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Notre Dame Football

Marcus Freeman Gives Injury Report, Discusses Targeting & QB Depth

September 4, 2023

Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman had the first major injury report of the season on Monday afternoon as he announced reserve receiver Matt Salerno was expected to miss significant time following Saturday’s contest with Tennesee State. 

“Matt Salerno had a lower leg injury,” stated Freeman. “He’ll be out for an extended period of time. Multiple weeks. I don’t know really when he’ll be back. He definitely had an injury from the game.”

The former walk-on has made seven catches for 67 yards and one touchdown during his career at Notre Dame, which included a circus catch in the season-opener in 2022 at Ohio State. 

Salerno’s production can be replaced, but his leadership and presence on the practice field will be missed in a room full of young players. 

On the defensive side of the ball, Freeman expects freshman linebacker Drayk Bowen to be available this week after going through concussion protocol last week. 

Defensive lineman Gabe Rubio will also be out this week, but Freeman is hopeful the St. Louis native will return to the lineup sooner than later. 

“Gabe Rubio is still out,” said Freeman. “He had an arthroscopic surgery, so he should be back in another couple weeks.” 

Freeman was also pleased with how his interior defensive linemen stepped up last week in Rubio’s absence, especially Jason Onye and Donovah Hinish. 

“I think they did a great job. Howard Cross III and Rylie Mills both played really well, winning performances. Jason Onye probably has played his best overall game since he started playing for us. And Donnie Hinish played well.

“I think we're going to need those guys with the absence of Gabe for another probably week or two. You're going to need those guys to continue to perform at a high level. I think our defensive tackles have done a great job.” 

Running back Devyn Ford’s status won’t be known until late this week as he recovers from a helmet-to-helmet hit. 

“Devyn Ford had a concussion,” Freeman said. “He’s in concussion protocol. Don’t know the status yet. That will be a day-by-day thing.”

The hit on Ford has been topic of discussion over the last 48 hours as there wasn’t a flag for targeting thrown. Freeman believes it was targeting, but admitted it’s a tough call to make either way. 

“The explanation I got was it was with the forehead and not the crown of the head,” explained Freeman. “Those types of plays I’m sure they’re really hard to call as a referee, but we have to coach where is the strike zone, don’t launch and make sure you’re not hitting with the crown of your head.” 

Freeman also agreed of the targeting flag thrown on Notre Dame safety Antonio Carter II. Carter was ejected in the second quarter, so he won’t miss time this weekend and Freeman will use it as a teaching lesson.   

“It was,” stated Freeman. “He hit with the crown of his head. He’s got to keep his head up and not launch. I often tell our coaches the same thing I tell our players, we can complain about it and disagree, but within the rules of the game make sure we’re not getting thrown out of the game. 

“You coach them by saying don’t launch and keep your head up.”

QB2 and QB3 Impress 
Notre Dame quarterback Steve Angeli finally got his chance to run the offense on Saturday as the New Jersey native started the second half for the Irish. Angeli impressed his head coach by going 8-of-11 for 130 yards and two touchdowns. 

“For Steve Angeli to go out and perform the way he did, I was extremely pleased,” explained Freeman. “I know we kind of talked about it after the game, It was hard to have a great feel right after the game, but to go back and watch it, and see some of the execution he made in terms of the checks. There was a third-down corner pressure. He checked it right out to Jayden Thomas. It was awesome to see him do that.

“Some of the balls he threw and a couple hits he took, that's the guy that sticks out my head that was, 'Man, you don't know when you're going to need Steve Angeli, but we're going to need him.” 

Freshman quarterback Kenny Minchey also made his debut for the Irish as he finished 2-of-2 for 12 yards in limited reps. It might seem small to get Minchey five plays, but it’s five plays the Tennessee native can stash away and learn from. 

“Kenny Minchey did a good job in his five plays,” said Freeman. “He's 100 percent on completions right now. That's pretty good. We will need multiple guys throughout the course of the season and to get them valuable, meaningful reps is so important.” 

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