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Notre Dame Football: Marcus Freeman Updates Media Ahead of NC State Game

Some quick hitters

Tennessee State v Notre Dame Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Notre Dame Fighting Irish football head coach Marcus Freeman checked in with the media Thursday to talk injury updates, the NC State defense and more.

On Thomas Harper’s impact, Freeman said, “You can tell he’s a guy that comes from a lot of experience. We’ve heard really great things when we started recruiting Thomas Harper and he’s done a great job in the nickel position for us; he has a lot of experience. We didn’t see a lot of him in the first game because we weren’t playing a lot of nickel defense, but he’s really done a great job of transitioning from Oklahoma State to here and he’s been practicing at a high level and you gotta continue to get him to keep improving.”

On the status of Devyn Ford, that of Nolan Ziegler and the running back balance, Freeman said, “Devyn will be out; still in concussion protocol from last game. Nolan Ziegler is still continuously dealing with a personal issue... It really relates to mental health, and so, he’s progressing, but he’s just dealing with a personal issue. As far as the running backs room, it’s a talented room that has a lot of guys that can help us. and I love what Coach Deland is doing in terms of having certain packages for certain guys and being able to really use all the positive attributes that they have and again it takes a great coach but a great room to continue to be unselfish because there’s one ball, but everybody’s embracing their role, and really helping our offense perform at a high level.”

On the makeup of the kickoff return without Ford in the mix and solving confusion quickly, Freeman said, “As far as the kick return, you’ll see Jadarian Price back there, you’ll see Jeremiyah Love and some other guys to really fill in for Devyn Ford. As far as defensively... we do a lot of ‘good on good’ situations, which means our offense will be going against our defense, and it’s not game plan-specific so you have to be able to really perform to whatever you see from the team you’re going against, or against in practice, as a defense, they’re really practicing versus what they think NC State will do then all of a sudden you got a ‘good on good’ situation you better work to just playing football and just understanding the scheme... That’s our way of saying everything can’t just be game plan-specific.”

On the Wolfpack defense and NC State defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, Freeman said, “They’re an attacking, aggressive group, and they play extremely hard. That’s something that you don’t always see every week is a group that’s so downhill attacking and aggressive. They pressure from all different ways. Sometimes they might not even be pressuring, but they’re playing so fast downhill that it might seem like a pressure... they do a good job at mixing it up, but we understand that this is gonna be a very aggressive defense... They’re clear on their assignments; we always say ‘clarity equals velocity,’ and those guys play with a lot of velocity. He’s a guy that I’ve respected for many years that has really had good defenses no matter he was at North Carolina State or West Virginia and so as you looked for a defensive coordinator, he was one name that definitely was on my list of names to consider just because of how well he’s performed at multiple different places, and so I have a lot of respect for Tony.”

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