Talking Irish: Spring Defense

Not every comment and anecdote finds its way to a spring practice column or podcast. We’ve got you covered in this quote-heavy defensive personnel notebook.

Spring quotes of note from defensive line coach Keith Gilmore, linebackers coach Mike Elston, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and secondary coach Todd Lyght:

“The thing that he has is the ability to play in coverage similar to a (Andrew) Trumbetti, but a bigger kid. Gives you a little bit different player that can hold up a little more against the run and have the ability to play the pass as well. He is a special athlete.” – Gilmore on early enrollee freshman Daelin Hayes

“He’s learning, that’s the important thing. He’s shown the capacity to learn. We’ve poured it on him this spring. We’ve thrown it at him, want to see what he learns and then see what his retention will be in the fall. The thing with Josh, when the ball is snapped and then there’s the ball, he’s always around the ball. He’s got a knack for getting to the football. He’s going to be a very productive player when he’s out there. We really like that about Josh. He plays well with his hands. He’s big, he’s physical. He still has a ton to learn.” – LB Coach Mike Elston on redshirt-freshman Josh Barajas

“We wouldn’t cross-train (weak side linebacker) Asmar (Bilal) or Josh anyway. James (Onwualu) is cross training, the Sam, Will, Nickel and Dime. The two guys you would cross-train, Te’Von (Coney) and Greer (Martini), they’re not getting reps but they’re ‘cross-learning.’ They’re able to pay attention more in meetings about that. – Elston discussing the developmental plans for Bilal and Barajas.  

“Drue is very bright. Very good student of the game. It’s important to him. Any task you give him, he’s going to work at it and learn it. We like to, in our system, because we’re more multiple, take players like him who are high production players and be able to do more with them – like we did with Sheldon (Day), like we did with Jaylon (Smith) at times. He gives us a lot of advantages.” – VanGorder on SS Drue Tranquill

“The fact that he runs out there and knows he’s the guy, and he’s driving it and running it and knows he’s the Alpha Dog there, that’s where I think he’s confident. Not look over his shoulder and get thrown out because he had a mental error. He knows he’s the guy and that he has to get it right, and spends extra time on it.

“Nyles is always around. He’s always in my office. So we’re having conversations. He’ll pop in and see Coach VanGorder. He’s always around the building. (Plenty of) growth and communication and developmental talk with him.” – Elston on starting Mike linebacker Nyles Morgan

“Joe (Schmidt) definitely wasn’t the best athlete in coverage. It was more of a product of his intelligence. He was going to be in the right spot. The thing with Joe was, athletically, he struggled at times in space to make plays, and everybody saw it. But the tradeoff was he was going to be in the right spot and he was going to get other guys around him in the right spot.

“Nyles is going to be a really good cover linebacker, so I don’t see Nyles leaving the field on third down unless a guy like James develops into that role. James and Greer could do something like that. Nyles is a good penetrating rusher, too, where Joe wasn’t. Joe initially had a knack but Nyles will have a knack for pass rush penetration and aggressiveness. When you bring him you’re going to feel something. So you have that threat going on third down, too.” – Elston when asked about the Mike linebacker’s presence last season in the Nickel and Dime packages.

“At this point no. I think he’s found a home at the Rush End. With (Jerry) Tillery and Elijah (Taylor) and Micah Dew-Treadway, I think he (Hayes) adds value to us as the Rush End.” – Gilmore on Jay Hayes’ permanent move from DT to Rush End

“He’s done a great job but he’s hit the wall a little bit. He should be in high school getting ready for the prom but instead he’s getting ripped by me and getting pushed around by (Mike) McGlinchey. He’s going to be a good football player.” – Gilmore on EE Khalid Kareem

“I’d probably say Jonathan Bonner. He was a good, solid functional player during the course of last year. He’s starting to become a guy that can make plays – actually, that’s hard to say. Jay Hayes might be the most improved now that I think about it, because his transition. I’ll say Jay Hayes. That’s hard, man. You put me on the spot.” – Gilmore on the most improved DL this spring

“I don’t know how to exactly answer that. Certainly ‘lighting a fire under Max’ is not the goal, not the quest. There are different ways of developing and getting things the way we’d like them to be. Devin (Studstill) is an outstanding athlete and very natural in the game. So we’ve been anxious to push him with more reps. Max is in his third year in the system and I think he’s…Max has played really well this spring. Max has done a really good job.” – VanGorder on senior safety Max Redfield

“He can start outside then move to inside on Nickel. That’s what we want. Right now he’s one of our top two corners. We like him on the outside and we love him on the inside. He’s the type of player that can make us all better so we want him on the field. -- Lyght on versatile redshirt-freshman CB Shaun Crawford


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