Notre Dame football has plenty of players they need to be leaders in 2017.
Since 2012, Notre Dame’s defense has been fairly disappointing, year in and year out.
Depressing sack totals, getting pushed around at the line of scrimmage, consistently letting ball carriers get those extra few yards after contact, poor tackling, high ranked athletes not playing like high ranked athletes…..
I could go on.
Notre Dame has fielded quality offenses in the last few years. This season looks to be one of the most talented in some time. The defense is going to have to find a way to get off the field in ’17.
Let’s have a look at some defensive players who need to perform this year.
This one is obvious.
When I think about next season, I immediately worry about the defensive line. The struggles up front have been the nucleus of their issues for years now. This must change if the Irish defense wants to be successful.
Well, he hasn’t. Jerry Tillery has had major problems with consistency. He doesn’t seem to play with a lot of passion or aggression which is why his antics in the USC game were so surprising.
Jerry Tillery is a massive defensive lineman from Louisiana and fans are waiting for him to play like one.
With the departure of Jarron Jones and questions about Daniel Cage regarding concussions, Tillery is needed now more than ever.
He is now an upperclassmen and will have a lot of younger and/or inexperienced players around him in his unit. He needs to add some fortitude to his game to set the tone for the players beside him.
My honest opinion is that Tillery has the talent but has lacked the drive and aggression. Hopefully, this year, he finds a way to put his talent to use and dominate the way I think he can.
For him and the defensive line as a whole to play to their potential, Tillery will have to produce.
Notre Dame got about the lowest amount of pressure on the quarterback, from the rush end position last year, as I’ve seen in my life as a football fan. It was infuriating to watch and gave fans no confidence in the defense.
If you cant pressure the quarterback in this game, you can’t be successful.
Mike Elko is implementing a new scheme and Daelin Hayes will likely be his starting weakside defesive end.
Hayes has elite tools. At 6’3, 250 pounds, he moves very well. He bends around the edge with ease, has a very strong lower half and good use of hands. He played very little in ’16 so it’s hard to say what he needs to work on this off season but speculation is that he will be great.
Elko’s scheme calls for a stand-up WDE, in most looks. This should help Daelin get a great jump off the ball. I think the days of watching Trumbetti get dominated play after play are over. Daelin will get the nod and I expect him to live up to his ranking.
As I mentioned, Elko will be installing a new scheme. The base 4-2-5 defense will probably effect Drue Tranquil more than any other player. In a good way, that is.
Drue Tranquill doesn’t possess great pass coverage skills. He’s serviceable and doesn’t give up too many big plays. At a solid 225 pounds with a controlled aggression about him, his strength lies in the run game.
Tranquill has done a great job playing up in the box against the academies and run heavy teams like Stanford. His best game at Notre Dame was when he played a rover-type role against Georgia Tech in his sophomore year.
Unfortunately, he tore his ACL celebrating after making a big play in that contest. Up until the injury though, he was shutting down the Georgia Tech offense and making it look easy.
For a smooth transition into the 4-2-5 scheme to occur, Drue Tranquill will need to perform well at his position and provide good leadership to a young defensive backfield.
I’ve pointed out the what I feel are the three components of the defense that need to improve, and who the focus will be on. Toughness and consistency up front (Tillery), a relevant pass rush (D.Hayes) and sound play in the backfield (Tranquill).
If Notre Dame wants to be in the playoff discussion next year, their defense must improve. In my opinion, it starts with these three.