Depth Chart: Irish Defense

A look at Notre Dame's starters and key reserves for today's contest vs. the 7-3 BYU Cougars.

Defensive Line Rotation

Injuries include senior Louis Nix (out, knee), his classmate Kona Schwenke (high ankle sprain), and defensive end Jarron Jones (ankle sprain) and Isaac Rochell (ankle sprain). The latter three will play, but Schwenke's work volume is in question, just 10 days removed from a cast on his ankle.

Starting defensive ends Stephon Tuitt and Sheldon Day are available with Day the victim of three ankle sprains this season. He fared well playing through pain on November 9 at Pittsburgh, taking part in more than 60 snaps.

Tuitt and Day will be backed by Rochell and senior Justin Utupo while Schwenke and Jones are set to play at nose guard. 5th-year senior Tyler Stockton the backup option for both.

Linebackers Carlo Calabrese and Prince Shembo will also man defensive line positions in various sets, Shembo often in his usual role as an end in 4-3 defensive fronts.

Junior outside linebacker and defensive end Ishaq Williams is doubtful with a hamstring injury, though he's expected to try to play in warm-ups and gauge his ability to perform thereafter.


The first unit is in good health (sans mid-season starter Jarrett Grace in the middle). The 5th-year pair of Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese will make their 30th and 24th start respectively. Freshman Jaylon Smith and the aforementioned Shembo will start their 11th straight this season on the outside with Smith to the field and Shembo to the boundary. Shembo has started 24 straight as the boundary or "cat" linebacker.

Available interior backups include senior Kendall Moore and junior Joe Schmidt. Schmidt is the starter in the team's dime package, the lone linebacker in a six-defensive back package.

Shembo and Smith will both be backed by sophomore Romeo Okwara on the perimeter.

Defensive Backfield

One change today: sophomore Keivarae Russell will flip from field to boundary to more often encounter BYU standout Cody Hoffman. Hoffman scored vs. the Irish last season breaking a four-game scoreless streak by the Notre Dame defense.

Bennett Jackson will make his 24th straight start, this time though to the field side where more safety help is available. The safeties are expected to be sophomore Elijah Shumate and Austin Collinsworth with Matthias Farley rotating heavily and Eilar Hardy occasionally. Freshman Max Redfield is also available for backup duty.

Behind Russell and Jackson are a pair of true freshman in Cole Luke and Devin Butler plus senior Lo Wood. The trio of backups should all play today in rotation, usually two snaps every six defensive plays in the first half.

Dime Pacakge

Notre Dame's preferred defense in third-and-long situations will show the following:

Defensive Line: Prince Shembo and Stephon Tuitt at the edges of a 4-man front with Romeo Okwara and Sheldon Day inside. With Tuitt health, Okwara could move outside, Tuitt in.

Linebacker: Joe Schmidt

Defensive Backs: KeiVarae Russell (boundary), Bennett Jackson (field), Cole Luke (slot), with Devin Butler in a short field-side safety role and two of Shumate/Collinsworth/Farley playing two-deep downfield. Top Stories