Like reading about the social habits of orangutans.
ND Defensive Depth Chart
From the Offense diary: Received a big response from the pre-fall depth chart that I threw pretty arbitrarily in a diary about a month ago. There were quite a few to expand it, so I included those requests with the updated depth chart for the Purdue game this weekend. I will try to keep this as organized as possible: rivals star ratings in parenthesis, since it was requested, names are followed by media guide class and measurements. (All classes are “true” – whatever, Walk-on = W, Former Walk-on = FW ) The depth chart was a 2 deep so there is some imo beyond the first 2 names listed, but it is an educated imo. Offense from yesterday => http://mgoblog.com/diaries/nd-offensive-depth-chart
DE: Ethan Johnson, Jr 6-4 285 (4), Hafis Williams, Jr 6-2 285 (3). This wasn’t much of a battle leaving spring practice but Williams made his presence known in the fall. Williams is supposed to provide a bit better run stop over Johnson who is better with pass rush. Johnson was an undersized DT last season and his production suffered because of it, totaling only 32 tackles. Johnson, in one of the fall interviews, talked about getting to use some of his pass rushing moves again, which he hadn’t had the opportunity to use since he was in high school. Sounded pretty excited about it.
NG: Ian Williams, Sr 6-2 305 (3), Sean Cwynar, Jr 6-4 280 (4), Brandon Newman, Jr 6-0 300 (4), Tyler Stockton, So 6-0 290 (4), Louis Nix, Fr 6-3 350 (4) This is probably the most overly stacked position on the team, with there being only 1 position on the field. Williams has the strength and the size to hold the starting spot now after a season of beefing up. Newman or Cwynar could be his backup depending on if the staff wants more run stop (Newman) or pass rush (Cwynar). Stockton will make this a big position battle next year and Nix is going to be a bruiser if he gets his weight down to where the staff wants it. Williams had scored a total of 39 tackles last season as a NT, he brings the most experience to the position and is one of the strongest on the team.
DE: Kapron Lewis-Moore, Jr 6-4 283 (4), Emeka Nwankwo, Sr 6-4 290 (3). KLM is looking to improve his production from last year, where he was only able to amass 46 total tackles. That was his first year starting as a DE in the 4-3 he was oversized and out of position, he will do better this year. Emeka talked about a bit this year, its good he made the 2-deep but I am not sure what to really expect from him.
OLB: Darius Fleming, Jr 6-2 247 (4), Prince Shembo, Fr 6-2 243 (4). Poor Fleming, embarrassed by a frolicking Forcier last year, he played nearly the entire year out of position at DE in the 4-3. Oh the humanity, ND’s best pass rusher playing 40lbs light on the line instead of rushing from his natural position at OLB. The defenses shortcomings all seem obvious 9 months later. Fleming totaled a measly 29 tackles last year, yeah that won’t be the same this year. All right so this is the first example, well of the more obvious anyway, “are you sure?” moments with this 2-deep. Prince Shembo will not see the field before a couple other OLBs on the roster but he is listed in the 2-deep. It is probably partly because of the hold Fleming has on the position, that it will be rare that he comes out of the game at all, but it was a little odd. To Shembo’s credit though he has turned a lot of heads this summer; I don’t think he will redshirt but I don’t expect him to see any meaningful snaps either. He will be one to watch in the future though.
ILB: Carlo Calabrese, So 6-1 240 (3), Anthony McDonald, Jr 6-2 238 (4), David Posluszny, Jr 6-0 235 (3). This position is going to change quite a bit throughout the year, I do not know who will start in week 2. It is a good competition though, McDonald appeared to be the leading candidate coming into the fall, and all 3 guys saw time with the 1s. McDonald may be a little nicked up from the past 2 weeks of camp which is why he isn’t set to start but if I was to put money down right now I would bet UM will see him first. All 3 are new starters at the position, Carlo is the only one to not see game time last year, which isn’t surprising as he was a true freshman. This ILB position is not of the same importance as the one below which is why Calabrese has been able to step up into the position battle so quickly.
