Notre Dame football regroups, shifts focus to Wake Forest after bye week

Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 7:51 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The Notre Dame football team is back at it this week after having a bye last week.

The last time we saw the Irish on the gridiron, they lost to a Clemson team that is arguably among the most disappointing teams in college football this year.

So, how does this team improve after that 31-23 loss to the unranked Tigers?

Irish head coach Marcus Freeman continues to preach execution.

“I’ve challenged myself and the entire coaching staff and the players to really look at all of ourselves as individuals and how we can improve,” he said. “That’s the challenge is how do we get better. To continue to work and attack a process is going to help our team improve. The reality is that doesn’t guarantee you a win. There’s things in the game you have to perform and execute to get the result you want, but it does guarantee you get better. As I told many players this week, that doesn’t guarantee you’re gonna start, but it does guarantee you’ll get better.”

The Irish sit at No. 20 in the AP Top 25 after the loss to Clemson and their bye week. They’ll face quarterback Sam Hartman’s former team in their final home game of the season on Saturday.

Just like Clemson two weeks ago, Wake Forest has a lot to lose. The Demon Deacons are 4-6 and can’t lose again if they want to make a bowl game.

But Notre Dame is trying to send out their seniors in their final home game the right way.

“We have an opportunity this upcoming week to send these 31 seniors that will play their final game in Notre Dame Stadium out the right way,” Freeman said. “That’s going to be our motivation. To perform on Saturday, give our chance in preparation to perform the way we want on Saturday versus what we know is going to be a motivated Wake Forest team.

“This team will be ready to go,” he added. “They’re going to come in here knowing that they have to win this game to try to be bowl eligible. We understand the challenge. We understand the opportunity for us to send these seniors out the right way and to continue to finish this season off the right way.”

It might also be the last hoorah in the House that Rockne Built for some Irish players that are looking to the future.

Notre Dame has several players that can declare early for the NFL Draft, like Xavier Watts and Joe Alt. And while they still have time to decide, Freeman says they spent their bye week researching their options.

“Our job is to just give them the facts,” said Irish head coach Marcus Freeman during a press conference Monday afternoon. “I don’t ever want them to say, ‘You just want us to come back for yourself, for Notre Dame.’ No, we just give you the facts. Here’s what we’ve gotten from NFL grades, here’s our vision if you do decide to come back, what we would do next year.

“Let’s get back to these last two games,” he continued. “Let’s get back and focus on Wake Forest, and after Wake Forest we’ve got to focus on Stanford. We’ll revisit this after the Stanford game. But during the bye week, we did have meetings to just present information we had so they can make a well-educated decision after the season.”

Kickoff on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m. EST.

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