Marcus Freeman’s weekly press conference began with a review of Saturday night’s dramatic win against Duke. Freeman spoke about the similarity to the Ohio State clash and Saturday’s thriller.
“I said it last week in the press conference, great teams find a way to execute when it matters the most and that’s what a reflection of Saturday was. When we had to make a play on that play, we were able to offensively and defensively make the play and ultimately resulted in a victory.”
Players of the game from Notre Dame’s win over Duke.
Freeman announced that the Players of the Game were tight end Mitchell Evans, defensive lineman Howard Cross and linebacker Jack Kiser on special teams. He then spoke about what he’s seen with respect to Louisville and then addressed the team’s emotional situation after two tense contests in a row.
“We’ve got to go back to what will keep us prepared for this moment and on Saturday and that goes with our preparation. The challenge is, how do we improve faster than our opponents.”
The wave of penalties that were assessed to Notre Dame against Duke game was discussed, with Freeman saying that the issues still need to be worked out.
“The atmosphere there was difficult. Man, it was loud and that’s no excuse. We have to make sure that we fix the mistakes that we had obviously. Our false start penalties, the different cadences we were using.”
Wide receiver injury updates
Freeman did offer positive news about the depleted wide receiving corps that resulted in the absences of Jayden Thomas and Jaden Greathouse against Duke.
“We expect them both to be back, we’ll expect them both to practice tomorrow. They’re both improving, they ran around yesterday and I think they’ll do some rehab today and run around, too.”
Notre Dame’s successful fake punt versus Duke
The fake punt that led to Notre Dame’s first score against Duke was something that was not a spur-of-the-moment decision according to Freeman.
“I was very confident throughout the week that we were going to be able to run this fake punt and execute it. (Special Teams) Coach (Marty) Biagi did a great job of installing it and making sure that our players knew exactly what we were going to do on that play.”
On Audric Estime scoring versus going down at the 1
Freeman discussed the school of thought about Audric Estime’s game-winning run which indicated that he should have stopped before reaching the end zone. That would have eaten up more of the clock and allowed for a chipshot field goal attempt.
“The analytics would tell you to go down, but the other side is, hey, you’re putting all your eggs in one basket and saying, ‘We have to be perfect on this field goal.'”
On the challenges Jack Plummer poses for Notre Dame
Trying to deal with Louisville’s experienced quarterback Jack Plummer was seen as a major challenge by Freeman.
“It’s hard to confuse him and we’re going to try to and give him some different looks. But it’s hard to confuse him because he’s seen everything.”
An improved running game was noted by Freeman by pointing to one key component for that success.
“I think, one is our footwork. We have to improve our footwork. There’s a couple times that a misstep will cause the defensive line to get penetration and when you get penetration on by the defensive line, it’s hard to execute a running game.”
On depth with Jordan Botelho missing the first half against Louisville
Jordan Botelho’s ejection for targeting on Saturday will mean that he’ll miss the first half of Saturday night’s game. Freeman expressed confidence that the tandem of Josh Burnham and Junior Tuihalamaka can handle the job.
“Both of them are continuously getting better. The only way you get better is through reps, intentional reps, through practice.
On the ACC’s eggregious error on reviewing a non-reviewable play
Discussing penalties assessed to Notre Dame was discussed by Freeman, who indicated that he was told that Bryce McFerson’s punt that was originally ruled out at the one should not have been overruled.
“Sometimes they say, ‘Hey, we got it wrong.’ and sometimes they, ‘No, we got it right, so here’s what you have to understand.'”
On NC State’s success running versus Louisville
Asked whether he would use North Carolina State’s success against the Louisville running game and adapt it for the Irish defense, Freeman indicated that some aspects can be used in any circumstance
“N.C. State is such a unique defense that you’re probably not going to take schematically everything they’ve done. But there’s things in football that you can take from every opponent and ask if that fits into our system.”
Freeman closed by stating that tight end Eli Raridon would be back this week, while linebacker Nolan Ziegler could also return. However, Freeman noted that Matt Salerno is not expected back until possibly the postseason while wide receiver K.K. Smith is still rehabbing his injury.