Marcus Freeman prepares Notre Dame for Ohio State atmosphere, to walk through Ohio Stadium

Colin Gay
The Columbus Dispatch

Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman wants his players to feel what it's like to be in Ohio Stadium before it faces Ohio State Saturday night.

Freeman confirmed that he and the rest of the Fighting Irish team will be in Columbus Friday, walking through Ohio Stadium just to get an idea of what it will be like.

"I want them to go see what Ohio Stadium looks like and kind of get a feel for the surroundings, the locker room, how do we take the field," Freeman said on a Zoom call with reporters Thursday. "It won't be a walk-through as much as just as really going to see the stadium and for those guys not to be surprised about how it looks the next day.

Playing linebacker for the Buckeyes from 2004-08, it will be Freeman's first trip back to Ohio Stadium as a coach since Sept. 7, 2019, when he was defensive coordinator during Cincinnati's 42-0 loss to Ohio State.

When asked if walking through Ohio Stadium Friday will be sentimental, Freeman was succinct.

"No," the Notre Dame coach said.

FILE - Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman watches spring NCAA college football practice on March 17, 2022, in South Bend, Ind. The Fighting Irish open the season at No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday, Sept. 3. Freeman understands the intrigue of this matchup better than most. (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP)

As for the 17.5-point spread, Freeman said he brought it up to his team during Monday's meeting, saying it just means the Fighting Irish are underdogs, which brings extra motivation.

"I'm not using that for Saturday," Freeman said. "If we got to go in and say you're an underdog on Saturday, getting motivated from (it), we have other issues."

Marcus Freeman continues to prepare for Ohio State's defensive scheme

Freeman knows what to expect from Ohio State's defense.

The Notre Dame coach saw a glimpse of what Buckeyes defensive coordinator Jim Knowles can do when the Fighting Irish played Oklahoma State in the 2021 Fiesta Bowl, scoring 35 points and recorded 551 yards of offense against his scheme.

"They do a lot of pre-snap disguise," Freeman said. "They give you a lot of different looks to move — the call them the Jack guys. They move them around to different places. They bring pressure, the drop eight, they do a lot of different things.

Freeman said Notre Dame is working on what its able to identify pre-snap while also being able to adapt and adjust if need be, something that will be challenging for Tyler Buchner in his first start as Notre Dame's quarterback.

"It's obviously going to be a big game for Tyler to put our protections and put our offensive line in the right protections, make the right checks and make the right decisions," Freeman said.

Notre Dame OL Jarrett Patterson remains questionable for Ohio State game

Freeman said Jarrett Patterson, Notre Dame's preseason AP All-American offensive lineman, remains questionable heading into Saturday's matchup with Ohio State.

"He didn't do the entire practice the past few days," Freeman said. "He did some of the practice, got some scout team reps and did a couple team reps."

Patterson is projected to start at left guard for the Fighting Irish.

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