Notre Dame football holds closed scrimmage one week prior to Blue-Gold Game

Lead coordinators talk about growth from start of spring football to today
Published: Apr. 16, 2023 at 12:23 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Believe it or not, this year’s Blue-Gold Game is now just six days out.

Next Saturday, the Fighting Irish will duke it out amongst themselves in front of fans, and this Saturday was their dress rehearsal of sorts, as the team held a scrimmage.

The scrimmage was closed to the media, but 16 Sports was able to talk to head coach Marcus Freeman, as well as his lead coordinators afterwards.

Freeman came in cracking jokes, clearly in a good mood after what he believed to be a strong showing from his guys. Once he got into his remarks, he gave us a bit of an indication of what his staff was looking for and how the day went for his players.

“You try to create this environment where it’s almost like game week,” he said.” Listen, we can’t get 80,000 fans in here, but you try to build this thing up. . . because it’s natural when you get here in the season. When this place is filled, there’s going to be pressure. You’re going to feel it, and how do we get them to focus on doing the job?

“It was a good scrimmage,” he added. “Now we have four practices left, including the spring game, as we close out this spring.”

Freeman also said off the top that the offense won Saturday’s hard-fought scrimmage. But Freeman and both of his lead coordinators made sure to emphasize that improvement is the main goal, and they feel like their team has gotten better in this short spring window.

“We’re trying to improve in every area,” said defensive coordinator Al Golden. “We really spent a lot of time in the offseason just making sure that the defenses that we install this spring are going to have use the entire year and getting rid of everything else. That’s been our focus.”

“I think it’s been good for us,” added offensive coordinator Gerad Parker. “It was awesome to be able to start day one — I think I said this before spring — to be able to line up, know that we can snap the football, and operate with all the things pre-snap before even worrying about trying to execute. There’s a lot that goes into just being able to have the ability to get the ball snapped. So that was a great start.

“The evolution has been, ‘What are we going to cut? What are we going to re-name? How are we going to play with different tempos and things that allow us to operate maybe differently, and then add what our wrinkles are,” he continued. “So, a bit proud to add some things we think are going to improve us and make Notre Dame better, and then still stand on who we are — which is a tough, physical football team up front. Hopefully we’ve done those things.”

The 2023 edition of the Blue-Gold Game will take place on April 22 at Notre Dame Stadium.

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