South Bend, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman wastes no time. Just not taking into account the fact that the game of the first season of the Irish against the coach’s alma mater looms on the horizon.
After training for two hours Friday morning in foggy, wet conditions, Freeman, 36, told his players they had work to do before they visited Ohio State on Sept. 3 for a game between two schools expected to be ranked high. Associated Press Top 25 pre-season ranking.
“We’re starting from scratch right now,” said Freeman, who played linebacker for the Buckeyes under Jim Tressell from 2004 to 2008. “Long training…hard, hard training, because we have to develop quickly, man. We have to be ready to drive right out of the gate.”
Two Irish linebackers who were due to start, sophomore right tackle Blake Fisher and senior center Zeke Correll, both missed practice as the heat got the better of them. After that, Freeman sternly told his players what he expected from them until the end of the preseason.
“It must be hard,” Freeman said. ”It doesn’t change. We don’t change what we do. It will be hard. We had a couple of guys who didn’t finish training today. The coach’s job is to make sure he protects the player. It’s (the players’) job to make sure they’re available for practice. The length of practice, the effort, the way we challenge our players, that’s not going to change.”
Freeman was hired by Notre Dame prior to last season as defensive coordinator for Brian Kelly. He was promoted to head coach after Kelly left for LSU after an 11–1 regular season.
Notre Dame’s 37–35 Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma State on New Year’s Day marked Freeman’s head coaching debut with the Fighting Irish.
The eight months since then have been a whirlwind for Freeman: building a new staff led by coordinators Tommy Rees (offensive) and Al Golden (defense), recruiting, spring football, new recruiting, alumni and other social media, and more. recruitment.
Freeman, however, is happy to be back on his coaching staff, and the former assistant linebacker enjoys diving into all the different positional groups on either side of the line of scrimmage.
“Deep down, I believe that the same things that make you a successful positional coach, a successful coordinator, will be the same things that make you a successful head coach,” he said. “It still comes down to hard work, it still comes down to preparation.”
Freeman spent his first fall training watching the development of a new offensive line under returning assistant Harry Hystand. Jarrett Patterson, who played at the start of the team the last two seasons, moved to the position of left back, and Correll returned to the center. Josh Lugg switched to right-back, while Fischer and his sophomore Joe Alt took up tackles.
Sophomore Tyler Buechner lost to first-team representatives junior Drew Pine at quarterback.
“Right now, there’s a two quarterback battle going on between Tyler and Drew,” Freeman said of the competition to find Jack Coan’s successor. “I love the competitive aspect of it. But once we’re ready to name a starting quarterback, we’ll do it.”
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