Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 16, 2015 Issue

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

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Page 33 of 111

CHALK TALK BRYAN DRISKELL I n the two previous issues, the ba- sic tenets of Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder 's 4-3 defense were discussed, including the responsibilities and traits of the line and the linebackers. It can be argued, though, that no p o s i t i o n g r o u p bears more respon- sibility, or has a tougher task, in VanGorder 's de- fense than the de- fensive backs. They serve as the last line of defense and of- ten find themselves in a number of one- on-one situations without any help. Playing defen- sive back in Van- Gorder 's defense requires top-level athleticism, a high f o o t b a l l I Q a n d strong technique. The final two traits are why Van- Gorder's defense is so difficult to learn and what makes it an NFL-caliber scheme. SECONDARY RESPONSIBILITIES AND TRAITS On the back end, the Notre Dame safeties will play a variety of single- high and two-high looks. Single-high means just one safety is playing deep while the other is coming down to the line of scrimmage against the run or into an underneath zone against the pass. Two-high means both safeties are back and will be responsible for the alley to their side in the run game and for an inside receiver or a deep zone against the pass. N o t r e D a m e ' s safeties must be s u re t a c k l e r s . A mistake by either of the safeties — espe- cially in the double- high looks — will result in a big play for the offense. Free Safety (FS): The FS plays either the deep middle of the field (sin- gle-high) or to the b o u n d a r y ( t w o - h i g h ) , w h i c h i s the shorter side of the field based on where the offense lines up. For exam- ple, if the ball is on a hash, the FS will line up near that hash mark. When playing the deep middle, the FS serves the "center fielder" role and is responsible for taking away deep post routes and seam routes by inside receivers. The FS must be a good man de- fender and possess strong instincts, which will allow him to make quick reads and get his hands on the football when it is in the air. In the double-high Inside Notre Dame's 4-3 Defense Notre Dame needs its cornerbacks — such as junior Cole Luke — to be proficient in playing man-to-man coverage. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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