Notre Dame football: Marcus Freeman recaps victory over Cal – Fighting Irish Wire

  • September 18, 2022

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Notre Dame picked up their first win of the 2022 season on Saturday with a stressful but ultimately successful afternoon against previously unbeaten Cal.  It didn’t come easy but at the end of the day it feels a ton better than an 0-3 start would have.
Marcus Freeman met the media following the victory and discussed his first career victory, improved performances on both the offensive and defensive lines, the play of quarterback Drew Pyne, and plenty more.
Before we flip the script to North Carolina who awaits the Irish next week, let’s check out everything Freeman had to say during his press conference.  Check out his quotes in entirety below.
 
USA TODAY NETWORK
I’m proud of those guys. You know what, it’s hard to win football games. It’s hard. You’ve seen it in the first three games. It’s hard. And so, I’m so proud of that group of guys to find a way to finish. Obviously, there’s a lot of work to do. We have to get better. But you know what? Tonight is going to be about celebrating this victory. And I’m proud of them.
It’s an honor to do it here at this university with this support system. This is a special day for me, personally, but hopefully for this program and this university.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
I keep trying to tell myself to enjoy. There’s a lot of coaching that happened on that field today that we can learn from. But listen, if you don’t take a minute to enjoy these things, you’re going to regret it. And that’s what I keep reminding myself, man, is that enjoy this victory. We’ll get back to work tomorrow.
But again, I want to celebrate with those guys. This is about those guys that work and prepare, those coaches that prepared their tails off. This is something special we’re all going to share together.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
I did not love the way we played in the first half. I got to go back and watch the film and see what the issues were. But I know offensively we had a couple three and outs, we fumbled the ball (in) the first half. It was just we weren’t playing clean football. Defensively, we held them to 10 points, but, you know, we have to be better.
To see those guys come out in the second half and the offensive line really dictate the running game, and to see that D-Line get after the quarterback. That’s going to be our backbone. We’re going to depend and rely on our O-Line and D-Line, and I was really proud of the way they stepped up to the challenge in the second half.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Yeah, at first, you’re like, ‘Okay, come on, he’ll get it.’ You know, tapped him on the shoulder pad. And then I said, ‘Okay, that’s not working.’ And I kind of went to the other end of the spectrum, kind of ripped his butt a little bit. And that didn’t work too much. I think that was after the fumble. But you know what? I told Drew, ‘Relax, man. Go out and be Drew Pyne and execute.’ And it helped because you gained a little confidence in the running game in the second half.
And then he started making those passes. And wide outs have to do their job. It’s not all on Drew Pyne. We had a couple of drops that we have to make sure that don’t happen. But he’s a warrior, man. He is a competitor. And he’s a great example for everybody in that locker room because you’d never know when your number is going to be called. And Drew Pyne always prepared as a starter. And to see him get his opportunity, man, I’m really happy for him.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
I remember I said to the sideline after we gave up that touchdown drive, I think we were down three. And I just said, ‘This isn’t going to be a repeat. This isn’t going to be here we go again. We’re going to change the outcome of this game. And it’s going to be by our offense going out there and doing what we have to do in executing, and then our defense when we get the opportunity, we’re going to go out there and execute.’ And that’s what you saw and we needed that.
That was a big moment for us because I could see it on some guys faces, and even mine for a second, like, ‘Oh shoot, here we go again.’ No, it’s not, ‘Here we go again.’ We’re going to change the outcome by the way we execute and by how hard we play. And it was great to see that. And to answer your question on turnovers, you know, I did see it was more deliberate.
We were trying to get the ball out. D.J. Brown gets a penalty for trying to rip the ball out and throws the guy down. We got to stop on the whistle, and that was the right call, but it was deliberate. And I just can’t buy one at the end of the game. JD Bertrand gets to the targeting, and they almost get a chance at the last play of the game. But we’re going to focus on the positives. We’re going to focus on the positives.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Yeah, it’s a deep unit. And I was hard on them. Coach Washington, I was hard on that unit. And even after the first half, you know, a couple QB scrambles, but they know I believe in them. And there was one point jayson ademilola in the second half he walked over to me and said, ‘Coach, I got you. I got you,’ then went out and made a sack. That’s what you want, man.
You want some guys that take ownership in the performance on the field. And that’s a deep group. Coach Washington does an excellent job with that group, and we’re going to need them all. We’re going to need them all to have a relentless pass rush.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Yeah, (running the ball) might have been mentioned on the headset. Listen, coach Rees is a great coach. And he’s just as frustrated as everybody else in terms of the outcome. And I got his back like I told him. And yeah. I wanted to run the ball. I felt like we were moving the ball and let’s continue to run it. But you can’t run the ball the whole game. To me, that opens up some holes in the pass game and so, I was proud of him saying, ‘Okay, you know what, let’s go. Let’s get some runs. Let’s get the momentum going.’ And then he kind of took over. He made the check, that touchdown to Audric.
