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Has Marcus Freeman Taken the Next Step?

Per: NBCSports

Written by IrishTrending


We are five weeks into the Freeman Era, and Notre Dame fans and college football fans in general are beginning to believe Marcus Freeman is catching on to being a head football coach after a tumultuous start. Here is an overview of every game so far this season, and where Marcus Freeman currently stands in regards to his coaching stature.


Oklahoma State:

 Marcus Freeman started off his career at Notre Dame in a New Year's Six bowl against a very good Oklahoma State team. In that game, Notre Dame took an early lead and looked to have this game under control. However, in the second half, it was all Oklahoma State, Marcus Freeman looked very lost at times, even though it was expected. This was still a sour loss after the big blown lead. 


Ohio State:

 Marcus Freeman had a full off season to really get things going his way in preparation for a top-five matchup against Ohio State. This game would be Freeman’s second top 10 opponent of his career, and it being in Columbus didn’t help. Just like the game before Notre Dame started off better than the opponent, leading at half and playing elite defense. Unfortunately, once the second half came, Notre Dame was stagnant offensively and the defense got tired. Failing to do anything in the second half led to a lot of fans thinking Freeman falters in second halves of games. Even though Notre Dame lost, it was still a great game against arguably the best team in the country. 



The following week Notre Dame hosts Marshall in a game the vast majority thought would be all Notre Dame. The spread was a huge favorite toward Notre Dame, and Notre Dame clearly had the talent advantage. Early on, however, we realized Notre Dame is not nearly as good as we would’ve hoped. Notre Dame was out coached, out executed, and flat out embarrassed at home against a motivated but inferior Marshall team. The loss of Tyler Buchner late didn’t help much and seeing that the offense was the main problem was pretty easy. This led to even more questions from Notre Dame fans regarding if Freeman is really the guy to get it done at Notre Dame, and what to think about OC Tommy Rees. 



Freeman gets another opportunity in a home game against a team that is not nearly as talented as Notre Dame. Notre Dame, just like the week prior, came out flat on both sides of the ball. Mainly offensively, which may be due to Drew Pyne’s first career start. Notre Dame fans were in disbelief at how this team was performing, and were hoping to get out with a win. Cal took the game to the last play and definitely could have won. Even though it was another ugly game, it would go down as the first win in the Freeman era.


North Carolina:

Notre Dame would then go on the road to take on a skillful North Carolina team with a high powered offense, led by a young star in Drake Maye. Even though North Carolina was at home, Notre Dame took care of them having a huge day offensively, largely in the run game. Freeman looked a lot more aware of what he was doing and the execution was a lot better. 



 Notre Dame would then go on a bye week before a neutral site matchup against a ranked BYU team. Similar to games prior, Notre Dame came out strong and went a little flat in the second half, but this was a bit different. It was more the execution and not the scheming or playing calling. The second half flatline let BYU make it a little more competitive of a game. Notre Dame struggled to score in plus territory, and the defense let up another big play on a blown coverage, similar to the two from the North Carolina game. This would go down as Freeman’s first ranked win.


My Overall Thoughts:

Watching Freeman on the sidelines, he seems a lot more confident and in tune with the game over the weeks and since the Cal game, which is great to see. Notre Dame hosts Stanford this evening in a game many think (including myself) should be a big blowout. Freeman will be put to the test again to see how he coaches a game pretty similar to the Marshall game. Freeman seems to be taking big strides through the year, and I ultimately think he is really starting to get a grip on things. This Stanford game could be a big indicator of that. Keep an eye on in-game adjustments, and how Freeman looks on the sidelines throughout the game.


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