Notre Dame’s annual Blue-Gold Game capped the end of the spring for Brian Kelly’s team. Which player stood out on the Irish defense?
Even with the departure of Defensive Coordinator Mike Elko, Irish fans should have plenty of confidence in the 2018 Notre Dame defense. There are some new faces, familiar faces in new positions, and a wealth of talent and experience.
There were concerns surrounding the safety position in 2017. Those concerns may be lessened heading into this season, but they are still present.
Alohi Gillman and Jalen Elliott were the starting safeties on the first team this afternoon. The depth chart at this position is far from set at this point. Players like Nick Coleman, Houston Griffith, Jordan Genmark-Heath, and others will continue to fight for the starting roles as we head into Summer and Fall.
Defensive MVP: Alohi Gillman
Gillman came to play today. With all the speculation surrounding the safety position, I think he wanted to make a statement.
He was excellent in both coverage and run support. In the first quarter, he had a pass break up and forced a fumble that was eventually recovered by the defense. On the forced fumble, Gillman used Charles Tillman’s patented “Peanut Punch” to nullify a first down reception by Michael Young.
Gillman still has plenty of room to grow as he continues to become acclamated with Clark Lea’s defense, but it’s clear he’s made progress thus far.
Honorable Mention: Jalen Elliott, Drue Tranquill
Jalen Elliot had a couple pass break ups and an interception on the day. He should have had a second interception, but he failed to haul in a Brandon Wimbush throw that hit him right in the hands. Had he caught that second interception, I would have awarded him with Defensive MVP.
This off-season, Drue Tranquill made the transition to the weak-side linebacker or “Buck” position. A move like that should be tough for any player at the college level, but Tranquill looked completely comfortable in his new role. While he didn’t make any eye-popping plays, he also didn’t make any glaring mistakes. He showed that he is more than capable of handling the responsibilities of his new position.