Notre Dame secondary expecting toughest test so far against NC State

Published: Sep. 9, 2023 at 10:59 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Notre Dame’s opponent on Saturday should deliver its toughest test thus far through the air.

We didn’t get to see a ton of the Irish secondary in their Week 0 win against Navy due to their triple option attack. But against Tennessee State in the home opener, this Irish secondary showed up big.

“Obviously, Navy’s not a huge passing team. They did throw a couple shots,” said Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman. “This week finally we got the ball in the air a little bit so it’s starting to happen. They’re going to get tested this week. We understand that.”

The Notre Dame defense created its first pair of turnovers against Tennessee State, both coming by way of the defensive backfield. With Ramon Henderson and Clarence Lewis notching their first picks of the season in the home opener, the rest of the secondary is now itching to get in on the action, and they may get their chance at NC State.

“They’re an air raid type of offense, so I think there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for us to make plays and really just test what we’ve been working and seeing where we’re at,” said Notre Dame senior safety Antonio Carter II. “So, it’ll be fun.”

The Wolfpack attack starts with the man under center — dual-threat quarterback Brennan Armstrong. NC State’s veteran quarterback was more of a threat with his legs last week against UConn but has proven himself to be more than capable in the passing game.

“He’s experienced, he plays with poise. He’s got the arm talent to push the ball vertical and then he can create on the run. A lot of challenges there,” said Notre Dame defensive coordinator Al Golden. “He played well last week, and the way they use him is really designed for him, so a great challenge for us this week.”

But head coach Marcus Freeman likes what he’s seen so far from his defense and says the best is yet to come.

“I think you start with, defensively, you played one game so far against a traditional offense,” Freeman said. “And it took a while that first quarter of going against Tennessee State of having the Navy defense hang over. We hadn’t played normal defense for about three weeks. And so, we’ve just got to continue to focus on improvement.”

“I think just us worrying about what we’re doing, playing to our standard,” Carter said. “It’s always fun when everyone starts to throw the ball. It’s the opportunity to make plays, and hopefully we’ll capitalize on those.”

“You all might not see the production that really relates to that room, but in terms of doing their job, they’ve been doing a really good job,” Freeman said.

In addition to being the Notre Dame secondary’s toughest test so far, Saturday’s game is the first true road test of the season for the No. 10 Irish. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. on ABC.