NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
All articles by 17 year old chris dailey
Founder, The Sports Court
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football program is in good hands with Marcus Freeman as head coach.
Freeman, a former linebacker at Ohio State who spent a year in the NFL bouncing around practice squads, helped build the Cincinnati defense as their DC.
That Cincinnati defense made the CFB Playoffs this year while Freeman was in South Bend.
Since Freeman was appointed DC on (date), he has commanded respect from players and other members of the coaching staff.
When Brian Kelly announced he was leaving the program, players were left shocked. The captains took matters into their own hands and made sure that Notre Dame’s AD, Jack Swarbrick, knew that they wanted Marcus Freeman as their next HC.
Swarbrick listened and appointed Freeman as head coach. Freeman, who has helped Notre Dame build two incoming top 5 recruiting classes, was welcomed by a standing ovation to the team when he walked in their locker room as HC for the first time.
Mike Elston, the Defensive Line coach at Notre Dame, talked about this moment, stating, “I was actually somewhere recruiting (laughing). I wasn't even in the locker room. But seeing the video doesn't shock me. He's the same guy every day. The players appreciate that. It was very heart-warming. And he's a great guy, and the players love him, and it showed up on that video.”
The trust that the players put in Freeman to help him get promoted to head coach has paid off, the players are in better shape and having more fun than ever.
Since being appointed head coach, the players have found practices more upbeat.
When asked about the biggest change Freeman has implemented on the Notre Dame program, star tight end Michael Mayer said, “I think number one, it's been the practices. The practices have been more upbeat, more up-tempo, a little bit more against our own defense. For me, I think it's been great. It's got me better in shape. I think the team can agree. It's a little bit more competitive, a little bit more energy on the field, and I think that's something that's been great for this team, and I think it will show this weekend.”
Meanwhile, Freeman himself has learned a lot about himself in his short head coaching tenure so far.
“You come from Cincinnati where we had a lot of success, and you feel like you really had a good spring. You really had a good fall. As you go into the first game versus Florida State, after that game, you're like, "Oh, crap, we're not as good as I thought,” stated Freeman at the Head Coaches press conference. Freeman went on to say, “after week 6, your best player, Kyle Hamilton, goes down. So you have to say, Okay, now how do we fit this scheme around who's the next guy in? This group has just trusted us and this coaching staff. The coaching staff has done a tremendous job in terms of just figuring out what's the best way to teach these guys. What's the best thing that fits these guys? We've worked as a team. The defensive staff has been a team all year. Taking other people's ideas is something that we've done. And just the ability to try and get to this final product that we have, it's been a growing experience.”
Freeman continually emphasized the importance of learning from one another and continuing the momentum.
Freeman and the Fighting Irish will face Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl on New Years Day at 11 AM Mountain Time. This will be the first game of the Marcus Freeman era and all Notre Dame fans are rooting for a strong start to an era that has high expectations.
Founder, The Sports Court
Jack Coan is a Notre Dame guy.
Most Notre Dame fans know Jack Coan for being the graduate transfer from Wisconsin who in a rebuilding year has led Notre Dame to the #5 ranking in the country with his stellar play, brute toughness, and leadership abilities.
Little do most Notre Dame fans know is that Jack once was ready to commit to play all four years of his college athletic experience at Notre Dame, but not for football.
Jack Coan was a lacrosse star and committed to Notre Dame for lacrosse and was set on going to South Bend before getting an offer from Wisconsin to play football for them.
Football being his main love, Coan jumped on the opportunity, and the rest is history.
The Sayville, New York, native led the Wisconsin Badgers to a Rose Bowl appearance, losing to Justin Herbert and the Oregon Ducks in a heartbreaking 28-27 game.
The following offseason, Coan was injured and did not play for Wisconsin that season, marking an end to his career with the Badgers.
When Coan announced he was transferring, the first school he thought of going to was Notre Dame. After several schools called, including the Irish, Coan realized that the opportunity to play for his dream school in his dream sport had finally presented himself and he jumped on the opportunity.
