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Notre Dame Football: Marcus Freeman prepares to stop a new Navy triple-option

Efficiency is still the key

Notre Dame v Navy Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Marcus Freeman took the podium for his first game week press conference of the Notre Dame football season, and there were a lot of words. Naturally, the first presser of the season is half that — but also half of the finality of fall camp. There were a lot of big picture questions and roster management questions, but we’re going to focus on the game at hand and what Freeman had to say about playing Navy in Dublin, Ireland.


Tomorrow will really be a Thursday practice in our minds in terms of how long we’ll be out there. And then Wednesday will be a normal Wednesday practice and the thought is to truly get after it Wednesday. I want them pretty tired as we get on this flight Wednesday night to fly over to Dublin.

We’ll land in Dublin Thursday morning, kind of go to the hotel, we’ll get unpacked, and keep our guys up. We’re going to keep them up, do some walkthroughs and stuff at the hotel, then we’ll go and we’ll practice on Thursday. And then Friday will be a little bit more intense.

I feel really good about the plan. We talked to a lot of different organizations that have kind of done similar trips and we felt like this was the best one.

Marcus Freeman may feel good about this plan, but jet lag is different for everyone, so we’ll see how this goes. I’m not really worried about the effect on this Saturday nearly as much as I am about next Saturday.

We should avoid anything they did in 2012, because that Purdue game was rancid.

I don’t know if the 2012 team stayed the night. If they didn’t stay the night, if they came back right after the game whereas we’re going to stay the night, get up early in the morning and fly back. So, I’ve always been told coming west, you should be better because you’re gaining hours.

So, I’m less concerned with the trip back. But still, everything’s been planned out to the minute. What time we’re leaving, when we’re getting back, what are we doing when we get back. All those things have been planned out to the minute. And then you’ve got to think about the next week of practice, right?

And understand there still is going to be some fatigue when you travel from a different country back to here in Indiana. So, that has been taken into consideration in terms of the practice schedules for the following week.

How do we make sure that we’re able to get out what we need but take into consideration it’s going to be a full week of school, we played in a different country the previous Saturday, and we have to be ready to perform.

Again...let’s look at the end result. We have to be ready to perform Saturday at 2:30. I don’t know if it’s 2:30 or 3:30, whatever time we play here. Okay, now, how do we make sure we have a plan that our guys feel physically ready to perform that next Saturday?

A new Navy

Navy is still going to run the triple-option offense moving forward despite Coach Ken moving on.

I’m looking forward to get a chance to meet Coach Newberry. He’s done a heck of a job as a defensive coordinator for Navy, really respect what he’s done. They’ve been really good on defense, and now it’s his transition to being a head coach. I’m sure they take after the head coach.

I’m expecting to see a very aggressive, talented football team that plays extremely hard. They’ve shown that on film. Looking forward to the challenge, obviously, you have a new offensive coordinator. So that presents another challenge in itself.

So, looking forward to that opportunity, and truly grateful for the opportunity to play them. It’s the 96th time we’re playing them.

And when you play triple-option, you might not ever make a tackle with a guy on the ball, but you have to do your job, and it’s something that is extremely difficult. Now, you’re going against a coordinator that, like, we got to watch Kennesaw State, that’s not what Navy did last year.

And so, we have to prepare for a lot of different things that we might see. And so, it will be a challenge. We have a great plan. I love the plan that coach Golden has come up with and we’re doing defensively.

But it’s the ability to recognize, ‘Okay, what is this offense trying to do?’ And then jump into that game plan.

It’s kind of important to know that Navy hasn’t been great in its season-openers over the years and that was under a well established system. How precise and dialed in will they be with a newer version of the option?

Control — control — you must learn control

Okay Yoda. Every time Notre Dame plays Navy we have the conversation about controlling the clock and scoring efficiency.

Yeah, it’s we’ve got to be efficient, right? We cannot go three and out. Right? We’ve got to take care of the ball. And if all of a sudden we go three and out, as you look at last (year’s game in the) second half, the first couple of drives, the three and out, and then we had an interception.

Listen, the time of possession (for Navy) last year in the second half was tremendous, and an advantage to them. And so, we have to be efficient on offense. We cannot have negative yardage plays, and we cannot go three and out.

The prep

While playing Navy in the first game of the season may come off as a very good thing, my argument is — why play them at all? Why waste any practice time to play a team that does nothing for the goal fo playing for a national championship? But... Freeman can’t say that.

We’ve been able to prepare from spring ball to parts of the summer to parts of fall camp and then obviously two weeks to prepare for Navy, just strictly Navy. And it’s a tremendous advantage to play Navy the first game of the year because the preparation that entails getting ready for them is obviously lengthened.

The non-2022 second half QB

Obviously... Sam Hartman will likely make things easier to control as an efficient quarterback.

Yeah, really good defense, right? I’m a coach that always comes up here and says, ‘We’ve got to be able to run the ball! Run the ball,’ because that opens up things in the passing (game). At times, you can’t run the ball versus them because they have more people than you can block.

And so, we have to be able to utilize different formations and utilize our pass game at times to open up the run, hopefully. And so, very challenging defense. You guys might not see it, but we almost look at their defense like we look at their offense.

It’s something you won’t see every week. You don’t see this type of defense often in college football. And so, it presents a big challenge that we’ve been preparing for for months.

What Sam does, I think, is presents a level of maturity that he’ll know the game plan, he’ll know the things he’s looking for. But the moment won’t be too big for him. He’s played in a lot of big games. And so, I believe that he’ll put our offense in the right position to be successful.

Full Presser

You can watch the full presser in the video below.