Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 25, 2023

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

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26 NOV. 25, 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH MARCUS FREEMAN … On the decision to attempt a surprise onside kick, which Notre Dame recovered: "We had practiced it for a couple weeks and had seen it on film. The first two kickoffs, we were like, 'It's there. It's not the right time.' I said, 'If we score again, let's do it.' "At some point, if you're going to do it, you got to call it. If you believe you can execute it, you have to call it, right? There is no point of practicing something and get- ting a look that you are look- ing for and not calling it. So I told them, 'Let's do it.' It was a great job by [special teams co- ordinator Marty] Biagi of pre- paring for that moment and executing when it mattered." On sophomore tight end Eli Raridon getting over the mental hump after tearing his ACL last season, and catching 3 passes for 39 yards and his first career touchdown against Wake Forest: "It wasn't one thing. Accumulation of weeks and practices, [from] when he fi- nally was cleared to play from where he was to now. It's just a process of him gaining that confidence. He's not at his full potential yet. He'll continue to gain that confidence. "I think today was a great reflection of how far he's come since he was cleared medically. For him to have some of those catches and get hit low, it gives him confidence that, 'Hey, I'm going to be just fine.'" On the defense being the pro- gram's identity: "I was talking to [de- fensive coordinator Al] Golden after the game and we're upset about 7 points. Really upset about 7 points. They did some good things in the first half that really we hadn't seen on film. "The adjustments that we could make, that Coach Golden can make, it's credit to Coach Golden and his staff. Man, they have answers. They're able to get the ad- justments to the players and they can go out there and execute. … I'm sure defen- sively, there will be a lot to improve, but I like to be upset about 7 points." NOTRE DAME FRESHMAN WIDE RECEIVER RICO FLORES JR. … On building on his 100-yard per- formance: "Now we are onto Stanford next week. I don't really just stay on my high moments. I'll give credit to my mom, too. She was on me like that. Any time I was doing something good, she was going to tell me what I did wrong. Like how Freeman was talking about he going to get on me about my fumble. Sounds just like my mom. "I'm ready for that, too. Just got to keep going. Can't stay in one place. Got to elevate each game." NOTRE DAME SOPHOMORE CORNERBACK BENJAMIN MORRISON … On his relationship with graduate cornerback Cam Hart: "Coming in, Cam took me under his wing. He didn't have to do the things he did for me. He taught me life lessons outside of foot- ball. That dude just took me under his wing and showed me how to be success- ful at this university, if it was school, if it was football. "Understanding this was his last game [at Notre Dame Stadium], I was kind of emotional because that's a dude who you look forward to coming into the facility and seeing every day, and just the stories we can go back and forth and tell. "It's a testament, because this time last year, exact same game, he hurt his shoulder. We were talking, and he was just like, 'This stuff happens to me. I don't understand it.' To see the success he's had this year, it's next to none. The joy I have for him, the love I have for him, so grateful for him." NOTRE DAME JUNIOR DEFENSIVE TACKLE JASON ONYE … On the Irish blocking their second field goal of the season: "That's big. That was really big. We were harping on it Friday. Coach Biagi told us we were going to have an opportunity this week. He kicks very low. After the PAT, we were expecting to block that field goal." NOTRE DAME JUNIOR RUNNING BACK AUDRIC ESTIMÉ … On if he felt a wave of emotions in potentially his final Notre Dame home game: "Yeah, not going to lie, definitely. I haven't made a decision yet, but like you said, it could be potentially my last time. I know for a fact it's Sam Hartman's last time, and some of the guys on defense's last time, a lot of seniors. "Just going hard with them the whole summer, dying in conditioning, just to be able to finish out strong like this to see the smiles and their faces and see everyone's family on the field was a great moment and a moment I'll re- member forever." — Jack Soble FROM THE LOCKER ROOM Sophomore tight end Eli Raridon made his first career start, made his first career catch and scored his first career touchdown against Wake Forest. He finished with 3 receptions for 39 yards and the score. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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