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‘We need to make sure we are executing’: Bertrand reflects on disappointing loss

Although there weren’t many positives to be had from the Irish’s stunning 16-14 loss to Stanford on Friday night, the defense played well all night, limiting Stanford’s offense and keeping an abysmal Irish offense within striking distance. Junior linebacker J.D. Bertrand led the way for the Irish on defense with 13 total tackles, 6 of which were unassisted. On the season, Bertrand has a team-leading 36 total tackles.

As the offense failed to find a spark throughout the game, the defense stepped up for the Irish and kept the game close, but ultimately the team fell short.

Bertrand acknowledged that the defense could improve some little things going forward.

“It’s just little details that we’re missing out,” Bertrand said. “It’s obviously frustrating for us. There are spots where we can do better, and where we can hold that team to not getting those extra field goals or even just ten-yard runs. It’s those little plays that make the difference.”

Bertrand nearly had a game-changing play in the fourth quarter when he appeared to force a fumble, but the call was overturned upon review. That play ultimately ended up being a turning point in the game, as Stanford drove down to kick a field goal on that drive to take the lead.

Bertrand described how that play felt to be overturned.

“I mean obviously it goes from a high to a low. I think we did a good job of knowing that we were going to have to go again no matter what,” Bertrand said. “It’s forward-looking with one play, one life and we need to know what we can do to get off the field.”

Bertrand felt that the defense missed out on some key opportunities in Saturday’s loss.

“The biggest thing is missed opportunities,” Bertrand said. “It’s too many times where the ball is on the ground and we need to get that. And there’s too many times where we’re doing well and then we might let up a big shot. And then it’s third and long and you’re letting up those big runs and things like that. It’s those little details that we need to focus on.”

The defense forced multiple fumbles on Saturday night but failed to recover any of them, which was frustrating for Bertrand.

“It’s very frustrating,” Bertrand said. “The ball was on the ground three or four times this game. It’s that pursuit to the ball and making sure that everyone’s getting to the ball, so when it is on the ground, we’re able to cover it.”

The Irish were unable to get constant pressure on Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee, which proved costly in the loss.

Bertrand felt that the Cardinal did a good job of keeping the Irish defensive line away from McKee.

“They were smart about doing that slow RPO by being able to hold us there and then also being able to move the pocket so that we can actually get back there,” Bertrand said. “We just need to make sure that we can bring the pressure.”

When asked about pressure being put on the defense to be perfect amidst Saturday’s offensive struggle, Bertrand discussed the importance of executing each play.

“I don’t think the overall message to us is that we must be perfect. We need to make sure we are executing. I think if everybody does their job, we will be perfect in a sense,” Bertrand said.

Starting the season 3-3 is obviously frustrating to Bertrand, but he felt that there are lessons to learn from the beginning of the season.

“Obviously it’s tough, but there’s things to learn from it. Whether individually, from my play style and tackling and all that, there are things to learn,” Bertrand said. “It’s tough to start 3-3 and there’s obviously details where we need to make sure that we clean up and just go forward from here. We need to take UNLV as serious as possible because every opponent is good at this point and every win counts.”

Bertrand hopes the Irish can improve the little things going forward after looking at the postgame film.

“We do need to go back and look back at those little details. There are areas where we need to perfect that. But, I think it was a great game plan and we had a great execution throughout practice and just looking at the game, we need to find those little areas where we can improve,” Bertrand said.

Bertrand knows that success on the field starts off the field, and he will be holding his teammates accountable for their habits in daily life in the classroom and in the locker room.

“It needs to start with the off-the-field stuff. It’s the classroom stuff. It’s the details in the locker room. It’s making sure everything we do is cleaning up after ourselves and keeping our meeting rooms clean,” Bertrand said. “We don’t want the lack of detail in different parts of our lives going into football. I think it’s hard to say that you can slack off in one area of your life, but then be perfect in football.”

Contact Nate Moller at nmoller2@nd.edu.

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