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Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM PRESEASON 2022 15 UNDER THE DOME THEY SAID IT THEY SAID IT "He has better feet and better hands than you probably anticipate for a guy as rocked up as he is. To just label him as a one-dimen - sional back is incorrect. You look at the guy, and I would say 'OK, he's going to run people over.' But he can do more than that." — Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees on sophomore running back Audric Estime "I could argue that our independence has never been more valuable than it is right now." — Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick on Aug. 8 "I want my son to play for him. If my son was with Marcus Freeman every day, he will make him a man. I think we're in great hands." — Notre Dame men's basketball head coach Mike Brey on Freeman "Coach [Brian] Mason has made a really big effort to show us that the best teams in the country have their best guys on special teams." — Senior line- backer JD Bertrand on the Irish's new special teams coordinator "Notre Dame's ceiling as a program is literally be- ing as good as Alabama. If you put the right coach in place — heck, maybe that will be [Marcus] Freeman — you have a chance to be one of the most dominant programs in the sport. Though it is tricky to compare any program to Alabama because it's unrealistic to expect any coach to duplicate what Nick Saban has done, it's important to stress that I think that Notre Dame's ceiling is the mountaintop. "Though [Brian] Kelly did a good job of building Notre Dame into — and keeping it — one of the 10 best programs in America, I think we can all agree that the Irish probably reached their ceiling under him. With Freeman, it seems higher." — Andy Staples of The Athletic "Marcus Freeman's first Notre Dame team will boast one of the best offensive lines in the country and, at worst, a very good defensive front seven. The Fighting Irish are a top-10 team on paper, and if they get what they need from the QB position, they could easily be top-five. "Freeman and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees continue to treat the race for QB1 as an open bat- tle between [Tyler] Buchner and [Drew] Pyne, but most media close to the scene have been predicting an eventual Buchner win. He showed off fantastic mobility last season, gaining 346 yards in 45 non- sack rushes, but he also threw 3 interceptions in 35 passes. If his big-plays-to-disasters ratio is sound, he could bring a level of upside to the position that Irish fans haven't seen in a while. They'll need quite a bit of it, since reaching the CFP will likely require going 2-1 (at worst) against Ohio State in Columbus, Clem- son at home and USC in Los Angeles." — ESPN staff writer Bill Connelly on including Buchner among the 25 most important players in 2022's College Football Playoff race "Few positions are tougher for true freshmen to make an impact than left tackle, especially at a pro- gram known for elite line play such as Notre Dame. But Alt, who came to Notre Dame with most of his experience at tight end, became a pleasant surprise for the Irish last season. Alt actually replaced another freshman, Blake Fisher, who suffered a [regular-] season-ending knee injury in the opening game. "Alt's emergence as a starter coincided with Notre Dame's improvement on offense, as the team aver- aged 38 points in its final eight games and eclipsed 400 total yards in seven of those contests. He made several Freshman All-America teams and should an- chor Notre Dame's line along with Fisher for years to come." — ESPN senior writer Adam Rittenberg on including Notre Dame sophomore left tackle Joe Alt among 11 second-year stars in college football this fall "From Shamrock special alternates to mustard gold pants, Notre Dame has changed things up a bit during its era with Under Armour. But the Irish's traditional navy blue and gold color palette has stood the test of time as one of college football's best. Kelly green is a third color and pairs well with navy, but Notre Dame stays away from too much usage of green on game days for a more traditional look. Notre Dame recently went back to its gold shimmer helmet with grey face- mask after doing a more dull version of the gold lid in the past. The shimmer is a nice touch for the golden domers." — Brad Crawford of 247Sports on ranking Notre Dame No. 5 on its list of college football's most iconic uniforms, behind only Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Texas PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER TOP TWEETS

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