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Notre Dame Football

Blake Fisher, Notre Dame Focused on Finishing Strong in Key Stretch

October 6, 2023

No. 10 Notre Dame is in the middle of the grind. 

The Fighting Irish will head to No. 25 Louisville on Saturday night, which marks the third night game in a row, with No. 4 coming next weekend when USC comes to South Bend. 

Yes, college kids have more energy than say most folks reading this, but at the same time, Notre Dame has been through two emotional games and arrived in South Bend at 4am on Sunday morning last weekend. 

Notre Dame offensive lineman Blake Fisher knows it’s a tough stretch, but has taken Marcus Freeman’s words to heart as the Irish look to close strong over the next two weeks before the bye week.

“Staying on the bumpy road, staying on that journey to better, trying to maximize our full potential whenever we touch the field, go to practice or go to meetings,” Fisher said of Freeman’s message. “When those moments come when you have up and down games, highs and lows throughout a game, you can keep your composure and be in the moment and win the moment. That’s the overall goal.” 

Louisville presents another stiff test and it will require mental focus from Notre Dame, especially coming off a week where they recorded 12 penalties. 

Fisher expects the offensive line to move past and fix some of the presnap issues that plagued the Irish offense against Duke. 

“I would say offensively for us, it’s just making sure we got the right snap counts and we’re hearing the right things,” explained Fisher. “We’re all five playing as one. The offense goes as we go. It’s about making sure us as leaders are kind of taking control and making sure everyone is dialed into the task at hand.” 

As an individual, the 6-foot-6, 312-pounder has put together his best season at Notre Dame after starting all 13 games as a sophomore in 2022. 

And yes, Fisher had high expectations and played well last year, but it took half the season to fully find his comfort in the college game despite starting two games as a freshman. 

”I would say Blake Fisher this year is a lot more relaxed, a lot more confident, a lot more dialed in and clear on what he’s supposed to be doing - the job and task at hand,” Fisher stated. “Coach Freeman always preaches clarity equals velocity. This year, I feel like I’m playing at a really high and fast level when I’m on the field compared to last year around this time. I feel like I was kind of getting going last year around this time.

“The game is a lot slower. I’m seeing a lot more. I’m having more fun with it because I’m not stressing about what’s going on and I’m seeing everything and make sure I have everything accomplished pre-snap.”

Fisher has also playing with a lot more confidence this fall and he credits offensive line coach Joe Rudolph for expanding his game to have more answers, which leads to being confident in what he’s doing on the edge. 

“It’s helped me play a lot faster and just finishing,” Fisher said of his confidence. “I feel like having Coach Rudolph has added some techniques for me and my toolbox that I can use and some different sets. Obviously, there are still a lot of things to correct. That’s the best thing about this is being able to get better as you’re improving.” 

On the flip side, Notre Dame’s players finding ways to recover is crucial to finishing this two-week stretch off in the right way. It’s been well-documented that Freeman has changed the practice schedule multiple times this season, but the biggest big picture change was doing away with Sunday practices. 

”It’s huge, especially a week like this,” stated Fisher. “You get back at like four in the morning. Last year, we were in at like 11am practicing. It was crazy. This year, we showed up at like 12:40pm and watched film, got treatment and whatever you do on Sunday.

“For me, Sundays are like my most stressful days. A lot of people always wonder why, but I’m thinking about school, football and trying to study for the next opponent, call my family and everything. I love to flip it and Mondays we have a walk-through and we watch the game. You’re really like getting two days off.” 

The changes have paid off for Fisher as he not only feels fresher, but he’s also made changes in his diet to lose almost 20 pounds in the offseason after experiencing a college football season. 

“It’s a different outlook and feeling,” Fisher said. “Last year was kind of like my first real year going through everything. Now, I’m like I’m going to feel like this. Overall, I feel pretty good for it to be week six, week seven. It’s just about recovering, taking care of your body and stuff I didn’t necessarily understand last year. I was just trying to play ball.

“This year, there are a lot of different outlooks on a lot of different things that I know affect how you perform on Saturday.” 

While there have been several changes for Fisher, the most significant is playing next to a first-time starter in Rocco Spindler, who won the right guard job early in fall camp. 

Fisher doesn’t have the luxury of having an experienced Josh Lugg on his left side and it’s tested his communication and leadership. 

“Last year was my first year playing, so this year is his first year playing,” said Fisher. “There’s stuff he does or something could happen and I could see it and I’m like, ‘Bro, let it go. Scratch it. Move on to the next play.’ I’ve been there and I know what it feels like to get beat or get thrown off a block or my guy just made the tackle. I just tell him to flush it and move on. 

“I will say he’s pretty even keel. There are some ups and downs. He’s a first-year player. As for any first-year player that’s extremely valid, but I would say consistency from his emotional standpoint of Rocco Spindler is pretty even keel.” 

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