Notre Dame, IN (UHND) – In 2007, opposing offenses imposed their will on the Notre Dame defense to the tune of 195.4 rushing yards a game and dictated the pace of the game to the Irish defense. Second year defensive coordinator Corwin Brown, along with new linebackers coach John Tenuta are looking to change that in a hurry in 2008.
When Charlie Weis hired Jon Tenuta to be Notre Dame’s linebacker’s and assistant head coach in February, everyone knew that Tenuta would be would bring his aggressive blitz schemes with him, but it was a little unclear at first how he would work with Brown, who was entering just his second year as a college level defensive coordinator.
Some questioned how Tenuta, who had spent the past eight seasons as a defensive coordinator at stops at Ohio State, North Carolina, and most recently Georgia Tech, and Brown would be able to coexist since Tenuta had been used to being “in charge” of his defenses. So far egos have not come into play at all and both are eager to work together to create an aggressive defensive attack at Notre Dame.
“My ego isn’t that big to where I’m not going to listen to a guy that’s been coaching for 25 years that’s had the success he’s had,” said Brown on Wednesday when asked about having someone with Tenuta’s experience and reputation on the staff. “The more I’m around him and the more he talks, and the more we bounce ideas off each other; 10 year from now, 15 years from now the better off I will be,” he added.
“It’s going very well,” was Tenuta’s response when he was asked how it’s been working with Brown so far. “Obviously the philosophies are the same. We’re going to confuse the front five and never let the quarterback set his feet. We’ve got to get after them.”
For both coaches, the ultimate goal is to win and both realize that they have a great opportunity to do so working together. “It’s about when you go out on the field on Saturday, do we win? Because that’s the only way we feel good on Sunday,” said Brown. “If you can add a coach like coach Tenuta that has the experience that he has had and that has been there – he’s a football guy. All that matters to him is if we win. I want to be around guys like that.”
A sign hanging in Tenuta’s office which states, “There’s no limit to what a man can accomplish as long as long as he doesn’t mind who gets the credit,” further proves that for him all that matters is winning and that no one’s ego or pride will get in the way of that.
When asked what he thought about the talent on hand to work with, Tenuta explained that the Irish have the players in place to take the next step in becoming the aggressive style defense both he and Brown are looking for. “I think we have the people to do what I like to do, what Corwin likes to do. So I think you just take that and build on it from there. I think we’re going to be a pressure package team.“
Both coaches appear to be one the same page with what they plan to accomplish with this defense – pressure. “You don’t want offensive dictating to you, you want to dictate to offenses,” Tenuta told the media before later stating, “We’re going to be an aggressive, ball hawking defense. I’m always going to aggressive.”
Just how many of Tenuta’s ideas and schemes are implemented in the spring is anyone’s guess, but right now that isn’t the focus for either coach. For now, both are focused on finding who their best players are, improving fundamentally, and instilling an aggressive mentality in their defense.
“You have to make sure you are getting the 11 best guys by situation on the field,” Tenuta said of his goals for the spring. “ You have to make sure they understand the mentality aspect of being aggressive. They’re going to make some mistakes, but to me when you’re going into spring ball knowledge number one, fundamentals, and effort. If you can accomplish that aspect in an aggressive style defense, you have something to build on in August when you come back.”
The end result of pairing Tenuta with Brown simply put is going to be a better, more aggressive defense which will in turn lead to more victories for Notre Dame. “When we line up to play in September, Notre Dame is going to put a better product out on the field because we can sit down -Tenuta, Jappy, and I – and we can hash things out and we can come to a better product that will give us a better chance to win,” said Brown.
For Notre Dame fans who have watched Irish defenses get pushed around for far too long, everything Brown and Tenuta said on Wednesday was music to our ears. An aggressive defense that does not stand around and wait for the offense to dictate the pace is something we have all been waiting to see for years; and it appears as those that is exactly what Brown and Tenuta plan on delivering.