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Notre Dame Football: Marcus Freeman Updates Media Ahead of Cal Game

It’s all about a “critical eye.”

NCAA Football: Marshall at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman checked in with the media Thursday following last week’s loss to the Marshall Thundering Herd. Freeman kept the focus on execution, moving forward, and the Irish “critical eye.”

Jarrett Patterson: Pain and Practice

On the status of the Irish offensive lineman as he heals from a foot injury, Freeman said, “He’s been great. He’s had a great week of practice. I don’t know if I can sit here and say that he feels a hundred percent. This will be something over time that he’ll feel better and better as time goes on, but he’s a warrior and he really really competed his tail off last week and had a great week of practice; he’s been a great leader for our group. I expect him to play really well on Saturday.”

48 Hours to Game Day

On the Irish coaches preparing following frustration and ahead of a fresh start, Freeman said, “I think the game plans are in, and now it’s about really making sure that we know exactly what we want to get done and our players know exactly what we’re looking for and so, we just had a meeting, and as I told those guys, it’s about us as coaches making sure our players know exactly what we want, why we want it, and have the ability to go out there and execute it. And so, if there’s any gray area from now until Saturday, throw it out; condense the packages, but this is gonna be about making sure that we give our players the best opportunity to go out there and have success with the ability to go out and execute because they know exactly what they’re doing and what we expect from them.”

Taking on the Cal Defense

On the Golden Bears’ unique threat, Freeman said, “They give you a couple different looks. They’ll play three down, but they’ll also get to some four down.” Freeman pointed out Cal’s “house” of a nose guard, Ricky Correia, and said, “He is going to be hard to move and they’re an aggressive unit.” He went on to say Cal linebacker Jackson Sirmon, being the Golden Bears’ defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon’s son, “knows exactly what is expected and I’m sure he’s the quarterback of that defense.”

Recalibrating the Defense

On what goes unrecognized in training camp and then gets exposed in season play, Freeman said, “I think it’s going against a different opponent. When you practice twenty something days against the same opponent, you slowly start to figure each other out and what things are good and what things are not. All of a sudden, you face an opponent and say... there was a lack of execution on this play at this position, and that’s what to me what you have to see as you go throughout the season. You’re really got to take a deep dive and honest and realistic look at ‘what are the issues?”

He went on to explain this is the main message he’s trying to send to players and coaches and said, “We can’t let the outcome dictate the critical eye we must have as we evaluate the games, and in practice. Sometimes, we let the result of a play or the result of a game kind of mask the reality of what’s going on in terms of play by play or position by position.”

Focus on the Fourth Quarter?

On keeping a strategic perspective considering the emphasis on the fourth-quarter GPS numbers, Freeman said, “I think if you looked at the Oklahoma State game, you looked at Ohio State game, even if you looked at Marshall game, you could kind of get distracted by the fourth quarter and say ‘Okay, we didn’t finish.’” Freeman admitted that’s how he reacted to the Oklahoma State and Ohio State games, but adopted more of a “big picture focus” following the Marshall game.

Freeman said, “The GPS numbers don’t tell us a great story in terms of why we didn’t win the game. But to me, it’s more so throughout the entirety of the game, where are the plays that we’re not executing that really can dictate outcome. It’s not just the fourth quarter.”

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