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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame LB JD Bertrand Preparing to Face Explosive Cowboy Offense

December 23, 2021

Notre Dame jumped back into game prep mode this week as the Fiesta Bowl is just over a week away.

The Irish defense will have its hands full as Oklahoma State boasts an explosive run game, a vertical passing game and a quarterback that can beat teams with his arms and legs. 

New Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman has ramped up the level of intensity in practice and that's led to more reps between the first team offense and defense. 

"They're very a dynamic offense with a good running quarterback," Notre Dame linebacker JD Bertrand stated. "Great running backs and great receivers. We definitely need to prepare for that. 

"It's great because we have that kind of stuff and we've done doing a lot of 1s vs. 1s. We see people like Tyler Buchner, who is a little more of a running quarterback, so we get it from our own offense. It's been good in practice to try and simulate those kinds of styles of offense."

The linebacker group probably lost the most with Freeman's promotion as the first-time head coach spends far less time with them. 

Nick Lezynski spent time with the linebackers during the year and is now coaching the unit for the Fiesta Bowl, so there has been zero drop off. 

"It's been good," explained Bertrand. "Coach Nick has always been involved. It's not been a drop off or anything. It is obviously a little different, especially with Coach Freeman coaching on the offensive side of the ball too.

"Overall, it's been good and everyone has been excited. At the end of the day, it's us who need to prepare and make sure we're ready. Our coaches put us in a position to do that, so we're going to make sure we're ready for the game."

Bertrand has also noticed Freeman hasn't changed one bit since taking over the program. 

The lack of change has also given the team even more confidence in Freeman being the right guy for the program. 

"I do see him a little less. He doesn't change," stated Bertrand. "He's just a good person and cares about who we are. He cares about what's going on in our lives and not just football, but outside of the football field - how our grades are and he's been strict on that to make sure everyone finishes strong in the classroom.

"It's been good to see he's not changing who he is. He's still the same person in the day-to-day life."

Notre Dame has also bought into Freeman's Fiesta Bowl message as it's a chance to send the seniors out with a win. 

"Coach Freeman has touched on it, but the biggest thing is finishing out the season for the seniors," said Bertrand. "That's the biggest focus. We're going to make sure we prepare and do all we can to finish strong."

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