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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Captain Joe Alt: 'We just weren’t at our best today'

October 8, 2023

It was a disappointing night all the way around for No. 10 Notre Dame as the Fighting Irish fell to No. 25 Louisville 33-20. 

Offensive line play is going to be at the forefront when Marcus Freeman watches the film on the plane ride home as Notre Dame ran 28 times for just 44 yards (1.6 ypc), but perhaps more importantly, the Irish finished 0-for-3 on third-and-short. 

All-American Joe Alt knows Saturday’s performance was unacceptable, especially given how Freeman wants to be a program driven by the offensive and defensive lines. 

“I think we have to come back as an offensive line and understand that’s the down we have to get,” explained Alt. “3rd-and-1, it’s on our shoulders. We have to look back and see where we’re falling short as individuals and as a unit.

“We have to go forward. That’s a down we have to win as an offensive line. We have to learn to win that down. That’s something we have to take pride in.”

The inability to run the ball on Louisville was alarming, but Notre Dame was also unable to protect quarterback Sam Hartman. Joe Rudolph’s group gave up three quarterback pressures and four sacks on the night, but it certainly seemed like more. 

“They are a high-pressure team,” stated Alt. “They did a lot of movement inside. We just gotta continue to work together and watch film and move forward. We just weren’t at our best today.”

Notre Dame’s offensive line was far from its best and Rudolph even rotated the center and guard positions in the first half to send a message. 

Billy Schrauth played both guard spots in the first half, while Andrew Kristofic played center for a series. 

It wasn’t a move made in real-time as Notre Dame had practiced the rotation all week. 

“We did know that going in that we were going to do some adjustments in there,” explained Alt. “We practiced it all week and prepared for it. We worked with everybody we were playing next to, so we were prepared going into it.” 

Louisville outgained Notre Dame 205 to 148 in the second half, but Alt didn’t feel like the Cardinals exerted a physical dominance despite rushing for 95 more yards in the final 30 minutes. 

“I don’t think they were physically more dominant,” stated Alt. “I think we got on our heels a little bit with our confidence level. We have to continue to be confident through our looks and trusting ourselves and our abilities.” 

Following the loss, Freeman admitted he didn’t feel his team was prepared and took the blame as the head coach as it starts with him. 

Alt didn’t necessarily state where Notre Dame fell short in this week’s preparation, but he also made it clear it’s an area the team can improve on. 

“I think our preparation can always get better,” Alt said. “Every week, we’re trying to get a little better. That’s what we’ve been preaching since day one. How can we get better? I think every week we have to get better and that’s something we have to work on. That’s in preparation, watching film, improving as individuals and as a group. You’re always trying to get better in preparation and how you respond each week.”

Where do the Irish begin to fix issues in preparation? It’s starts with each player. 

“We have to start as an individual to see where you broke down and what you have to work on,” Alt explained. “As an offensive line, we have to work together and we have to be five as one. We have to break it down individually and then as a group to see where we need to improve.” 

And as captain, Alt knows Notre Dame will need its leaders to rise as No. 9 USC comes to South Bend next weekend. 

“As a leader, we have to make sure we keep everyone together,” said Alt. “We have to focus on ourselves and how we can get better from this game. Learn from our mistakes and move on. There’s another game next week we have to get ready for.” 

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