Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2015 Issue

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

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Page 32 of 111

CHALK TALK BRYAN DRISKELL DEFENSIVE LINE RESPONSIBILITIES AND TRAITS Strongside End (SDE): This is the position occupied by junior Isaac Ro‑ chell. He lines up to the strong side of the formation, which is determined by the tight end or the number of skill players to a side, depending on the call. Notre Dame prefers to have a bigger defender in this spot, which is why the 287‑pound Rochell plays there. His primary responsibility is defend‑ ing the run and controlling the edge of the line. "Setting the edge" means the SDE must be able to maintain outside leverage against the offensive tackle in the C gap. His job is to prevent the offense from quickly getting the run‑ ning back vertical and to the outside. He must execute this assignment while also not allowing the tackle to widen him out. His goal is to keep the inside B gap tighter, limiting the inside running room. Defensive Tackle (DT): This is the position occupied by senior Sheldon Day. The DT needs to be an agile inside player that can penetrate and rush the quarterback and also defend the run. In the basic look, the DT will line up to the backside of the defense and on the outside shoulder of the offensive guard. Notre Dame will have this player attack the A gap or B gap in its basic calls. He will either quickly penetrate up the field into his gap or attack the gap shoulder of the offensive linemen in an attempt to get movement while also keeping the lineman engaged. When the opposition drops back to pass this is ideally the position where Notre Dame wants its best interior pass rusher, which is what makes Day per‑ fect for the position. Through six games, Day has recorded eight tackles for loss, two sacks and nine quarterback hurries. Nose Guard (NG): This is the posi‑ tion occupied by rookie Jerry Tillery. Notre Dame is a one‑gap defense, which means each player is responsible for just one gap of the line. Having said that, the goal for the NG is to occupy two blockers. Being able to take on a double team and keeping the blockers engaged without losing ground are his primary responsibilities. If the NG is doing his job well, the Mike and Will linebackers will make a lot of tackles. Weakside End (WDE): This is the po‑ sition occupied by senior Romeo Ok‑ wara. The WDE is a dual‑threat player, although Notre Dame is still looking for a player that ideally fits this posi‑ tion. Right now, Okwara is more of a run‑first defender. The WDE lines up outside of the offensive tackle to the backside of the formation. So if there are three offensive players to the left of the offensive formation, the weakside end will line up on the opposite side of the line. Notre Dame uses this player to de‑ fend the edge against weakside running plays. His responsibility against the run is similar to that of the SDE — he wants to play with outside leverage and slow down the perimeter run or force the back to the inside, allowing the line‑ backers and safeties to get to the ball. ✦ Bryan Driskell has been a football analyst for Blue & Gold Illustrated since April 2015. He can be reached at

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