Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2024

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

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28 FEBRUARY 2024 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH MARCUS FREEMAN … On what worked in the Sun Bowl win: "I think about the first half, defensively, we just did an unbelievable job. Coach [Al] Golden has had that defense prepared all year long, and I'd be lying if I said I was surprised. I wasn't. I expected that out of that defense. "When you're playing well on defense, now it gives your offense a chance to have some confidence and move the ball." On stopping Oregon State's fake punt: "[Special teams coordinator Marty] Biagi called a spy, expecting something in that area. We had said that we kind of saw some discussions on the sidelines, so we ended up calling spy, which was a great call, so that our guys weren't out of control and were prepared for that moment. "I love to give all of our coaches credit. Coach Biagi's done a wonderful job. To stop that punt fake was huge for our team, because that was a turning point." On senior defensive end Jordan Botelho winning the Sun Bowl's most valuable lineman award: "He's just con- tinuing to improve. He and [defensive line] coach [Al] Wash- ington have a great relationship. He works at it. He's done a heck of a job as a vyper for us, and I see that being his role as we move into next year. "My challenge to Jordan is, 'Let's continue to get better, continue to be consistent in our preparation.' He is a talented football player and he showed today how good he can be." On quickly figuring out the group Notre Dame had for the Sun Bowl: "At some point — I may have said it or some- body said it — this is the point, like, 'Are you in or are you out?' "It's nothing against the guys that didn't play. It's just, we need to know the direction we're going." NOTRE DAME SOPHOMORE CORNERBACK BENJAMIN MORRISON … On the Irish defensive line's performance: "It helped us a lot. Made our job easier. We're back there covering for them and they're back there making money, so it's awesome." On the defense being awarded a safety upon video re- view: "The crowd was awesome. Just being in El Paso, Texas, you look to the right and you see just green fans everywhere. And then you hear the chant, it kind of reminded me of the 'Rudy' movie. "It was cool when they all chanted, 'Safe-ty.'" NOTRE DAME SOPHOMORE RUNNING BACK JADARIAN PRICE … On working with freshman running back Jeremiyah Love: "I love seeing everyone succeed. Even though I had the 50-yarder and came out, J-Love came right back in and scored. We had multiple running backs score a touchdown, which makes me happy. "But that can't be done without the offensive line, and I'm super proud of them. I'm just proud of the way we worked as a group." NOTRE DAME GRADUATE STUDENT DEFENSIVE END JAVONTAE JEAN-BAPTISTE … On his decision to play in the Sun Bowl: "I just wanted to make sure no stone was left unturned. Now after the game, I can say I gave everything I had to college football. "It was all love, and I'm just blessed to be in the situation I'm in now." On Botelho's improvement: "JB, the whole time, he's just been growing. If you watch him — just being with him, his at- tention to detail, it's been expanding. "He has a high ceiling. I think he'll do way better [next year]." NOTRE DAME FRESHMAN WIDE RECEIVER JORDAN FAISON … On if he thought he'd be the Sun Bowl MVP: "I had no idea. I was just going through the plays, right foot, left foot like Coach [Freeman] says, and I ended over here. Pretty grateful." On what he saw on his 33-yard contested catch: "I didn't really see much. I just saw the ball in the air, jumped for it. Steve [Angeli] gave me the opportunity to make a play and I was able to make it." On if he'll be at lacrosse practice the day after the Sun Bowl: "[Laughing] Not tomorrow, but when I come back from break, yes." NOTRE DAME SOPHOMORE QUARTERBACK STEVE ANGELI … On his "marvelous" performance in the Sun Bowl: "First off, using the word 'marvelous' to describe my perfor- mance, I appreciate that. Just the preparation, having a whole month to prepare for Oregon State, they're a great team. Great defense. Highly ranked and all, PFF, top-five stats, all that stuff like that. "But really, just the trust in the guys around me. Coach [of- fensive coordinator Gino] Guidugli, Coach Free just getting me in position to succeed and just having a great time. The whole time we're out here, like Jordan said, 'It's right foot, left foot.' No matter what happens, you miss a throw, you miss a protec- tion, whatever it might be, just keep going." FROM THE LOCKER ROOM Long snapper Michael Vinson (left) and safety DJ Brown — game captains for the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl — doused Marcus Freeman with cornflakes after the win. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME

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