Brian VanGorder Talks Notre Dame’s 2016 Defense

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder spoke to the media at length yesterday about the Irish defense heading into the 2016 season.  The stoic but confident VanGorder offered up a few insights into how the Notre Dame defense is progressing and what they have to work on over the final couple of weeks before they open the season in Austin.

  • Not exactly comforting that the first answer from VanGorder talked about how difficult and challenging it is to get the players to learn the X’s and O’s.  Not surprising that Cole Luke and James Onwualu were two players that BVG singled out as fully grasping the defense though.
  • BVG described the 2016 defense as “by far our best collection of athletes”.  Not surprising considering the recruiting success Notre Dame has had the past few years.
  • BVG feels better about the depth of the Notre Dame defense and its ability to deal with injuries – something it wasn’t able to handle well in 2014 when the Irish suffered a rash of injuries on defense.
  • He feels better about the defense’s ability to limit big plays even though the defense has struggled with them at time in practice in camp.  He specifically mentioned Notre Dame’s struggles against gadget and trick plays in 2015 that needs improvement.
  • On Nyles Morgan, he described him as “admirable” but did not speak as glowingly as Brian Kelly has of Notre Dame’s MIKE throughout fall camp.
  • On Daelin Hayes, BVG said he thinks the frosh DE has the traits to rush the quarterback, but doesn’t know yet if he has the “it” factor in wanting to get to the quarterback.
  • BVG spoke of the success of the 2014 defense early in the season as proof that the scheme has shown it works well when the depth is “dented”.  At the same time, he praised the knowledge of his elder players such as James Onwualu.
  • Notre Dame’s scheme is “difficult” for the MIKE and safeties because of all that is asked of them.
  • BVG spoke glowingly of the freshman class throughout the interview just as Kelly has all camp long.
  • “That player’s got it all” was how VanGorder described Shaun Crawford while specifically mentioning it was tough to have him on the sidelines last year.
  • When asked about the perception of Notre Dame’s players being soft, VanGorder dismissed the notion and praised the Irish players for being smart, tough football players capable of playing great football.
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  1. I hate to say it but it sounds like BVG didn’t learn a whole lot from all the busted big plays and missed assignments which occurred last year as the result of an overly complicated scheme which college players cannot learn adequately. It could be “same old, same okd” for the defense this year.

  2. The best I can say is that I am not overly optimistic and there is a huge opening on this issue for me to be seriously surprised.

  3. There’s so much there you want to like about BVG.
    But it’s put up or shut up time.
    Can the limits of time these student-athletes have lead to a great D’ with the demands put upon them with his scheme? So many of his comments lead to doubt as to whether half of his unit’s new starters won’t repeat the too frequent missed assignments and too few sacks, interceptions, and forced turnovers that the more veteran team last year fell short of, and now with stars J. Smith, Day, K. Russell, and Shumate gone? They need a healthy Niles Morgan, Jarron Jones, Drue Tranquil, Cole Luke, and Shawn Crawford and Jay Hayes -with all but Morgan and Luke coming off season ending injuries, and Hayes starting the year off with a potential ongoing nagging injury.
    The talent is there. The character is there. The intelligence is there. The uncertainty is there.
    When the coach sounds so tentative about what can be, will that translate into a D’ as tentative?
    Stay tuned. As this D’ goes, so goes the success or not so much success.
    2012 was a high point- last year’s team was close to being elite, especially the O’
    This year can be great;
    if it is to be, its up to the D’, and BVG.
    Go Irish.

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