Q & A With Hook ’em Headlines: Our Answers About Malik Zaire And Irish Defense

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Apr 18, 2015; Notre Dame, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive backs coach Todd Lyght signals to his players in the second quarter of the Blue-Gold Game at the LaBar Practice Complex. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

4. What do you think Brian Kelly’s game plan will be when attacking the Texas defense?

Brian Kelly already noted that Texas’ defense is difficult to prepare for during one of his fall press conferences. They are fairly exotic and present a lot of odd fronts. The Fighting Irish will likely run the ball frequently in the opener. Kelly and the coaching staff have prepared the team to be a physical downhill running team. Notre Dame will look to establish an identity immediately in 2015.

5. How big is the loss of defensive tackle Jarron Jones? Does this make the front seven more susceptible to the run?

The size of the loss of Defensive Tackle Jarron Jones is unknown. Sophomore Daniel Cage and Freshman Jerry Tillery are excellent backups but they may not be starters. A combination of Cage and Tillery may be good enough but they are unproven. The injury definitely makes the front seven more susceptible to the run. But, it probably hurts the Irish even more against the pass. Jones provided a great push up the middle. For example, Jameis Winston’s interception against Notre Dame occurred when Jones made him throw off his back foot.

6. How strong is the Irish secondary? Who should Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard stay away from?

The Secondary may be the strength of the Notre Dame defense. Cole Luke and KeiVarae Russell hold the two Cornerback positions. Luke and Russell may be the best one-two Cornerback tandem in the country. Russell is projected as a 1st Round NFL Draft pick. The possible downfall to the secondary are the Safeties. Notre Dame will start Max Redfield at Free Safety and Elijah Shumate at Strong Safety. Redfield is a former 5-star recruit. He stepped his game during fall camp. Shumate did not. He was challenged by 5th-year graduate transfer Avery Sebastian. If Texas wants to target someone, it should be either of Notre Dame’s strong safeties.

7. Notre Dame wins if?

The Irish will win if they take care of the football. Charlie Strong is a great coach and one of the best in the country. He will have Texas humming soon. But, Notre Dame is the more talented and stable program at the moment. During the Brian Kelly era, when Notre Dame wins the turnover battle, they win.