Chat Transcript: Who deserves the blame for Notre Dame's 0-2 start? Fans have plenty of ideas.

Mike Berardino
ND Insider
Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman sings the alma mater with players after the Notre Dame vs. Marshall NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

SOUTH BEND — Mike Berardino: Good morning, chatters. Thanks so much for all the questions. Plenty to discuss, so we'll get right to it.

Larry: Tell me why we shouldn’t fire Freeman right now.  Took over a high ranked, high profile team and we are playing at low division 2 level. Hate to say it, but he needs to go now.

Mike Berardino: Hello, Larry! (How about that for a McLean Stevenson reference that's older than most of the Irish coaching staff?) I understand your frustration, but that would be an all-time panic move. Are you sure your last name isn't Steinbrenner? I'm guessing you saw the news out of Lincoln, Neb., this week and got to thinking. Scott Frost had a much longer résumé of close losses before Nebraska AD Trev Alberts handed him that $15 million parting gift. Frost was in Year 5 at his alma mater and had yet to produce a winning record (16-31 overall). Freeman is just getting started.

Fred, Pontiac, Michigan: Whenever the TV cameras showed Freeman on the sideline, he looked a bit lost and confused. Several times it appeared as if he were unsure whether to join the offense or defense briefings during timeouts. What's your take?

More:Marcus Freeman: 'You're insane' to think takeaways will happen on their own

Mike Berardino: Hi, Fred. Thanks for the question. I have one for you: Do you miss the Silverdome? I covered Duke basketball there in the 1991 regional. Mike Krzyzewski was so locked in during that run to the first of five NCAA Tournament titles, at one point during a scorer's table delay, he turned and yelled at the befuddled clock operator: "Come on, do your job!" Yes, I used that in the column that day. I found it instructive that Coach K was feeling it to the point he thought he could motivate even total strangers. That's a roundabout way of getting to your question about sideline demeanor. Near the end of Bobby Bowden's career, frustrated FSU fans would bemoan the fact he sometimes didn't even wear headphones. So, who knows? There's no doubt that life in the HC fishbowl is markedly different for Freeman than what it was as a rising young DC. He's admittedly learning some things on the fly, right down to how his time and attention should be divided during those three-plus hours from kickoff to triple zeroes.

No doubt that's part of the total evaluation he's been conducting in the wake of this 0-2 start. It's one thing to stand on your mark and deliver scripted lines when you're goofing with the Mannings or the Golics during the offseason. It's quite another when they start keeping score and the whole college football world is watching.

Kurt from SB: Jack and Marcus both said this wasn't a rebuild it was to keep it going and take the program to the next level. After a 0-3 start overall, do you still see it that way?

Mike Berardino: Hi Kurt. No one is talking about a rebuild just yet. Michael Mayer struck the right tone after the Marshall game when he said: "We’ve got a long season ahead. I think people know that. Our goal is to win out the rest of the season." Even with Tyler Buchner out for the year, that's not an unthinkable proposition. I'd say they're another two losses away from using the R-word. Until then, veteran leaders need to show the way. It starts with Cal.

Matt from LA: Do you see any changes coming on the O-Line? As much as I like Lugg he seems to be better suited for a 6th man role and Zeke hasn’t been living up to the preseason hype either. Do you think inserting a guy like Spindler might bring some new energy and toughness up front?

Mike Berardino: Hey, Matt. I'm not sure benching a sixth-year senior is the cure-all for what ails this line. Freeman was asked Monday whether moving Jarrett Patterson back to center was under consideration, but his answer gave no indication that it was. Line guru Harry Hiestand was effusive in his praise of Rocco Spindler during spring practice, so it wouldn't shock me to see him rotate in for at least a series or two here soon. But if a lack of familiarity is the problem for this five-man unit, what good is more variety? It's about reps. It's about communication. It's about trust. It's about confidence. All that takes time, which I realize is in short supply for a team off to an 0-2 start.

