Second Life

Four seasons, three positions, and a fresh start for senior nickel Matthias Farley.

It's not his first change, that came during his freshman season when he auditioned as a scout team slot receiver.

It's not his biggest, that came in his sophomore campaign when he evolved from a "fat" (his words) spring afterthought to starting safety on the nation's No. 1 team.

No, Matthias Farley's most recent adjustment during his time at Notre Dame is merely his most recent. But if early returns are any indication, it could be his last.

Farley's Irish career has been defined by change, but his off-season move from struggling 2013 safety to 2014 starting nickel is one that might offer a sense of permanence.

"I played safety for two years so i thought I was set in my ways," said Farley of his 2014 off-season evaluation by incoming defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. "It goes back to trusting coaches so I had no reservations about (a change). If he thought that was the best place for me to be, I had complete and upmost confidence in him. It's worked out pretty well so far."

VanGorder's conversation with Farley was brief; the latter's buy-in immediate thereafter.

"He said, I've watched a lot of tape on you and I think you'd fit really well at the nickel position," said Farley. "I'd like to try you there. I was like, okay, let's do it."

Believing in change was likewise easy for the myriad players that found roles under their new defensive leader.

"Before we had a spring practice, interacting with coach VanGorder, seeing how passionate he was and how much he cared. He had watched film on everybody and could put guys where he thought they might be a better fit," said Farley. "Him taking that time to go do the extra stuff and to make sure he knew who his personnel was and things like that -- where guys would have a chance to succeed made it really easy to buy in."

The result to date is something foreign to most affiliated with the 2013 Irish.


"It just comes with maturing and realizing that this is a lot bigger than one person," Farley said of the present team's outlook. "To go out there with 105 guys you bleed and sweat with year round, I don't know how you cannot have fun and let other things get in the way. When the individual succeeds, the team succeeds.

"Everyone really trusts each other. It's new and exciting for everyone. Relying on the coaches, holding each other accountable, and just having fun. That's the biggest thing. I think it's evident across the board that everyone is playing for each other."

"It Makes a Difference"

Despite being pressed by the media repeatedly over the last nine months -- and again following a standout performance against Michigan -- Farley declined to discuss that he perhaps played through injury throughout a 2013 season in which he missed myriad tackles in space.

Asked if "feels better" this season, Farley offered, "Yeah, yeah, it makes a difference. I don't really want to talk about last year, it has nothing to do with this year. But I'm feeling good."

His stat line looks even better: 8 tackles including 1.5 for loss, a half-sack, an interception, a pass defended, and a quarterback hurry.

Nickel, it appears, suits him. "It's exciting being close to the line of scrimmage and doing a lot of different things," said Farley.

"Sometimes you're more of a safety, a corner, a linebacker, blitzing, zone coverage, man coverage, man-read coverage, there's communication with the outside linebacker, the middle linebacker, the safety, the corner. There's a lot of stuff that happens pretty quickly."

Not unlike the 2014 defense as a whole.

"A lot of different looks," he said of VanGorder's scheme. "A lot of moving parts, which makes it challenging, but it lends itself to guys making plays."

Saturday night, it also lent itself to a lot of guys talking, before, during -- and especially after -- Michigan's offensive plays. Farley was uncharacteristically in the middle of the chatter. Or more accurately, at the forefront.

"I really don't have an answer I guess. It was just so much fun to be out there with everybody," said Farley when asked about the secondary's perceived trash talking exploits against the Wolverines. "The environment was unbelievable. It was exciting to be out there with guys flying around across the board. It makes it a lot of fun.

"I think if you have a dynamic where you're not relying on one person or a couple people…I think it's the ingrained trust that there's 11 guys out there and when everyone does his job right, good things like (Saturday night) happen. How could you not get excited when everything fits like a glove or turns out the way it did?" Top Stories