Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 3, 2016

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

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Page 10 of 55 OCT. 3, 2016 11 UNDER THE DOME PLAYERS DEFEND BRIAN VANGORDER Notre Dame senior linebacker James Onwualu is aware of the criticisms of coordinator Brian VanGorder's defensive scheme. "People say that the defense is too complicated and that he does too much, too exotic and it doesn't work," Onwualu said. "But as a player, I respect what he does, and his system is one that I have enjoyed playing in." It's Onwualu's job to ignore those negative voices and focus on his own game, a message he tries to pass on to younger players. As one of Notre Dame's four captains and an experienced player on defense, Onwualu — who was second on the team with 18 tackles through three games — welcomes the challenge. "It's important to me that I have a coach that's going to continue to give me as much information as possible and give me the op- portunity to do as much as I can in the game, and he does that," Onwualu said. "There are things on every team that you can fix, and the players have to execute certain things no matter what defense it is. "There are things that you can clean up, but overall I love playing for Coach VanGorder." Junior linebacker Nyles Morgan was asked a question he's answered before: what makes the VanGorder defensive plan so difficult? "He came from the NFL, so we're running an NFL system," Morgan said. "It's hard when you're 18, you go to Notre Dame and you've got three exams coming up every week. It's finding time to sit down, understand your position and once you learn yours, learn everyone else's." It's a common criticism of VanGorder, who is under fire again this season for Notre Dame's subpar de- fensive performances. But Morgan — who led the team with 27 tackles, including 19 solo stops, through three games — said that's not an excuse for why it can't work. "It worked last year," Morgan said of the defense in Notre Dame's 10-3 finish in 2015. "We lost two games by a total of four points. I can't see why it can't work." — Matt Jones Holy Cross Village is a continuing care retirement community, sponsored by the Brothers of Holy Cross, with a tradition of caring, compassion and trust. Holy Cross Village welcomes people of all faiths. 54515 State Rd., 933 North, Notre Dame, IN 46556 ... AND ENJOY THE GAME OF LIFE AT HOLY CROSS VILLAGE I magine making new friends and developing new talents, where everything you need to enjoy the game of life is right outside your front door. Nestled among three institutions of higher learning, Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame is a senior living community unlike anything else around. Our warm and inviting community offers: Independent Living Homes and Apartments Assisted Living Apartments Skilled Nursing Memory Care Rehabilitation Services Call (574) 251-2235 today for more information and to schedule a tour. NOTRE DAME TO HOST TOLEDO IN 2021 Notre Dame will play its first-ever game against Toledo on Sept. 11, 2021, at Notre Dame Sta- dium, Toledo announced in late September. "We are very pleased and excited to add Notre Dame to our 2021 football schedule," Toledo vice president and athletics director Mike O'Brien said in a statement. "Notre Dame has one of the greatest college football tradi- tions in the country, and it definitely will be a matchup our football team will be looking for- ward to. The game also has the added benefit of only being just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Toledo. I know many of our fans will travel to South Bend for the contest." Notre Dame's game with Toledo will come just five days after the Irish travel to Tallahas- see, Fla., to open the season at Florida State on Labor Day. Scheduling Toledo fits with Notre Dame's plan to host Group of Five schools like Rice in 2014, UMass in 2015, Nevada in 2016, Miami (Ohio) in 2017, Ball State in 2018 and New Mexico in 2019. Notre Dame is also slated to host Purdue, Georgia Tech, Navy, North Carolina and USC in 2021. The Irish will have road games at Florida State, Virginia Tech, Stanford and Virginia. — Matt Jones Senior linebacker James Onwualu, one of four team captains, made it a point to tell the assembled media that he loves playing for VanGorder. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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