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Across the Field: Q&A with Notre Dame Beat Writer Tyler Hoka about Marcus Freeman and Fighting Irish’s chances against Ohio State

Before each Ohio State game, the Eleven Warriors catch up with media members covering the opposing team to hear their take on the Buckeyes’ next opponent.

As Notre Dame prepares to travel to Columbus for the highly anticipated season opener between the Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, we invited them. Tyler HokaBlue & Gold Illustrated covering Notre Dame answers some questions about the 5th place team from South Bend.

Hoka says there was a lot of excitement among Notre Dame fans about the beginning of the Marcus Freeman era, and Fighting Irish followers enjoyed his comments Ohio fans didn’t like. Hoka believes it will be difficult for the Fighting Irish to finish the season as high as they are now, and believes it is unlikely they will beat the Buckeyes this weekend.

Marcus Freeman is entering his first season as head coach at the University of Notre Dame. What differences have you seen from programs under his leadership compared to Brian Kelly?

Holka: We definitely have more energy and cohesion than we did at this time a year ago. You could call it the honeymoon phase, but usually honeymoons don’t last for months. Notre Dame took a 21-point lead in his bowl at the Fiesta, but people are still optimistic that this head coach will lead the fighting Irish to his first national title in 34 years. I’m here.

Just how close to accurate it will be revealed over the course of the 12-game season. But for now, players embrace the feeling of newness and revitalization. Even they find themselves feeling like their feelings of complacency have been eradicated.

Ohio State fans didn’t like that Freeman said he made the “wrong decision” by going to Ohio State over Notre Dame Cathedral, and Buckeye fans weren’t sure if he was going to Ohio State. I didn’t like the hint that academics weren’t as rigorous as Notre Dame. What did Fighting Irish fans think of these comments?

Holka: They didn’t get enough of the first comment. Some say they finally understood what they lacked at the time. Others objected to him that he didn’t make the “right” choice in hiring. However, the two were able to come to an agreement that he had finally seen the light. His comments helped prove Notre Dame was the best brand in the country.

When it came to commenting on academics, Notre Dame fans mostly had a “yeah, tell me what we didn’t know” type of attitude. Even after two days, it was not an issue. But it turns out Ohio State fans haven’t forgotten yet.

Notre Dame starts the season in the top five in both major polls. Do you think Fighting Irish will end there, what will it take for this Notre Dame team to achieve his CFP?

Holka: no i don’t. I’m predicting a 9-3 finish for Ireland.

Marcus Freeman needs two things to make it to the college football playoffs. Freeman says he has to outcoach at least two of his three coaches in college football’s top ten (Ryan Day, Davos Swinney, and Lincoln Riley). Notre Dame will not make the playoffs by losing to his two teams under these coaches. And quarterback Tyler Buchner must be a sophomore sensation. Freeman can’t win with just a team of these coaches. He needs elite quarterback play from someone who, at the time he’s typing these words, hasn’t started a game in his career.

Tyler Buchner will start his career for the first time Saturday against Ohio State. What did he do to get a starting job this offseason? How do you expect him to perform against the Buckeyes?

Holka: Buchner was himself. He is incredibly athletic and a proven playmaker with his feet. He had to show he could pass with precision and prolific ability, and he did it. I expect him to have a first-start jitter against the Buckeyes. he will make a mistake But he also intends to play and give confidence to Notre Dame’s coaching staff that they have someone who can start at Notre Dame for a few years.

Tyler Buchner vs. Toledo

Tyler Buchner ran for 336 yards on just 46 carries last season, and his running prowess helped him win Notre Dame’s first job this year. (Photo: Matt Cashore – USA TODAY Sports)

Ohio is widely expected to have the best offense in the country this year. How effective do you think Notre Dame’s defenses are in slowing the Buckeyes?

Holka: Is there anyone who can really hold these guys down? Notre Dame could make some big plays. Defensively his end Isaiah Foskey was able to get a big bag and safety he Brandon Joseph even managed to pick his CJ Stroud. However, it is hard to stop several times in a row. Notre Dame fans should be warned not to judge this Irish defense led by his first-year coordinator Al Golden in his one game. The Notre Dame defense he could be very good in 2022. Ohio’s offense could be better.

Who are the Notre Dame players Ohio State needs to circle in its scouting report?

Holka: Foskey and Joseph are two defensemen. Linebacker Marist Lifoe also returned from a compound fracture in his leg before the 2021 season began. Lorenzo Stiles, brother of Ohio State freshman defensive back Sonny Stiles, is his wideout projected to be Notre Dame’s top wideout. But the Irishman’s best pass catcher is arguably tight end Michael Mayer, who could be a first-round pick in his April draft. His trio of monster running Chris Tyree (speed), Audric Estime (power) and Logan Diggs (versatile) his back his trio will be at the forefront of a run-heavy attack.

How do you think Saturday night’s game will play out?

Holka: Oh, it’s too much. too much crime. The atmosphere is too loud. Freeman in particular has too much emotion. The Buckeyes win by his 3-point margin, 41-24, in a game that proves they are national title contenders.

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