Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2016

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

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UPON FURTHER REVIEW TODD D. BURLAGE T he hardware and success a cov- eted NFL coach named Charlie Weis brought to Notre Dame from the New England Patriots added full credibil- ity to any week-to- week game-plan- ning decisions he was about to make at his new job when he became the Irish head coach in 2005. Weis vowed the "decided schematic a d v a n t a g e " h e gained as an eight- year NFL offensive coordinator would translate neatly to the less-sophisti- cated college game … and most of us believed him. We l l , w i t h 1 6 wins and 21 losses in his final three seasons on the job here, any decided schematic advantage became decid- edly absent. A lot has changed at Notre Dame since Weis was fired in 2009, but much remains the same. Relying on a similar NFL coaching pedigree that Weis brought to Notre Dame, current Irish defensive coor- dinator Brian VanGorder also talks about winning with schematics and strategies more than passion and performance. "We got a lot of packages and can play a lot of players in different ways and schemes," is how VanGorder, a seven-year NFL coach, explained his collegiate de- fensive philosophy. Sounds good in theory, but not all of the Notre Dame players necessarily prescribe. " I w o u l d s a y consistently being successful in that [defensive] scheme i s h a r d e r t h a n learning Chinese," said Irish senior safety Max Red- field, who studied Chinese Mandarin as one of his Notre D a m e c o u r s e s . "… Responsibili- ties can change based on formation, based on the receivers' splits, and then after the snap of the ball, based on what the receiver runs. "Knowing all of those things, that you have to process in a split second, is a lot." In addition to their NFL experi- ence, Weis and VanGorder have at least one other coaching trait in A New Season, An Old Problem Under the guidance of coordinator Brian VanGorder the last two years, the Irish defense has allowed 46 scoring drives of 75 yards or more. PHOTO BY ANDREW IVINS

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