Irish freshman defensive lineman Isaac Rochell usually doesn’t talk to the offensive linemen across from him during a game, and he doesn’t plan to this week. Instead, Rochell will talk to his older brother, Matt, before the game and likely each day this week.
Within that distinction lies the brothers’ strategy this week. An Air Force sophomore, Matt has started each game this season at left tackle. Isaac, meanwhile, has played in every Notre Dame game, supplying depth to a defensive line lacking it.
“We know, on both sides, we’re not going to talk about specifics of the game or game plans,” Isaac said. “We just talk about how’s your week, how’s school going, casual conversations.”
If anything, the familial connection could help Isaac this weekend. He’d watched most of Air Force’s games before this week, and was already somewhat familiar with the Falcons’ attack before studying it on film. Then again, the same could be said for Matt, who keeps an eye on his younger brother as well.
“I’m treating the game just like a regular game, evaluating their whole o-line, including him, just as I would any other o-line,” Rochell said. “He watches Notre Dame like he’s watching his little brother, and I watch Air Force watching my big brother play just like I would when I was at home.”
Though they hail from Georgia, the brothers Rochell will not be the only members of their family in Colorado Springs this weekend. Isaac said each brother will turn in at least a dozen ticket requests as their parents, grandparents and extended family turn out for the two-for-one opportunity to watch a relative play collegiate football.
“They’re excited to see both their kids playing on the same field, especially at this level,” Rochell said of his parents, Steve and Gina. “It’s a big deal, as parents, to see your kids at this level. That’s what everyone is excited about, not necessarily the specifics of the game and stuff like that. They’re just excited to see both of us playing together.”
While Rochell may have stretched the use of “together” -- in this situation, “against” seems more applicable -- his family has had plenty of time to anticipate this match-up. Notre Dame’s 2013 schedule had not been officially announced when Rochell committed to the Irish in June of 2012, but the Air Force contest was all but certain.
“They’ve definitely been excited about it,” he said. “Even when I first committed to Notre Dame, they knew that there was a time coming that we’d play each other.”
Rochell won’t think of that particular offensive lineman as his brother. He’ll be just another Falcon. But before and after the game, a brief reunion may be in store since the two brothers haven’t seen each other since Independence Day.
“I’m just treating it like he’s a normal o-lineman for a normal team,” the younger Rochell said. “We’ll just talk before and after the game and leave it at that.”