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

Head coach Marcus Freeman returned to his weekly press conferences by beginning with news about the players of the game for the USC rout: Audric Estime on offense; Xavier Watts on defense; and Jadarian Price on special teams.

Freeman’s first response dealt with a question about the mental break for players last week. That brief hiatus came after practicing earlier in the week.

“I was really pleased with those three days of practice. I think they’ll be ready to roll … We have to make sure we’re ready to go and ready to perform on Saturday.”

Asked to compare the Irish’s first four games with the last four contests, Freeman pointed to one simple aspect.

“It’s the execution. We gotta be better on third down, but part of being better on third down is being more efficient on first and second down.”

The idea that clarity among players was a key aspect of the USC win, Freeman offered praise to his defensive coaches.

“The biggest thing for the USC game was they played fast because they were clear on what exactly their expectation was. They were relentless and you gotta give credit to Al Golden, our defensive staff for getting our guys prepared.”

Freeman was asked whether he expects different looks because of Pitt’s in-season lineup changes, especially behind center.

“Obviously with the new quarterback (Christian Veilleux), you really look at what they’ve done all season to now what they’re doing with the new quarterback. Similar, it’s a similar offense but I think the packages might be tailored to what he does well.”

The Notre Dame transfers (C’Bo Flemister and Shayne Simon) now at Pitt led to a question of whether Freeman’s past comments about such departures would trigger any emotions on Saturday.

“It hurts when you see people leave who don’t have their degree. That’s what really hurts. When guys are able to get their degree from this place and go on and look for an opportunity to play elsewhere, I’m so happy for those guys. Both of those guys got their Notre Dame degree and I’m proud of what they’ve done here at Notre Dame and what they’re doing at Pitt.”

The prospect of overlooking a 2-5 Pitt squad was dismissed by Freeman.

“You work too hard to overlook any opponent and the opportunity to play this game on a Saturday. Our guys will be fired up. They’ll be ready to roll in Notre Dame Stadium versus a team you put on the field.”

Jadarian Price’s thrilling kickoff runback against USC earned praise for him after Freeman also offered accolades to the Irish special teams.

“Our kickoff return has been really close. One or two blocks away from opening and taking one back, It happened a couple of times in the USC game. We had some good returns, one or two blocks that kept us from taking it all the way. That last return was huge for our program for that unit, special teams. He is a talented player that we have such a belief in what he’s going to do for this team.”

Freeman offered positive updates about the prospect of Jayden Thomas and Jaden Greathouse contributing on Saturday.

“They’re going to be as close to 100 percent this week than they’ve been all year.”

That led to a question about Deion Colzie’s status and the prospect of integrating Tobias Merriweather more into the offense.

“With Deon, he will probably start some individual (workouts) this week … As far as Tobias … we’ve gotta find ways to get him the ball. We’ve gotta take some shots downfield with Tobias, with his body, his length, his speed.”

Freeman was asked about his expectations about what to expect from Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi.

“I think of tough, I think of physical, I think of aggressive. Especially his defense is something I’ve studied for years going back to my time at Cincinnati.”

Indicating that no changes will be made to the starting offensive line, Freeman also saw the value of bye week practices that allowed for reserves to get more of an opportunity.

“We’ll stay with the five we have. They’ve all been healthy and practiced well. I was good to see some of those young guys, Billy (Schrauth) and Ashton Craig and some of those guys get a lot of meaningful reps in practice.”

Dealing with the possibility of disgruntled players is something that Freeman says is an ongoing process.

“I’ve always challenged our coaches to continually have a conversation with the guys in your room so you know and they know exactly where they stand and why they stand there. I think it’s important that you don’t wait until bye week to have that conversation.”