ILB: Manti Teo, So 6-2 245 (5), Daniel Spond, Fr 6-2 225 (4). It is really a shame UM fans didn’t get a formal introduction to Teo last year. Teo only played 2-3 series in the game but still was able to rack up 2 tackles, one of which was on Forcier where he actually caught from behind and dropped him for a loss, it was a thing of beauty. In Teo’s freshman year he racked up 63 total tackles and didn’t start his first game till UW in week 5. He is going to be one of the best linebackers ever to play at ND. Teo is ND’s field general on defense and the only player on defense to do anything against all 3XX lbs of Chris Stewart in the Oklahoma drill. Enough Manti love, this now brings us the 2nd occurrence of “are you sure?”. Spond another freshman LB to break the 2 deep is very unlikely to see the field before either of the other 2 ILB’s mentioned above. He’s done well in the fall though, Spond also is one of the “5 QBs” from the past recruiting class.
OLB: Kerry Neal, Sr 6-2 245 (4), Brian Smith, Sr 6-3 245 (4), Steve Filer, Jr 6-3 235 (4). This was the last position battle to be settled on the defensive side of the ball and is likely to be ongoing throughout the season. All 3 guys will see time on the field this year, and the competition is quite encouraging; Smith led all linebackers last season in tackles with 71. Even more encouraging is Smith’s natural position is OLB not the MLB he played last season in the 4-3, both a depth and talent issue at the time. If Neal has passed him on the depth chart he must have done pretty well in the off season. Filer is the fan favorite for his overall athleticism on the field, there were a lot of happy people when he was named as a candidate for the starting spot. This position is another case of “any of the 3 could start week 2”, whomever isn’t starting is likely the next guy in at the other OLB spot above before Shembo.
CB: Darrin Walls, 5th 6-0 190 (4), Lo Wood, Fr 5-10 178 (3). Walls the final member of the 2006 recruiting class will be returning for his final year of eligibility. The CBs were one of the most abused positions in 2009, often left out on an island while a failed Tenuta blitz was called. Walls in particular had a hard time of it last year, coming back to ND after a year off, he admitted he wasn’t as prepared as he needed to be last year. He amassed 27 tackles, at a CB position I believe he held all season. Lo Wood should be a pretty house hold name for UM fans. Wood has had to step up this off season after the team lost sophomore EJ Banks for the season. He has so far answered the call, as the staff hasn’t had to add anyone new to the secondary since he was thrust into the spotlight as it is.
SS: Harrison Smith, Sr 6-2 214 (4), Daniel McCarthy, Jr 6-2 205 (4). Both safety positions were up for grabs coming into fall camp but both spring incumbents locked them down. Harrison Smith is back at SS after a season of poor experiments last year that saw him all around the field. He lined up as an OLB, ILB and S last year in what was a poor attempt to get the best players on the field. Smith is a sure tackler when he knows where is supposed to be which wasn’t always a common occurrence; whether it was confusion from the blitzing schemes or just learning at the position I am not sure. He accounted for 69 tackles last year as a junior, which was a small drop off from his sophomore season. Harrison appears to be a lot more comfortable with this year’s defense, at least in interviews anyway. Dan McCarthy will get his strongest chance to contribute this year as a junior who has been stuck behind many team leaders in tackles the past few years, his brother Kyle one of them.
FS: Jamoris Slaughter, Jr 6-0 195 (4), Zeke Motta, So 6-2 210 (4). Has there ever been a better name for a safety than Slaughter? I mean come on, what else do you need? Motta saw a lot of special teams action last year and some garbage time as well, he can cover a lot of space on the football field quickly for a guy of his size. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get some meaningful minutes on the field this year.
CB: Gary Gray, Sr 5-11 190 (4), Robert Blanton, Jr 6-1 192 (4). I didn’t even realize he was a senior already, anyway he is the 2nd returning starting corner from last season. Gray did well in his second season last year, he wasn’t picked on as much as Walls was. He also came up with an impressive pick against USC last year returning it for 30 yards. Gray suffered from the same issues as did Walls, stuck on an island with a QB given too much time to throw the ball. Blanton is likely first candidate to play in nickel packages, he is the most talkative player in the secondary for all the right reasons. He has quick feet and quick hips that helped him to major playing time his freshman year. Even though he didn’t start last season he still tallied 38 tackles off the bench.
