Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman was blunt following yesterday’s surprising loss to Marshall in his home debut as the head coach of the Fighting. Freeman said that everyone, starting with the head coach, needed to look at themselves to dig Notre Dame out of the hole they are now in after losing to a team they were nearly a 20-point favorite over.
“We all have to look at ourselves, starting with the head coach on down and say, okay, what do I have to do, what do we have to do to fix the issues that we’re having, and not just focus on the end result, Freeman said. “We have to look at the lack of execution in all phases of our team and where we can improve.”
“We’ve got to take a hard look at ourselves and get back to work and find ways to improve as a football team,” Freeman added.
When they look at themselves, they will see there’s room to improve in almost every phase of the game after losing at home to a team like Marshall which will go down as one of the worst losses in modern program history. At Notre Dame, you aren’t supposed to lose to a 20-point underdog at home under any circumstance.
On the lack of execution possibly related to being unprepared.
No, I thought it was a good week of preparation. That’s something we’re going to have to go back and evaluate and say, okay, we thought it was a good week of preparation, but it didn’t roll over to the game. So let’s go look at our preparation and say, okay, where can we enhance the way we prepare to make sure that we’re finding a better way to execute.
On if his own inexperience played a role in Notre Dame’s loss
I don’t know if it’s my experience as a head coach. I don’t know if that’s a reason why or a lack of execution. But it starts with me. It starts with me as a head coach and looking at myself and saying, what do I have to do to help this football team and really look at everything we’re doing, because the performance isn’t where we need it to be.
On Notre Dame’s lines falling short the last two weeks:
We’re not close enough. If you can’t stop the runner, get after the quarterback when it’s crunch time, if you can’t run the ball and protect the quarterback when it’s crunch time, we’re not where we need to be. But if we want to be the program we all aspire to be, we’re going to have to be an O-line and a D-line driven program. That’s not going to change. But we’re not where we need to be. We know that.
On the offensive line specifically
I think it’s at all three levels. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s the offensive linemen’s fault. It’s from offensive line to quarterback to running back to wide outs to tight ends. There’s multiple different levels of lack of execution.
But again, we are an O-line driven program. I’ve said that, and it starts up front, and we know at every position we’ve got to improve, but at O-line, too.
On leaning on his leaders in times like this:
Yeah, I challenged the leaders. I challenged them, because right now is going to be a difficult time because there’s two situations going to happen. There’s going to be people that say you aren’t good enough, you guys aren’t a good enough team, and there’s going to be people that say, it’s okay, you did your job. Neither of those things can creep into our program.
On allowing another 95 yard drive in the 4th quarter in a close game
The biggest thing was a lack of tackling. It’s too many times where run or pass we didn’t get the ball carrier down. You can’t let an offense drive 95 drive at any moment, but especially not in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line and you’re up and you’re trying to put the game away.
Our special teams unit put the ball in a great field position, and we have to when it matters the most. When it matters the most, we have to execute, and that’s at the end of the game in fourth quarter when the game is on the line. We’ve got to find a way to get a stop and we’ve got to tackle and we’ve got to execute better.
On what he needs to do specifically to help the team
I’ve got to be a leader. I’ve got to be a leader. I can’t sit here and point the fingers at any one person. You start with pointing your finger at yourself and saying, hey, I’m going to evaluate myself first as the leader of this program and say, okay, where can we improve. And then we’ve got to challenge everything we’re doing. We can’t say, okay, guys, just keep doing it the same way and things are just magically going to improve. No, we’ve got to be very strategic and honest with ourselves and honest with each other, which isn’t comfortable all the time, but we have to be honest and really take an unbiased look and say, okay, are we doing what’s best for this team, do we have the right people on the field, are we schematically doing the things that it takes to have success, because two entire games it hasn’t shown.
On captain Jarrett Patterson being visibly frustrated at the end of the game
You know, an ultimate competitor. When you’re a competitive person, man, your emotions when you lose can take control of you, and I didn’t see it, but I’m sure that’s the case. So as I said to the guys in the locker room, that’s when we need our leadership the most, when things are at the toughest moments, no matter if it’s starting off 0-2, no matter where we go from here.
When it matters the most in those toughest and hardest moments, that’s when your leadership has to come out. This won’t be the last time Jarrett Patterson is in a situation where he’s disappointed, and he has to continue to understand that that’s where you have to be a leader and you have to make sure that everybody is watching you.