“(Notre Dame) means a ton to me. It was always sort of my dream to come play football here at Notre Dame. And, obviously, I was coming here for lacrosse. And then when I was in the transfer portal and Notre Dame came around and offered me to come here, it sort of just felt like it was meant to be,” said Coan about coming to Notre Dame at the Fiesta Bowl media day.
Coan has started every game for the Irish this season and has thrown for 2,641 yards and 20 touchdowns. He’s even won games while playing with a dislocated finger.
The heart and passion that Coan plays with have been a driving force into Notre Dame’s remarkable season.
Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator, Tommy Rees, stated that his only regret with Jack Coan is that, “we didn’t have him for four years.”
Rees, a Notre Dame legend as a player and on his way to becoming one as an OC, has high praise for Coan and believes he will be a successful player in the NFL and will find his way onto a roster next year.
Coan, Rees, & co. will take on Oklahoma State on New Years Day at the Playstation Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.
This will be Coan’s final college football game and his chance to prove himself in front of NFL scouts and add a piece of silverware to his impressive resume.
Founder, The Sports Court
Malcolm Rodriguez walked into Fiesta Bowl media day with a cowboy hat on and full of excitement. Rodriguez, the leader of the team, leads Oklahoma State in tackles and is ready to pounce on Notre Dame and walk away from Glendale with a win and Fiesta Bowl trophy in his final game as a Cowboy.
“I’m just glad they (OSU) took a chance on a small-town kid like me. I’m glad we were able to kind of be in the top ten at the end of the season, and hopefully, we get this W on Saturday,” said Rodriguez about OSU.
Rodriguez is the energetic, full-of-life team leader alongside players such as safety Kolby Harvell-Peel, who is a dynamic, versatile, highly-touted NFL Draft prospect.
Harvell-Peel, who has ten interceptions in his career at OSU, including three this season, withdrew his name from consideration in last year's NFL Draft pool after realizing that he wanted to have another go at it with Oklahoma State.
“After I made the decision it felt like I had a weight taken off my shoulders and I was able to lock in on playing ball at OSU again. I went through this whole season, enjoyed it, and in the end coming back paid off and I was able to have a great season.”
Harvell-Peel is one of the main pieces to OSU’s team that has soared to the 9th overall ranking in the country.
However, the excitement of playing in a New Years 6 game will also come with faes leaving and tons of preparation for Notre Dame’s offense.
Oklahoma State’s former DC, Jim Knowles, recently left the program for the Ohio State Buckeyes, which left OSU’s Mike Gundy with a quick decision on who to appoint as interim DC.
Gundy looked no further than defensive line coach, Joe Bob Clements, who has had plenty of offers to be a DC at many schools around the country.
Clements has a lot of his hands to take care of. Although he knows the team inside and out, he will have to fill in the void that came with Knowles leaving the program.
In addition, Clements will also have to prepare for Notre Dame’s QB carousel. The Fighting Irish have used 3 different QBs this year, all of whom possess different unique attributes.
Jack Coan is a proven winner and pocket passer. Freshman, Tyler Buchner, is labeled as the future of the program and has good size and wheels. Meanwhile, Drew Pyne is a mix of both Coan and Buchner.
Joe Bob Clements talked about the preparation for the game and having to play against possibly 3 QBs, “Well, we've had the fortunate benefit of having a month to prepare. It might have been a little bit more of a headache if we only had a week. But you see some uniqueness with the quarterbacks that they play, but you also see similarities… They’ve got (Coan) who’s played in two different New Years' 6 Bowl games for two different teams, and that’s not a coincidence. They also got 12 (Tyler Buchner), and he’s a dynamic runner but can also throw the ball and make things happen for them.”
Collin Oliver, who leads the team in sacks, also talked about playing against a multitude of QBs, “I'm very excited. It's a new challenge that I can't wait to take on. We obviously have been preparing for the trio of quarterbacks that they have in a good way, in preparing certain calls for certain situations. So I think Joe Bob [Clements] has his stuff down,” Oliver said.