Here's Hiestand's quote on Spindler from April 7: "He’s a battler. He’s a fighter. You love him. You can’t not love the kid. He loves football. He pours his heart and soul into every practice. He fights like hell. He’ll make mistakes because he’s young, but it’s not because of lack of effort. You love his demeanor and the way he appreciates the sport. He just loves getting after it. Some guys like contact more than others. He loves contact. So it’s hard not to like him."

Steven from Athens GA: First off bravo to Tom Noie, shame on us indeed for thinking we would be better. A lot of people are gonna call for Freeman's head and I think they have a point. It's more than wins and loses. Both Offensive and Defensive lines are soft, they are getting blown off the ball. Defense can't tackle, play calls make no sense, and there seems to be no energy on the sidelines. I'm pretty sure both of buchners INTs seemed to be on quick screen throws to the wide side of the field to a receiver looking at press coverage. Can you help me understand what is happening!? Also Patterson seems to be much more productive at center, could you see some shuffling along the OL to better the production? Thanks go Irish!🍀

Mike Berardino: Good day, Steven. I'm sure Tom will appreciate your endorsement. I'd like to point out I predicted a 9-3 regular-season mark, so I'm still alive (for now). I'm not so sure I like the idea of Sunday as a work day, although I realize that's a pro-style approach (Tuesdays off, light work on Mondays.) One of the biggest areas of advancement under Brian Kelly in the post-2016 reboot was in rest and recovery (float tanks, sleep rooms and the like). I wrote about this in 2018. Granted, the players had last Sunday off after a miserable travel experience back from Columbus, but moving forward it just seems odd to hit the practice field for any length of time on the day after a game. Kelly also did away with road stadium walk-throughs to save time and energy. Remember, NFL guys don't have accounting class homework. Modern college football players need to recover mentally as much as physically after all the emotion that's poured into a long Saturday.

More:Notre Dame football readies itself for Pyne time at quarterback in Tyler Buchner's absence

Irish Rob, Scranton PA: Hey Mike.  I am trying to find a silver lining in what has transpired but I cannot.  I think changes are necessary.  Correll is not the answer at C.  You have perhaps the best C in the country playing G so why not move him over and shake things up?  The LBs seemed to disappear at times against Marshall.  There are some highly ranked youngsters on the roster, why not see if their athleticism can make a difference?  How is Chris Tyree and his homerun breaking speed and ability not getting the ball more?  This staff was supposed to have this roster figured out and ready to go, and nothing could seem further from the truth from where I sit.  Shake things up, let's get some of these youngsters meaningful snaps before they bolt for the portal.  Things can't go much worse than they did last week so why not???

Mike Berardino: Greetings, Irish Rob. Lot of valid points here, and I can assure you at least one former all-time great ND O-lineman shares your confusion over why Patterson was moved off center. We were just talking about that. Freeman agreed Monday that Tyree must get more touches with his playmaking ability, so I think you'll get your wish there. As far as a youth movement, you can't coach in fear of the portal. That will only cause you to lose the  faith of the upperclassmen. Now, if a younger player simply beats out someone with experience, that's another matter. Those two young corners, Ben Morrison and Jaden Mickey, might do that by midseason. And the aforementioned Rocco Spindler could force his way into the mix. But the rest of it has to be organic and earned.

Ryan mars pa: Mike when do the Irish get coach freeman his first win?

Mike Berardino: Hi Ryan. I'm going to say Saturday. Then again, I said that last week. No promises here.

Scott Sacramento, Calif.: Good morning Mike, we have so many deficiencies I don’t know where to start. I am so frustrated with the offense  right now, I don’t know how many times on second and long Rees is going to run the ball up the middle for no gain. In the first and second quarter it happened over and over, he is so predictable. When the offensive line, Which was supposed to be above average cannot move the Defense you cannot establish the run especially when the calls are predictable. How about using the pass to set up the run. We have no game breakers on the outside only the best tight end in college football who will be double covered. On defense our pass rash is nonexistent, Foskey lines up in the stand up position and just runs around the edge every time. Linebackers do not fill holes and cannot tackle. Overall poor tackling and looks like a lack of motivation.

