'Dx over Dt?' Notre Dame football players explain what 'Clarity equals velocity' means

South Bend Tribune
11 hours ago
SOUTH BEND — Leave it to Joe Alt, mechanical engineering major and All-America left tackle for Notre Dame football, to recite the formula for velocity off the top of his head.
“It’s Dx over Dt,” the towering junior said this week after practice. “Change of position over time.”
That’s the Physics 101 definition, mind you. In Professor Marcus Freeman’s world of hesitation-free football, a different equation has become the mantra of this preseason training camp.
Freeman’s Theorem holds that “Clarity Equals Velocity.”
Asked how many times per day he’s heard that phrase while prepping for the season opener on Aug. 26 against Navy in Dublin, Nana Osafo-Mensah gave a chuckle.
“Man, probably six to 10 times a day — easily,” the fifth-year defensive end said. “It’s a constant reminder.”
Of what exactly, though?
To see through the haze of a slogan-heavy program, NDInsider.com posed the question to a cross-section of Notre Dame players and assistant coaches: What does “clarity equals velocity” mean to them?
Gabriel Rubio, Defensive tackle
“It’s another way of saying ‘slow equals smooth, smooth equals fast.’ It’s an older adage, but basically you have to understand what you’re doing conceptually so you can really put it into motion. Once you finally understand it fully, you can really take off in that regard. …
“I don’t think (clarity) can be a bad thing at all. We want velocity and not speed. Speed, you can run around in circles as fast as you want; you’re not going anywhere with it. Velocity has a clear direction of what you’re trying to do. When we say clarity equals velocity, not clarity equals speed, we’re saying we’re doing it with a purpose.”
Zeke Correll, center
“That means understanding your assignment. That helps you play fast and not have to worry about messing up because you know the guy next to you has your back.”
Jack Kiser, linebacker
“Coach Freeman’s big message this fall camp has been clarity is velocity. For us (as fifth-year linebackers) maybe that velocity is something a lot more complex, but when you put in the three freshmen, in order for them to play fast and play confident, we have to change what we’re calling or what we’re doing.
“Some guys you just have to make sure they can play fast because that’s how you can be dominant. If they allow us to do some checks or some changes, JD (Bertrand) and I will do whatever we think will be the best call, put us in the best position. … And then knowing all the checks right off the top of the head, you can play fast and free. As fifth-years, we’re getting that and we’re able to play superfast.”
Blake Fisher, right tackle
“Just knowing exactly what you need to do and then being able to go produce that at the highest level that you can. If you know what you’re doing, that’s the faster you can play. If you have clarity on your job, you can go play with velocity and speed. It’s just how it works.”
Junior Tuihalamaka, Vyper defensive end
“It definitely means whatever the coaches bring in, whatever playbook, that scheme and anything that comes with it against teams, we’ll be ready, 100%, without overthinking any type of situation. The big difference of us playing free, especially with the playbook that we have, is (memorizing) things we have to know off the bat. Being able to learn that type of playbook, (we) now finally feel free to (play in) any different moments. Just play free.”
Charles Jagusah, freshman offensive tackle
“For me it’s about the mental side of the game, knowing your assignment and being able to execute your steps as quickly as possible. Especially with my knee (history), that’s the one thing: Trusting what you need to do, when you need to do it and going fast is the hardest part. I’m just kind of getting there and the more I get to know the playbook, the more I’ll be able to move with some velocity.”
Jordan Botelho, Vyper defensive end
“If you know what you’re doing on the field, your plays, then you’re able to play fast. Coaches do a great job of teaching us what to do. It’s our job to go on the field and perform the job. You always can work on your clarity. That’s studying the plays extra, so it always adds up to your velocity, like coach says all the time. I would say there could be bad velocity if you’re out of control. You always want to be under control.”
