Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2014

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

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BY DAN MURPHY T he 2014 Notre Dame defense will be unlike any other that Brian Kelly has overseen in South Bend. The influence of first-year defensive coor- dinator Brian VanGorder and eight new starters will undoubtedly re- shape the style and look of a unit that has been the foundation of Kelly's reconstruction project with the Irish. The details of how those changes will manifest themselves and the effect they will have on the Irish won-loss record remains a mystery as the season opener ap- proaches. VanGorder, a veteran defensive mind who most recently coached un- der NFL innovator Rex Ryan, prom- ises to replace Notre Dame's former approach with a more aggressive 4-3 base defense this season. He's loaded his lineup with players that come with the promise of big plays, but not the guarantee that they won't surrender some huge ones as well. After consum- ing the majority of VanGorder 's first fall camp alongside Brian Kelly since their time together at Grand Valley State in the 1990s, here are a few things we know to expect. 1. Youth will be serving. Notre Dame's post-academic inves- tigation starting lineup is replete with players who will be regular contribu- tors for the first time this season. The group that will most likely take the field for the first snap against Rice includes five true freshmen and five sophomores, only one of whom has started a regular-season game for the Irish. The loss of veterans KeiVarae Rus- sell at cornerback and Ishaq Williams at defensive end ushered two of those sophomores (Cole Luke and Isaac Ro- chell, respectively) into the lineup. Even without that change, though, Notre Dame planned to use a heavy dose of youth in a defense that prom- To Be D etermined A younger, faster Notre Dame defense should lead to more excitement this season, for better or worse DEFENSE OVERVIEW

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