Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2015 Issue

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

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Page 31 of 111

CHALK TALK BRYAN DRISKELL W hen Notre Dame defensive co‑ ordinator Brian VanGorder was hired prior to the 2014 season, the promise was he would bring an aggressive and multiple defense. Van‑ Gorder has certainly done that, and the Irish defense will show opponents a number of different looks up front and on the back end of the defense. Despite its multiplicity, there is a base foundation that VanGorder builds around: the 4‑3 defense. This article is the first in a four‑part series describing the basics of the Irish defense, begin‑ ning with the primary responsibilities for the defensive linemen. BASIC TENETS The 4‑3 describes the personnel on the field. In this defense, there are four line‑ men and three linebackers on the field, and the four linemen will line up to a side of an adjacent offensive lineman. The primary function each week is to present looks that give the defense an opportunity to stop the run. Attacking the quarterback is the secondary func‑ tion. Every offensive formation has at least six gaps, which are labeled the A gap, B gap and C gap. If there is a tight end at‑ tached to the line the area outside of that player is the D gap. A gap is the space between each offensive lineman. The A gap is between the center and guard, the B gap is between the tackle and guard, and the C gap is outside the tackles. The defensive linemen and at least one linebacker will be responsible for the gaps from offensive tackle to of‑ fensive tackle. Which defender attacks which gap is determined by the play call. In VanGorder's scheme, the defen‑ sive linemen are primarily used to shoot gaps in an attempt to occupy blocks, freeing up the linebackers to get to the football. Inside Notre Dame's 4-3 Defense Senior defensive tackle Sheldon Day is a perfect fit for the current Irish defensive scheme, and his numbers (eight tackles for loss, two sacks and nine quarterback hurries through six contests) back that up. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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