Notre Dame Football head coach Marcus Freeman provided his weekly update to journalists Thursday following a blow to the Irish confidence in the form of a 33-20 loss to the Louisville Cardinals. Ahead of the USC game, the coach talked about the aggression of Notre Dame’s rival, the Trojans’ running game and the stumbling blocks of last week.
On the threat of USC’s running game, Freeman said, “It’s a challenge… they’ve got… good running backs, a good offensive line, a good scheme, so, we’ve got to be able to stop the run and we’ve got to do it in different ways, and I think success with defense always starts with being able to stop the run, and so, we’ve been practicing it and we feel like we have a great plan for it.”
Freeman said of the Trojans’ defense, “I think they’re aggressive. They have a good scheme. I know some of the stats might not say, but they’ve been really good, and they’re aggressive, as I said, and they got athletes all over the field, and those guys at the front, they put a lot of pressure on the quarterback in the pass game, and so, I know our offense has got a great challenge ahead of them.”
On Irish quarterback Sam Hartman’s leadership as a student-athlete and role as an asset to execution on the field, Freeman said, “I think the biggest thing with Sam is he’s consistent. He’s experienced; he’s been through wins and losses, and so, he continues to be the same person, the same leader, and what happens the week before does not affect the way Sam approaches preparation and approaches leadership, so I’ve been really pleased with what he’s done in terms of every single week of preparation and leadership amongst our offense.”
On the second half stumbles involving Irish running backs Audric Estime and Gi’Bran Payne, Freeman said, “They brought two backers; they were aggressive. It wasn’t a look we haven’t seen. We just have to make sure we ID the guy that is coming, we play square with fundamentals and we get the guy blocked. It’s two guys for two guys and we overemphasized blocking one guy and we let the guy run free... It’s just making sure we are clear with our details of what your responsibility is...” Freeman went on to summarize, “Those were the two issues on that play; it was IDing the right guy and making sure that we play with the correct fundamentals so that we can get our jobs done.”
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