Here is the other half of ND’s depth chart, well at least the 2nd half that I am going to post on. If you need a ST breakdown you will need to keep searching. I will try to answer any questions when I can.
DE: Sr. Ethan Johnson (LY 34T, 6TFL, 5sack) Fr. Aaron Lynch
Johnson came out of spring camp with a chip on his shoulder, like Crist, he was very business like going into game prep, he actually did lead by example in week 1 though. He finished with 6 tackles and 1 TFL which is double his average from last season. True freshman Aaron Lynch saw a few snaps as expected. He is still raw but has a lot of talent, he finished with 1 tackle and 1 TFL. Unless Johnson goes down with an injury, the staff has said they plan to ease Lynch into the defense as the year goes on.
NG: Jr. Sean Cwynar (LY 32T, 2.5TFL, 1 FF), Fr. Irish Chocolate (AKA Louis Nix)
Cwynar is undersized as a NG but his motor is what won him the position out of spring ball. He saw the majority of his time at the end of the year when Ian Williams went down after Navy’s chop block marathon, that put him against some of the stronger OL’s on ND’s schedule last year. ND fans are quite happy about this position. Nix didn’t play last season as he came into south bend very over weight, he has slimmed up considerably and is now co-starter on defense. He played more than Cwynar in week 1, Nix ended the game with 7 tackles including 1 TFL. Not bad for NG who gets a double team, Cwynar finished with 4 tackles.
DE: Sr. Kapron Lewis Moore (LY 62T, 2.5TFL, 2sack, 1 FF) So. Kona Schwenke (LY 2T) Fr Stephon Tuitt.
KLM was ND’s most productive Dlineman last year, as a senior ND will need him to continue to do well while teaching the 2 younger guys at the position. Schwenke played in 5 games last year but never for any drawn out periods of time, he has put the time into the weight room but didn’t record any stats in week 1. Tuitt is the other freshman Dlineman expected to be eased into the game more and more this season. He did see time in week 1 but didn’t record any stats, though it may have been on ST only. KLM carried the Dline with 8 tackles with 1.5TFL and 1 sack. He did a good job getting penetration and keeping contain on the QB.
OLB: Sr. Darius Fleming (LY 48T, 10.5TFL, 5.5sack), Jr Steve Filer (LY 14T), Fr Ishaq Williams
Fleming was counted on as the edge rusher last year at OLB, but the same complaint of actually getting to the QB when blitzing was still there to some extent. He received a lot of praise through summer camp, and in week 1 had a solid game. He recorded 8 total tackles, 1 TFL and a sack. Filer and Ishaq both backup Flaming. Williams is the 3rd freshman to see time in week 1, he didn’t record any stats but may have only seen ST duty, I haven’t seen a replay to get strong impression on him this early in the season. Filer has been a ST staple since coming to ND, he hasn’t seen many snaps but is a real hit with the fanbase for some reason.
ILB: Jr. Dan Fox (LY 19T), Jr. Carlo Calabrese (LY 62T, 5TFL)
Fox received the starting position at the end of summer camp but doesn’t have the experience Calabrese gained last season. Either could start, either could be in on a given snap but Fox’s emergence was a surprise during camp, a good or bad surprise its unclear. Calabrese was the guy next to Manti nearly every game last season he had a solid first year as a starter. The 3-4 defense seems to have been beneficial to both of these guys. I am not sure the difference in snaps but Calabrese and Fox finished with 5 and 4 tackles respectively which is in line with what ND saw from the position last season.
ILB: Jr. Manti Teo (LY 133T, 9.5TFL, 1sack, 1FF), Anthony McDonald (LY 11T)
No that is not a typo, Manti had a huge season last year recording 133 tackles; the lingering questions on how the change to the 3-4 would effect him seemed to be answered well before the end of the season last year. McDonald doesn’t see a lot of time as Manti’s backup as he doesn’t come off the field very often. Manti lead the defense in tackles week 1 with 9, including 1TFL and 1 sack. Some have said he had a bad game, I haven’t seen the replay, but USF plays to the edges of the defense they want the ball in space and in the flats, so I wasn’t necessarily expecting a huge game out of him anyway. Maybe I am wrong on what his responsibilities actually were though.
OLB: So. Prince Shembo (LY 15T, 5TFL, 4.5sack), Fr Danny Spond, Fr Troy Niklas
Shembo might be the best kept secret from last season, but when 2/3rds of your tackles are done in the backfield that secret won’t be kept long. He saw limited snaps last year as Brian Smith’s backup, I think the staff wants to use the same model for this year’s freshman in the 2 deep, I certainly can’t complain about the results yet. Spond and Niklas seemed to be relegated to ST for the most part at this time it will be interesting to see who emerges as the #2 guy this season. Niklas was expected to play DE or OT when he was recruited but has since been moved to OLB, hopefully that’s not a depth issue.
CB: Sr. Robert Blanton (LY 53T, 7.5TFL, 1.5sack), Jr. Lo Wood (LY 3T)
Blanton saw a diminished roll last year behind Walls and Gray but was still very productive playing in all 13 games. If there is someone running their mouth on the field, Blanton is likely the guy, hopefully he can continue to back it up this season. Blanton recorded 6 tackles and great TFL where he obliterated a WR screen. Lo battled some injuries last season and is currently the nickel back under the right circumstances, sometimes they go 3 safeties depending on the look. Lo recorded 1 tackle in week 1 which quadruples his average per game from last season, lol
S: Sr Harrison Smith (LY 91T, 1TFL, 1 sack, 7int), Jr. Dan McCarthy (LY 4T, 1FF) Harrison is mostly known as the guy who fell down when USC should have won that game last year. Most ND fans remember him as the guy who finished the season with 5ints in the last 2 games, the defense turns a corner when Harrison does plays well. He recorded 6 tackles in week 1, below average from what we saw last season. McCarthy saw limited time last season as he was injured most of the year, the safety position is much deeper this season.
S: Jr. Jamoris Slaughter (LY 31T, 1int), Zeke Motta (LY 50T, 1.5TFL, 1int), So. Austin Collinsworth (LY 7T)
Slaughter, what great name for a safety seriously how much better does it get? Anyway Slaughter and Motta round out what was the safety position last season with Harrison Smith. Motta and Slaughter both played hurt and missed games so the added depth this season should be great help at safety this season. Collinsworth (yeah that Collinsworth’s son) was strictly a ST player last season and has transitioned to DB this season. How much playing time he sees may hinge on how quickly he picks up the position. Motta and Slaughter equaled 7 total tackles week 1, which isn’t so concerning when the front 7 are playing well. Not sure how tested they were in game 1 though
CB: Sr. Gary Gray (LY 66T, 5TFL, 1int, 1ff), So Bennett Jackson (LY 11T)
Gray saw a lot of balls thrown his way last season as the option on the other side was 5th year senior Darrin Walls. Gray is a solid starter and the staff will expect a lot out of him this season if the secondary is going to be strong. Jackson is following the same path as Collinsworth, transitioning from ST gunner to DB. It may have only been 11T last season but I am pretty sure all 11 of those came on punt returns. Jackson recorded 2 tackles against USF while Gray tallied 5.
The front 7 should be fun to watch this year, the first half against USF wasn’t the defense ND fans were looking forward to seeing. It was the one that showed up in the 2nd half that ND needs this season. The stronger ND’s defense is this season the easier it will be on the offense, which appears to need all the help it can get coming out of the USF game. The secondary has added some much needed depth with veterans holding down the starting positions. They were not tested down field much though so how good they actually are is still a question to answer. This defense could be really really good this season and the expectations are high.