So there you go, that’s ND’s starting defense going into week 1. Lots of questions still to be answered, but I can’t say I have seen this much confidence being shown from a defensive staff at ND in quite some time. Manti is the Crist of the defense minus the ACL recovery. He leads the team in practice and will lead them on the field, I cannot say enough about him as you can see. I cannot say with any certainty how good the defense will be this year, but I expect it to be a mix of the how they played a few years ago and how UC played the last few years.
UC in 2008, http://web1.ncaa.org/football/exec/rankingSummary?org=140&year=2008&week=19
The entire front seven is excited about the move back to the 3-4, and I cannot stress enough that this is the scheme they were all recruited to play when they signed their LOIs. That recruiting class was rated the highest in the nation in 2008. 16 of the 23 members of that class are in the 2 deep, and another 4 are likely to see significant playing time this year. Lots of potential on this roster, hopefully Kelly will help them grasp it.
No offense, but I bet the social habits of orangutans would actually be a pretty interesting read. Probably pretty similar to reading about OSU fans.
They still suck
your one liners really do make me laugh
Now I can update my NCAA 11 depth charts and such.
to see whose secondary can induce more heart attacks this year.
Is the list of quality ND linebackers throughout history pretty short?
No disrespect to you or Manti Teo, but I can't ever imagine making the statement you made about him after one half a good season for any Michigan position player I have ever seen.
For example, Brandon Graham was probably the best Michigan DE in history. And although some people might have thought it during his career, very few ever said it.
Whether it was fear of a jinx or just respect for all the past greats, they just didn't do it. A million things could happen over the next three years for him, and although I wish him no ill will, I think his anointment as the savior of the ND defense is a bit premature.
putting jinxes aside, i wouldn't start sculpting Teo's statue just yet. he had a very promising true freshman year where he showed that the has the physical ability to be as good as anybody who has ever played the position at notre dame. his overall on field performance was awfully good for a freshman, but he was a long way from dominant. its either a good sign for Teo's potential greatness that the rest of the defense seems to be turning to him as a leader or a bad sign about the character of the rest of the defense. he's probably been as promising as he could be under the circumstances, but i remember we felt exactly the same way about kory minor after his freshman season and he never developed into anything more than a solid player.
on the whole, our linebacking core has the athleticism to be excellent. unfortunately, as michigan fans are all too well aware, linebacker is a position where there is often a wide gulf between physical ability and on field success. mouton and ezeh wouldn't look out of place at the combine or on an nfl roster, but they were lousy last year. conversely, there have been plenty of elite college linebackers with modest athleticism. (ie: zach thomas)
we're going to learn more about kelly's coaching ability by watching notre dame's defense than watching the offense. the offense might struggle because it takes crist a little while to get a hang of the job or because the offensive line talent is genuinely subpar. conversely, it might succeed in spite of coaching given the number of experienced and talented skill position players. but, the defense was atrocious the last two years and we return plenty of talent, experience and depth. any coach who is worth his salt should be able to get vastly superior performance out of our defense. a great coach would turn this into a top 20 defense overnight. we'll see what kelly can manage. we'll be better (we could hardly be worse) and we'll learn a lot about kelly by seeing how much better.
is going to run all over ND defense.
On 3-4 Defense, I think the zone read goes for backside OLB, not DE since OLB is basically the primary rusher. Correct me if I'm wrong because I'm pretty sure that I got this right.
I am not sure how the zone-read changes its reads when going against the 3-4. Does the QB still option the ball based on the DE? I would assume its a LB that is assigned to cover the RB or QB or other RB depending on the play being called.
too close to the game to rationally think about how this information will affect me. We will crush your silly excuse for a defense, and I'm happy they are learning a new scheme. Hopefully they will be thinking instead of reacting, while dilithium speeds past them like a flash. Denard will make these guys look silly. Go Blue!
Example A that recruiting stars don't mean much.
No room for UM fans to bash ND's the talent on defense. Not only a lot of 4 star recruits but Ethan Johnson, Darius Fleming, Steve Filer, Darin Walls, Gary Grey, Robert Blanton,... a lot of guys that UM recruited but lost out on to ND.
