(Photo: Chad Ryan)

Yesterday’s upset loss elicited some rather strong and passionate responses from Notre Dame nation.  “Over his head!”, “Fire Rees!”, “Send Golden back to the NFL”, “Pull their scholarships”, “Now we know why the Bears fired Hiestand”, “No heart”. 


Obviously there is a lot of emotional angst out there right now. Understandable.  Therefore, Fighting Irish Preview is here for you.  Here are some things to think about, they should help you through the pain.

Identify the Issues, then embrace the challenge and get to work. First, Offensive line, hello you are supposed to be dominant! What in the name of Harry Hiestand is going on? Running Backs, ND is not loaded here but there is plenty of talent in the backfield. Receiving Corp, for heaven’s sake , would somebody help out a struggling passing game and a make a big play? And QB, now Buchner is hurt and may miss games. Drew Pyne? Steve Angeli anyone? Defense c’mon man! Touted in the preseason as the strength of the team the defense has done some things well, but they have given up long drives that have killed them and eight quarters now and running with ZERO takeaways, are you kidding me?

Beat Cal and it will be a good day. Let’s face it, any kind of win right now is going to feel pretty good, after all,  it has now been 290 days and counting since the Irish blew out Stanford in Palo Alto. For next week, the Irish are 12.5 point favorites against 2-0 Cal, chances actually are pretty good that the Irish will get back on track and notch  Marcus Freeman’s first win, and that will feel very good indeed. Breath deep and think about just how good that will feel.

The season will consist of at least ten more games, plenty time for redemption.

Freeman is not going anywhere.  As angry as you might be about what Marcus Freeman has done so far, It is not only WAAAAAYYYYY too early to think about replacing him, and short of a felony conviction, it will not even be considered no matter how many losses the Irish endure, for at least a year or so.  The Notre Dame powers have demonstrated a pretty solid habit of being extraordinarily patient with their head coaches over the years. In this regard the flawed tenure of Tyrone Willingham is instructive.  Ty was a nice guy, he won in his first year, but then things on the field and in the recruiting game fell apart.  Ty got three years.  I’d say unless there is an unprecedented level of embarrassment, and considering the financial commitment ND has made to Freeman, he is going to be here awhile.  Get use to him, support him, he will gain experience and it is likely he will get better.

Marshall is good, so was Ohio State. Notre Dame has lost to two pretty good football teams. The overall quality of Ohio State, big winner over Arkansas State this week to go to 2-0 is and has been known for quite some time.  

How good Marshall was is not so obvious.  Under reported perhaps in the lead up to the ND upset, Marshall brought in somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 transfers after last season’s 7-6 run, many from power five programs.  (The Irish, by the way, should learn a lesson from this, the new reality of college football. ND brought in a few transfers for certain, but they did not address obvious needs at wide receiver and QB.) One of those Marshall transfers was QB Henry Colombi who gave the Irish fits.  Colombi is a 5th year guy who started at Texas Tech last year, and he was 24-26 on his passing, week one. WOW, that’s good against anyone, at any level. Going to Notre Dame and performing well on a big stage was not out of his wheelhouse, and it wasn’t out of running back Khalon LeBorn’s either.  LeBorn, who ran for 163 yards on the Irish, is a former five star recruit via the transfer portal out of Florida State.  Saturday, he lived up to that status. 

Time will tell just how good Ohio State and Marshall go on to be this season, but at this point they both look pretty good.

Be happy you are not a Nebraska Fan.  Nebraska head coach Scott Frost was fired Sunday after the ‘Huskers fell to 1-2 on a loss yesterday to three touchdown underdog Georgia Southern.   Frost was in his fifth season and has gone just 45-42.  The once blueblood Cornhuskers haven’t been to a bowl since 2016, and haven’t really been relevant for a really long time. The last time they hit double digit wins? 2012. 

ND fans have enjoyed a ton more wins than Nebraska fans over the last 10 years. Be thankful.

Focus on what you loved About Marcus Freeman when he was hired. Devotion to his Incredibly beautiful family, immediately “got it” and openly expressed his love and admiration for what makes Notre Dame different, tireless as a recruiter (in contrast to the previous regime), resume as a defensive football guru, communicator, genuine…… if anyone deserves the support and a bit of patience from Irish fandom, surely Freeman does.

And just looking at pictures of his adorable family makes me happy. Give it a try, you’ll almost certainly feel better.

(Photo by: Chad Ryan)

What Would Knute do? Leahy? Ara? Lou?   I’ll tell you what each one of them would do if they lost their first two games each, and it is the same for each.  First, they would embrace the adversity and use it to keep the team united. Then they would simplify schemes and focus on fundamentals. Finally, they would deliver a healthy dose of tough love, “Gentlemen, this week we all are presented with the unique challenge of turning this thing around, be prepared to have your world rocked.” Next week, one way or another you would see a different team. 

Knowing how competitive Freeman is as a person, he is capable of doing the exact same thing. Expect him to do so. If the Irish right this ship, and they certainly can, it will be a delicious story.

You are ND, act like it. Irish fans hold their team to a high standard, Irish fans should check their own behavior and impose similarly high standards on themselves.

Don’t Play into Brian Kelly’s Hands. Think about it. 

Now is the time for all good fans to come to the support of their Irish.  

Until next week…..keep the faith.

ByPhil Houk

For over 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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