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Savoring the Sweet Taste of Victory!

📷 credit: Irish Tribune

Notre Dame dominated the number 4 team in the country last Saturday behind a solid rushing attack and aggressive defense, as the Irish defeated Clemson 35-14. Many think this was the most dominant victory by a Notre Dame team since the Lou Holtz coaching days. Despite playing in games like this under former coach Brian Kelly, those teams never seemed ready to compete or win these types of games. Current head coach Marcus Freeman is beginning to change that narrative as he now has as many top-five wins in his first season as Kelly did in his entire tenure at Notre Dame. After a disappointing start to the season, it is exciting to see this team form an identity and show why they are the fighting Irish. Coach Freeman had this to say at his press conference on Monday…

“Obviously, Saturday was a special night, one that you kind of go back and reflect on. At the moment it is kind of chaotic, but you go back and reflect on it and it's so good. The atmosphere was unreal. I challenged our guys on Friday. I said, 'Listen, we create the advantage here. Our fans will always support us, but we make it a home-field advantage by the way we play and they did a really good job.’ But the fans were unreal. The students were great. This is a special place. I think everybody saw that on Saturday. It was really good to see all three phases really come together and execute at a high level. I love the physicality of our team. We really played probably our most physical game on all three phases on Saturday night. To see the effort they played with, the physicality they played with, it was really, really good to see. It's important. That's a part of our culture. That's a part of the things that are going to make us successful. I think you see trust and belief in what we're doing and what's going to give us a chance at this current moment to have success."

📷 credit: @ndfootball on Instagram

Players of the Game

Benjamin Morrison

7 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 1 touchdown

Coach Freeman said this about the secondary and Morrison’s big night against Clemson…“Part of tackling is confidence. It's two things I talk to them all the time about. Great tacklers are confident and great talkers are aggressive. He's confident and he's aggressive and that is what makes him a really great player. Coach Golden did a great job in calling the game, but also our guys did a great job of executing."

JD Bertrand

12 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack

Isaiah Foskey

4 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 tackle for loss

Audric Estime

104 rushing yards, 1 touchdown

Michael Mayer

44 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

📷 credit: @ndfootball on Instagram

Offensive Line

263 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns; 85 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 sack (Pyne Scramble)

Coach Freeman had this to say on Monday about the way the offensive line is playing…“Our offense ran for 263 yards against an extremely talented Clemson defense. I think our O-Line took it as a challenge. They've got NFL guys across the board up front and our guys really did a good job of getting their heads where they needed to be. You're not going to be able to push those defensive linemen 5 of 10 yards downfield but you have to get your placement exactly where it needs to be so your back can cut off them. It's a belief in what we're doing. If you have asked me before the game if I thought we could rush the ball for 263 vs. that defense, I wouldn't say that with 100% confidence. Do I think we can run the ball? Yeah, we can run the ball. But 263 yards is a lot of rushing yards. Run the ball and don't give up the big plays and we'll have success."

Bright Spots

Huge Recruiting Night

Coach Freeman said this on Monday about how big of an impact this game would have on recruiting…“It was electric. You couldn't ask for a better environment or better ending, a crowd rushing the field, for those recruits that were here. I remind our staff, recruiting is so important. The relationships we develop, the ability to sell this university and football program, but the most important thing that happened on Saturday is the ability to win. Those kids that were here, to see themselves as a part of that, that's your future. As we tell them, you're going to be a part of this and this is just the start of something special. When you come here, this can be what you expect, to play in big games. That is why you come to Notre Dame."

Areas of Concern

Facing Navy’s Triple Option

At Monday’s press conference, coach Freeman said this about facing Navy and the triple option…“We have to turn the page and get ready for a Navy opponent that's tough and that is a unique style offense that will present some issues if you're not ready to go. Actually, it's been an interesting day because yesterday I spent some time with him (Al Golden) and there are a lot of really good ideas he has had from previously facing triple option teams. We'll enhance and obviously, there are some things we did last year that we had some success with, but there's a lot of good enhancements I think that the defense will have because of his expertise in defending the triple option."

Final Take

The Irish are coming off their best victory in years, but the time for celebration is over. If Notre Dame is prepared for Navy on Saturday, the triple option presents a few unique challenges that can cause a team to stumble. Let us hope that the Clemson game was the start of something amazing, and the Irish will finish this season on a winning streak. In light of the recent win, coach Freeman said this in preparation for the week ahead…

“It's one thing to say turn the page, let's move on to Navy, but another thing is your actions. Are you coaching with the same intensity that you have after a loss? Everything you do, they are going to look and compare. Is he the same coach after a win and a loss? They hope you are consistent in terms of your actions. It's the constant reminders that you put in their head about how important it is to prepare for your next opponent. We have to prepare. The only thing they are mandated to do is the things we see when we're around them and the expectations we have when we can physically see them. But we have to continue to put it in their minds that when we aren't around them, the preparation will give us a chance to have success and remind them of the feeling we get after victories."

Go Irish!

📷 credit: @ndfootball on Instagram


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