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Notre Dame Football

Marcus Freeman's Effort Impressing Notre Dame Defense & Bo Bauer

March 29, 2021

It's never ideal to have a coordinator change and especially not in what could be your final year in college. 

Defensive Coordinator Marcus Freeman has impressed the fanbase on the recruiting trail, but he's done the same with senior linebacker Bo Bauer and his defense by investing into their lives away from The Gug. 

"He's more of a loose and free guy who just wants to have fun," said Bauer. "It didn't seem like such a tense atmosphere. He just tries to have a fun way of going about it. We're still working and we're challenging ourselves, but he looks at each person and have meaningful conversations. 

"He reaches out and asks me about my undergrad degree. He's asking me about my grad school ambitions. He's been able to reach out and talk to me more about things that weren't football and asked about my family. He's done a good job of being interested in all parts of our lives. He's just been able to reach out and really show interest in myself. He just brings this spirited attitude every day to practice and our meetings. It gets everyone in the linebacker room going." 

On the field and in The Gug, Bauer has also been impressed with Freeman coaching style. 

"Coach Free is a great coach," Bauer stated. "I really love that he's been part of our unit. He's very effort-oriented and that's one of the first things we have to talk about. He always wants high effort from us. 

"At the end of the day, he wants us to play football and be free. It's just kind of nice to play free and know that even if things don't go exactly as planned, our effort and attitude will take over." 

The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder has great respect for former defensive coordinator Clark Lea, but the Bauer is also excited at what Freeman's scheme could mean for the Irish defense. 

"Coach Lea is a great coach," said Bauer. "He asked us to know a lot of different rules and be very detailed oriented, which is important to our process, but sometimes it was difficult to play with your natural instincts. It was a really good time for me to be able to learn how to be part of a unit and do one job, so that was very important in my growth.

Lea admitted he had to dial back the defense following the Florida State game in 2020 as there were too many details for the Irish to play fast or even get the call to the field. 

A simpler scheme will help, but it could also allow Bauer to thrive individually. 

"I do think it might be easier this year to learn both positions," Bauer said of Mike and Will. "Coach Free has already been teaching people all the positions. They're all interconnected and it's important to know what the other people are doing for your own position.

"Just based off that, I think it's a bit easier because he's teaching it already. There's less complexity, maybe, in making calls and changing things right before the snap. It's more just knowing the rules and knowing how to execute at the end of the day." 

The Pennsylvania native is also excited to do a little cross-training this spring while also being willing to play whatever role Freeman has for him. 

"I'm starting at Mike, but he says he wants everybody to learn different positions," explained Bauer. "Hopefully, I'll be learning Will very soon, so I have that diversity of two positions.

"I want to do what's best for the team. I'm super excited to contribute to my team on the field in any way. If my coaches feel it's best for me to play Will or Mike, I trust in their judgment. I'm excited to be a participant and play this year." 

Teaming Bauer up with Drew White on the inside is intriguing and just one of the many combinations Freeman can roll out. Marist Liufau, Jack Kiser and Shayne Simon all made big plays from the Will position a year ago. 

It's an exciting time in the linebacker room, as there will be healthy competition across the board this spring. 

"At the end of the day, I'm just going to try my personal best and know I won't have regrets and leave it all on the field," Bauer stated. "I'll let Coach Freeman and Coach Kelly make that decision and see what's the best for the team. 

"I'm here to serve those on my team, so that we do the best this season. I would not want any selfishness taking away from the team." 

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