Notre Dame football get a surprise visit just days ahead of their Blue-Gold game

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SOUTH BEND, Ind -- Notre Dame football just 10 days away from their annual Blue-Gold game. Tuesday's practice had a surprise visitor in attendance.

There were a lot of changes that have taken place so far this off-season specifically to the coaching staff.

One name that’s familiar is Defensive Back Coach Mike Mickens, who is tasked with pass defense, while adjusting to the new coaches, new roles, and new players.

Coach Mickens joined the coaching staff during the 2020 season under former head coach Brian Kelly and is a graduate of Wayne High School, in Huber Heights, Ohio, along with his now Head Coach Marcus Freeman.

Mickens talked about the job that Freeman has done with new hires and making sure the Fighting Irish are ready for the 2022 season.

"It’s a great staff. A lot of great men. Great leaders. Just guys that have a great energy to be around. Competitive and on the same page and want the same thing for these young men and Notre Dame," Coach Mickens said.

Tuesday's practice started at the line of scrimmage between the defense and offense, hoping to set the tone for the duration of practice.

And with the Blue-Gold game just around the corner, Mickens and his players have taken strides to upgrade their intensity with the help of their leaders.

"You always want to set the tone. It’s no different than a game, right? You want to start fast and that’s what we love about those opener periods where he might just put the ball down and one play let’s go," said Mickens

"We have young guys that we know have our back and they know that we got their back and they can be leaders as well no matter how old they are and what grade they’re in," said defensive back Cam Hart.

As for preparation for this season coach Mickens, along with other players and coaches believes that the addition of new defensive coordinator Al Golden has helped them reached a new level of defense.

"He brings a lot of knowledge and a lot of different things of why we play the defense the way we play it," said Mickens.

As for this year’s Blue-Gold game, there are expectations for the Irish.

"I think they taking a step each day which is great about it and I just want to see them from now to when they go out there in that game to go have fun and compete. You know the ball is down and go do what you been doing," said Coach Mickens.

If you needed more convincing on this year’s team and the Freeman era, former LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron was in attendance at Tuesday's practice and says he saw signs on what Freeman and his team are capable of.

"I walked down the hall and heard the offensive line coach getting after it early in the morning and I liked that. To be able to see the physicality that they have here I think that Marcus is going to bring a tremendous program here and they already have great players and he’s a tremendous recruiter. I think the sky is the limit for him," said Orgeron.

The annual Blue-Gold game is scheduled for Saturday April 23rd.


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