After Notre Dame’s 26-21 loss to Marshall, Irish head coach Marcus Freeman went up to the podium to face the music. Rather than celebrating his first win as the head coach as Notre Dame, he was forced to take some tough questions about his third loss in a row with Saturday’s unfortunate results being in the category of embarrassing.
From start to finish, Freeman’s main theme was that execution was a big problem, and that he and his staff will have to reassess almost everything.
“It’s disappointing that we didn’t execute. I mean, it comes down to execution. We did not execute the way we obviously needed to to win this game. And so, we have to look at ourselves as individuals. I just told the team that. 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.”
“We have to look at the lack of executions in all phases of our team, and where we can improve that. So, again, it’s disappointing. We’ve got to take a hard look at ourselves and get back to work and find ways to improve as a football team.”
“You continue to reassess, right? You look at personnel, you look at scheme, you look at where are the mistakes happening? That’s the biggest thing. Okay, where’s the lack of execution and mistakes occurring, and why? And then we’ve got to figure out, okay, what do we need to do to make sure those things stop happening? Because that’s what it is. Right? It’s the lack of execution.”
“Yes, when it matters the most. But throughout the entire game, there’s moments where there’s a lack of execution for whatever reason it is, and we’ve got to look at those moments say, ‘Okay, what do we have to do to fix the personnel? Is it understanding what we’re doing schematically? Is it the preparation?’ Whatever it is, we have to figure out and we have to address it.”
Of course this team refection includes Freeman himself, but his answer really involved more of him trying to find the answers rather than what he is specifically doing or not doing. He made it pretty clear though that we may see a shakeup in terms of personnel choices wherever they may be.
One of those spots that might open up is at quarterback. Tyler Buchner was hurt on a play in the 4th quarter when his shoulder was smashed into the ground by a Marshall defender, and Drew Pyne had to finish the game as the signal caller. Freeman was asked about Buchner’s health after the game:
“We’ll assess that. I can’t tell you right now. I felt really good with the game plan going in. And we didn’t produce the results that we wanted to. And so, we got to look and see. We got to say, ‘Is there too much on his plate? Are we asked him to do too much? And that’s going to be a part of what we do.”
There are unconfirmed whispers that Buchner’s injury could be significant and might also mean season-ending. I’m sure we will find out at least a little more in the coming days.