On Monday, Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman held court for his weekly press conference. The Irish travel to Las Vegas this week to take on the BYU Cougars in a Shamrock Series matchup. Due to the nature of Vegas, Freeman was asked about the distractions this week, and how the team will operate for the trip.
“We got to do a good job. We’re not going to get out there in time to experience any of the distractions that I think Las Vegas can present. We’re going to get there and in be very strategic on what we do. Go to the stadium, I want them to go see Allegiant Stadium, spend a little bit of time there, go straight to the hotel, have dinner. We’ll have some time together, a normal meeting that we have on Friday nights, and then they’re going to go to bed. We have to remember that our bodies are used to Eastern Standard Time, so we’re going to try to get them to bed at a decent hour and wake them up at a decent hour to get us ready for the game on Saturday.”
“They got the head coach, who will be be doing bed check at 8:30 pacific time on Friday night. So, I’m not too concerned.”
Of course, one of the fun things about a Shamrock Series game is the uniform package for the Irish. Freeman was asked if he thought that the players somehow played better because of how they look in the alternate uniforms. How does Marcus Freeman not know about that drip?
“You sound like my kids. I had two flag football games this week. We got a six year old and an eight year old and they kept talking to me about drip. I said, ‘What is drip, man?’ I don’t know, but it’s a belief in the Freeman kids that they feel like if they have drip, or they look better, that they play better. But you know what, it’s pretty cool. It is cool. As a player, I never had a chance to wear any other jersey than our normal home and away, but I think it’s something that players nowadays, our young guys love it. They love to wear something new, something different. Our kids loved to wear the green jerseys they wore a couple of weeks ago. It might even be a request they said to maybe wear them again. I’m like, ‘Alright guys.’ I don’t think it truly affects the way they play, but you know what, if they look good and they feel good, I’m all for it. So, anything to keep these guys confident, man, if it’s a new jersey, for them to feel good about playing this game, I’m all for it.”
Despite the fact that everything about the game itself is the same — these neutral site matchups are very different from a home game — and almost equally different from an away game. Freeman stated that he’ll lean on what he learned in last year’s Shamrock Series game against Wisconsin in Chicago.
“Well, I think for me probably more than anything was looking back at last year’s Shamrock Series game vs. Wisconsin. versus Wisconsin. At a neutral site but it’s technically a home game for us in Vegas. But I’m sure there’s gonna be a lot of BYU fans there too. Enjoy the experience. That’s what makes Notre Dame unique. It’s the distinction that we have a home game in Las Vegas vs. a great opponent, but don’t distract from what it takes to get the desired outcome. I’ll say it again, it’s just your preparation and the execution... The thing I like about away games is that there’s a lot of times less distractions. You don’t have to really deal with the pregame festivities and recruiting and all of a sudden you kind of really just focus on being there. To me, the approach has to be the same. I know it’s a home game. I think we’re going to be able to have some recruits there even though we can’t interact with them. The approach is still the same and the preparation and taking that field and taking it all in. I got to find out if they’re going to have NFL numbering and stuff like that on the field, because that can be different for the wide outs. The hash marks will be the same, I know that, but the numbering sometimes in NFL stadiums can be different. Just focus on the things that really matter and that’s the execution.”
The bye week’s promary goal each year is to get healthier and to have a chance to do some self-scouting. Freeman gave updates on both fronts.
“When I say physically recovered, there’s certain guys that needed it that were banged up. They needed to recover. Ramon Henderson, DJ Brown, Michael Mayer, they were banged up. A lot of those running backs had played a lot of plays. But for the majority of the group, we had to get better. For Michael Mayer, physically recovering is going to help him get better. But for the majority of the group, we had to go out there and we had to bang and we had to practice with pads on and really get after it. It was a chance for us to, at the end of practice, kind of get some of those young guys to practice some live reps and and really, really develop the core nucleus of our team. We had some really physically challenging practices, but I believe today on Monday, they’re recovered and we’re going to have a great Monday practice.”
“Rob Hunt, our head athletic trainer, texted me this morning that both of them [Ramon Henderson and D.J. Brown] look really good today and expect them to go and practice. Obviously, we still have five days before our game, but I would expect both of those guys to be ready to go.”
“Mitch [Evans] isn’t ready yet. He’s getting closer and closer. If you asked Mitch, he’s ready to go. But you ask the doctors, not quite yet. I hope to see him in another week or two. Cane Berrong is getting better. He’s just starting to practice the entire length of practice. He’s improving.”
“It’s only a four-week span of what you can self scout, so it’s not an extremely large body to really evaluate. But we did. We spent time looking at the things we’ve done well, things we have to improve on, and really, really attacking it. With that, preparing for BYU. We still had to have some periods in practice that were predicated towards preparing for BYU, so it was a little bit of both. But part of that time is self scouting and finding ways to improve.”
You can watch the entire presser below. Freeman goes more in-depth on a number of topics:
- Tobias Merriweather
- Eli Raridon and Hoden Staes
- Benjamin Morrison
- Xavier Watts
And plenty more.