Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman met with journalists Thursday following last weekend’s loss to the Stanford Cardinal and ahead of Notre Dame’s first meeting with the UNLV Rebels. The coach talked about recovery and rethinking the Irish offense.
The Threat of the Rebels
Freeman knows the Irish will have to start fast this weekend and said, “...You see how we started last game with a penalty to start the game and then the second down we had some miscommunication. We can’t start the game that way. We got to start the game effectively. We got to practice those plays often and make sure our guys know exactly what we plan to see and what we’re going to do is an offense. Defensively, I think it’s the mindset of we got to challenge everyone. I think what you look at last game is that defensively, we wanted to feel them out a little bit, feel Stanford out and what they were going to do. We can’t be soft. We got to challenge our opponents. Both sides of the ball have to come out with no mental errors and really focus on challenging the opponent on both sides of the ball.”
Freeman explained that working to contain a left-handed quarterback leads to different defensive changes than working to contain a right-handed quarterback and said, “I think they’re both talented quarterbacks, so to sit here and say that you’re going to change everything… it’s not that. They’re talented quarterbacks with some similar skill sets…” The coach summed it up and said the main goal is to prepare to face both a right-handed QB and a left-handed QB.
Freeman drew from his background on the Cincinnati Bearcats’ staff and said, “Offensively, I don’t know if Aidan Robbins will play, but he’s a guy that I remember when I was at Cincinnati. We recruited him to be a linebacker at Cincinnati and he ended up going to Louisville and transferred. I think he is a powerful running back. Both of the quarterbacks do a good job of taking care of the ball, making good decisions, extending plays. Ricky White is a guy that I know from my time at Cincinnati and we recruited him when I was there.
The Offensive Analyst Question
On talk of bringing on an offensive analyst with a background as a head coach, Freeman said, “I don’t think it’s a vacancy as much as we’re always looking for ways to enhance our program.” The coach said the team investigated this before the season, but a correct fit with the program has been the priority. Freeman said, “Just a couple avenues we looked at and just talked to, it wasn’t going to be what’s right for us and what’s right for those guys that maybe we had talked to and just kind of felt out. It’s not a vacancy where we are looking to fill it. We’re always looking for ways to enhance. If that’s one, two, or three analysts on either side of the ball or special teams, if it’s going to enhance our program, we’ll definitely continue to look into it. But we’re not just looking for a number. We’re not looking for just anybody to fill a spot to help us continue to enhance. It has to be somebody that truly fits this staff and really the direction we’re going.”
The coach said Jayson Ademilola “...is day to day. He’ll be questionable. He has tried to practice a little bit. He hasn’t practiced the entirety of a practice yet like he would normally do on game week, but he’s doing more and more every day. It will really be how much he continues to heal over these next 48 hours. It’s not a bone or it’s not a strain, it’s more just the healing of a muscle in his rib.” Freeman then underscored his main concern is the defensive end’s breathing.
As for cornerback Jaden Mickey following an abductor strain, Freeman said he is “... still questionable. He practiced a little bit yesterday, but he did not practice the entire length of a practice as you would like to see. We’re just trying to be cautious in terms of the volume we have him do. He’s still questionable for the game.”
Freeman said tight end Eli Raridon will “...unfortunately will be out for the remainder of the season. He suffered a non-contact knee injury. He re-tore his ACL that he had torn last year in December. He will have surgery here in the next couple of days. We’ll continue to keep Dr. Ratigan busy.” The coach went on to note Dr. Ratigan had his hands full tending to Kevin Bauman’s and Bo Bauer’s injuries. Freeman also pointed to Mitchell Evans, Michael Mayer, and Holden Staes as the “top three guys” following Raridon’s injury, and to Staes’ “increased role,’’ in particular.
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