Notebook: Herbstreit sees a brighter future for Notre Dame football

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Ass Kirk Herbstreit dug into his movie research for Saturday night time’s Notre Dame-USC conflict, he noticed an Irish workforce he feels is trending in the best path.

As in a College Football Playoff contender in future seasons.

With the identical, acquainted lacking items… however with the recruiting momentum to handle them.

“I feel each workforce is saying, ‘OK, our quarterback play has received to be at a sure degree and our perimeter play (as properly), whether or not that is corners or receivers’ — the sport is performed in house,” Herbstreit mentioned earlier this week on a Zoom name with the media.

“So you are defending house, and you have to have guys that may win in house. And I feel proper now they’re fairly good in these areas. I’m positive that by way of the recruiting in these subsequent couple of years, you are going to attempt to see them go to a different degree.

“But these can be the apparent areas to me, simply persevering with to lift the bar on the perimeter and ensuring that you simply’re getting a quarterback that may be a game-changer, that may spin it, that may run round, make performs … to actually make a run.”

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The greatest that the CFP Fifteenth-ranked Irish (8-3) can do Saturday night time (7:30 EST; ESPN) alongside the playoff storyline is to finish the CFP run of No. 6 USC (10-1) within the first battle between these arch-rivals since 2017 wherein each are ranked.

Herbstreit, Chris Fowler and Holly Rowe comprise ABC’s broadcast crew for the sport set in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Notre Dame has gained 4 straight within the sequence and a nation’s-best 19 consecutive November video games, a streak that began in 2018. That’s concerning the time Herstreit began to see the Irish program start to take incremental steps towards competing with the nation’s elite groups on the larger levels.

“I keep in mind the yr they misplaced to Miami down at Miami,” Herbstreit mentioned of a 41-8 Irish mauling for the Irish in 2017 in a sport he known as. “It was, ‘OK, huddle up, we have to regroup right here and discover out the place we actually wish to go as a company.

“And I felt like in case you keep in mind the journey that they made to Athens, once they performed Georgia (in 2019), that was actually a turning level when it got here to only athletically the place Notre Dame was. Then throughout COVID, they performed Clemson at dwelling and so they beat them with all these nice athletes. And so I feel that they have been trending in a a lot better path.”

The Trojans are ranked one spot increased within the AP and coaches polls, at No. 5, than the place the CFP slotted them on Tuesday night time. In the 25 video games the Irish performed in opposition to AP prime 5 groups forward of ND first-year head coach Marcus Freeman’s hiring and relationship again to the Bob Davie teaching period, ND was 2-23.

On Saturday night time, Freeman has a probability to match that win complete in his third-game in opposition to prime 5 competitors this season and from a workforce that was as soon as 3-3 this season.

“I feel someplace alongside the way in which, like every workforce all through a 12-week season that has success, they discovered an identification,” Herbstreit mentioned of the Irish. “They discovered, ‘OK, this protection goes to maintain us in each sport that we play. Our line of scrimmage on either side of the ball, that is going to be a energy for us irrespective of who we play.’”

Notre Dame QB Drew Pyne warms up forward of a 44-0 Irish win over Boston College final Saturday. (Jeff Douglas, Inside ND Sports)

Freeman’s offensive evolution

There have been occasions within the early months after Marcus Freeman was elevated final December from Notre Dame defensive coordinator to go coach the place offense virtually needed to be an afterthought.

Between hiring seven new assistant coaches, residing as much as the promise he made to himself to be the lead recruiter on each prospect, establishing how he’d spend his restricted time and what he’d prioritize, reconnecting with former ND gamers in a large means , and even lifting weights with the Irish gamers throughout their winter exercises, it left little time for the 36-year-old former linebacker to nurture the quarterback room.

Eventually, although, Freeman constructed within the time and located a technique to make a distinction. Apparently a profound distinction.

“During our FSA line, our stretch strains, he comes as much as each single participant,” mentioned the junior QB Drew Pyne, who makes collegiate begin No. 10 on Saturday night time. “And he in all probability spends an additional two seconds with me and tells me the best way to assault that day, the best way to assault follow.

