Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman met with journalists Thursday following the team’s Shamrock Series victory over BYU. The coach talked injuries, confidence on both sides of the ball, and the game ahead.
Bo Bauer’s Status
“Bo will be out for the year. Sustained a knee injury in practice on Tuesday, which is devastating just because he’s a captain and provides so much… more than just production. Just the energy, the ability to motivate our players, it’s going to be a tremendous loss for us. So, he’s out for the year. TaRiq (Bracy) still would be questioned for the game. He practiced yesterday, and again, I think he’ll go. I hope he’ll go, be able to go, but how long and how much is still to be determined.”
The coach went on to explain how the team must adapt the rotation following Bauer’s injury and said, ”I would think for sure you’ll see more of Prince Kollie, who played really really well last game and he’s a guy we want to continue to try to get on the field more. As for linebacker Junior Tuihalamaka, in particular, Freeman said, “...I think we’ll see more of Junior too. I think you’ll see him play in a couple different packages and increase his role too.” On Linebacker Jaylen Sneed’s place, Freeman said, “...it’s still to be determined. He’s continued to get better. Don’t see him right now being a part of the defensive package yet for this game, but he’s going to have the opportunity, hopefully, as the year goes on to be able to try to play some more.”
Staying Ahead of the Stanford Cardinal
On what he’s observed watching Stanford film, Freeman said, “Listen, the record and the scores do not reflect the team you see. They’re a talented team. Again, as you look at the Oregon State game, they’re up in the fourth quarter and lose by that touchdown at the very end of the game, and they’re a team that’s running the ball extremely hard. They got big, long receivers, offensively, quarterbacks making good decisions. You see the freshman come in and do some different things with his feet. They’re going to be an offense that’s extremely hard to defend. They’re running the RPO really really effectively right now, and so the defense will have their work cut out for them… They’re a physical football team…”
Pass Rush Points
On improving the pass rush and the lack of batted balls, Freeman said “We have to get four-man pass rush. If you have to blitz guys to get pressure on the quarterback, then you’re going to put your defense at a disadvantage. And so, are we improving? Yes. Are we at the standard or level we need to be at? No. We have to continue to improve and I know Coach Washington is working tirelessly to put those guys in positions where we can create more pass rush in terms of ‘Are we going to go straight? Are we going to run some different games and stunts and who is our best pass rusher?’ Just this continuous evaluation of how to put guys in position to have success rushing the quarterback. As far as batted balls, listen, we got to continue to preach it. We have to practice it more in hopes in return, you’ll have some pass deflections. That’s an important part of playing defense is being able to disrupt the ball. If you’re not able to sack the quarterback or truly get a hit on him, you have to try to bat some balls down. That’s an area we have to improve at.”
The Cardinal Offense
On Stanford’s threat, Freeman said, “When you look at the wideouts and the length, they’re tall guys that are good at jump balls. They’re going to throw it up to them. If you get too aggressive, they’re going to run some different routes that try to put you at a disadvantage. I think our DBs are definitely going to be challenged this week in terms of being able to win the 50-50 balls and understand there is no… run game. A lot of the run game is based off an RPO. The corners have to be ready to have the ball thrown their way and be able to win those matchups versus some lengthy receivers.
Drew Pyne’s Mindset
On the QB’s new attitude, Freeman said, “It’s very infectious… Drew Pyne has never lacked confidence. Now that you’re adding the execution with it, that confidence can be infectious towards the whole team and you know that, it’s even more infectious when things go bad and things aren’t going your way. The confident quarterback that everyone believes in is now the one saying everything is going to be okay. When you do have success, he’s the one saying pile it on and this is the way we play. It’s really good to see. You now have some of the execution and production to go along with the confidence that Drew Pynehas always had and that’s what you want out of your quarterback.”
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