Notre Dame may have a secret weapon in pass rushing situations
Viewers of WatchND may have missed something in a brief clip of the top plays on media day. This could be an important package for Notre Dame in pass rushing situations in 2015.
At the 1:06 mark of the above video, Junior Linebacker Jaylon Smith can be seen bursting out of a 3-point stance and rushing of the edge. Smith moves to the inside and swims Senior Offensive Tackle Ronnie Stanley. This may have been the only time the All-American Linebacker beat the future NFL Left Tackle. However, Stanley is an extremely talented player who only gets beat on the rarest of occasions.
Obviously, Smith will not play from this position on every down. But, it may supplement Notre Dame’s non-existance pass rush from the front four. The Junior from Fort Wayne, Indiana looks excellent coming off the edge.
Against USC, Smith made one of the only highlights of the afternoon. He rushed off the right side of the line and blew past the USC Running Back who futilely tried to block him.
In 2014, Smith tallied 3.5 sacks, the highest total on the team.
The former 5-star recruit truly excels when he plays on the outside. Notre Dame could put together excellent Nickel and Dime packages. In the Nickel package, Notre Dame may utilize Shaun Crawford or Nick Coleman as the extra pass defender. Crawford may play on the inside. When Coleman is on the field as the Nickel, KeiVarae Russell may work on the inside.
If the Fighting Irish have great play in the secondary on 3rd and long or obviously passing situations, Notre Dame will only need the front four to generate a pass rush. It would be interesting to see Smith rush the passer from the Defensive End position.
Moving Smith around prevents the opposing team from attempting to scheme against him. If they do unique things like shifting him from Linebacker to Defensive End, he can improve on his 3.5 sack total.