Oklahoma State’s hard-hitting, energetic, and cohesive defensive unit will take the field against Notre Dame at the Fiesta Bowl on New Years Day and all the players are looking forward to the chance to play against a school with the prestige and talent of Notre Dame.
Although doubts have been presented by many college football fans after the Jim Knowles move, Notre Dame is going through a similar situation and both teams will want to start their new eras off strong.
Founder, The Sports Court
Ian Book is just an undersized, three-star recruit, from El Dorado Hills that clawed and scraped his way to become Notre Dame’s all-time win leader and left South Bend as a legend.
Book, who led Notre Dame to two college football semifinals appearances, was picked up by Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints with the 133rd overall pick in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
After weeks of being on the practice squad, Book finally got called up to the active 53 man roster when injuries and COVID occurred to the Saints. New Orleans’ main man at the QB spot, Jameis Winston tore his ACL to start the season, then after leading the team to a respectable 7-7 record, QB pair Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill were both placed on the IR/COVID reserve list.
The next man in the pecking order is none other than Ian Book and he’s been given the green light to start in his first NFL game on Monday Night Football against the red hot Miami Dolphins led by Tua Tagovailoa.
Tua, who has had a resurgence in his second year, has led Miami to 6 straight wins. Meanwhile, the Saints are coming off of a 9-0 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in one of the most obscure games of the year.
Book will have a tall task to handle as Miami possess a good secondary who will be sure to try to trick Ian Book into making mistakes.
Luckily for the Saints, and unfortunately for the Dolphins, Book was known at Notre Dame for his good progressions and ability to escape the rush, two things vital in today's NFL game. Book’s speedy wheels and improvisation skills will come in handy in his first NFL game.
In addition to the quick feet of Ian Book, Sean Payton will make sure to have his running backs in Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram ready for lots of touches on Monday Night.
Miami has the seventh-best rushing defense in the league, so the Saints' offensive line will have some work to do to make sure that the players behind them can exploit holes and win the football game.
Book is filled with confidence and excitement heading into his NFL start, and the kid who was never supposed to make it is ready for his time to shine on Monday Night lights with America watching on.
CHRIS' THOUGHTS: I've seen every single second of Ian Book playing football from the time he stepped in at Notre Dame and made a miracle happen in the Music City Bowl. Book's toughness, leadership, and athleticism will do him well at the NFL level.
I expect Book to have a good game and make prove the many haters wrong. Book has all the tools to be a successful NFL quarterback, whether as a starter or reliable backup that hasn't been determined yet, but this game on Monday night is his chance, who are trying to get a Wild Card spot, that he's their guy.
And I believe he will.
Founder, The Sports Court
They came, they saw, the conquered: The legacy of Kyle Hamilton and Kyren Williams.
Kyle Hamilton and Kyren Williams walked into South Bend, Indiana as 4 and 3-star recruits, respectively.
The pair became two of the most explosive players in Notre Dame history, Hamilton lighting up on the defensive side of the game while Williams dominated on offense. The two now leave Notre Dame as potential first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Hamilton, who is considered a future top 10 pick and the best safety in the draft, spent his freshman season as a backup to Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliot. Despite being the backup, Hamilton still managed to record 41 tackles, 4 interruptions, and a touchdown.
It was in his sophomore year when Hamilton made his name known around the college football world. The kid from Atlanta recorded 63 tackles, 1 interception, and impressed Notre Dame fans with his versatility. Hamilton was anywhere and everywhere on the field.
Although Hamilton’s junior season was cut short due to an ankle injury in October, the highly touted recruit still managed to record 3 interceptions including two against Florida State, including an interception where Hamilton managed to run across the field from side to side to grab the interception.
Meanwhile, Kyren William’s quickness and consistency have been unmatched in his three years at Notre Dame. In his sophomore and junior season, Williams has tallied over 2,000 combined rushing yards and a total of 27 touchdowns.
Williams is also an efficient pass catcher, having 300+ yard receiving seasons the past two years.
Williams, ranked the fourth-best back in the nation by Mel Kiper, and second by TSC’s NFL Draft Player Rankings, has one of the quickest first steps and the ability to catch passes that NFL scouts crave for.
