Notre Dame Coaching Corner: Highlights from Marcus Freeman’s Monday Presser

Despite having no game this Saturday or for approximately a month, Marcus Freeman offered his thoughts on a variety of topics with the 2023 regular season now concluded. Freeman responded to questions while seated in a campus gym, a stark contrast from the more formalized weekly setting. Below are some of his remarks.

Freeman indicated that he’s not planning on making any coaching changes.

“If it’s up to me and I just told our coaching staff in our staff meeting, have a strong belief in the coaches we have in this football program and would love all of them to be back.”

Knocking down a rumor concerning the possibility of hiring UNLV offensive coordinator Brennan Marion, Freeman expressed a simple sentiment that indicated that Marion doesn’t even appear to be on his radar.

“I don’t know who that is.”

The potential of bowl game opt-out and the future of underclassmen are some of the current realities that Freeman acknowledged.

“Part of the discussions I had with the coaching staff this morning was we do have to have those conversations with the guys in our room about, bowl game, about their future here. Do they plan on coming back? Do they plan on transferring? Do they plan on leaving? That’s a part of college football and we have to have those conversations. We have not yet in terms of who will and who won’t play in a bowl game. Again, I don’t expect every single person to play in this bowl game, that’s just the trend right now.”

About the prospect of again dipping into the transfer portal, Freeman spoke about the necessity of starting the prospect of scouting potential players, including quarterbacks, early.

“You’re always evaluating the top quarterbacks in the country. If you wait until every quarterback enters the portal to say, ‘Okay, let’s evaluate him,’ it’s going to be too late. The time frame of when a young man enters the portal to when they decide which school they’re going to, every second counts and every second matters. So we’ve evaluated a lot of quarterbacks, we’ve evaluated a lot of different positions that could possibly enter the portal that we know would have another year. As those guys enter the portal, we have to make a decision right away, ‘Is this somebody we feel fits our program?

Freeman spoke about having Sam Hartman available to play in the pending bowl game, which Hartman appeared to indicate would happen.

“I plan for Sam to play in the bowl game and when he said that, I think that’s where his head is, too. We’ll have to have a meeting to make sure it’s still there, but again, this is what these conversations are for.

That led to Freeman’s comments about whatever bowl game Notre Dame plays in and whether it matters, considering that the preseason goal of a playoff berth has been eliminated

“I would hope it doesn’t. The reality is that some people say, ‘Well, we’re not playing in the playoffs or for a national championship, why would I play.’ But I’m pretty sure after the Louisville game that we probably aren’t going to make the playoffs with two losses and I appreciate these guys who continue to commit to this football program and to their teammates to continuously finish out this season. That’s my message to all of our players that we’ll meet is, Game 13 is no different than any game after we lost to Louisville. This is about finishing off this season with your football team and that’s my message to them.”

Freeman, his staff and the Notre Dame players will find out exactly which bowl they’ll play in on Sunday when all of the bowl game placements will be announced. Two potential bowl possibilities have been noted as the top contenders, with the Reliaquest Bowl in Tampa, Fla. on New Year’s Day appearing to be the early favorite. This was formerly known as the Outback Bowl.

Another bowl mentioned was the Pop Tarts Bowl in Orlando, Fla., which the Irish played in against Iowa State in 2019, when it was known as the Camping World Bowl. In that clash, Notre Dame picked up an easy 33-9 victory to finish 11-2 on the year.

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  1. Interesting that Parker is staying and Stuckey is not. You wonder who called that one. And does it have indicate where the weakness is? Not sure. Parker didn’t trust a good run game against decent opponents but only the weaker ones. Hard to consider when the OLine was supposed to be so great.

    So it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out. College football is nuts.

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