Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 10, 2014

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

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BY LOU SOMOGYI S chool days eventually come to a close for everyone, but educa- tion is a never-ending endeavor. Just ask 55-year-old first-year Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. Eleven years ago at the University of Georgia, VanGorder was the recipi- ent of the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top college assistant coach, a master's degree-like validation of his acumen. Two seasons later, he was in the NFL, where he spent the majority of his coaching days the past 10 years, in- cluding with the New York Jets in 2013 under head coach Rex Ryan, one of the premier defensive minds in football. Now in 2014 at Notre Dame, Van- Gorder has been mentioned again as a top candidate for the Broyles Award while rebuilding a new front seven plus a secondary that has lost its top corner (26-game starter KeiVarae Rus- sell) and safety (captain Austin Col- linsworth). In the NFL, VanGorder was more like a reference book. In college, he is the professorial instructor and loud orator — while still learning on his own along the way. "The biggest adjustment is how many times a college player has to see something before he solves a prob- lem," VanGorder said of re-acclimat- ing to the college game. "And then once he solves it, the ability to recall and not allow it to happen again. It's difficult, but they're so young." VanGorder referred to most NFL de- fenders as "one timers," or needing to be reminded only once about adjust- ments. "They make a mistake, you tell them, 'Hey, this is what you should have seen, this is what should have happened' and they solve it," Van- Gorder said. "They've been playing the game a long time. In college, we're talking about some 18- and 19-year- olds that are really just kind of learn- ing the game … the players' experi- ence is the biggest difference to me." The learning curve was increased BACK TO SCHOOL DAYS Veteran coach Brian VanGorder's teaching skills and knowledge have enhanced the young Irish defense

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