Notre Dame Coach’s Corner: Highlights from Marcus Freeman’s NC State Presser

Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman started off his weekly Monday press conference by offering his takeaways on the 56-3 win over Tennessee State. While offering praise to the team for their performance, Freeman also pointed to the Irish’s slow start.

“We didn’t really start crisp,” Freeman said. “There were too many mistakes on that first drive on both sides of the ball that we have to make sure we correct.”

After noting the false start called on Notre Dame, Freeman then pivoted to Notre Dame’s success this season in the Red Zone department.

“I was really pleased with the Red Zone offense and defense and that’s something we’ve really been talking about,” said Freeman.

After noting the avoidance of fumbling issues, Freeman also credited wide receiver Jayden Thomas’ fast start and the performance of the offensive line. In addition, he announced that RB Audric Estime, DT Howard Cross and DE Jason Omye were selected for Players of the Game, with Omye cited for his key field goal block.

Freeman’s first question from the assembled media was about North Carolina State quarterback Brennan Armstrong, a player Freeman tried to recruit when the coach was at Cincinnati.

“To see his growth in college, first at Virginia and now at N.C. State, he is extremely talented,” Freeman said. “They have a talented offense. They’re really deep in their running back room. They’ve got multiple guys you’ll see come in the game.”

Asked about what’s surprised him about Notre Dame’s strong defensive start, Freeman pointed to the players’ familiarity with the defense, something not evident last season.

“I don’t know if I would say surprised,” Freeman said, “Because I’ve really believed that the second year of the same scheme, the same coaches, our players are really understanding the details of the defense.”

Responding to Notre Dame’s success against ACC opponents which includes a 28-game winning streak, Freeman deflected credit to former head coach Brian Kelly and the school itself.

“The majority of those wins were before I was here,” Freeman said. “I think it speaks to Notre Dame and the football program and the players it attracts. Really the excellence in our program.”

Sam Hartman’s past struggles against North Carolina State were downplayed by Freeman.

“I don’t know what happened when he was at Wake Forest but I bet you he’ll look at it,” Freeman said. “I don’t know how much we’ll study that as much as what they (North Carolina State) did against Connecticut.”

Freeman then gave an injury report rundown, stating that Gabe Rubio’s recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery should take a few more weeks. Also, Devyn Ford remains in concussion protocol while Drake Bowen should return this week. Freeman also indicated that a lower leg injury will keep him out “for an extended period of time.”

The problem of containing Armstrong’s scrambling on Saturday was then brought up.

“I just think it’s the mindset of your guys that are rushing,” Freeman said. “We can’t have guys behind the quarterback. We can’t give him vertical lanes to step up and escape.”

Asked what changes were made to the Red Zone defense, Freeman pointed to the success of other schools.

“We spent time studying some of those best Red Zone defenses and seeing if there’s something that can fit into our scheme,” Freeman said.

Freeman was queried about the reasons why Notre Dame has Red Zone success on offense during the first half this year.

“One, the game plan,” Freeman said. “The people, our players understanding exactly what they’re supposed to do, why they’re doing and how to do it.”

Asked about building Notre Dame’s depth and how it could conceivably tie in with keeping players from looking at the transfer portal, Freeman simply pointed to the uncertainty of any season.

“We will need multiple guys throughout the course of this season and to get them valuable, meaningful reps is so important,” Freeman said.

Notre Dame’s miscue of having just 10 men on the field was something where Freeman simply asked coaches to avoid self-inflicted mistakes.

“Let’s get back to what we’re supposed to be doing,” Freeman said to the coaches. “We can’t beat Notre Dame.”

The final question related to Ford’s concussion and how Freeman leaves a player’s status in that situation to medical personnel

“When a head athletic trainer or team doctor tells me somebody’s good to go, I’m 100 percent confident that that’s for the best interest of the kid,” Freeman said.

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  1. Does anyone notice that ESPN prefers not to mention Notre Dame? They almost go out of their way to avoid mentioning Notre Dame. That while Notre Dame looks as legit as most other teams between 5 and 15
    In the polls at this point.

    1. ESPN is frantically readying a 24/7 All-Prime/Colorado channnel, to counter “Let’s All Blow Coach Prime” on Fox, and the “Prime Unplugged” Variety Hour on CBS.
      Until that’s finalized, they don’t have enougfh airtime for the dregs.

  2. Is it too early yet to go back to using the word “Clemsoning”?
    Yes, all the new words arnd acronyms are fun, but for fans over 30, some terminology is just too perfect to toss away.
    OSU Beavers say “Thank you, Dabo”.

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