Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 24, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 17 of 55

18 SEPT. 24, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED Take Your Pick Junior Jalen Elliott is among many that have upgraded Notre Dame's safety play in 2018 BY LOU SOMOGYI T hroughout the first nine months of 2018, Notre Dame safeties had a football "scarlet letter." The 2017 season marked the first time since college football went to two platoons in 1964 that an Irish safety did not record an interception. That in itself can be highly overrated, because interceptions alone hardly de- fine a safety's effectiveness. Possibly the top safety in the NFL today, Har- rison Smith, was a first-round selection from Notre Dame in 2012 without in- tercepting a single pass his final season. The next year on a defense that ranked No. 1 in the regular season, se- nior Zeke Motta was named Defensive MVP (linebacker Manti Te'o was Team MVP) without recording a single pick. More telling was the 2017 safety group totaled only five passes broken up (Smith had nine as a senior) and seldom impacted the game versus the run or pass, making them less certain as well in any back-end com-

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