I will continue to say this about ND (and other big-name programs) and recruiting stars - take them with a massive grain of salt, because those rankings inevitably fluctuate when a "big name" offers the kid. While Teo has always been the real deal, the ND defense has consistently underperformed despite having a large number of highly-regarded players on the roster. Some of that is undoubtedly due to coaching, but at some point you would expect this to be better than a middling unit given the talent. Hopefully this isn't the year they put it all together, but I'll be nervous about the defense once it shows up for a whole year. And yes, I see the hypocrisy in a UM fan complaining about another team's defense.
2008's ND defense wasn't middling really at all, it wasn't one of the nations best either but it was dramatically better than last years. The link is towards the end of the write-up; I posted it because ND ran the 3-4 that year and was quite successful with it using players that weren't recruited to play in it. That was with a different coaching staff, but there are many reasons to be encouraged by what ND's defense will look like this year.
Meh I don't think you are guys are really being hypocritical, but like you said after seeing a bad defense all year I too know what a bad one looks like.
I'll agree that ND's 2008 defense was good, but they still did not dominate like you would expect given their talent. 39th in total defense is good, but not earth-shattering, and they took a step back last year. I do think Teo will be a stud at ND (maybe not GOAT, but still a winner). The problem seems to be in the secondary (man, where have I heard that before), and unless that makes massive improvements I expect the scoring numbers to remain high even if the rushing defense improves significantly.
Still, thanks for all of the effort with the ND research.
yeah they took quite a few steps back last year, tenuta really destroyed that side of the ball sadly. ND graduated I think 3 players from starting positions from 2008 -2009, it was a really awful result in comparison. But that is over with for better or worse.
The secondary was picked on all year, without a pass rush and all that blitzing the secondary was a huge problem all year. Having a safety or two over the top should be a nice change of pace for the other DBs this year. I am not sure what to expect from ND's rush defense, it was UC's worst stat on that side of the ball, and ND's rush D did seem better last year but it is a question I still have. Should get answered in week 2.
the growing pains of the michigan oline the last two years....Michigan has moved the ball VERY well, on the ground, vs. this group of ND defenders. So whatever that is worth...
game? Just curious what you think the score will be. Looked through your blog history, couldn't find one. Seems like the ND fan base don't think Purdue will be a problem.
There starting RB is out for game 1, maybe #2 as well, and they're their proven offensive weapons. The expectations out there now is that Marve isn't good enough to carry the whole offense, well him and their good WR, in game 1. ND hasn't really ever had trouble running against Purdue when they have a decent team, worst case it just doesn't look like Purdue will be able to keep up if it's a shootout.
you have him at 235lbs which seems bulky for a QB in Kelly's offense, plus maybe some limitations with knee brace if he has one on. ND's big concern will be Kerrigan and keeping him off Crist. If they do that, ND may not have a problem. But ND has some new guys on the OL and they too seem bulky. I don't think Marve will live up to his hype, he will play average which may not be enough.
Kerrigan is going to be a force on the Dline for sure. He has been mentioned numerous times by both players and coaches. I expect them to try an neutralize him by running his direction and a quick passing game if he starts to become a problem for the Oline. The running game will be Crist's biggest friend. I am not worried about that bulk at all on the line or on Crist, see how he and they move first.
"but I can’t say I have seen this much confidence being shown from a defensive staff at ND in quite some time."
You say this like ND rarely has confidence in their "D". They may have been lacking in many areas over the past few decades, but that has never been reflected in the confidence they have in their teams.
When listening to coaches and fans of ND one would always asume they were going to win the national title year in and year out regardless of what reality would suggest.
No offense to you irish, i just think it is funny that you kind of suggest that ND isn't always confident.
you are reading more into it than I intended.
The last DC was Tenuta, not exactly a charismatic guy. His interviews were more funny than anything I would categorize as confident. Corwin was the DC before Tenuta and he may have been just as confident as this staff, but he was very reserved in anything is said or showed. Then Minter before Corwin was somewhere in the middle, there really hasn't been anything like coach Diaco coaching defense at ND.