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  1. “I’ve covered college football for over 40 years, and this is the biggest phenomenon I have ever seen…….five consecutive weeks, owning the sport.
    Sucking all of the oxygen out. Nick Saban is struggling and playing second fiddle. That’s how big this is.””
    —– Paul Feinbaum, ESPN, Sept. 20/23

    “Things are not fine. I don’t like the vibes I’m getting from Coach Prime’s team….I think this club is about to get off the rails.”
    —– Paul Feinbaum, ESPN, Oct. 23/23

    Not even a wig ?!? If ESPN didn’t put you on leave, they should at least provide you a disguise.

  2. Sure beginning to sound like every coaching staff in the Big 10 was suspicious or fully aware of what Michigan was doing. Well…everyone but Michigan.
    So much so, they were taking extra precautions, firing off cryptic public statements, and even alerting the NCAA to their suspicions. And finally, the shit hit the fan.

    So what does ESPN do, seeing one of their marquee broadcast products, and 2023 College Playoff contender ?
    They’ve started today with an “everyone does it, always have” narrative.

    Just hand Michgan the fucking trophy.
    College football can’t get much more dead than it is now.

    1. Like a loser on this board, Sanders screams ‘I will not be ignored!’ :

      “I mean, everybody’s trying to get an edge. Everyone’s trying to get an edge wherever they can. You can have someone’s whole game plan. They could mail it to you. You’ve still got to stop it.”

      Dijon from the Hoodie is dismissing systemic, sanctioned, blatant cheating out of hand. Color me shocked.

      At 4-3, he just has more to learn to get to Harbaugh’s level.
      Give him time. After all, he’s only one year into “building his program”.

  3. There are some interesting new self-revelations here recently by ND fan Jeff.
    Jeff has “come out” as a big defender of Caleb Williams, he of the “Fuck ND” fingernails, delusionally inflamed ego, world-class immaturity, and undetectable leadership qualities.

    And contrasts Williams with Sam Hartman, who he contends is no better than Buchner or Pyne —the 2 QBs who chose to run themselves off with Hartman’s pending arrival (hunh…), and who have gone on to immediately and spectacularly fail at their new destinations.
    In support of his conclusion, Jeff compared ND’s 6-2 record with Hartman to the imagined performance of QBs who won’t ever play another gameday down of organized football in their lives.

    I think it safe to conclude Jeff is debilitatingly stupid, a ND troll, perhaps both.
    I hereby dub thee Jezebel. Joining Rhonda, Donna And Edna as the 4th Mouthketeer.

  4. Saturday picks update:
    Donald 2-0
    Dopey david 0-0 (too pussy to pick)
    Your welcome dopey for my lock pick of the Ohio St. -4.5

  5. Michigan sucks.

    So the Michigan staffer bought at least 30 tickets to Big 10 games in 11 different stadiums over 3 seasons….he forwarded the tickets to 3 different people, and they filmed the home team’s bench on their cell phones for much of the game they attended. You know….like one does!

    A “low level staffer” surely doesn’t make enough money to make gifting VERY good seats to ‘pals’ like some sort of Secret Santa.
    Michigan cheats. And Harabugh is a doosh.
    And the NCAA might get around to slapping their hands on this, and ban some grad assistant for life, in about 2 to 5 years time.

    1. And the dirt keeps comin’!!………

      “….sources told ESPN on Tuesday (Oct. 24) that (Stalions) bought tickets for games at four schools outside of the Big Ten that were either in College Football Playoff contention or playing contenders.

      There also is record of Stalions buying tickets to the 2021 and 2022 SEC title games, sources told ESPN.

      It all starts to make sense…. Harbaugh makes millions, but always buys cheapo khaki pants, and in bulk !?!
      Turns out a lot of his ‘walking around’ money was prioritized on other expenses —– ‘cash only’ stuff.

  6. “As far as Tobias … we’ve gotta find ways to get him the ball. We’ve gotta take some shots downfield with Tobias, with his body, his length, his speed.”
    Here’s the “way” to get him the ball downfield: Teach him a quick move at the line to avoid getting jammed, he then takes off on a go-route, getting separation from coverage with that great ‘speed’ he has.
    The ball will be right on him in no time flat. Well, if the O-LIne can give Hartman the 3 seconds it requires.

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