Report Card: Notre Dame’s Defensive Backs


Nov 10, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback Bennett Jackson (2) reacts after breaking up a pass against the Boston College Eagles during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame’s biggest question mark this season was how the Defensive Backs would perform. With injuries to Lo Wood and Jamoris Slaughter, Notre Dame’s depth was stretched to its limit. The Fighting Irish were forced to go with three first year starters in Bennett Jackson, KeiVarae Russell and Matthias Farley. Zeke Motta was the lone returning starter in the Defensive Backfield. This group over achieved this season. Their performance led to Notre Dame going 12-0 this season.

Bennett Jackson

Jackson was the best cover Corner that Notre Dame had this season. He had 4 interceptions and 4 passes broken up. He was tied for 24th in interceptions. Jackson is an extremely physical Corner. He had 61 total tackles this season. On 4th down in the famous Stanford goal line stand, it was Jackson who made the first hit on Stanford Running Back Taylor. Despite Jackson not having much playing time, Jackson was tremendous from the first day. Jackson will end up being a top draft when his career at Notre Dame is done.

Overall Grade: A

KeiVarae Russell

Russell was expected to be targeted and taken advantage of by teams frequently this season. However, Russell did not let that happen this season. One of the best examples was when Russell went up against Heisman Candidate Marqise Lee. Max Wittek threw the ball deep to Lee but it was intercepted by Russell who ran step by step with Lee. This year, Russell had two interceptions and two passes broken up. Russell had 50 tackles this season and 2 tackles for loss.

Overall Grade: A

Matthias Farley

Farley came out of no where to move into a starting position at Safety for the Fighting Irish. He was on the scout team last year as a Wide Receiver. Now, he is a starter at Safety. Farley played solidly throughout the season despite suffering a hand injury late in the season. He collected 43 tackles. 2 of those tackles were for loss. One of his best moments this season was when he interception Stanford Quarterback Josh Nunes and returned it 49 yards.

Overall Grade: B+

Zeke Motta

Motta was one of the leaders in the secondary for the Fighting Irish this season. He was the key to getting everyone in position. Motta collected 61 tackles this season. 2 of those tackles were for loss. Motta’s impact cannot be measured in the statistics. His leadership in this youthful secondary was tremendous. This group could not have done it without him.

Overall Grade: A