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Up Next: Notre Dame vs Cal

Photo Credit: @ NDFootball on Instagram

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will host the California Golden Bears on Saturday, as Notre Dame seeks its first victory of the 2022 college football season. The Irish have an opportunity to silence all of the well-deserved critics on Saturday as they face Cal. This is an opportunity for coach Marcus Freeman to prove that he belongs as the head football coach of Notre Dame and start moving things in the right direction. He must lead this team to fulfill the “Golden Standard” he spoke of at his introductory press conference:

  1. Challenge everything: a mentality to find a better way;

  2. Unit Strength: what turns players into a team;

  3. Competitive Spirit: creating a winner’s mindset.”

Regarding this standard, Freeman said: “This standard will be unwavering, and this is the standard that will drive this football program to its twelfth national championship.” Notre Dame fans are waiting to see if Coach Freeman can make good on that standard and truly lead this team to victory. The first test standing in the way of accomplishing that goal is the Golden Bears.

Game Details

Date: Saturday, September 17

Time: 2:30 PM ET

Where to Watch: NBC and/or Peacock

Breaking Down Cal

The Golden Bears are coming off an impressive start (2-0) under head coach Justin Wilcox. Even though most fans will not recognize many players for Cal, excluding Jack Plummer who transferred from Purdue last year, the Golden Bears have produced many NFL players like DeSean Jackson (Eagles), Jahvid Best (Lions), Nnamdi Asomugha (Raiders/Eagles), Aaron Rodgers (Packers), and Tony Gonzalez (Chiefs). Even though they play in the PAC-12, this football team can cause problems for Notre Dame. They bring a solid running threat and an experienced quarterback that may cause problems for the Irish defense on Saturday. Despite the fact they do not possess highly regarded recruits, this is a team that plays with purpose, passion, and competitiveness that the Irish could learn from.

Stacking Up Notre Dame vs Cal

3 Offensive Players to Know

Jack Plummer — QB #13

2022 Stats: 546 passing yards, 4 touchdowns; 2 Interceptions

Jaydn Ott — RB #6

2022 Stats: 156 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 42 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns

Jeremiah Hunter— WR #3

2022 Stats: 157 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

3 Defensive Players to Know

Jackson Sirmon — LB #8

2022 Stats: 17 tackles, 1 pass deflected, 1 forced fumble

Daniel Scott — S #32

2022 Stats: 9 tackles, 1 pass deflected

Xavier Carlton — DE #44

2022 Stats: 6 tackles, 2.5 sacks

Photo Credit: @CalFootball via Twitter

3 Keys to an Irish Victory

1. Play to Win the Game

It does not take a genius to figure out that this Irish team has played with a lack of passion and urgency over the last two weeks. The team appears to be going through the motions on offense and many players are playing with a lack of enthusiasm. Do they know what it takes to win? Are they not being taught the little things that go into preparing for a game? Fans do not know the answers to these questions, but this coaching staff must figure it out if they hope to finish this football season on a positive note. Both coaches and players must step up and find a way to win football games again.

2. Play Chris Tyree More

Chris Tyree’s snaps have been severely limited during the season's first two games. Despite injury concerns, limiting one of the fastest players in the nation is unacceptable for any coach. Notre Dame must find ways to get the ball in Tyree’s hands more often if this offense is serious about winning football games. Because Chris Tyree possesses the ability to spark this offense at any moment, quarterback Drew Pyne must get him the football and see what he can do with it against Cal. Offensive Coordinator Tommy Rees had this to say last Tuesday:

“Chris is somebody that we explicitly trust. He’s been through this with us for three years. He’s a guy we’ve counted on through a lot of really good wins and a lot of big moments. I have nothing but trust in Chris Tyree. We have to find a way to highlight his ability.”

3. The Defensive Line Must Dominate

Entering the 2022 season, the defensive line was expected to be one of the strengths of this Irish football team. After two games, the line has performed well below the expectations that were placed on them. If the defense wants to reach its lofty expectations, this unit has to play better moving forward. Defensive Coordinator Al Golden had this to say last Tuesday:

“We just have to keep going. Maybe we left a couple sacks out there the last two weeks. We’re getting some pressures, but we have to get a little bit more. We just have to move forward and keep getting better. We’re all disappointed with the results. It has to be better. We have to do what we have to do on defense.”


Final Take

Notre Dame should not have any issues beating Cal, but fans should remain skeptical until they prove they can win. If Notre Dame plays with an urgency to win, puts the ball in Chris Tyree’s hands more, and the defensive line dominates, then this team should come away with their first win of the season. It is time for Coach Freeman and this Fighting Irish football team to step up and earn respect again. This team needs another speech like the one Lou Holtz gave in 1986:

“In the football game, we want to keep our poise. Poise is just having confidence in yourself and what you're doing. We are not going to mouth off, push or shove, ever at Notre Dame. We're going to wait until that ball is snapped, we're going to put a Riddell [helmet] on somebody, and we're going to be the most physical football team in the country until the whistle blows. We want to win for one thing and it's the first thing we ever had. We said we were going to bring respect. Don't talk about it. There is only one way you get respect and that's by looking someone in the eye for sixty minutes, go out there and hitch up your trousers and say, "Hey baby, here I am now. Let me see you run through me now. Let me see you show some disrespect for me when I'm nose on your nose. Let me see what you think of me now that my face is to you." We talk about respect. We talk about respect around the country. It's a game of who's going to flinch first. Who's going to give up first. We know that isn't going to be Notre Dame. Notre Dame football is nothing more than toughness, togetherness, intensity, intelligence and competitiveness.”

Photo Credit:

Go Irish!


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