Job Share, I PromiseFour months remain before Notre Dame and Navy kickoff their respective seasons in Dublin, and there are two standard answers I encourage Irisheyes.com readers to use/steal/expand upon when asked questions by fellow Notre Dame fans:
- "Both of them"
- "Probably not the same one that finishes it."
Both will likely start multiple games. Both will be featured as the Cat linebacker in the defense's 3-4 fronts and as pass rushing defensive ends in Bob Diaco's Nickel and Dime sets. Both will be part of the various blitz packages, long-yardage situations, and who knows what else that's on tap for Year 3 of Diaco's D.
The key for Shembo: return to health from toe surgery (head coach Brian Kelly said he isn't worried, so I won't…until July). For Williams? To continue on his spring path of accountability and maturity befitting a 5-star prospect and potential three-year defensive starter at Notre Dame.
Limited Dog Days Ahead?The battle between junior Danny Spond and redshirt-freshman Ben Councell will continue through summer's involuntary workouts, August camp, and likely September.
Spond's coverage skills appear to be a tick ahead of Councell's; the latter's size/speed ratio and "suddenness" per Brian Kelly, help him stand out at a vexing position.
But at present, the winner of this battle earns the right to be referred to as a starter and appear on the field, vs. most teams, on 1st Down and in a handful of other defensive situations. Other than that, and until someone proves himself in a way predecessors Kerry Neal and Prince Shembo could not, safety Jamoris Slaughter will glide down from his safety position to do the heavy lifting.
Until Spond, Councell, or a linebacker-to-be-named later proves capable of every-down duties, it'll be Slaughter who matches up with opposing tight ends and slot receivers when it counts. In other words, against Michigan, Stanford, Oklahoma, Wake Forest, USC, and potentially against Navy, Purdue, Michigan State (the defense played with fire in its use of a true Dog linebacker during last fall's victory over the Spartans), Miami and BYU. But hey, against Pittsburgh in South Bend, and then out in Chestnut Hill a week later, the base 3-4 front can line up and party (hit the guy in front of them) like its 1989.