According to the Journal Gazette on Monday, sophomore OLB Kerry Neal has been seeing some time at defensive end and fellow sophomore OLB Brian Smith has been seeing some time on the inside as well as the outside.
Their paths are starting to split. Linebackers coach Jon Tenuta said Neal has worked with the defensive ends as a rushing linebacker. And Smith is working both outside and inside as a “stack-backer” in order to move him into more positions where he can be effective for Notre Dame’s defense. (Full Story)
This move gives a lot of credence to the rumblings that Notre Dame will be running more 4-3 looks this year in year two of the”3-4 personnel” defense. Neal could be very effective as a pass rusher in a 4-3 look on passing downs.
Smith seeing time on the inside is also a bit interesting. Mo Crum returns as a starting ILB and Toryan Smith is expected to man the other starting ILB spot. The “stack” linebacker is generally a linebacker that a defense tries to cover up in order to free him up to make plays. That sounds like a role Smith could very easily fill after showing big play potential as a true freshman last year.