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A Tale of Two Halves


📷 credit: @ndfootball on Instagram

Behind an incredibly efficient first half of football, Notre Dame defeated the Navy Midshipmen 35-32 last Saturday. During the first half, Notre Dame’s offense looked to be the best Irish fans have seen all season. Drew Pyne threw four touchdown passes to Jayden Thomas, Braden Lenzy, Audric Estime, and Chris Tyree. Despite the incredible first half, this Irish team looked completely different in the second half, after a Drew Pyne interception and four punts. The offense could not get anything going, but the defense held on for the victory. Coach Freeman had this to say at his press conference on Monday…


“Anytime you win, there are reasons to celebrate. I'm extremely proud of the team and the coaching staff for a hard-fought win and for finding a way to win. We knew going into that game, it wasn't going to be easy, but we found a way to get it done. That's what matters. It's a tale of two halves. The ability to learn from a win is something that as a coach, you love to be able to do. It was really good to be able to address some of those situations in the game that happened yesterday in the meeting and in practice and continue to enjoy a victory Sunday.”



Players of the Game

Braden Lenzy

67 receiving yards, 1 TD


Coach Freeman had this to say about Lenzy on Monday…“Resilient. A guy that didn't complain, continued to come to work and continued to work his tail off. For Braden, the ability to just continue to work tirelessly throughout the season, and then all of a sudden you have a game where you're called upon and the ball comes your way and you're able to make some huge catches and one of the most impressive catches I've seen. It's a great reminder for guys, to continue to work, don't complain, your time is coming if you do the right things, and when the opportunity presents itself, you're ready to go, and you'll make those plays. It's a great example of what we want our guys to understand. Sometimes you don't control the opportunities that come your way. You control how prepared you are and how hard you work. Braden Lenzy, on Saturday, was a great example of that.”


Jayden Thomas

80 receiving yards, 1 TD


Xavier Watts

8 tackles, 1 tackle for loss


Prince Kollie

7 tackles, .5 sack, .5 tackle for loss


Coach Freeman said this on Monday…“It’s really difficult on your first time facing the triple option. You can't simulate it in practice. It's really hard. Prince has played some meaningful action at linebacker, but Junior, this was his first meaningful time at linebacker. Were they exactly where you need them to be? No. But I think they showed that they can help us. They played good and there's always room for improvement. But those other two guys who stepped in and they did a good job.”


Jon Sot

4 punts for 162 yards, 40.5 avg


Special Teams Coordinator Brian Mason

Concerning Brian Mason, Coach Freeman said this… “The more time you spend around Brian Mason, the more you'll appreciate his personality. I think if you spend just a little amount of time with him, you might have a perception one way or the other of whom you think he is. He is extremely intelligent, extremely hardworking, he's a great motivator. The beauty of a coach is that coaches are evaluated on how they get their players to play and execute what they want. Brian Mason could be the smartest guy in the room, but if his players aren't playing at a high level then it's a waste. What he's doing is he's using his talents, his individual gifts, and he's able to get this unit, not just one point block unit, which is getting the most notoriety right now, but all four special teams units including the field goal and field goal block unit, he's getting them to really perform at a high level. He's unique, I don't want to say quirky, he'll get mad at me, but he's a unique individual, he's awesome, I love spending time with him and I love to see the growth he's continuing to have as a football coach.”


📷 credit: @ndfootball on Instagram


Bright Spots

Senior Day is Coming

Coach Freeman said this on Monday about the upcoming Senior Day at Notre Dame…“What I will tell those seniors is they built the foundation of what I believe is the future of the Notre Dame football program under me. That's different from previous head coaches. Notre Dame football has been successful for a really long time, but the leadership has changed and you have to rebuild that foundation to fit the new leader. That's what I'll credit this group for, really building the foundation for what I believe is going to be an extremely bright future for Notre Dame football. I'll be forever in debt to them. This will be a special group forever, forever to me, because they had blind faith. They didn't choose me to be their head coach and they came to Notre Dame for other reasons. Well, you know what, I was named head coach, no matter if they chose me or not, and they committed to the vision I had for this football program. They work tirelessly. They really built the bond. They implemented the culture that I put on the walls. I can put whatever you want on the walls. I can say this is what I want our program to do, but until it's implemented and until it's carried out by the players and the leaders throughout the football players and the team, that is just words on the wall. This group of seniors has really done that. They've taken those words off the wall and said this is what our program is going to be built around. They have truly built the foundation of what this program is."



Areas of Concern

The Second Half Collapse

Concerning the second half collapse…“It wasn't as much running a different play as much as really executing. Drew's got to get the ball out of his hands. But then we got to help him get the ball out of his hands. We got to eliminate some options and just say, hey, man, if you get all out pressure, throw the ball here, don't go one to two, just go to one. That can help him too. So there were a couple of different things that we kind of addressed as a staff yesterday. Where was the lack of execution? It really wasn't the play-calling. That was no different in the second half than in the first half. We were just able to hit them. We were able to protect better. We were able to get the ball out of our hands. We were able to make sure that our guys knew exactly where they were supposed to be. The lack of execution, you got to look at yourself as the head coach and why if the play calls were similar, what they were doing in terms of bringing all out the pressure was similar in the second half, why didn't we execute the way we did in the first half. We knew Navy wasn't going to lay down."



Final Take

In light of Saturday’s game against Boston College also being Senior day, the Irish need to be ready to execute for an entire game. This appears to have been a problem for most of the year and Irish fans hope that Marcus Freeman can change that in future years. Let us hope some of the injured players will be back and Drew Pyne can play more consistently for four quarters. In light of it being Senior day, coach Freeman said this in preparation for the week ahead…


“As we look forward to Saturday, it starts off with it being Senior Day here. We have 25 guys that will be recognized for their last game in Notre Dame Stadium. That's where a lot of the motivation and focus will be in terms of making sure we finish this home regular season off the right way for these seniors. We're playing a really good BC team that is coming off a huge win. They do some really good things on film. We'll have to prepare and look forward to another battle here on Saturday afternoon."



Go Irish!


📷 credit: @ndfootball on Instagram

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