Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2022

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

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Page 12 of 47

BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM DECEMBER 2022 13 UNDER THE DOME "At just 18 years old, he has established himself as a rising star at one of football's most difficult positions. … Considering the amount of press-man [coverage] the true freshman is tasked with, his per- formance as of late is truly special. Morrison has put himself in position to make these plays on a weekly basis. He's displaying a great balance of the requisite physicality needed at the position while not going overboard. All of this has added up to lockdown press-man numbers." — Pro Football Focus writer Anthony Treash on Irish freshman cornerback Ben- jamin Morrison following his 3-interception perfor- mance against Boston College Nov. 19 "We have a saying around here called one play, one life. As a corner, you have to have that mentality within a game. One play, one life, whether you give up a big play or you make a big play, you have to move onto the next one. Some guys can't do that, especially at an early age. Ben Morrison showed an ability to do that. "Last game, he has 2 interceptions, and then they get a bomb on him. His ability to respond and say, 'Next play,' and get an interception on the overthrown ball late in the game. It just shows his ability to refocus, resiliency and the ability to move on after something bad happens and get ready to do his job on the next play." —Freeman on fresh- man cornerback Benjamin Morrison "The biggest priority for Notre Dame this season has never changed. Marcus Freeman needed to show he had the chops to be a head coach on game day. Not in recruiting. Not on the alumni circuit. Not around campus. To Freeman's credit, he seemed to understand this fact this summer, when I sat in his of- fice and we discussed everything he had tried to get done before the season, talking to alumni clubs and building a recruiting class that was ranked No. 1 in the country at the time. He knew the next step was actu- ally winning games. He knew the alumni who would take his calls (and donate to his program) would not offer endless support. Only winning ensures that. "After getting Notre Dame to peak against Clemson and deliver a dominant performance against Boston College when the Irish didn't need one, Freeman is closer than ever to checking this most important box. He has figured out the right levers to pull and how hard he needs to pull them. The belief Notre Dame's roster has had in Freeman didn't waver after the losses to Marshall and Stanford, but Freeman had to back up that faith in November to make it last. Job done. Now Notre Dame heads to play a top-five opponent with belief it can win the game. When's the last time the Irish took that kind of faith on the road?" — The Athletic's Pete Sampson "He is what we thought he would be. He's get- ting there in terms of understanding and learning the defense and playing faster. In terms of his raw ability, you can see it on the film when you watch. His ability to beat blocks, be disruptive, stay on his feet, all those things. His length shows up when he's trying to disengage. The biggest positive step was his approach to practice every day. It gave us confidence. He has to continue to do that, because we can play him as much as he wants to play right now." — Notre Dame defensive coordinator Al Golden on freshman linebacker Jaylen Sneed PHOTOS BY CHAD WEAVER TOP TWEETS THEY SAID IT THEY SAID IT "The ability to handle the ups and downs is, to me, what makes a person, what makes a team, what makes a life. And I use it over and over. In academics you can be on a bumpy road. In the course of a game, you can be on a bumpy road. But it's how you respond, to me, that really dictates the future." — Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman (

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