Mike Berardino: Hello, Scott. This must be an interesting week for you being right up the road from Berkeley. I know it's a typo, but you may be onto something with "pass rash." Might want to copyright that for future monetization purposes. I'm with you on the idea that the short, safe pass is the best way to open up the run (see Walsh, Bill). Maybe with the increased accuracy at QB, this will become a thing again in South Bend. I did like the improved first-down balance (and tweeted as much) that Tommy Rees' offense showed in the second half. Things were going quite swimmingly there for awhile, and if not for an ill-timed false start on Patterson (third-and-3 at the plus-38), maybe Notre Dame builds on its 15-12 lead early in the fourth quarter. It also would've helped if the defense got off the field on third-and-9 with Marshall backed up at its 7.

Freeman doesn't usually name names when it comes to breakdowns, but he rattled off several missed-tackle offenders on Monday. Among them: Brandon Joseph, Cam Hart, Marist Liufau and Jordan Botelho. Freeman also lamented safety Ramon Henderson losing contact with tight end Devin Miller on the aforementioned third-and-9. As for lack of motivation, that's hard to imagine given all that's at stake. Not just at this level, but at the next for players like Foskey, Mayer, Patterson and so many others.

Sean, Greensboro: Thanks for the chats and your efforts. How could everyone be so wrong about this team? Is Marcus Freeman our Scott Frost?

Mike Berardino: Hi, Sean. Thanks for finding us here at NDInsider.com. It's only been two games, but the way Notre Dame got to 0-2 is troubling. As for Frost and any quick-trigger parallels, please see my answer above.

harold: its obvious the portal had a direct effect on the losss to marshall..the same outcome befell texas a&m. higher ranked.

Mike Berardino: Hi Harold. You're on the record. It's a new era in college football, no doubt.

Jake Stevens: How long is Buchner out?

Mike Berardino: Hi Jake. According to Freeman, Buchner's surgery was scheduled for today with team orthopedist Brian Ratigan. Expected recovery time for the AC joint repair is about four months. The national championship game is Jan. 9 in LA. So, at this point the best-case scenario for Buchner is a full return for the start of spring practice.

jack anthony: the offense is flat, they should be using their best players and run plays to keep the defense off balance, misdirection plays, draw plays, short passes, and the line has to give the QB more time. Improved blocking will do that. The entire offense needs a gut check now. and more drills.

Mike Berardino: Hi Jack, hard to argue with most of this, although do you really want to see more draw plays? As for drills, you must've missed Michael Mayer's postgame answer on all the running plays they practice during the week. It's not a lack of drills. It's about doing it on game day.

Mike, Los Angeles: Mike, interesting to read in your article Monday. You state that Drew Payne bring at this point in their career “ superior accuracy” over Buchner. Just in case you missed the spring game and the Marshall game, your statement is completely incorrect. Paynes career stats 20-39 is just a tad over 50%. The lack of true hi four and five star quarterbacks coming to Notre Dame is going to rear its ugly head.  Buchner played at a small school in the SD area against no competition, Pyne is a good role player/ backup QB, The kid from New Jersey was only a three star. Just some observations.

Mike Berardino: Hi Mike, there's more to accuracy than completion percentage, I'm sure we can agree. Based on the limited looks we got in practice (spring and August camp), I stand by my naked-eye assessment that Pyne is more accurate than Buchner. Doing it in a game, even the spring game, is another matter. But when it comes to hitting a receiver or a back in stride, when it comes to putting the ball where only your target can reach it, yes, Pyne is typically more accurate than Buchner. The latter has struggled with footwork and flying open in the past. Let's see if Pyne puts those Manning Passing Academy lessons to good use now that's he's QB1.

Mark: Isn’t it time to start challenging players, instead of hugging them?

Mike Berardino: Hello, Mark. Why can't you do both?

