Marcus Freeman Wants Notre Dame to Focus on Play to Play, Small Picture

Assignments. “Doing your job.” Paying attention to detail. That seems to be Irish Head Coach Marcus Freeman’s main philosophy so far this young season. He talked pre-season about not focusing on “winning the national championship” but one play, one game at a time. He’s talking now, after a 2-0 start, not about the overall outcome but about each player doing their job on each play.

“It’s looking at us internally and saying, ‘did we execute on this assignment?’ Why or why not? How many MA (missed assignments) did we have?” he said.

“[It’s] not so much did we beat Tennessee St or did we beat Navy. Do our guys know exactly what to do, and did they do it? And if they don’t, why did they make a mistake? We have to figure out why and correct it with urgency.”

The Irish will win games this year by being conscientious.

“Our guys aren’t missing those checks [on defense] because it’s the second year of the exactly the same checks on every single play. On all 11 guys, did you do your job? ‘yes or no.’ And if you didn’t, let’s figure out why and get it corrected with a sense of urgency,” Freeman harped.

He speaks like a coach who knows the schedule only gets tougher from here.

The Irish passed the first two tune-ups with flying colors. The red zone offense and defense have improved efficiency.

“I was really pleased with the red zone offense and defense. We didn’t have a great red zone defense last year.”

The Irish offense is 9 for 9 on scoring touchdowns in first-half drives through the first two games. Next up is a tougher matchup against NC St. on the road, where, Freeman noted, the Wolfpack have won 16 out of their last 17 home games.

NC St. has an experienced quarterback in Virginia Transfer Brennan Armstrong.

“To see his growth in college and what he’s done at Virginia and now at NC St., he is extremely talented. They have a talented offense. We have to expect tempo and multiple formations,” Freeman said.

Freeman discussed the fact that NC State’s 3-3-5 defense is a bit unique and will be stingier than the last two defenses the Irish have faced.

“We have to make sure our [offensive] plan is nice and tight,” Freeman said.

Armstrong can throw the ball and scrambles well; he led NC St. in rushing in game one against Connecticut.

How do the Irish stop such a mobile and accurate quarterback?

“It’s the mindset of your guys that are rushing,” Freeman said.

“We can’t give him vertical lanes to step up and escape from. I don’t want four guys spying the quarterback. We’re going to have to keep him in the pocket. We have to be aggressive. But we can’t be out of control.”

Freeman continued to stress the need for each player on the field to do their job and to complete their assignments.

“There’s a lot of factors [that go into why the Irish offense is 9-9 in first-half drives]. One the gameplan, our players understand what to do, why they’re doing it, and how to do it. Two: to go out and do it. Hopefully, it’s just winning one play at a time.”

There’s that theme again of one play at a time.

“One play, do I do my job on that play. Hopefully, the result of that is another really good first half [against NC St.],” Freeman said.

Since Irish quarterback Sam Hartman has played at NC St. several times, as the Wake Forest quarterback, Freeman agreed that Hartman could help prepare the team for the hostile environment it is about to face:

“Yeah, I think he can talk to the entire team about the experience of playing at NC St. and obviously to the offense about what the real game will be like.”

Freeman wants the 11 men on the field to do their job, not miss assignments, and improve. It seems simple enough, but it’s the foundation for what Freeman is building brick by brick.

Brief Injury Update

Gabriel Rubio – Still out. He should be back in a couple of weeks as he had an arthroscopic surgery.

Devyn Ford – In Concussion protocol.

Drayk Bowen – Should be back this week.

Matt Salerno – Out for several weeks with a lower leg injury.

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One Comment

  1. The goal is perfection and the method is preparation practice, and repetition. Detail work for sure.
    All our great coaches and assistant coaches (like Yonto, for example) rigorously worked on the smallest of
    derails, not just the big picture, nor the pre-game speeches.

    BGC 77 82

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