdown Jesus," The Golden Dome or The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Friends want to know if Root really knows Rudy Ruettiger of "Rudy" fame. Root, of course, was a member of the Irish football team for two seasons before transferring to FSU this past summer.

While Root, a former standout at nearby North Florida Christian, must sit out this season under NCAA rules, he's still proving to be a valuable commodity this week. Fifth-ranked FSU (7-1) is preparing for Saturday‘s showdown at Notre Dame (2-5).

Root was on the Irish sidelines last season in Doak Campbell Stadium as a redshirt as Notre Dame stunned the Seminoles 34-24.

"It's a definitely weird feeling to see it from the other side," Root told TheTerritory Monday night following practice.

"Playing against Notre Dame, a team I played with for two years, and having all the playbooks and the coaches wanting to see them and feeling like a spy almost (laughing)."

While Root has not turned over any Notre Dame notes, he still knows the Irish pretty well enough to offer unique insight.

After raising Notre Dame fans' hopes with a 10-3 record in Tyrone Willingham's first year as coach last year, the Irish have struggled to 2-5 thus far. They lost to Boston College last Saturday on a field goal in the closing seconds. Notre Dame needs to win four of its last five games just to stay bowl eligible.

"They had a lot of talent (returning) but they also lost a lot of key guys, especially along the offensive line," Root said. "The offensive line was the biggest part of the offense and not having those guys is huge. They have a lot of inexperience right now."

Thanks to Root's knowledge of the Irish, he has been extremely popular among coaches and teammates.

"They (coaches) want to know what the line does on certain situations and blocking schemes and things like that. I told them I would give them the playbook if they want -- for a price though," Root said laughing.

Root said Notre Dame's tradition was the selling point on his recruiting trip.

"That's like the reason why I wanted to go there," Root said.

"When I went up to my visit, I saw "Touchdown Jesus" and the Golden Dome and all that stuff and it just blew me away. I was sold on the tradition and all that stuff. A lot of them (teammates) are asking me what to see up there, the College Football Hall of Fame and locker room and all that.

"They also ask me, ‘What do they think of us down here?' And I am like, to be honest with you, last year we came in here intimidated of you guys. We knew you guys were a bunch of beasts, freaks of nature. It was awesome (last season). Now to be on the other side of it -- I am hoping the coaches let me travel just so I can be on the other side and see it from both teams' perspective. Not a lot of people get to experience that."

When asked what his favorite memory was of Notre Dame, Root didn't blink.

"Definitely coming down here and beating Florida State," Root said.

"It's so different up there. Everyone is so into the football program. What's really cool is all the students wear green. About half of the section at Notre Dame Stadium is green. All the students show up at the pep rally on Friday night, which is huge.

"There are tons of different cheers. We (players) had to dress up in suits and one of the team captains would speak. We usually had a guest speaker, too. Last year Rudy came, Dusty Baker, The Rocket (Raghib "Rocket" Ismail). So, it was really neat. A great experience."


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