“That small second is one thing that I actually take to my coronary heart. I say each single day, ‘I’ll.’ Whatever he says, I say ‘I’ll,’ after which I am going follow onerous.

“There are sure weeks I meet with him one-on-one. We watch motion pictures, and he texts me on a regular basis and I’m capable of textual content him on a regular basis. We have a nice relationship. He instills confidence in all people. That’s the way in which he coaches and that is his persona. I like it. I actually take these moments to my coronary heart.”

As Freeman has grown as a head coach in all aspects from sport 1 to sport 12, the factor gamers like Pyne observed probably the most are the methods wherein he stayed fixed.

“Obviously, he is realized issues all through the season,” Pyne mentioned. “But I do not suppose his demeanor or the way in which he coaches or has workforce conferences have ever modified. I feel that he is an unbelievable coach.

“The better part about it’s win or lose, he treats it the identical means. You cannot let the sport masks what it’s important to be taught. If you win, you’ve got nonetheless received to teach onerous and ask to be coached onerous and to be taught. Coach Freeman, his complete factor ever since he is gotten right here is. ‘One sport, one life; in the future, one life.’ And that is how he is approached each week.

“I get so fired up. Sometimes you have got class all day and also you get in there at 2:40 for our workforce assembly and also you’re dragging a little bit. Coach Freeman at all times picks you up. He’s speaking concerning the bumpier the highway, the higher.

“There are at all times bumps alongside the highway, and you have simply received to maintain getting higher. I’m so grateful to have the ability to play for Coach Freeman. He’s the perfect.”

Bowl replace

The most definitely postseason touchdown spots for the Irish proceed to be the highest three Tier 1 bowls within the ACC’s non-New Year’s Six lineup — Cheez-It, we come and Holiday. An upset win over USC would supply a path for Notre Dame to a New Year’s Six/Cotton Bowl date with the American Athletic Conference Champ (Tulane, Cincinnati or UCF).

It’s nonetheless pretty slim, however it would not must contain too many sudden outcomes. The factor to remember is ought to the Irish take down the Trojans Saturday night time, Notre Dame would wish to get to not less than 11 and possibly No. 10 to make the New Year’s Six area.

And the Fifteenth-ranked Irish would not essentially want the groups instantly forward of them to lose for Notre Dame to leapfrog them, notably No. 14 Utah (8-3) and No. 13 (Washington).

The Irish can get to 12 by Kansas State both shedding its regular-season finale this weekend with Kansas or the Big 12 Championship Game in opposition to No. 4 TCU. Then it comes down as to whether USC falls behind the Irish to get them to No. 11 or maybe No. 9 Oregon loses to Oregon State or in opposition to the Trojans within the Pac-12 title sport.

Another believable state of affairs is No. 8 Clemson shedding to surging South Carolina or within the ACC Championship Game in opposition to North Carolina.

One extra bowl stays in play, past a New Year’s Six possibility and the aforementioned Tier 1 bowls, and that is the ReliaQuest Bowl, eat 2 in Tampa, Fla., in opposition to an SEC workforce. But the slim path there would probably require No. 11 Penn State to be ranked forward of each No. 7 Alabama and No. 10 Tennessee within the last rankings to set off that possibility for the Irish to be thought of.

Squibs

• According to analysis carried out by Manny Navarro of The Athletic, solely 4 freshmen within the College Football Playoff Era (2014-present) have had extra interceptions of their first school season than Notre Dame freshman cornerback Benjamin Morrison (5).

Syracuse’s Ms Cisco (7 in 2018) leads that group.

• When Notre Dame and USC meet in Los Angeles in two seasons, the Trojans shall be of their first season as members of the Big Ten. USC has been a member of the Pac-12 or its forerunners since 1915.

• Notre Dame junior operating again Chris Tyree is a large fan of the 3-1 personnel look (three operating backs, one tight finish) Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees sprinkled into the Boston College sport final Saturday — notably when Tyree carries the ball and Dear Audric is out in entrance.

“I might like to have him each play as a lead blocker,” Tyree mentioned. “That’s a freight prepare operating at you full velocity each play.”

• USC is the one FBS college by no means to have had surnames on the again of its jerseys.

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