Quiet No More?

Notre Dame's most consistent player in 2014 could see his share of double duty this spring with an eye toward a more productive fall.

The bulk of a defensive lineman's impact on a football game -- especially an interior lineman's -- is not quantified in the game's final scoresheet.

Which is why understanding the play of 2014 junior Sheldon Day and his post-season ranking as our No. 1 player from game and film reviews requires a closer look at the notes notes themselves.

Snippets against Stanford:

-- Good penetration by Day. Riggs makes tackle after 2 yards
-- Day double-teamed, holds point while Smith who makes a tackle for no gain
-- Day lined at DE, contains the edge (Smith tackle after 2-yard gain)
-- Day's penetration destroys toss sweep for 2-yard loss
-- Sanders held to three yards as Day and Smith handle blocks and Schmidt fills for the stop
-- Day destroys right guard Johnny Caspers to blow up the play
-- Six-yard gain by Young is stopped by a triple-teamed Day short of the marker

Of those seven plays, none of the above is reflected in a final stat sheet (Day finished with four tackles and a sack against the Cardinal).

"He's separated himself as somebody that's one of the best in the country for us," said Kelly after the Irish victory.

Day's final numbers show nine QB hurries (second on the squad to Isaac Rochell), two fumble recoveries and two passes defended, plus 40 tackles including 7.5 for loss with 12 more "stuffs" (tackles for 0, 1, or 2 yards that did not result in a first down).

Noter Dame will search for more from its most consistent defender in 2015. A spring evaluation at defensive end could be in order, especially if the fall plan is to play Rochell at defensive tackle alongside a healthy Jarron Jones.

A returning captain, Day will be mentored for the first time by a coach other than Mike Elston, the five-season Irish defensive line coach moves to the linebackers room for 2015 with former North Carolina defensive line coach Keith Gilmore taking over up front.

"I think he has great twitch. He comes off the football. He uses his hands real well," said Gilmore of Day. "I'm looking for him to excel and improve his game as a pass-rusher and become more effective. To be that guy for us."

Manning the interior, free to battle one-on-one on the edge, or both, a healthy Day will likely deliver.

11 for 11
Day's game-by-game film ratings below illustrate his consistent play and importance to Notre Dame's defense last fall -- 11 games played, 11 appearances, including eight times ranked among the team's top 10.

-- Top 10 Outings: Rice, Michigan, Purdue, Syracuse, Stanford, North Carolina, Florida State, Arizona State
-- Honorable Mentions: Navy, Northwestern, LSU
-- Did Not Play: Louisville, Northwestern
-- End-Season Ranking: No. 1 (Day, Smith, Fuller, Luke, Schmidt, Folston, Rochell, Stanley, Golson, Riggs)
-- (My) Ranking Entering Spring 2015: No. 3 (Smith, Stanley, Day, Fuller, Rochell...)


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories