Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2015 Issue

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

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you're 100 percent right, you're not second-guessing yourself. And I think also he's just been playing really well, so that gives him more confidence. "He sees things and reacts faster, and makes checks quicker now, espe- cially from when he started. It's just like an awesome thing to watch and a great development of him in the last couple years of just settling in and be- coming more comfortable." Through the first half of the season, Shumate ranked fourth on the team with 31 tackles (three for loss) and added an interception in the 41-24 win over Navy Oct. 10. As is regularly the case with defensive backs, sometimes it's better if you don't notice him. "I'm starting to see tendencies, starting to know a lot," Shumate said. "Starting to know exactly what the offense is going to do in certain situa- tions. It helps me out to make a play. I'm starting to read different keys I wasn't reading to help me out. It's a lot of little stuff and detailed stuff to help my game. "A lot more confidence than last year." Notre Dame inserted him into the starting lineup in 2014 after Austin Collinsworth went down two days before the start of the season with an MCL injury, but it didn't click yet for Shumate. Kelly challenged Shumate and Redfield to be more vocal, but it's tough to help others line up when a player isn't even sure where he is sup- posed to align. "Communication compared to last year has been tremendously better," Shumate said. "We still have got a lot of work, and if we want to take our game to the next level we've got to do certain things better; just knowing ten- dencies and knowing situations. They might give us a call, but if things don't happen right, we know what to do. "Last year we were more, 'Okay, this is the call. This is what we've got to do.' That was it. Now we've taken our game to another level. We're try- ing to get to another level. We've got to know certain things and situa- tions." What might help the Irish second- ary the most the rest of the season is if the front seven — tied for 85th in the country in sacks through six games — can pick up its pass rush and force opposing quarterbacks into bad deci- sions. "It adds on to the stats. It will get us hyped up," Shumate said. "Our D-line is doing good. Our front seven is doing their thing this year. They're making a lot of plays. "As long as they keep wreaking havoc on a quarterback and forcing him to do things he doesn't want to do, we've got to do our job." It's unfortunate for the Irish that Shumate's eligibility will expire at the end of the season when he just now has become the product he and his coaches expected all along. "Coach VanGorder preached trying to find players that take over in the secondary and play that role," he said. "I'm not really a vocal guy, but just going out there and getting my guys pumped up and ready and in position and preaching to keep our heads in it. Just being a key part of the defense." A key one, and one who will be missed once this season is over. ✦

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