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Blue & Gold Illustrated

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

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Page 10 of 55 OCT. 7, 2019 11 UNDER THE DOME Through the first quarter (three games) of the 2019 regular season, the Notre Dame run defense ranked No. 110 in the country in the Football Bowl Subdivision with a 204.3 aver- age. Only two other Fighting Irish teams (1956 and 1991) allowed more than 200 rushing yards per game in a season. Normally, such data would evoke gnashing of teeth, but the improve- ment made by the rebuilding line- backer corps from week one to three under third-year linebacker coach and second-year coordinator Clark Lea has earned plaudits. Fifth-year senior Asmar Bilal (Buck) and juniors Drew White (Mike) and Jeremiah Owusu-Kora- moah (Rover) excelled while holding the vaunted Georgia offensive line and rushing attack to 152 yards — 135 below its average — Sept. 21. It also helped reaffirm Lea as a ris- ing star in the coaching ranks. Consistent in his approach, ac- countability in performance and exceptional teaching methods have resulted in huge buy-in from his troops. "They know what they're getting every day," Kelly said of the defen- sive players and Lea. "He doesn't throw a curveball at them. He has an expectation for what those players need to do and what they master and what they need to master. Each day they close in on becoming better and better at it. "I think that that's what he's done a really good job at regardless if it's a player with a lot of experience or a little experience. His consistency and his teaching approach has been really one where I think all levels have been able to adapt to it." Often described as "professorial" in his demeanor rather than the stereo- typical fire-and-brimstone figure, Lea's composure and instruction methods have also aided development. "He builds really good relation- ships with the players," Kelly said. "And he demands in practice the kind of defensive demeanor that's necessary to play with a physicality, but with the right emotional control. … No, I don't know that there is a lot of yelling or screaming, but there's straight talk. "Straight talk will get the job done as well." — Lou Somogyi Linebacker Corps Progressing Under Clark Lea's Tutelage Defensive coordinator Clark Lea has helped his unit achieve strong improvements since the first game of the season. Notre Dame's defense held the vaunted Georgia offensive line and rushing attack to 152 yards — 135 below its average. PHOTO BY MIKE MILLER

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