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Notre Dame Football

Postgame Transcript | Notre Dame HC Marcus Freeman

October 1, 2023
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Transcript of Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman’s meeting with the media following the Irish’s win over Duke.

OPENING STATEMENT

“I just told the team, 'I'm so proud of you.' I'm proud of the way they truly focused this week on improvement. It was a rough week and everybody knows that, but they continued to battle and then to win that game the way we did, it's not how you want it on the front end, right? You don't want it to come down to a 4th and 18 or whatever it was. But that's a sweet victory because what I told them last week is great teams find a way to win when it matters the most. They find a way to execute when it matters the most. We were on the opposite side this week. We had a chance to execute and we did it and I'm proud of this group. Yeah, there's a lot of cleanups. There's always a lot to clean up, but for those guys to keep battling, keep believing, it's a great feeling for a coach to feel.”

WHAT ARE YOU THINKING GOING INTO FINAL DRIVE?

“When Sam Hartman's your quarterback, you have a lot of faith. He's been in those moments. He's not a first-time quarterback. The moment wasn't too big for him in the end. I don't want to just give correct to one person, but the plays he made on that series were huge. The ability to pull that ball down and run for it. I truly believe in my heart, he learned from last week on 4th and one, when we thought we got it and didn't. There can't be a maybe in that situation. So I don't care if it's 4th and 1 or 4th and 18, if you're going to take off, you have to make sure you get the first down.”

HOW MUCH OF IMPACT DID MISSING WIDE RECEIVERS HAVE?

“Obviously with injuries to three guys now in that room, we didn't have much depth. Braylon James is close, he's getting there, but he just wasn't ready today. What you see over the course of the game, if you can't rotate wideouts, you get tired. I'm so proud of the gutsy performance that they did have out there. For Rico to catch that two-point conversion, they continue to battle. But yeah, we would think we need those guys to get back for next week.”

TALK ABOUT WHAT HOWARD CROSS & MITCHELL EVANS BROUGHT

“These last two games, it's a reflection of how (Evans) practices. He practices at a high level. And so what you see is if you continuously practice at a high level, those are going to be the things you do in the game. So he's done a great job, he's a threat force. He's a guy we can throw the ball to and believe he's going to make a play.

“We didn't roll as many d-lineman last week and when I challenged these guys, 'If you're going to be in there, we're going to have great effort and we've got to keep rolling the guys keep you fresh.”

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO GROUP BEFORE LAST DRIVE?

“What happened before this series doesn't matter. We'll get the rest of that stuff cleared up. I said right there and I heard a couple of them say in the timeout, 'Just win this play.' And that's what they ended up doing.”

HOW DO YOU PROCESS THE LAST MINUTE OF THE GAME?

“What we can't do is let the outcome cloudy our eyes from the mistakes we've made, right? We have to make sure we're as aggressive in cleaning up our mistakes and attacking our mistakes and learning from them and realizing why we've made those mistakes as we were last week. Sometimes the feeling of victory can make you say, we know we should have did something different, but we continue to have to attack everything we do and figure out why we weren't as successful as we wanted to be. But also want them to figure out, hey, what do we do in that last series to make sure that we finished this game with a victory?”

DECISION TO RUN ESTIME ON FINAL PLAY

“We were drawing it up to really run the ball, get the clock down, call timeout and kick the game-winning field goal. It's a great coaching point because we practice that, that we probably should go down, right? People go, 'Hey, don't take points off board it.' You probably should go down right there at the one-yard line and kick a field goal from the one-yard line and win the game that way. Great teaching opportunities, but I'm glad scored and I'm glad we won.”

DID YOU SENSE EMOTIONAL TOLL FROM LAST WEEK IN PRE-SNAP PENALTIES?

“No. A couple of those pre-snap penalties, three of them I think were - give due credit for the crowd. We were trying to go on clap, we were trying to go on first sound and it was pretty loud out there. Whenever we travel, we've got to prepare for. We've got to do a better job there. Some of the other pre-snap penalties we've got to fix, right? We've got to clean up lining up offsides, that happened twice that day and some of the pre-snap penalties that we self-inflicted. I don't know if it's details, we've got to fix it though. That's the reality. We've got to fix it.”

DID YOU GET EXPLANATION FOR PUNT THAT WAS RULED A TOUCHBACK?

“They said it looked like the ball went over the top of the pylon.”

HOW CLOSE WAS JADEN GREATHOUSE TO PLAYING?

“It was a hamstring that happened during practice was. He was going to try to warm up and see. He's a tough kid. He got out there warmups and there's just no way he was going to be able to do it. We were talking about maybe using him in the red zone but he just couldn't, how hard he plays, the way he runs routes, it wasn't what was best for him and for the team. I believe he'll be back. I believe JT (Jayden Thomas) will be back.”

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