With just about any loss, Notre Dame fans and media members tend to overthink everything and try to make sense of the program at large in a big picture sense. To that point, the focus can be on the future, and some of Notre Dame’s future is already on the roster.
The Irish secondary did quite well against Ohio State’s passing attack, and two freshmen cornerbacks impressed fans and Marcus Freeman himself.
“Really good, really positive. Jaden Mickey obviously gave up the one touchdown, but it’s not just on him. There is a whole bunch to it that we have. People look at him and he gave up a touchdown, but there was the pressure that didn’t get home and there were a couple of other things that we got to make sure we get corrected. But to have Jaden Mickey and Benjamin Morrison play and perform at the level they did in that game as true freshmen, they are going to be special. Both of those two players are gonna be special football players for our program for years to come. Coach Mickens did a good job in evaluating those two guys. That’s something coach Mick has done in the past. He is the same guy that evaluated Sauce Gardner when me as a defensive coordinator was like, ‘I don't know,’ and he said, ‘No, this is the guy.’ Same thing with Jaden Mickey. He came in last year and stood on the table, ‘This is the guy. And Ben Morrison, this is the guy.” He’s done a really good job of that. He does a great job of evaluating talent and then developing their skill.”
With Marshall coming up, the natural assumption is that the Irish should roll — and it will give them an opportunity to put even more young players into the mix. According to Freeman, however, the Irish have a challenge on their hands to take care of business after so much focus on the Buckeyes.
“If the opportunity presents itself. Experience is important, but we’re not going into this game thinking, hey, we’re going to be able to play some guys that haven’t been able to play. We’re going in this game ready to go. This is a good Marshall football team that’s going to come in here and be motivated and ready to go against Notre Dame. That’s gonna be the challenge for this group. You spend so many months, so many days, so many hours preparing for this Ohio State game and the emotional aspect of it and how big this game is. We have five days from now until Saturday and the preparation can’t lower. It has to increase. That’s going to be our job as coaches and our player's job is to make sure we’re preparing the right way so that we can go out perform on Saturday.”
One freshman that many thought would see a lot of playing time against Ohio State was WR Tobias Merriweather. The speedster from Washington state never saw the field in Columbus, but most of that was due to being banged up in fall camp.
“He’s continued to progress. I know that partly through camp, it could have been a hamstring or a knee or little injury, the typical camp injuries that prevented him from progressing at a faster rate. He’s got to continue to gain confidence. The coaches got to continue to gain confidence in him in terms of him being able to help our offense. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s going to help us, both between Tobias Merriweather, to both of those freshmen tight ends, at some point that talent will catch up with the execution of what they have to do within our offense. They’re going to help us. How fast that happens will be determined on the execution in practice.”
Freeman had much more to say in the presser including his thoughts on Tyler Buchner, and how this team moves forward.