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Notre Dame Football

Griffith sees competitions bringing out best in Irish, more notes

August 11, 2021

Across three years at Notre Dame, Houston Griffith's seen just about every kind of scenario unfold – both on the practice field and gamedays.

He's got 36 career appearances to back up those hundreds of practice-field scenarios.

Now, the senior safety has a unique perspective on the Fighting Irish's first semblance of a quarterback derby since Ian Book seized command of the post years ago en route to redecorating the program's record books.

“All the quarterbacks are all competing, they're all working hard and they're all trying to make the right plays,” Griffith said after Notre Dame's fourth practice.

“If somebody makes a mistake, nobody's hard on themselves, they're all just working hard and competing so far. It's fun being around them and like I told all the guys, they're all just trying to have fun and just take ownership of the offense. It's not just one guy outworking the others; you're just seeing a lot of chemistry from the quarterbacks.”

Wisconsin graduate-transfer Jack Coan, with 18 career starts in 26 appearances for the Badgers, is widely expected to be named the Irish starter – perhaps as soon as following Thursday's first intrasquad scrimmage, according to head coach Brian Kelly.

Redshirt-freshman Drew Pyne, a former Under Armour All-American, also is getting some reps with the first-team offense while midyear-enrollee Tyler Buchner is working into form after not getting to compete in his senior year of high school due to California regulations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and working into form throughout this summer.

Still, Griffith likes the approach from the group.

“They're all having fun with it,” he said. “If somebody messes up, one of the quarterbacks, they're all getting together and just working out and fine-tuning those small details.

“So it's exciting being out there with all three of those guys.”

And, Griffith, just as Kelly said last Saturday, sees competition bringing out the best in the Irish all over the field.

“There's competition in every position,” he said. “I wouldn't say it's just competition in one position, everybody's just excited to be back here.

“We're playing football again. We don't have COVID or nothing; We're just all excited to be playing football again.”


Senior middle linebacker Drew White looks around on defense and finds veterans aplenty, despite the considerable losses of Butkus Award winner Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Ade Ogundeji and select other contributors.


The Irish bring back White, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, wunderkind Kyle Hamilton, Kurt Hinish, Isaiah Foskey and plenty others.


For those reasons, White believes the defense is where it needs to be or even further along that perhaps expected just a week into camp.


Especially after the extra work Irish defenders logged throughout spring and summer.


“I think we're very far along,” White said. “We have a pretty veteran defense, and so that helped a lot. In the spring, I know whether it was with the coaches or not, there were guys getting together before practice, after practice, in the afternoons, we talk about it: It's the Notre Dame Standard.

“That's the expectation here, when we have a new defensive coordinator. Our players and our guys are going to dive into the playbook, and we're going to become masters of it quicker than, I think, that any other team would be able to. I would say as a defense we're starting to really nail down the defensive playbook.”

By design, Freeman has pushed his defense to the limits with installation across the opening week.

“We have, in the first three practices, we were very strategic as a staff to implement 90% of our base-down defense, first- and second-down defense,” Freeman said.

“Now we've still got third down and we've still got red zone to implement, but we have everything installed. And so I told them, we intentionally wanted to throw everything at them. So when you're out there thinking and we've got all this defense in and they're calling everything, there's going to be some mistakes.”

The next step, Freeman said, which will get a true test of its strength during Thursday's scrimmage, will be how the Irish execute the finer points.

“After Practice 3, I told them, 'It's over. Now it's just situational stuff,'” Freeman said. “I want to see the attention to detail. I want to see the little things and eliminating mistakes and truly understand the pros and cons of everything we do.”

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