Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2014

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

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BY ANDREW OWENS T rying to build upon a solid freshman season at Notre Dame, cornerback Cole Luke might at times seem an afterthought com- pared to All-American candidate Kei- Varae Russell and former SEC starter Cody Riggs, who will arrive this sum- mer. He doesn't see it that way. After immersing himself into his first spring practice at Notre Dame — he admits new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder 's scheme makes it feel like he's starting from scratch at times — Luke isn't looking over his shoulder while trying to make a name for himself. "We're going full throttle now and I'm just trying to work on my game and take it to the next level," he said. "It's a time to step up and hopefully play a bigger role on the team and a time to kind of get a good first impres- sion, but also time to better my game." Luke made 15 tackles and broke up two passes while playing in each of Notre Dame's 13 games as a true freshman for former coordinator Bob Diaco. This spring, VanGorder has brought much more man coverage and an attacking style to the program. "It's a lot more aggressive than the last defense. We're up at the line pressing a lot with man concepts," Luke said. "It's been a little difficult, but I think it tests your game a little bit to see how well you understand and pick up things. It's been difficult for the [defense], but I feel we're up and running now. "I feel like it's a lot more NFL-ready and aggressive all around the field." While adapting to a style Luke calls more fun than the previous one, the Chandler, Ariz., native said he feels comfortable on an island in man cov- erage because it shows the coaches trust their defensive backs. "It's a pretty big confidence boost," said Luke, who noted that he is fo- RISING OPPORTUNITY Cole Luke might seem overshadowed by a potential All-American and an SEC transfer, but he thinks he's in for big things in 2014

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