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September 13, 2013
Bennett Jackson embraces the standard to which the Notre Dame defense holds itself.
Last week the Irish fell quite short goals, allowing Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner to throw for 294 yards and four touchdowns couple with 82 rushing yards and another score. Gardner hit wide receiver Jeremy Gallon for 184 yards and three touchdowns alone.
After review of the game there was no need for Jackson, a cornerback, or anybody else to recalibrate their expectations. Instead they went to work on reaching what has been set as a high bar.
"Just really dominance," Jackson said. "That's what we expect from one another. That's our standard. We do everything throughout the day, in every facet of our life, at a first class level basically. We don't expect anything less than that. Our culture is dominance. That's what we push ourselves towards."
Jackson, one of three captains and the only one on defense, has gone to work during practice throughout the week to correct mistakes without costing the defense its confidence.
Part of that includes playing psychologist: Fellow starting cornerback KeiVarae Russell recorded four tackles but joined Jackson in having trouble with Gallon and other Wolverines receivers. Jackson, who had an interception wiped away in the fourth quarter, thanks to a question pass interference call, did his best to put all that behind he and Russell.
"You've really gotta keep him positive," Jackson said. "I've always said to him, 'Play for the next play.' You can't let the previous play eat you up because it's just gonna take your game down. He's got a good understanding of that. A bunch of guys will just get around him and tell him to stay positive, continue to work and just go out there and play."
Moving onto the next play quickly became turning attention to the next game, a road matchup against Purdue on Saturday night.
Purdue has managed just 27 points in two games -- against Cincinnati and Indiana State, respectively -- and hasn't been prolific in the air. Quarterback Rob Henry is completing 55.9 percent of his passes (33-59) with two interceptions and zero passing touchdowns. He's averaged 155 yards per game.
Notre Dame's secondary has used this week to correct some of its mistakes in hopes of playing a tighter game against Henry and crew.
"Just watching through film everybody sees that mistake and we correct," Jackson said. "We work to correct it with our practice. Games aren't gonna be perfect. There's gonna be plays that happen. You've just gotta work through practice and make sure you limit them for the next game."
Even if Henry hits a play here and there, Jackson expects the group to handle it better.
"That's really the whole defense," Jackson said. "If something happens you've got to play for the next play. You can't get caught up in the previous plays. You've just gotta pick it up for the next one."
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