Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 9, 2015 Issue

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

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CHALK TALK BRYAN DRISKELL BY BRYAN DRISKELL I n the previous issue, the basic te‑ nets of Notre Dame defensive co‑ ordinator Brian VanGorder 's 4‑3 defense were discussed, including the responsibilities and traits of the defen‑ sive line. The most productive players in VanGorder's scheme are meant to be the linebackers. Most defenses are de‑ signed to create opportunities for the linebackers — especially the Mike and Will — to make plays. LINEBACKER RESPONSIBILITIES AND TRAITS There are certain traits that every linebacker must possess. Each must be able to balance the ability to play under control, while also aggressively attacking the football. They must have good vision and instincts, and as is the case in any defense they must also be strong tacklers from a technique and physical standpoint. SAM LINEBACKER (SLB): This is the po‑ sition occupied by junior James On‑ wualu. Due to the heavy use of spread formations, the SLB has a wide array of alignments. In most instances, he will start to the strong side of the for‑ mation, lining up anywhere from a tight outside technique against an at‑ tached tight end to over a slot player. He must be an athletic player with good range and speed, but also some‑ one with the power to take on blocks and get movement. The primary run responsibility for the SLB is to serve as the force player on outside runs to his side. This means he must aggressively take on blocks to the outside with the goal of squeezing the run lane down inside. His objec‑ tive is to force the runner back inside where the two inside linebackers, safe‑ ties and linemen are in pursuit. If the runner does in fact bounce the play outside, the SLB is there to make the tackle. In the pass game, he will be asked to primarily defend the short flat ar‑ eas to his side in zone schemes and defend the tight end or running back to his side in man coverage. At times the Sam will be asked to defend a slot receiver in man coverage, but that is Inside Notre Dame's 4-3 Defense Junior linebacker Jaylon Smith uses his athleti- cism and instincts to make plays from the Will linebacker position. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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