Marcus Freeman tries to explain why Notre Dame had 10 players on field for final play
Notre Dame lost their lead in the dying seconds of their Saturday night showdown against Ohio State at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind. The Fighting Irish’s costly error during the final two plays drew an explanation from head coach Marcus Freeman.
The ending of the Notre Dame-Ohio State game went viral due to the fact that the Irish only had 10 men playing defense on their last two plays (video here). The Buckeyes ended up scoring a touchdown with just a second left on the clock to seal their 17-14 win.
Freeman was asked about the Notre Dame mishap after the game. The Fighting Irish head coach explained that it was caused by a substitution error as they tried to change their defensive formation.
“We were trying to get a fourth D-lineman on the field. I told them, ‘Just stay off.’ I didn’t have any timeouts. We couldn’t afford a penalty there. … It’s on us. We’ve got to be better,” said Freeman.
"We were trying to get a 4th D-lineman on the field, and I told him just stay off… I didn't have any timeouts, right? So we couldn't afford a penalty there."
– Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman on having only 10 players on the field for final play pic.twitter.com/Fqtp7oqz0Z
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 24, 2023
Some fairly wondered whether taking the penalty — half the distance to the goal — would have been worth having the extra defender on the field.
Notre Dame actually managed to prevent a score on the first play with just 10 defenders, forcing an incomplete pass as Ohio State faced 2nd-and-goal. However, preventing an Ohio State run up the gut was much tougher down one defensive lineman.