Rylie Mills, defensive tackle
“It basically means the only way you can play fast and play with speed is really being clear and knowing your job. So, it's kind of a message to everybody: Know the playbook, know what your job is, know what your role is and you can play 10 times clearer. Since I've been here for a while, I think I understand the defense more, but for a young guy coming in, it's tough trying to learn all the techniques and learn the playbook. The big message is just take the time, understand your role, so that way you can play like you played in high school. Now being an older guy, I have to be clear so I can explain it to the young guys and that way every play I know exactly what I'm doing and I can explain it.
“I always heard the expression when I came in, it's like you're drinking from a firehose. You got a million things going on at once, so the biggest thing you do is if you can just take care of knowing your job and knowing your role, you can get back to playing as fast as you did in high school.”
(On the scientific formula for velocity) “Is it mass times speed? I don’t know. I’m a marketing major.”
Al Washington, defensive line coach
“The biggest sin in football is wasted time. You’d be surprised. I remember when I was a player, sometimes I didn’t know why I did it. Being around some great coaches over the years, you get more done when you break it down and make them explain. We’ve done those drills before, but I want to make sure they can kick back exactly what we’re trying to get done because that’s how you develop. We’re teachers. My job is to teach them. I don’t think anybody wants to fail.
“A lot of times when they make mistakes, it’s because they’re not aware. I try to take every opportunity to teach them. That’s my goal. Communicating is a big part of that. Consequence them if it’s not (done), but also teach them.”
(On how you judge clarity) “You see it and you hear it. We had a meeting, and an older guy – I won’t name him – but I brought up a simple technique, a job. And I said, ‘What is your job? Articulate your job.’ And he said all these different things. And I said, ‘Shoot, I have to go back. Let me break this down.’ It’s got to be 1-2-3. (Snaps fingers.) If you’re stumbling and fumbling trying to find the words, how are you going to play? You’re going to play that way.
“You constantly test them. When they’re fatigued, can (they) kick it back? You have to execute when you’re tired. It’s a constant thing. You never take it for granted. Over time, hopefully it becomes (part of) them. I always say, ‘I want you to coach it.’ I want them to be able to coach the young guys. Our entire staff, we’re empowered to share the knowledge.”
Nana Osafo-Mensah, defensive end
“I just take it as an opportunity to really take the time to understand the defense. The more you understand the scheme and why we’re running it, you understand how it applies to who we’re playing against, depending on the package we have in that day. It helps you be able to play so much faster.
“It’s different than just playing with speed. Playing with speed can just be running in a straight line. It’s easy like that. But playing with velocity, you’re able to make those cuts and angles to make the whole defense right and to get your teammates right.
“The biggest thing for younger guys is they’re so excited to be here right now, especially because they’re finally able to put the pads back on (for the first time) since playing in high school. You have to understand that clarity doesn’t come within just a month or two. You have to be patient being able to understand it through getting reps, watching a lot of film, really understanding what the defense’s point is, what the perspective in every defense is and what we’re doing everything for, even as it relates to different coverages, different rushes, different blitzes.
“Being a young guy, you have so much going on in the world. You’re trying to adjust to the weight room, adjust to the new plays, adjust to living somewhere out of state. It takes more time to really be able to get a better grasp on the whole understanding of the defense.”
Joe Alt, left tackle
“It’s kind of funny. For me, an engineering guy, it wasn’t clarity equals speed, it’s clarity equals velocity. And the idea with that is you have a direction with your speed. Obviously, you want to play fast, but the direction piece comes with just knowing it. You don’t want to just run around like a deer in the headlights, just flying around the ball. You want to know what you’re doing.
“The biggest thing with that is just to understand the details. That’s something we harp (on) … is just knowing the details and making plays work with the details. You can play as fast as you want, but if you don’t know really what you’re trying to get accomplished, you’re just meandering, not really doing anything. Having a clear thought, a clear mind up at the line of scrimmage and then playing from there is very important. That’s where clarity and velocity work really well together.”

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