Monday, June 9, 2008

Bringing The Heat



Third down and seven, the Irish have gone to their dime package as they expect the pass…Here's the snap to the QB…he looks, looks, he has all kinds of time! Now he breaks outside the pocket…there's a wide open receiver to the right side and it will be a first down for…

Remember those days? Even under Holtz, post Alvarez, Notre Dame's pass rush was often anemic. And that is being kind. I'd like a nickel for every time an opposing QB could have taken a nap before making a pass attempt during a third or fourth down and long. Last season, well, honestly, I will give a mulligan because of the complete overhaul the defense went through, not to mention the inordinate amount of freshman and sophomores that were playing significant roles. Beginning this season, however, times will be a changing.

Thank you Jon Tenuta. There, I said it. And it will be the first of many "thank you" notes that the Irish assistant head coach and linebacker coach will receive because of the toughness and "take it to'em" attitude he brought to South Bend. And oh, he likes to blitz. A lot.

A few years ago, one of the most horrid offensive displays of College Football was being displayed. Georgia Tech, with Reggie Ball (my goodness did he suck) at QB, and some mediocre QB from Maryland were throwing ducks all over the place. Late in the game, the Yellow Jackets led 7-3 with one more possession for the Terrapins. Most defensive coordinators would just play cover four and keep everything in front of them. John Tenuta had none of it.

Blitz! Blitz! Blitz!

The announcers were floored. Then again, so was the quarterback, over and over. Even during the last possession, Tenuta's defensive scheme did not waver. He went for the jugular and drew blood. No mamsy-pamsy bend-but-don't-break try-not-to-lose defensive play calling from the Columbus, Ohio native. Tenuta's defense was unrelenting.

Sure, there will be times when a defense is burned deep or a power running play finds a seem. That's football. That's life. As Tenuta stated numerous times after his hiring at Notre Dame, he wants to dictate to the opposing offenses, not the other way around. If nothing else this season, I will personally take solace in the fact that Notre Dame will play aggressive defensive football. It does not hurt that Notre Dame actually has some top-notch talent at cornerback with Darrin Walls either. For that matter, several of Notre Dame's cornerbacks could be future NFL players. That's a good problem to have.

With Tenuta's experience and pedigree as a defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech and Ohio State amongst other stops along the College Football Superhighway, the Notre Dame defense should look much different this fall. Yes, it helps to have more experience from the team that looked lost at times during the 2007 campaign, but the rumblings from South Bend this past spring practice were that the Notre Dame defense brings the heat on virtually every play. That type of defensive play calling allows a defensive unit in dire need of an attitude adjustment the fortification to do just that: believe in themselves.

It's another third down and long as the Irish defense once again comes out in its dime package. They've brought blitzers from all angles today, and everyone in the stadium knows what's coming next, but the question is…from where? Here's the snap…oooooooh the QB is buried for a five-yard loss by a bevy of Irish defenders before he could even get his feet set! The offensive line just looked confused with all the confusion up front, as Tenuta dialed up the blitz again and the Irish defense responded!

1 comment:

Erik '04 said...

Everyone expects that our defense will look like Georgia Tech's simply because we have Tenuta now. He's not our defensive coordinator, though. I think he and Corwin will discuss some interesting new blitz schemes, but Tenuta's not taking over the playcalling. However, even if we don't blitz more and Corwin leaves his defense intact, Tenuta's presence will still be felt because our linebackers are going to play with a fury unseen since before my time. I'm really excited to see how they respond to his coaching, because we've got some quality talent that could do wonderful things in the near and distant future.