Bill from Western Springs, IL: Good afternoon. In the unlikely event (please no!) that Pyne gets injured, would Ron Powlus be a better option a QB than Angeli? After all he has 2 years in the program....

Mike Berardino: Hi Bill. Angeli is on deck. And it might not take an injury to Pyne for him to get some at-bats. Freeman on Monday: "Steve is another guy that has those natural leadership traits about him. He took ownership of that scout team offense. I've got a lot of confidence in Steve Angeli."

Alan from Whiteland, Indiana: Mike, I am going to be honest with you and your readers. I am stunned at how quickly Head Coach Marcus Freeman has taken a Notre Dame football program that was winning ten or more games per season and turned it into a rebuilding job within nine months. In your opinion, what are the primary reasons things have not worked out for this coach and coaching staff? Thank you for answering my question.

Mike Berardino: Hi Alan. We appreciate your honesty here in the No Agenda Zone. If I rattle off reminders of skill-position injuries going back to the spring (Wilkins, Diggs, Price, Evans, Davis, Colzie, Merriweather and now Buchner), that sounds like an excuse. If I bring up the other two Sun Belt road upsets on Saturday in College Station and Lincoln, that sounds like an excuse. If I suggest that there's still plenty of time for this season to be salvaged, that sounds like happy talk. And I realize no one is in the mood these days for that. There was always going to be a learning curve for a first-time head coach with an overhauled staff. Dealing with that at 0-2 instead of the expected 1-1 is what makes this week seem so perilous. Let's see where things stand as Notre Dame leaves Las Vegas after the BYU game on Oct. 8. We should know a lot more by then.

Tom Mahoney: Every team that comes into South Bend is super motivated to beat ND.  Why does ND rarely seem to match or exceed that level of motivation?  It seems like the players are simply content to be on the team and they have little desire beyond that.

Mike Berardino: Hi Tom From Parts Unknown. (And I'm not picking on you. We really need hometowns as well as names here. Keeps things flowing.) Super motivated? I'll buy that. That's just part of the deal, and it sure beats the alternative. But "simply content" and "little desire"? No, sir. I don't see that at all.

William from Glenn Burnie, MD: Do you think Jack S. will fire Freeman or will he retire and let the new athletic director clean up the mess?

Mike Berardino: Hi William. 1) Please see above and 2) please.

Ken, South Bend: I, for one, don't know where fans and writers got the idea that we'd be great this year.  Lots of player turnover, and a first time head coach does not add up to a championship season, let alone contender.  What other program has had a great season with a first time head coach?  Yes, Freeman was handed a solid program.  Yes he did great in recruiting season.  But a great team involves someone building a well oiled machine, and Freeman has yet to put together a machine, let alone one that is well oiled.  I like Freeman a lot, but it takes time for a coach to become a Meyer, Saban, or Holtz.  If it didn't take time, championship level head coaches would be a dime a dozen rather than the rarity they are.  Oh... one last thing, the punter should get MVP for the first two games this season.  He has done his job pretty well.

More:Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame try to join very short list of 1st-year coaching champions

Mike Berardino: Hey, Ken. Thanks for the contribution. Maybe there's a reason just three first-year coaches have guided national champions since the AP poll began in 1936? I took a look at this very phenomenon in our camp preview after running that stat by Freeman. So many factors go into creating a champion or even a successful, well-oiled machine, to borrow your phrase. I had this team going 9-3 in the regular season for variety of reasons, some of which you've already stated.

Mike KofP Pa: All I hear is how good the OL is yet when it was really needed they could not push Marshall off the line on consecutive plays of 3rd & 2 and 4th & 1. What am I missing that everybody else sees?

Mike Berardino: Hello, Prussian Mike. There's a difference between individual talent/potential and unit strength. That's what everybody, including the most optimistic among us, must realize now.

