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Notre Dame Football

Freeman outlines spring priorities & why he meets with QBs

March 17, 2022
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It might be Marcus Freeman’s first day of his first spring camp as a head football coach, complete with a staff largely hired by Freeman and a roster already with Freeman’s fingerprints recognizable, but Notre Dame’s new head man has a clear vision of spring goals – mandates? – for the Fighting Irish.

Freeman met media Thursday morning inside Notre Dame Stadium, after the first of the Irish’s 15 spring sessions. Spring concludes with the annual Blue-Gold Game April 23 at 1 p.m.

“I kind of told them this today in the team meeting, I have a vision and identity I want for our team,” Freeman said, “and that's to be a team that can run the ball and stop the run. I believe in our o-line and our d-line being the foundation of our team. I'm excited to see if that can become our identity. That's my vision. I also want to see a team that's aggressive. That's one of our mantras, challenge everything.”

Including, Freeman explained, players’ ability to challenge their coaches.

“What does that mean (to challenge everything)? It means be aggressive, do not play timid, do not play scared, think outside the box offensively and defensively, schematically,” Freeman said. “Be OK with taking chances.

“The second thing is that it's still based off the ‘Gold Standard,’ right? It's that unit strength and I want to see a group of guys that are tough. How do you become tough? How do you get tougher as you sacrifice for the guy next to you. I want to see how much this group is going to be willing to sacrifice for each other.

“The third thing is just the competitive spirit. We have to have a mindset, every drill, every rep, we gotta win, we got to win. If we don't win, we're devastated. But then the next part of that is one play, one life. You'll hear me say that all the time. I don't remember what happened last rep. I don't remember what happened last play. One play, one life, let's move forward. That competitive mindset is extremely important. I want them to focus on each rep.”

NEWS AND NOTES

Freeman said C’Bo Flemister is not with the team but that TaRiq Bracy has elected to finish his career at Notre Dame. Bracy was on the practice field Thursday morning.

Additionally, he pointed to the returning leadership of Avery Davis and Jarrett Patterson as keys to the early foundation of players’ voices, though both players are out this spring recovering from injuries. Tight end Cane Berrong likewise is out for the spring as he continues to rehab.

QB KEYS

The Irish effectively have a two-man battle ongoing at quarterback, between sophomore Tyler Buchner and redshirt-sophomore Drew Pyne.

Freeman outlined the traits he prioritizes as he seeks his first starting quarterback.

“Take care of the football,” Freeman said. “You have to take care of the football. You have to be able to put the football where it belongs. You have to be able to make sure the offense is in the right position to have success.

“Make the right checks, right calls, but also there's a leadership to it. It's the credibility of, hey, I'm the leader of the offense and for the most part, a lot of times the quarterback is the leader of the team.”

While Freeman said he doesn’t necessarily envision a dual-threat quarterback, he does want someone able to avoid sacks and extend plays if protection or other elements break down.

“Obviously, I believe in a quarterback that, yes, makes good decisions, but also has an ability to escape,” he said. “We don't need a dual-threat as much as a quarterback that's able to escape that situation.

“That's the things I'm gonna look for. Who is taking care of the ball, who's making good decisions, who's able to extend plays at times when the pocket maybe fails.”

In seeking to better understand the players presently battling for the top spot, as well as the general nuances of the position and the individuals, Freeman is hosting weekly meetings with all of the Irish signal-callers.

“I'm no quarterback guru; I'm not afraid to admit that,” Freeman said. “My role as the head coach is to let those guys know I understand how difficult a position you all are in. Use me as a resource to help you. That's why every week we spend time together, we have a quarterback meeting with just me and the quarterbacks because I want them to know I'm a teammate.”

 
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