Athlon Sports has had a running series of posts with quote from anonymous coaches about other teams, players, and coaches over the last week or so. Today, they had one quote from an ACC coach that heaped some high praise on Notre Dame defensive coordinator Mike Elko on his time at Wake Forest.
“We felt like they may have been as good of a defense as we faced in the ACC, particularly from a schematic standpoint.”
“Mike Elko was just very sound, thoughtful, had answers but nothing crazy. With limited ability he got guys in the right place, and I’ve just got great respect for that guy. I know it was a tremendous hire for Notre Dame because I was more concerned about their coordinator than his freaking players.
Leaks right? I kid, I kid. Seriously though. There is a whole lot to like in a quote like this.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has read anything I’ve written since Mike Elko was originally linked to Notre Dame that I am a big, big fan of Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator. Quotes like the one above are just more evidence to make me feel like Notre Dame has a damn good DC on its hands.
The best part of the quote is that that an opposing coach was more concerned with Elko than his players since there are some positions where the Irish face depth concerns – primarily the interior of the defensive line. Notre Dame is going to need Elko and defensive line coach Mike Elston to be creative with Daniel Cage lost to a medical redshirt (possibly retirement) and Elijah Taylor’s slow recovery from his spring time lisfranc injury.
The hiring of Mike Elko has been widely hailed as one of the best assistant coaching hires of the off-season this year for a reason. He’s a really, really good football coach.
Since arriving at Notre Dame there have been only positive returns on Elko. Not only were the defensive players singing his praises in the spring, but on the recruiting front Notre Dame has been cleaning house in large part due to the work of Elko. Notre Dame has landed elite prospects like Jack Lamb, Shayne Simon, and Derrik Allen since Elko’s arrival. Notre Dame has been able to hold on to commitments like the Ademilola twins who committed last summer.
Elko’s impact on the recruiting trail really shouldn’t be understated either after the lack of impact Brian VanGorder had recruiting. Unlike VanGorder, Elko has been described as a grinder (in a good way) and has been putting in the work necessary for Notre Dame to land the kind of class that it needs to to fill the depth chart in the areas it is lacking now.
Mike Elko still has a lot of work to do this summer before the Irish start playing football games against teams in other jerseys. To this point his Notre Dame defenses have only faced off against the Irish offense in spring practice and the early going of fall camp. And there will be some bumps in the road. To this point there also is not any reason to believe that his defenses will not be vast improvements over those of his predecessor Brian VanGorder.