Blue/Gold Game Player Observations – Defense

2009-blue-goldHere’s some thoughts from the Blue/Gold game on the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive Line

  • Ethan Johnson – Johnson was a force to be reckoned with Saturday. He got pressure on the QB and got good penetration on running plays. Johnson could be in for a breakout season and could be one of the best defensive linemen for Notre Dame since defensive current graduate assistant Bryant Young.
  • Hafis Williams – Williams drew a lot of praise this spring from Weis, but was not very noticeable in the Blue/Gold game.
  • Ian Williams – Williams showed more pass rushing ability in the Blue/Gold game than we’ve previously seen out of him. If he can provide a push in the middle of the defensive line things will open up a lot easier for the defensive ends.
  • Brandon Newman – Brandon Newman had himself a great day and should find himself in the playing time mix this fall. He made a couple nice stops in the running game.
  • Kapron Lewis-Moore – KLM didn’t play in the game because of an injury, but by all accounts had a fantastic spring.
  • Kerry Neal – Neal didn’t play either.
  • Morrice Richardson – Looked very fast off the edge and could emerge as a pass rushing specialist for Notre Dame this fall. Richardson has all the tools to be a good pass rusher and might be able to put all of the pieces together for a strong senior season.
  • Tyler Stockton – The freshman early enrollee made one really nice play in the backfield Saturday and showed he should be in the conversation for playing time.


  • Steve Filer – Very active and moved around well, but it looks like he still needs some work. When he puts everything together, he has the potential to be very, very good.
  • Brian Smith – I’d be shocked if Smith wasn’t one of the captains for 2009 – he’s the clear leader of the defense and was all over the field Saturday.
  • Darius Fleming – Didn’t play after being limited this spring.
  • David Posluszny – Was very active and had his noise in the action when he was in the game. He probably still needs some time in the weight room before he’s ready for regular minutes, but he had a nice game Saturday.
  • Zeke Motta – Motta ended up leading the team in tackles with 7 and showed why he’s gotten some praise from Weis. He should be a special teams mainstay from day one.
  • Toryan Smith – Smith was better in coverage than he’s been in the past. He was also a very sound tackler Saturday. If he can step up at MLB, Brian Smith could slide over to the WILL.


  • Darrin Walls – Walls wasn’t really noticeable on Saturday which means he was doing a good job. Most of the passes were not thrown in his direction.
  • Robert Blanton – Blanton took home MVP honors after registering a pick 6 of Clausen. He and Floyd went head to head a couple of times and he more than held his own. Looks like he and Walls are the top two corners right now.
  • Raeshon McNeil – McNeil played well and came up and provided some nice support in the running game.
  • Leonard Gordon – Gordon really surprised me with his downfield coverage. He was step for step with John Goodman a couple times and showed he’s got some talent.
  • Jamoris Slaughter – Slaughter also played very well in coverage. This group of corners could honestly be one of the better units in the country once Gary Gray comes back this summer.


  • Kyle McCarthy – McCarthy was his normal fundamentally sound self. He doesn’t miss tackles and is always where he’s supposed to be.
  • Dan McCarthy – The younger McCarthy showed some promise on Saturday. He was solid in run support including dragging Armando Allen down inside the 10 when it looked like Allen was destined for the end zone.
  • Sergio Brown – Brown wasn’t as noticeable on the field as he was in 2008 in the game. This was probably because the game plan was so run oriented.
  • Harrison Smith – Smith’s transition back to safety seems to be pretty seamless. Smith played very well as the starting free safety and should fill in nicely for David Bruton this year.

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  1. What’s up with Sean Cwynar? I am from Illinois and he was our top Division 1 Four Star Defensive Line prospect who enrolled early in Jan’08….

  2. How many videos of the game are there on I’ve only been able to find the one highlight video that shows something like 6-10 plays. Am I missing something, or is that all that’s out there?

