Freeman's Focus: Irish hoping for redemption after disappointing start to the season
Ten months ago, Marcus Freeman walked into the Notre Dame locker room with a dream and a mission.
Three games into his coaching tenure in South Bend, the mission has taken on a completely different tone.
No other Notre Dame coach has started his career 0-3.
In the second half of all three losses, Notre Dame was leading their opponents: a 28-14 halftime lead against Oklahoma State, leading 10-7 late in the third quarter against second-ranked Ohio State, and just last week, leading 15-12 late in the fourth quarter against Sun Belt opponent Marshall.
“Let’s stop worrying about the end result, let’s stop worrying about finishing the game," said Coach Freeman. "Lets’ stop worrying about trying to get this first … Just focus on play after play - are we executing or are we not.”
If the Irish are going to execute, they’re going to have to do it with Drew Pyne at the helm, after the season-ending injury to Tyler Buchner.
“I told Drew we’re in a tough spot right now and we feel for Tyler, but we think Drew is the perfect guy for this opportunity,” said Offensive Coordinator Tommy Rees.
This is not just an opportunity for Pyne but for the defense to build upon what they did well against Ohio State and correct the mistakes made against Marshall.
“We’re all disappointed - but we’re not discouraged," said Defensive Coordinator Al Golden. "When you are preparing and working hard every day, it's easy to keep your eye on the ball.”
“Just because we took two stumbles doesn’t mean we’re going to not finish the season the right way," said linebacker Bo Bauer. "There’s 11 angry guys out there every snap on defense trying to knock back the tacklers, those are people putting their bodies on the today so that Saturday we can be successful, so we are taking it very personally”
And no one wants it more than their head coach and the men he is leading.
“When your head coach is the leader and taking accountability and sets the tenure and focus of the program, then you have a lot of respect for that man. He’s a long timer. He’s setting the focus for this program for a long time and we’ll deliver for him.”
A win against Cal will go a long way in setting the tone not only for the rest of this season but the rest of Marcus Freeman’s tenure as head coach of the Fighting Irish.