Notre Dame Stadium is no longer a haven under Freeman

SOUTH BEND, Indiana (AP) — Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman understands the problem. The Fighting Irish lost their home advantage.

Finding a solution was difficult.

In Freeman’s first season as head coach, Notre Dame (3-3) posted an inexplicable 1-2 record at South Bend despite appearing as double-digit favorites every game. I’m here. Fan Duel Sportsbook. And they could easily be 0-3.

“There’s not just one answer. If there is, we fix it,” says Freeman. “This is really an evaluation of everything and why couldn’t we do it here at Notre Dame Stadium?”

In the 2017-21 season, the Irish went 31-2 at home under former coach Brian Kelly, both losing to play-off sides.

Things have certainly changed a lot this season.

Notre Dame lost to Stanford last weekend (2-4), Cardinal beat FBS opponent for the first time in over a year, and on Freeman’s home debut, the Irish were upset by the Marshalls (3-3). The Thundering Herd has only had one win since then against Gardner-Webb.

Somehow, though, the Irish gave No. 2 Ohio State (6-0) a serious challenge in Columbus, Ohio, and had season bests in North Carolina (6-1) and then Game 2 (6-1). spawned two shows. 16 BYU (4-3) in Las Vegas.

Freeman doesn’t think there’s much difference in Notre Dame’s pre-game routine, regardless of the venue.

But he made one change this season. After attending Mass at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, players walk to the stadium where fans are queuing and cheering. Freeman returned Mass to the Basilica after Kelly moved the pregame service to a less public location, such as a dormitory or another private location on campus.

Otherwise, the team will stay in off-campus hotels before the game, just like they would on the road, but avoid the hassle of flying. Pre-match masses are also served on road trips, usually somewhere near the stadium.

But the numbers tell a different story. At home, the Irishman averaged just 19.7 points and he averaged 316.3 yards, both in the bottom 10 of his FBS program of 131. Outside of South Bend, he has scored 27.7 points and produced 441.7 yards, both of which rank in the top 60.

Slow start was also a problem. Notre Dame has been shut out in the first quarters in all three home games, averaging 4.7 points and 127.3 yards in the first half.

Quarterbacks Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne also struggled early on, throwing 22-of-44 for 68.3 yards in the first two quarters at Notre Dame Stadium, with just one total TD. .

What’s perplexing about the slow start is that with Freeman and offensive coordinator Tommy Reese scripting the first 25 plays, the Irish still look out of place.

“I should call it better, Period,” said Reese. “I have to get Drew into the rhythm, get the (offensive) line into the rhythm, feel the game, and give them confidence right off the bat.

Notre Dame’s next chance to turn things around is Saturday, when UNLV (4-3) visits.Irish people 25½ points favorite, the biggest spread of the season. They finished his schedule at home against No. 5 Clemson on November 5 and Boston College on November 19, and he will sweep all three to finish with a winning record at home. is needed.

Again, Kerry’s early side also struggled at home. He lost to Navy and Tulsa in his 3-4 record in his first season, and to South Florida in the opening game of the following season.

Freeman doesn’t want to be measured by Kelly’s standards. He just wants to win.

“I keep telling myself to build something the right way. You can’t build on what was done in the past,” he said. “What Kelley has done here is incredible, the wins and successes he’s had here, but you can’t come here and say, ‘I gotta be Brian Kelley.’ I have to be Marcus Freeman. “


More AP College Football: When up for AP’s College Football newsletter.