Through its first two games of the season, Notre Dame displayed the epitome of effectiveness and composure. In victories over Tennessee State and Navy to start the season, the Irish only had five penalties for a total of 46 yards. The combined score of those two teams was just six points, with few significant offensive plays.
The Irish’s last two games have had a distinct look, particularly Saturday’s 41-17 victory over Central Michigan, who were in town. Eight penalties for 72 yards were made by the Fighting Irish in what ended up being a blowout victory. Roughing the passer calls against Josh Burnham and Rylie Mills resulted in two penalties on Saturday.
After the victory, Irish head coach Marcus Freeman said, “I think we’re a disciplined team.” “We need to keep improving and making sure — you know, they’re an aggressive club, right? Are they punished? Absolutely. They are aggressive though, and you do occasionally have aggressive penalties, right? I want to respond, “Okay” as I turn to face the two who are roughhousing bystanders. I won’t know whether this was an aggressive or selfish punishment until I revisit the movie. I won’t, however, keep them restrained by a leash. You’ve got to let these guys be aggressive, sort of. I don’t tell them to leave the locker room so they won’t make a mistake or receive a punishment. You should attack now. You use all of your might since we have five seconds to win the break.
Freeman continued, “Do I like to see penalties, no, not at all. But that’s not a problem with discipline; it’s a basic execution problem, and we need to keep working on it. I thus turn to coaching. If it’s a core problem, your coaching needs to be improved. Coaching is holding. We must coach it more effectively. I accept responsibility for that instead of our athletes.
The past two weeks have seen an increase in explosive offensive plays as well. Four passes by Central Michigan that were at least 17 yards long were successful, with the largest going for 31 and 37 yards. One resulted in a field goal, the other in a touchdown.
Freeman acknowledged that two of the plays involved missed tackles. “In those first few series, we didn’t tackle well. The first series were three and out at that point, so it was a little bit. Next, we had to kick the ball out of bounds, rough the passer, and just miss tackles after they had scored a touchdown in the previous series.
So, he said, “we can’t miss tackles. “We blitzed six players on the one long pass in the second half, but we didn’t apply pressure, right? So, I’m unable to resent the DBs. Man, we have to apply pressure if we are bringing six people. So we take those people on. If we’re going to blitz you, let’s provide pressure to cut down on the amount of time the DBs have to cover.
Just put it down to experience. Despite only having a 21-14 lead at the half, the Fighting Irish went on to win by 24 points and are now 4-0. The team overcame their own self-inflicted difficulties en route to victory this week after facing their first real adversity in last week’s lightning-delayed road triumph over NC State.
“We (have) got to keep evolving,” Freeman said. “You never know what will happen in this, the best team sport in the world. You can’t control the situations that happen to you, but we had some key leaders absent, and since we need to keep developing the second-, second-, and third-year men, I think they stood up and did a wonderful job. We
need to keep becoming better, right? I’m going to say that all the time. We must constantly get better. Watch the movie again, and then let’s see. We’ll check to discover if those areas for improvement actually exist. But we can’t have such penalties, guy. That’s not up to par with us. particularly the —
Unusual were the two roughing the passers, a few offensive holding penalties, and the defensive PI. When I consider those penalties, I remember that great football teams never lose to themselves. We’re fortunate that we can take that information and yet have a successful outcome.