Frank, Lakeside Park, Ky.: The limited use of Chris Tyree is mystifying.Is he nursing an injury.? I do not recall seeing a screen pass in the first two games.Seems with the pressure D fronts are getting that should be part of the scheme.And lastly,Joseph has called fair catch on all but one return.If you are going to talk big it needs to be backed up.Thanks for the fine reporting.

Mike Berardino: Good afternoon, Kentucky Frank. I walked past the "Jet" on campus Monday, and he seemed perfectly ambulatory (and unfailingly pleasant). Freeman agreed with your assessment: "We’ve got to try to find ways to get the ball in his hands. He’s a guy that we know has to be on the field. He’s a playmaker."

As for Joseph, I'm on record saying I would save him for defense, and I assure you no one is more desperate to get that first takeaway of the season than the self-described "ballhawk" himself.

More:Loss to Marshall ends 80-week stay in AP rankings for Notre Dame football

Brian from Batavia, IL: Sir: Do you agree with me that the offensive line has been the Achilles heel in the two losses this season?

Mike Berardino: Yo, Batavia Brian. Thanks for the question, but who are you calling "sir"? (Looks around, Travolta-GIF style.) Hard to single out one particular position group for blame or absolution, but the O-line is clearly in the former group.

Ken - Pensacola: Mike, who is the back-up to the back-up QB & why can't ND go to the transfer-portal for a QB?   Thanks -

Mike Berardino: Pensacola Ken, hello! RP3 is now QB3. How about that? As for the portal, there's a May 1 deadline for notifying your former school that you'd like to see other programs and still have immediate eligibility in the fall. This isn't like the NFL. It's not as simple as bringing in a bunch of street free agents on a Tuesday, leaking that list to your favorite national reporter from a rights-holding entity and then signing the Best McCown Available. And PTL for that.

Michael: Hey Mike - Curious your thoughts on what type of expansion we can see from the offensive playbook with a more balanced QB and what big changes we could see from the defense in week 3? I thought coming into this season a successful year would have been 9-3 or better. I reset that bar to 7-5 and think there are key areas that will be improved if the recruiting class and freshmen/sophomore talent stays on the roster.

Mike Berardino: Hey Michael. As fate would have it, the local media will get a chance to chat about those very issues this evening after practice with OC Tommy Rees and DC Al Golden. Now, this won't be one of those NFL Friday deals with BB on the Belistrator, but I'd say it's still a smart move to put the primary targets of so much fan ire out front so they can deflect all of those relayed concerns and suggestions. Over/under on total combined mentions of "execution" or some other form of that infernal buzzword? Let's go with 16, which matches the combined margin of defeat through two games.

Joe from Chicago:  How can the offensive & defensive lines, that were expected to be stellar, play so soft?

Mike Berardino: Chicago Joe! Welcome. That has been surprising. I believe it has something to do with overthinking and hesitating instead of playing fast and free. Freeman suggested that if players are confused by what they're being asked to do, there could be some "consolidation" and streamlining of those demands. But most of all, in the trenches, it comes down to who's nastiest. In the words of Jayson Ademilola, Notre Dame has yet to prove it is the meanest, strongest, toughest group of (beeps) in the land. The first snap on Saturday would be a good place to start.

Buck from San Diego: Thanks for letting us vent, The O-line is bad, but mostly if you watched Zeke, he was being thrown around, literally. This needs to be addressed, harry to stubborn?  I just don't think he is big enough to handle some of the Nose Tackles. Need to put Patterson back at center and fix the left guard situation. Also, why are they trying to run up the gut when those two are getting blown off the ball? Driving me nuts. Anyways, Thoughts?

Mike Berardino: Howdy, San Diego Buck. This is your space. I'm just mediating. It hasn't gone well so far for "Sawed-Off Zeke," as his teammates call him. He had a great spring, which is how a preseason All-American at center got pushed out to left guard. I'm not ruling out a Patterson return to center, but that wasn't the vibe we got from Freeman on Monday when that question was raised. I'd like to see more jet sweeps with Lenzy and Tyree. Audric Estime is going to run between the tackles, but Diggs dances too much instead of hitting the hole when it actually does materialize. That stuff matters.