  3. damn why u knocking the guy. he may not be the most talented player, but he works his a$$ off. any kid who comes to Notre Dame and gets his degree without complaining about his playing time or how the coaches crewed him is a stand up guy.

  4. John Ryan was rightfully pushed out of playing time by new talent and speed, i like the kid but not when hes on the field, we left those type of players in the willingham era. He has no place on the field unless its some special teams.

  5. im not settling for 9 wins im saying that if a team with as much talent as us cant win at least win 9 games then thats entirely coaching.

  6. Either we suck on both sides of the line or are pretty good. Seems the news of of spring practice was very positive last year.

  7. I’m a boomer, boys, we are use to winning all the time, 13-0 and a thrashing of USC.

    10 wins was a bad year. Having said that, I think this team and the coaching are well aware of what kind of year we need to have. Flawless execution? No, not unless your a Stanford nut-job. But, this team certainly has the talent and experience to dominate this years opponents. And like all successful seasons, the ball has to bounce our way. No more infamous Bush-Pushes.


  8. Robert Blanton was the only corner I saw get clearly beat the entire game, Mcniel and Walls were brilliant in coverage, and are clearly the better cover corners, Walls did blow his contain on one of Armandos bounces though. Blanton clearly got beat by Floyd more than once in deep routes, which is edsactly where Corwin Brown was scared to leave him alone last year. Blantons interception was Goodmans fault at reciever as he ran a horrible route which was supposed to cross the corners face. Mcniel and walls are definetly more suitable as every down corners and blanton will be good in nickel back situations for jumping short route, just because Gray is more of a cover corner like the other two and is not needed with two on the field already. Harrison did ok but did not answer my questions and worries I had of him at the position, if Blanton were to be a starting corner I would be terrified to have him there because teams will start picking on him, Corwin did a good job of not leaving him in too long or in a position to be picked on deep, the only time he was seriously challenged deep was against USC 1 play and was burnt, and trust me Corwin is scared to leave him in there, if somehow he is starting at the start of the season he will not be there when it ends. We have WAY too much talent to be playin this kid as a stater, he is just like the big hitting slow corners of the Willingham era recruits, and we are past that time of blowing big plays evry game because of are corners, and with a unproven safety back there it is worse.

  9. not trying to be an a$$hole but i am getting sick of hearing “at least 9 wins”. there is no reason or excuse for us to win 11 and beat usc this year and win a bcs bowl. if that doesn’t happen then i am afraid weis will be gone regardless of his recruiting abilities.

  10. yes our d is probably the fastest i can remember. another good sign is they seem to be really having fun. the biggest difference is that 2 years ago we had experience with not much talent and alot of young guys with lots of potential. now we have leadership with skill and experience so the young guys are not forced to play or are depended on to make plays. there is no reason for this team to not win at least 9 games. at least

  11. One highly unambiguous improvement this year is team speed. This will be one of the fastest teams we have fielded in awhile.

  12. Looks like he and Walls are the top two corners right now

    I thought that McNeil was atop the depth chart not Walls

  13. I hope you guys are right. I hope the defense embarasses the offense once in a while in practice. Just enough to fire up Weis and his coaches to keep the offense, especially the O-line from getting complacent. It’s been a broken record for three years now, but that O-line needs to be dominant. Good enough isn’t good enough.

    But for the D, let’s hope the dominance was real.

  14. I agree. This defense looks scary. I thought they played very well last season too, but just needed another off-season to tie everything together. Tenuta and Brown are really impressing me with this group. The young talent is there, and seems to be developing VERY fast.

    Brian Smith is a BEAST! I haven’t seen that kind of emotion in a lineback at ND since Brandon Hoyt!

  15. i have a good feeling about our d this year. they goot some play makers mixed in with quality young talent. Brian Smith is a STUD. our secondary has the makings of being one of the best in the country. if Ethan Johnson has a break out season like we all are hoping look out. Zeke Motta looks like hes gonna be a beast, just see how Tenuta reacts when asked about him

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