Notre Dame football: Rees News Ramps Up Pressure On Freeman
I truly do think it’s healthy for Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees to part ways. On one hand, it frees Rees to explore life out of the Notre Dame microscope. On the other, it allows Freeman to break further away from the Brian Kelly era and further mold the program through his vision.
In this newfound Freeman freedom though, exists a ton of pressure. New pressure. When Freeman was initially hired as head coach, the staff was still primarily made up of coaches that had been in the program under Kelly. There was comfort in that through the transitional phase of the Freeman era getting underway.
But every day that Freeman drifts further away from the Kelly era, more pressure falls upon him to win and win big. The Kelly roster excuses are going away. The Kelly coaches are going away. The Kelly vibe excuses are going away. It’s getting close to winning time for Freeman, Let’s examine this newfound pressure in some detail.
This OC Hire Is Supremely Important
Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees during Notre Dame spring practice on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at Irish Athletics Center in South Bend, Indiana.
Notre Dame’s roster is flipping. The quarterback room and wide receiver room, noted weaknesses entering this last season, may become legitimate program strengths in 1-2 years. This is what the fans have been begging for!
Freeman needs to ensure whoever he hires is a great fit in all areas. Recruiting, communication and teaching. In terms of on-field X’s and O’s, the hire will need to get more electricity out of this group without sacrificing the physicality Notre Dame likes to feature. That is a top priority. This hire has major implications for the Freeman era. He has to get it right and fast to mitigate recruiting risk.
No Excuses From Now On
Sept. 17, 2022; South Bend, Indiana; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman speaks at a pregame event before the game against the California Bears at Notre Dame Stadium. Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
I feel as though most Notre Dame fans entered the 2022 season with some level of understanding that Freeman was a first-time head coach and that there would be some rocky times. Understandable. Yet losing to Marshall and Stanford at home was more rocky-ness than most Irish fans expected to endure.
Freeman also had the legitimately flawed and inadequately recruited and developed roster he inherited from Kelly to work with. But Year 1 is over, the recruits are Freeman’s, the coaches are Freeman’s. His identity is becoming more of the face of the program. With that comes more pressure. Last year’s excuses, as legitimate as they may have been, aren’t going to fly anymore. The Irish faithful are soon going to expect elite results. As they should.
Big Game Showcase In 2023
Oct. 21, 2017; South Bend, Indiana; USC Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (14) runs from pressure in the first quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Notre Dame’s schedule in 2023 offers plenty of marque matchups that will be under the microscope and that will carry national import. These games are pressure points. Measuring sticks. Progress barometers. Notre Dame fans will expect more in Year 2.
From an early season northern power showcase battle against the Buckeyes, hosting a Trojans squad Marcus cannot afford to fall to 0-2 against and a very tough trip to Death Valley to face Clemson, the pressure is on. And not just locally, these three games are national game of the week attention grabbers. Freeman must have his squad prepared for these three huge but unique games and get some better results overall the second time around. The pressure is ramping up
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