Big McCoy: Which top quarterbacks might transfer and be eligible right away next season ? Top football programs that lose to the payee should have a clause to get their money back.

Mike Berardino: Big McCoy From ??? Hello. Oh, I'm sure there will be a few fun names in the QB Relocation Program. Trouble is finding one worth running past the admissions office at Notre Dame. As for the second part, I disagree. I think if the host school loses, the payment should be doubled. That'll ramp up the intensity — from the president's box on down.

Tim Hale: Reaction to Jarrod Paterson taking off his uniform and shoulder pads and throwing his helmet post-game. Not a good look for a captain

Notre Dame offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson (55) walks off the field without his jersey on after the Notre Dame vs. Marshall NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

Mike Berardino: Hi Tim. I didn't see it live as I was trapped in the visitors' corner with Marco the Bison and the Thundering Herd. (Great college band name, no?) But I have seen the photo we ran online, and as the thrice-fired Joe Girardi liked to say, "It's not what you want."

I thought Freeman gave a good answer when asked about Patterson after the game: "This won't be the last time Jarrett Patterson is in a situation where he's disappointed, and he has to continue to understand that that's where you have to be a leader and you have to make sure that everybody is watching you. Same with me. Everybody watches how you act when things are tough. When things are good, it's easy, man. Everybody is happy. It's easy to be a leader when everything is going well. When things are going not so well, that's to me when the character of leadership will show."

CHUCK FROM CLEVELAND "THE LAND": Hi Mike and thank you for having these cathartic sessions. So much to discuss objectively and without emotion. I will only give you my 2 best questions: 1) Does Coach F. have the courage to hold Rees & Hiestand accountable? It seems that he wants to build cohesion among the staff vs accountability. If no changes are made this week on the Offense or O-Line, it will be very telling. 2) Rees wants to make the QB in his image & likeness, i.e., change plays at the line of scrimmage often. Rees had a subpar arm and no running ability. We play hurry up but then take 25 seconds to snap -  counterproductive. Is Rees capable of changing this "mirroring" mindset relative to our QB's? He had 9 months to study our Opponents defensive tendencies --- did he not study film? Why must he change the plays so often at the L.O.S.? Thanks Mike, this has been therapeutic ---Go Irish!

Mike Berardino: Hello again, Cleveland Chuck! Like I said, we're here to help. Freeman already told the world he leaned on Rees to shorten the game in Columbus by running more and using clock. Freeman has said in the past he's "no quarterback guru," and the same goes for O-line play, so he understandably trusts in Hiestand and his decades of expertise. In general terms, it sounds like there's a realization that doing a few things well is better than trying to be super-multiple and all that while remaining mediocre (or worse). I think you'll see more up-tempo from the Irish offense on Saturday against a typically stout Cal defense, and I think you'll see more short passing and more touches for Chris Tyree. Hope that helps. Always good to hear from you. See you back here in one week. You can pay Tina on the way out.

IrishMike: Hi Mike! The season might be over - time to see what the younger guys can do. From what I could see it was very obvious it was Buchner’s 2nd start: always looking to run (partly the lines fault), missing open guys and staring down his first reads.. they clearly aren’t high on Tyree or they’d run screens/RPO’s or anything to get him the ball.  Do you think Rees is in over his head? Obviously it was still Kelly running the offense while he was there!  I don’t think Tommy is the answer!  The defense isn’t consistent - they can’t make a big stop to save their lives.. and why is Foskey off the field so much? Wasn’t he projected as a first round pick? He’s been invisible the first two games, and he spends half the time on the sidelines!