The two players, both captains as a junior, have both declared for the 2022 NFL Draft and will forgo the Fiesta Bowl. This also means the two will never have played a game under Marcus Freeman as a head coach.
Hamilton and Williams were integral pieces in Notre Dame’s College Football Playoff Appearance last season and have left their mark in Notre Dame history forever.
Notre Dame has adjusted to life without Kyle Hamilton, as he hasn’t played since October. However, the loss of Kyren Williams will be huge and the former fastest high school player in the nation, Chris Tyree, will have big shoes to fill for the Blue and Gold.
The impact the pair has made on the program is immense and now Marcus Freeman and co will have to adjust to life without two of their stars and the two foregoing the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State will put a dent in Notre Dame’s chances of winning.
CHRIS’ thoughts: As mentioned in the article, Kyle Hamilton has been out with an injury since October, so his impact of leaving won’t be felt as much as Kyren Williams’.
However, Chris Tyree is a star, and he will finally get the chance has been patiently waiting for since coming to South Bend. Tyree has learned from one of the very best to do it in Williams and he will have to have a big game against Oklahoma State.
While Notre Dame’s betting chances of winning will most likely go down, I still favor Notre Dame in this game. I predict the Irish will come away from Glendale with a win, 36-27.
Founder, The Sports Court
It’s been a whirlwind of a week for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Team. After longtime head coach, Brian Kelly, left the program right before the possibility of making the playoffs, the players, staff, and fans were left shocked and wondering what was left of this chaotic season.
Many called for Luke Fickell from Cincinnati to take over as head coach. Some were rooting for Pat Fitzgerald from Northwestern. However, nobody was more favored and wanted than a defensive coordinator, Marcus Freeman.
A cool, calm, and collected, brilliant young mind, Marcus Freeman is also one of the best recruiters in the nation. Freeman helped recruit all the current players at Cincinnati who are third in the country and the upcoming Notre Dame classes which both rank top 5 in the country.
Notre Dame’s athletic director, Jack Swarbrick noticed this and jumped quickly on hiring Marcus Freeman. Players, recruits, and fans were relieved and confident with the decision.
The passion that the players had for Freeman was shown when he was announced as the head coach in the locker room. Freeman, a former Ohio State linebacker, was pumped, and all the players jumped on him celebrating.
Now, freeman and the Irish will have a tough test on their hands in their bowl game in Glendale, Arizona. After narrowly missing out on the College Football Playoffs, Freeman and the Irish will compete for the Fiesta Bowl against #9 Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State, who also recently held the fifth spot in the college football rankings, is a fantastic football team who came inches away from beating Baylor in a heartbreaking Big 12 Championship Game that went down to the very final whistle.
Baylor, relieved to get out of the game with a win, were pushed to the limits by an Oklahoma State team.
Notre Dame’s defensive line will be the difference-maker in their clash against Oklahoma State. If the likes of Isiah Foskey can step up to the plate and pressure Blake Shapen, OKST’s QB who threw three interceptions against Baylor.
On the other side of the ball, the offensive line must stay strong and support Jack Coan, who isn’t the most mobile of quarterbacks.
Tommy Rees should also make sure to find Kevin Austin throughout the game. Austin, the most reliable deep threat for the Irish all season long, has racked up 42 receptions for 783 yards and 6 touchdowns throughout the season.
Overall, both teams have a lot of questions coming into the Fiesta Bowl, and both will do their best to answer them.
CHRIS’ PREDICTION: I have Notre Dame winning this game 34-23. Notre Dame has a great defense, explosive offense, and most importantly, a chip on their shoulder following the departure of Brian Kelly.
Kelly’s departure left Notre Dame players shocked, confused, and angry. Now with Marcus Freeman at the helm, these players know they have lots to prove and will use their frustration out on the field.
For some players, such as QB, Jack Coan, this will be the last game they ever play for the Irish, and I believe they will leave on a high, winning the Fiesta Bowl at the beautiful, State Farm Stadium.
THE SPORTS COURT - BY CHRIS DAILEY