‘I’m sitting there screaming, ‘Get the call! Go go go go go!’ And he’s like, ‘Coach, I got to check.’ Bam, made the check, scores a touchdown. I’m like, ‘That’s why I need to shut up and let you do your job.’ So, I’m proud of him and that whole offensive staff, man.
Guys, it was a tough week for all of us from me on down that we had to really look at ourselves and really say, ‘Okay, what do we have to do to enhance?’ Sometimes you really don’t want to know where the negative aspects of what you’re doing are. But in order for us to get better, you have to take a deep dive into yourself first. Me as the head coach, our position coaches, on to our players, and really take accountability for our performance and attack it in practice.
Listen, we didn’t play a great, perfect game. But we found a way to win and we’re going to have to do that after victory. We’re going to have to go back on Sunday, enjoy this thing tonight, and take a deep dive into where we have to execute better and what we have to do. But it’s a lot better after a win.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Yeah, he’s most comfortable on those a little bit on the run and getting easy passes. And the very first play of the game, we had him on the run, rolled out, an easy pass and we end up dropping it. That’s got to be a better throw, but we got to execute.
We’ve got to make sure we’ve got to have people that make the quarterback look good. You know, a lot of the result of play falls on the shoulders of the quarterback. But there’s so much that happens during a play that really dictates the outcome, but quarterbacks are going to have to answer to it. And so, again, Drew just continued to battle to continue to make good decisions, and he finished the game for us.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
It was a conversation between me and God. There was a conversation between me and myself to focus on what matters. And I looked at JD, and I went to talk to JD, but there was a lot of things going ahead. But ultimately, you know what, you got to focus on what it takes to execute. But there was some, ‘Lord what is going on?’ You look at JD and say, ‘JD, really?’
But that’s the challenge is that our minds can drift, mine included, to the outcome, to the future. Right? Okay, last week, man, if we can beat Cal, do we get ’em? You can’t worry about that. The minute that happens, get your mind back to what it takes to give yourself a chance to have success. And that’s our preparation.
It’s the same thing today in that we’re going to enjoy this thing and we’ll go back tomorrow. We’re not worried about, ‘Man, we’ve got to beat North Carolina, we got to…’ No. What does it take to have success? We’ve got to evaluate. You got to practice it. And then get to Saturday when it comes.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
For this game, that’s what we had to do. I’m not saying this is going to be who we are every game all year. We have to take advantage of where we feel like we can have success against the defense we play. And today, it was we weren’t having success early, in the first part of the game, with our quick game and handling snaps.
And so, we said, ‘Okay, right now, the edge we have is being able to run the ball.’ And so, to me, that’s what we’ve got to be able to do. Listen, our identity, yep, we’re an O-Line and D-Line-driven program. We’ve got to be able to run the ball, but you can’t just say, ‘This is what we’re going to do, that’s it.’ You got to be able to adjust to what is having success and adjust to what an offense or defense is giving you.
USA TODAY NETWORK
It was tough because Logan (Diggs) was out. Really, he had an illness on Thursday, missed practice Thursday with an illness. In our minds, it was like, ‘Okay, we’re going to have to ride the back of Chris and Audric (Estime) right now.’ And they both ran the ball really well. You know, I don’t know how many yards they had, but I thought they both did a good job in the backfield with the ball.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Oh, man, he was a little bit too excited. I’m like, ‘Drew, calm down, calm down.’ I texted him on Monday or Tuesday. I can’t remember what day it was, I said, ‘I told you at some point the season, this time was going to come’ And I did. I was in my office when we told him that we were going to name Tyler Buchner the (starting) quarterback. And I said, ‘At some point during this year, you’re going to have to lead this program to a victory and maybe multiple victories.’ And I texted him, ‘Here it is.’ And he was so excited.
He’s preparing, preparing. We had to kick him out of the office a couple times. ‘Go home. Get some rest. Stop watching film.’ But that’s who Drew Pyne is. He’s an ultimate competitor. He’s going to prepare the right way, and this is going to be a momentum builder for him.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
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Football· September 17, 2022 7:36 pm ET · By:
Did you catch this during the game today? Any issue with it?
2022 ND Football· September 17, 2022 6:11 pm ET · By:
It wasn’t a masterpiece but it was a victory and the importance of that can’t be overstated.
Football· September 17, 2022 2:26 pm ET · By:
Still an incredible moment 40 years later.
Football· September 17, 2022 2:07 pm ET · By:
Tie to get fired up.
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All your viewing information here
Football· September 16, 2022 1:58 pm ET · By:
Does this chart give you any hope for this game?
Football· September 15, 2022 7:48 pm ET · By:
Welcome to the Church, Coach!
2022 ND Football· September 15, 2022 6:55 pm ET · By:
“I don’t care if they play in purple and have someone else’s name on their back, just win baby” – Me if this game is close in the 3rd (…)
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Football not your thing? Get to St. Louis for a women’s hoops game one day instead.
Football· September 15, 2022 5:59 pm ET · By:
Think anyone on the Irish will shine at this position against California?
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