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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame, Freeman Not Content Trusting the Process Entering Game Seven

October 20, 2022

It’s been a season of highs and lows for Notre Dame. 

There has been coach speak and emphasis on various areas as the Irish haven’t put together a complete four quarters just yet, but head coach Marcus Freeman wants his team to start fast this weekend as UNLV comes to South Bend. 

Notre Dame has emphasized starting practice and drills with a greater sense of urgency and the final piece will be the mentality to start fast on Saturday. 

"One, it's a mentality,” stated Freeman. “I told the team and staff - we're not judged off a mentality, but you have to have the right mindset because that will dictate your actions and how we start the game. We have to come out of the locker room ready to go with the right mentality.” 

How does Notre Dame do that? It starts on the offensive side of the ball as the Irish managed just 14 points last weekend against a poor Stanford defense. 

"We have to give our offense some confidence plays - some easy drive starters,” said Freeman. “Some plays where there aren't multiple decisions. There is going to be one thing we want you to do. We have to try to look for easy completions, be able to run the ball and establish the run play and have no self-inflicted wounds.” 

Tommy Rees’ offense certainly didn’t start fast against Stanford as the Irish opened the game with a penalty on first down and then Chris Tyree was stopped for one-yard loss. Notre Dame faced a 2nd-and-16 seconds into the game and that’s not a recipe for success regardless of the opponent. 

"You saw how we started the last game with a penalty to start the game,” explained Freeman. “Then we had some miscommunication. We can't start the game that way. We have to start the game effectively. We have to practice those plays often and make sure our guys know exactly what we plan to see and what we're going to do on offense.” 

When it comes to defense, Freeman wants to see Al Golden’s group assert itself earlier in the game and set the tone for the next 60 minutes. 

"Defensively, it's a mindset of we gotta challenge,” Freeman said. “When you look at the last game, defensively, we wanted to feel them out a little bit. Feel Stanford out and what they were going to do. We can't be soft. We have to challenge our opponents.” 

Losing to a 1-4 team at home in a rivalry game is never easy, especially at Notre Dame. 

Yes, there were always going to be growing pains with a new head coach and a first-time head coach, but now it’s time for the Irish program to show life and more importantly, improvement. 

“We took a blow as an entire program Saturday and Sunday,” explained Freeman. “What we had to do is, as the leader, you got to get up there and say, it's OK, we got to turn this negative situation into a positive one. This has to, somehow, some way, help our program move forward. T

“Then part of it is me getting in front of the room and saying this had to happen. This had to happen for us to get better. The only way we're going to get better is to learn from it. The only way we're going to get better is to fix the issues that you see happening.” 

Sure, Freeman’s message is what head coaches say after a loss, but there is some merit to it as he puts his stamp on the program and tries to get the ship in the right direction. 

“That whole adage of just trust the process and it's going to get better, that's not the way we're going to do things,” said Freeman. “We're going to evaluate and fix the process. We're going to fix things and you know what, I believe it was a great two days of practice.

“Today is hopefully going to be another good day of practice. Let's build on the corrections and the good things we've done in the past in hopes that Saturday we go out and we execute and we do a better job and we play better.” 

Freeman provided updates on Notre Dame defensive lineman Jayson Ademilola (ribs) and cornerback Jaden Mickey (abductor strain). 

"Jayson, right now is day-to-day,” stated Freeman. “He'll be questionable. He tried to practice a little bit, but he hasn't practiced the entirety of a practice like he would normally do on game week. He's doing more and more every day. It will really be how much he continues to heal over these next 48 hours. 

"It's not a bone. It's not a strain. It's more just the healing of a muscle in his rib. The ability for him to take deep breaths. That's my biggest concern is his wind. It's not getting hit, but it's his capacity to breathe and his lungs. Anytime you have a rib injury that affects the way you breathe.

"Jaden Mickey is still questionable. He practiced a little bit yesterday, but again, did not practice the entire length of practice as you'd like to see. We're just trying to be cautious in terms of the volume we have him do." 

It was also announced by Freeman that freshman tight end Eli Raridon would miss the remainder of the season. 

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