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On Saturday Notre Dame and Indiana kicked off the spring season with a friendly match in Brownsburg, Ind. Though both teams got some good experience out of the competition, Indiana came out on top, 56-8.
The teams opted for an unconventional competition where both sides mixed in the starting and second sides in an effort to give everyone some playing time to start off the season. Each went into the match hoping to knock off the rust and get back into the swing of things.
“It was great to get outside and out of the snow in South Bend and travel down to Brownsburg for a scrimmage against IU,” said Lonnie Heeter, head coach at Notre Dame. “Fitness levels and physicality left a lot to be desired. Our set pieces, breakdowns, exit strategies and kicking game played well on the day.”
“I think we showed a bunch of improvement from last week to this,” IU head coach Dan Fitterling said. His team faced Furman the week prior.
Improvement was the name of the game for both teams on Saturday, but the learning curve was steep.
“Notre Dame is a good squad with smart players,” Fitterling said. “We just tried to apply pressure and play the game as best as we could. We just tried to play within our own defensive pattern as much as possible.”
“Indiana is an excellent side and gave us a ton to work on as we head into the season, especially in our defensive backfield,” Heeter said. “Bryce Campbell demonstrated why he's a class center and is supported by a very dynamic backline.”
Due to the messy field conditions, offensive play was made difficult. According to Fitterling, his players kept the ball off the deck by stringing passes together and keeping play open.
When Notre Dame was on defense the Irish were far from on the back foot. The team applied pressure to Indiana’s runners and made a presence at the breakdowns. Indiana’s rucks were under so much pressure, players were forced to adapt tactics and change the approach at that point of play.
Saturday’s result was decisively in favor of Indiana, but both teams benefitted from the engagement. The Hoosiers got to see some future impact players like Jacob Parmeter and Noah Schrader in action, and Notre Dame was able to get its young core some quality playing time.
“We got 17 freshmen and sophomores some great time on the job,” Heeter said. “We'll look to build upon the performance as we head to California for spring break and our Annual Fundraiser match for the Parseghian Cup.”