Jarrett Patterson Expected to Play: Notre Dame OL Could be at Full Strength vs. Marshall

Notre Dame fought tooth and nail in a defensive battle last week against the previous #2 team in the country (current #3), Ohio State. They did so despite the Irish offensive line being undermanned, with Patterson out with a nagging injury and not playing up to their standards.

This week the Irish could be back to full strength. Patterson is expected to play, according to Coach Marcus Freeman.

“We are expecting him to play on Saturday unless something crazy happens in the next 48 hours. He’s had a good week of practice,” Freeman said.

Not once. In Graduate Senior interior offensive lineman and captain Jarret Patterson’s 5-year Notre Dame career, he not only has developed into a top NFL draft prospect and repeat All-American candidate, but he also has never allowed a sack on the quarterback.

Notre Dame rushed for 76 yards last week. Freeman knows that’s not good enough.

“They’re challenged. They’re not happy with their overall performance from the Ohio State game. It’s an older group of guys. Lugg, J-Patt (Patterson). Some guys that have played [a lot of] football take a lot of pride in their performance. Zeke Correll being an older guy too,” Freeman said.

“The two tackles Joe (Alt) and Blake (Fischer) (only sophomores), they continue to follow their [the older linemen’s] lead.”

While Alt and Fischer continue to develop and were highly ranked recruits, the offensive line is led by veterans like Patterson. He’ll set the tone and provide calm and communication – which was lacking during missed assignments in the Ohio State game last Saturday.

“Early in the game, we didn’t handle their [Ohio State’s] movement as well as I wanted to,” Freeman said. “I thought they [the Irish offensive line] really settled in and battled.”

Hopefully, this week against Marshall, the holes will be bigger, and the O-line will be clicking.

“Our identity starts with the run game and our ability to run the football,” Freeman said.

Having an interior lineman back who has not allowed a sack during his entire career should help protect quarterback Tyler Buchner and allow more passing time. It should also open up the running game.

The trenches are often the key in tight games. The goal against Ohio State, Freeman said, was to run the ball and control the clock. He expects the offense to be more aggressive against Marshall.

“The ability to run the ball and be able to expose some areas in the passing [game] is something that we have to do,” Freeman said.

Freeman said he told his team that “This [the hard-fought loss against #2 Ohio State] is the foundation that we have to build off of.”

In his Labor Day press conference, Freeman spoke of the need to be physical in practice and to go “good on good.”

“We still have to have physical, tough football practices,” Freeman said. “There are moments in practice when you just put the ball down and say ‘let’s go.’”

In football, complex as it is – and simple as the philosophy sounds – is a game of fundamentals, requiring a strong foundation of blocking up front.

The Irish have an All-American back on their front line.

Their foundation is now intact. In more ways than one, in fact.

Freeman was asked this week about his bringing back the tradition of pre-game mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, something that had gone by the wayside in recent years.

He discussed the need to find the “Calm before the storm.” To get back to their Catholic and Christian foundation as a university and a team.

“You can get so riled up before the game. I didn’t want that. I want to make these guys calm. Part of that is making sure we spend some time in reflection at mass. Coming over here [to the stadium], when the first hits the ball, at kickoff, we’ll be ready to roll.”

“I really want to be able to be at peace and be a little bit at calm and embrace this place,” Freeman said.

When asked about the mood of the team after the season-opening loss, Freeman said, “We’ve got to be ready to move forward… They’ll be motivated. They’ll be ready to go.”

Fully – with their foundation back on the interior of their line and within themselves.

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