"Yeah, it's definitely tough without pads," Crum said. "Cause it's like ‘I came here to make contact.'"
Once the pads do come on, however, expect bigger things out of Crum and his teammates. "I think the intensity will be extremely high," he said. "I think a lot of guys are focused and ready to see what they can do, and I think the pads can let us go."
After making the switch from outside linebacker to a spot inside last season, Crum was fourth best on the Irish defensive unit with 84 total tackles. He also tied for first on the squad with three forced fumbles, and two recoveries, one of which resulted in a touchdown against UCLA on October 10.
In Crum's eyes, the transition wasn't difficult because of his adaptability to different situations on the football field.
"For me personally, I don't think there were that many difficulties," he said. "Just because I consider myself to be versatile and I've done a lot in my time here, and I'm pretty experienced."
With that experience, a certain amount of responsibility and leadership has developed within the fifth-year senior's character — although the majority of it starts with Crum's own evaluation.
"For me, personally, it starts with myself," the Florida native said. "I try to make sure that I'm ready to go, because I know a lot of guys look to me to see where I'm at mentally or how I'm going to respond. So I try to make sure that I let them know that I put everything behind me so that they can put everything behind them, and we can grow from there."
Under his tutelage, defensive coordinator Corwin Brown has seen a great deal of progress in Crum's role as a leader in his one year at Notre Dame, primarily with regards to the linebacker's confidence and respect amongst his teammates.
"I think he's a good leader for us," Brown said. "He's dependable and practices hard. He's respected and that's always a starting point. Your peers, you know, they have to respect you, your coaches have to respect you, and he's got that. He's got some experience, he's got most of the good things."
At the same time, the second-year coordinator has had a visible impact on Crum, teaching him an abundance about aggressiveness, and attitude.
"I think he's definitely added to my attitude, on a regular basis and just not be afraid to wear my emotions on my sleeve and to just play with everything I've got," Crum said of Brown's impact.
A great deal of Crum's confidence can be attributed to the linebacker's career game against the Bruins last year — an instance he says, he's been waiting for his entire life.
"I think that situation was something I've probably been waiting on my whole life," Crum said. "And I finally just got it. To finally get over that hump, I can now put it behind me and say, ‘what's the next thing, what's the next natural progression?' Now I just have to be consistent. When guys are looking at me to make the next play, I've got to be ready for that, because that's the next thing."
With the emergence of younger linebackers like sophomores Kerry Neal and Brian Smith, there is an added sense of competition brewing from within the linebacking corps, allowing the players to push each other.
"We have a room full of competitors and guys who want to compete and guys who want to do well, so I think the natural progress is to put everything and all the bad behind you and look forward."
Last season, Crum was playing with three fifth-year seniors, so being a team leader wasn't as big a priority on his list of objectives — especially with the likes of Trevor Laws, Tom Zbikowski and Joe Brockington being those who have now moved on from the program.
Now, the time has come for Crum to be the teacher.
"Yeah, I've definitely got some more young guys to teach some stuff before I leave, so I'm excited," Crum said with a grin. "I kind of feel like that's part of being a leader, being an older guy on the team, and just helping the younger guys come in, because they'll look to you for guidance, and I feel like I can give them that."
Much has been made about the philosophical changes head coach Charlie Weis is implementing this spring, one of which is a larger role he will take in the weight room and around the locker room in general. Crum believes it's an excellent idea.
"I think it's a really, really good thing," Crum said. "I mean he's still the head coach and everybody still knows he's the head coach, but its kind of like a lot of times when coach Weis would walk in the room, a lot of the young guys would get tight. They would just get a little worried. With that, now they can just get a better understanding of who he is and his mindset and not just listening to him, but actually understanding what it is that he said."
With Weis changing his methods, the players can now focus on getting ready for the spring in preparation for the fall. Crum, however, wants to wait until after the Blue and Gold game to declare any personal goals.
"I really don't do my goals until the summer," he said. "If I had to say my main goal right now would probably just be to get the team going a certain way, and once I set my personal goals, I'll go from there."
Flash backwards to 1990. Senior linebacker Maurice Crum Sr. just led the University of Miami in tackles for the third straight season, earning All-American honors.
Now return back to the present. Ask his son who the better linebacker is, and the Irish fifth-year senior will tell you it's a dead heat.
"I don't know," Crum said after mulling it over. "I think we're pretty equal. We played in different times. If I played in his time though, I think I'd be better, and if he played in my time, we'd be equal."
Regardless of the debate, it is clear that Crum Sr. has instilled many aspects of the game in his son. The most important of these qualities — love for the game.
"I think it's helped me develop a knowledge of the game," Crum said of his father's advice and impact on his career. "Its help me develop a natural love for the game just because watching him play and watching him be excited to play, and then teaching me, I think naturally I just grew into a football lover."