Don’t tell Marcus Freeman some of the luster has been removed from Notre Dame’s upcoming matchup at Clemson.
The head coach of the Fighting Irish (7-2) still views Dabo Swinney’s program in high regard, and he has made it a point to emphasize that to his team this week.
“I view Clemson as one of the premier programs in college football,” Freeman said. “What Coach Swinney has done with that program over the course of his time there has been second to no other program in college football. It’s extremely impressive. They’ve recruited at a high level. They have an unbelievable culture and they play at a high level. That’s what I want to make sure everybody in our program understands.”
Despite the fact that Clemson is experiencing its worst season since 2010, Freeman noted the talent level on Swinney’s team still ranks right up there with some of the best teams the Irish have seen this season. Not to mention what kind of challenge playing at Death Valley presents.
“Don’t let the 4-4 record reflect the team. just watch the film,” he said. “They are as talented as any team we’ve faced this year across the board. We have to understand it. I’ve never personally been to Clemson. We have some coaches on our staff; coach (Chansi) Stuckey played at Clemson. We have players who have played there that continue to remind us of the challenging environment it will be. Any great competitor is going to look forward to the opportunity to go down there and play.”
“We understand the challenge. We have to understand the challenge to go down there. They’ve had a very unique season as you look at their record versus what the film shows and really what the games tell you as you watch them. Those four losses, two of them were in overtime where they were leading in the fourth quarter. The first game of the year versus Duke, the turnovers in the red zone were a unique situation. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a game like that. Then last week, if you just read the stats, they’d tell you they probably should have won that game. I think probably the turnovers ended up costing them that game.”
After getting upset at Louisville, Notre Dame has rebounded in a big way the past two weeks, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, as they have scored 106 points in the last two games.
Led by transfer QB Sam Hartman, the Irish throttled Southern Cal 48-20, then did the same thing to Pitt last weekend, winning 58-7. However, both of those games were in South Bend. Now Notre Dame must take the show on the road, and Freeman insists his team will be ready.
“This is a talented football team,” he said. “We understand the challenge that it will be present on Saturday down at Clemson. We have to continue to go back to work, prepare and make sure we’re ready to go on Saturday.”
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