Notre Dame coach Freeman prepared for residence debut vs Marshall


SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — New Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman relishes the chance at hand.

Sure, it’s an opportunity for the eighth-ranked Fighting Irish to rebound from final week’s season-opening loss at No. 2 Ohio State. And sure, it’s additionally one other probability for Freeman to earn his first win after two losses to top-10 opponents. The Irish additionally misplaced to No. 9 Oklahoma State within the Fiesta Bowl final January after he was promoted.

But maybe no different second in Freeman’s profession will really feel fairly the identical as the primary time he leads the Irish by means of the Notre Dame Stadium residence tunnel on Saturday and onto the sphere in opposition to Marshall.

“It’s something you dream about,” Freeman mentioned. “Ever since I had been named head coach, I’ve been looking forward to this moment.”

There can be loads of different firsts for Freeman and the Irish.

The two faculties have by no means met on the soccer discipline and Freeman and second-year Marshall coach Charles Huff will turn out to be the primary Black coaches to sq. off in stadium historical past.

It’s a second that isn’t misplaced on both crew.

“From the outside perspective, this is a huge game,” Huff mentioned. “I know everybody’s excited. From the historical piece of it and the place we’re going, all that’s great. The reality of it is this game has no bearing on what our ultimate goal is.”

Instead, each coaches are targeted on soccer.

Huff desires to see how his working recreation, which piled up 380 yards and produced two 100-yard rushers in final week’s rout of FCS foe Norfolk State, stacks up in opposition to Notre Dame’s normally stout protection.

Marshall (1-0) did all that with out Rasheen Ali, final yr’s high freshman rusher within the Bowl Subdivision. He’s been out since mid-August whereas he offers with an undisclosed private problem and won’t play Saturday.

Freeman, in the meantime, desires to see his run protection carry out higher than it did whereas giving up 172 yards to Ohio State. The former defensive coordinator is aware of Notre Dame (0-1) can’t afford a repeat if it hopes to even its document and have a good time Freeman’s first victory, particularly in opposition to Huff’s squad.

“If you work hard and do things the right way, there is no cap to where you can go in this profession of coaching,” Freeman mentioned. “Credit to coach Huff and where he has come from and the job he has done. Hopefully, the focus is obviously on the game, but it’s a great representation of minority coaches in the coaching profession.”


The oddsmakers could not acknowledge it, however Marshall isn’t just a middling Group of Five opponent. It’s a program on the transfer.

The Thundering Herd went 7-6 final season and of their 55-3 Week 1 victory the protection allowed solely 5 first downs, 114 complete yards and posted two takeaways. Now, of their first season within the Sun Belt Conference, Huff’s crew has an opportunity to make a nationwide assertion.

“This game is just as important to us as Norfolk,” he mentioned. “That’s no disrespect to Notre Dame. That’s not coach talk. That’s just the way you have to prepare in order to be consistent.”

Freeman understands what the Irish are up in opposition to and he can level to latest historical past in opposition to Group of Five groups to emphasise the purpose. Last yr, the Irish escaped with a 32-29 victory over Toledo and in 2018 they squeaked previous Ball State 24-16.

“We know it’s a challenge,” Freeman mentioned. “We know we’re going to face a motivated team. We’re going to face a team that’s going to come in here, and they’re not going to be intimidated. They will be ready to go. They’re a scrappy bunch.”


The Irish additionally ought to get a lift from the return of All-American heart Jarrett Patterson. The fith-year senior missed final week’s recreation with a sprained proper foot.

His absence prompted Freeman to offer Zeke Correll his third profession begin at heart. Patterson’s presence, with 34 profession begins, ought to assist stabilize an offensive line that struggled within the second half in opposition to Ohio State.

“Jarrett has practiced every day,” Freeman mentioned, referring to one of many crew’s captains. “We are expecting him to play on Saturday unless something crazy happens. He’s had a good week of practice.”


Notre Dame spent eight months getting ready for the Buckeyes — then had to deal with the emotional value of shedding 21-10 after main at halftime.

But Freeman made this week’s message clear and easy: Stay targeted on Marshall.

“They’ve got good players and talent. They have good coaches,” defensive lineman Rylie Mills mentioned. “So you can’t come off (last week’s) game and let the preparation waver.”


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