Mike Berardino: Irish Mike, hello! According to the PFF snap counts I tweeted out (@MikeBerardino, in case you're not following), Foskey led the D-line vs. Marshall with 52 defensive snaps. Jayson Ademilola (50) and HC3 (49) were next. Slot corner TaRiq Bracy led all ND defenders in snaps with 67. Notre Dame has rotated three lines up front on defense going back several years under Mike Elston, and the wise practice continues under Al Washington. It's not about total play count for Foskey. It's about making those available plays count. As for Rees, you do know Kelly was already enjoying heaping portions of etouffee while the Irish were putting up 35 points and 551 total yards in the Fiesta Bowl? The biggest concern over these three Kelly-free games, from an offensive standpoint, has been the lack of a consistent running game. The sack-adjusted average over the first three games of the Freeman era is 3.2 yards per rush attempt.

tim St Louis: Saw a new Stat line for defense that is new to me.. "STUFFS".   what is considered a Stuff for a defensive player ?

Mike Berardino: Tim from Kyrenville! Good question. Here's what I found at FootballOutsiders.com: STUFFED (rushing stat): Percentage of carries by running backs that are stopped at or before the line of scrimmage. Against Marshall, the Irish rushers were stuffed at a 19% rate while the Herd's offensive stuff rate was 22%. Fun stuff.

Steve from Louisville: With the CB's jumping the route on every play why couldn't our receivers get behind them?

Mike Berardino: Louisville Steve, you're on the air. Fair point. A pump fake or two might've been nice. In fairness, however, I do recall Braden Lenzy having a 5-yard cushion on that 73-yard TD heave that wasn't, and Styles knocked off the top of the Herd secondary in the fourth but couldn't make an acrobatic grab in traffic for a deep pass that was behind him.

Stanley in Chester VA: Did you publish Irish Mike's post to give us a prelude to your new book, "Profiles of a Quitter"?   But on another note, do you foresee the failures in most categories as things that are fixable, and if so, in this season?

Mike Berardino: Ah, Chester Stanley, fret not. That is Irish Mike's book project, not mine. As for part 2, most errors in life are correctable, wouldn't you agree? It's the timeline that makes it tricky.

James, Dallas: Mike any thoughts on the OLine struggles being related to changing technique based on how Hiestand teaches.  Could this be a an issue that works out as players adjust to how Hiestand wants it done.

Mike Berardino: James in Dallas, hello! You raise a fair point, especially in light of Patterson's injury-related absences in the spring and the second half of August. Hiestand met with media for seven minutes and 25 seconds on Aug. 11. Patterson and Josh Lugg chatted with us that day as well. That was the last time anyone from O-Line world was made available to the media. I'm not complaining. I'm just saying. The good news is we're scheduled to speak with Lugg after practice this evening.

Maverick: Love that the players like Marcus - but why did the ND Admin think this was a 'on the job' training position.  Would we not have been better off with a someone with experience???  Or was it just a matter of being cheap?  Recruiting is really lousy also - need better QB - mobile big and strong - how come ND can't get people like Richardson at Florida?

Mike Berardino: Hello, Maverick. Welcome. Freeman's many positives clearly overwhelmed any internal concerns about his previous lack of executive experience. He's a quick study, and this winless start will be no exception. As for the money aspect, Notre Dame is shelling out a combined $4.5 million in guarantees for three games on this year's schedule: Marshall ($1.25 million), Cal ($1.9 million) and UNLV ($1.35 million). It wasn't about the money. It was about the energy and the continuity.

Irishtiger: Why did Marshall look more in shape in the heat? ND looked pooped and was sucking air. We look slow, disinterested and badly beaten. We’ll be lucky to win 2 games. Where are the gut checks?

Mike Berardino: Oh, Irishtiger, ye of little faith. Is that really you? I'm having a hard time seeing through that heaping bowl of crawfish etouffee. Now I'm hungry.

Mike Berardino: All right, all right, all right. We made it all the way through your long list of questions, concerns, suggestions, ideas and gripes. Enjoyed it as always. Thanks for stopping by. The transcript will be up soon at NDInsider.com. See you right back here on Tuesday Sept. 20 at 11 a.m.

Mike Berardino covers Notre Dame football for NDInsider.com and the South Bend Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBerardino and on TikTok @mikeberardinoNDI.