Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2023

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

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Page 6 of 55 JANUARY 2023 7 FAN FORUM MERCENARIES Was that a real USC team or the new NCAA-approved mercenary team? Worst rule change since the Bush Push! Brian Yarsevich There is no doubt the Trojans are the poster child for the transfer portal and one-time transfer rule, at least in 2022. First-year head coach Lincoln Riley brought in 19 transfers to supple- ment his first Southern Cal squad . It certainly didn't hurt that among them was a Biletnikoff Award winner (wide receiver Jordan Addison of Pittsburgh) and a starting linebacker from Alabama (Shane Lee) who turned out to be their leading tackler. But the most important transfer was, of course, eventual Heis- man Trophy winner Caleb Williams from Oklahoma. He was the best player on the field against the Irish and the difference- maker in that game. BE HEARD! Send your letters to: Letters Blue & Gold Illustrated P. O. Box 1007, Notre Dame, IN 46556 or e-mail to: Notre Dame finished head coach Marcus Freeman's first regular season in charge with an 8-4 record. Following the Fighting Irish's 38-27 loss to Southern Cal Nov. 26, fans chimed in with their thoughts on the season to date on our message board at Logan Jergens: 8-4 is OK. A bowl game win with this season moves up from OK to good. A bowl game loss moves down from OK to frustrating. Notre Dame seems to be on the right path. The next couple seasons will greatly depend on how quickly the staff is able to have the classes of 2022 and 2023 reach their potential. Don't think Freeman will have time for the 2022 or 2023 classes to be quality starters their junior years. With some of the 2022 class already making contributions the last half of the season, I have hope. Johnnyh: Not good enough. Put me in the camp of very disappointed. Shabak: I felt that we would lose to OSU, Clemson and USC, with BYU a possibil- ity. So, 8-4 to 9-3. But when we lost to Marshall, which I knew would be a tough game because of the number of transfers they took through the portal, I just wanted Freeman to win more games than Brian Kelly did for his first season, and he did do that. Kelly won seven games his first season and Freeman won eight. … I'm happy for Freeman, wish we won more. And I think that if we had a mobile quarterback who could read the defenses and make the throws to the open receivers they would have been at least 10-2. It all starts with the quarterback. Cavanaugh117: This was not a rebuilding year. The talent was there to go 10-2. Comparisons to prior ND coaches fall apart when one considers the dumpster fires Holtz, Willingham, Weis and, to a lesser extent, Kelly inherited. (The 2010 team had some excellent talent, and Kelly was able to secure one victory more than the prior year under Weis.) BeePee3: I don't know how to feel about this season … LOL … I can't get over the Stanford and Marshall losses, and Cal was a close one too … hell, even the collapse vs. Navy was ridiculous. Then the 'Cuse, Clemson, UNC games were pretty nice performances. First game vs. OSU still feels like a lost opportunity. USC … turnovers and the defense can't get it done against them … I get the QB situa - tion played a big part in this whole season … I feel the defense underperformed overall … again … don't know how to weigh it all together. Sloth58: Talent was there except at QB. Irishmark: That's a big miss. But I would also argue that we had no home run threat at WR or running back either. Recruiting was mediocre to bad at these positions the last few years. Just imagine if we had a running back threat like CJ Prosise or Dexter Williams to go along with Estime and Diggs. Thunder and light- ning. Imagine if we had a game-breaker like Chase Claypool in our receiver corps. We can hang that all on Tommy Rees, and he does bear some responsibility, but it starts with the top and it's Kelly who has never been an elite recruiter. Let's hope that changes from the top with MF. NJNative140: I'll say good if he has 11 wins next year. PreTill: 8-4 is a disappointment for me but doesn't matter in the grand scheme. Hopefully he learned from the failures this year. The good news is we still basically play in the weak ACC, which is good for sev- eral wins next year. The bad news is we lose some talent on the front 7, specifi- cally our one true pass rusher. I think we take a step back defensively next year. Can the offense take the pressure off the D? The portal will answer that for us. OSU might be an easier game, but USC will be even harder. Will see if Clemson is still elite or they peaked once TL [Trevor Lawrence] left. I can't imagine DJ [Uiagalelei] is their QB next year. Is Cade the answer? Is he ready next year? Bigtegan: Talent. No talent. QB. No QB. I don't understand how any of these mat- ters. Freeman is not only in his first year as HC at ND, he is in his first year as a HC period. I mean I think a lot of people are forgetting that simple fact. To expect him to go 10-2 is just extremely absurd IMO. The next couple of years will determine the success of Freeman. His teams never quit, they were never out of any game, even the ones they lost until late into the game. He's recruiting on a level that we have not seen at ND in a long time. Give the process some time. He's learning, and he's obviously shown he's willing and wanting to put in the work to be successful. I don't think any of us can ask for much more than that at this point. JOIN THE CONVERSATION AT BLUEANDGOLD.COM! ONLY $10 UNTIL 8/31/23 FROM THE WEBSITE .com .com After an 0-2 start, head coach Marcus Freeman led the Fighting Irish to eight wins in their last 10 games. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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