Matt Cashore /

Status Reports: Irish Defensive Line

The seventh installment in our series of mid-season evaluations examines Notre Dame’s roster with a look at each individual’s status entering the bye week. Is he ascending? Has he stagnated? Or did he take a step back since the conclusion of training camp.

Note: The number in parenthesis represents remaining collegiate eligibility at season’s end:

Isaac Rochell (0): Likely Notre Dame’s second-best defensive player this season, Rochell has been credited with 9 official QB Hurries (no one else has more than two) and has posted 14.5 Stuffs, commensurate with last year’s pace that nearly led a much more talented squad. (Jaylon Smith 27.5, Rochell 27, Sheldon Day 25, as a point of reference through 13 games.)
Status: Stagnant…and in this case, that’s okay. He’s very good.

Jarron Jones (0): The best of Jones (Stanford 2016, Florida State 2014) doesn’t present nearly enough, but after speaking to the fifth-year senior following last Saturday’s loss to the Cardinal, it would be a major surprise if he doesn’t offer another iteration of his personal best against Miami on Oct. 29…then get back to me when the Irish face Navy and Army, thereafter. Posted a combined 4 Stuffs in losses to MSU/Duke as well. 
Status: Ascending (get back to me next Saturday night)

Daniel Cage (1): Not yet consistent, but that’s not due to varying effort. Cage showed well vs. Nevada, Syracuse, N.C. State and Stanford including a penchant for diagnosing and destroying screen passes in each of the last three contests. The junior pivot is a quality backup/rotation nose tackle which means Jones must play the best ball of his Irish career to likewise get the best from Cage.  
Status: Ascending, relatively speaking

Jerry Tillery (2): Was Notre Dame’s best defender against N.C. State…then failed to post a tackle against Stanford. Had his second-best game of the season vs. Michigan State…then posted just one assist against Duke. Welcome to Jerry’s World.
Status: Stagnant

Andrew Trumbetti (1): Has offered sporadic impact plays of late (a QB pressure vs. Stanford; a tackle-for-loss plus a Stuff at N.C. State; a goal line Stuff vs. Syracuse; two Stuffs vs. Duke) but overall, Year 3 has been largely nondescript for Trumbetti, a player who showed promise as a freshman pass rusher and again in that regard in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.
Status: Stagnant, though he’s been better over the last four games than in any four game stretch last season.

Jay Hayes (2): Has found new life under the Mike Elston/Greg Hudson regime after failing to make an impact during the 30-game Brian VanGorder era. Posted a combine six tackles (with an impressive 4 Stuffs) against Syracuse and N.C. State but was shut out vs. Stanford. He’s technically Isaac Rochell’s backup which doesn’t equate to consistent playing time. Time to get creative and find Hayes more playing time.
Status: Ascending, relatively speaking

Daelin Hayes (3): Purported pass-rushing prowess has not yet presented but Hayes has worked his way into a part-time starting role in 3-4 fronts and in the Nickel defense. Hayes has registered eight tackles over the last five outings (all short of the sticks; 4 Stuffs) to go with a forced fumble in Raleigh and pass defended that led to an interception against Michigan State.
Status: Ascending

Jonathan Bonner (2): Entered the Stanford contest with just three assisted tackles (2 Stuffs, plus 1 QB Hurry) over the first six outings but recorded two solos with a forced fumble vs. the Cardinal. Earns time as a three-down defensive end and three-technique tackle when the Irish show four-man fronts.
Status: Ascending. Perhaps not at a pace commensurate with fans’ wishes, but Ascending nonetheless.

Julian Okwara (3): Starts on the kickoff coverage unit and found some scrimmage time as a pass-rusher in the Nickel defense but has since ceded that role, logically, to Trumbetti and Hayes. Okwara, like his brother, probably should have been redshirted this fall but unlike Kareem (below), Okwara has appeared in each contest.
Status: Stagnant. You could argue, “Ascending” but I’d argue “redshirt.”

Khalid Kareem (3): Burned eligibility with field appearances against Nevada and Duke. They’ll never learn…
Status: A step back, unless he emerges to play a weekly role in the season’s final five contests.

Pete Mokwuah (2): Continues to receive mention from Kelly during post-practice interviews on Thursdays but has not appeared in a contest since earning second half time against Nevada. Mokwuah is said to have moved into position for playing time as the third nose tackle as a result of more three-down fronts.
Status: Stagnant, but Mokwuah might have put himself in position to challenge for backup duties as a senior (redshirt-junior) this spring.

Elijah Taylor (3): Made his collegiate debut against Syracuse and recorded a run-down Stuff two snaps later…then didn’t play vs. either N.C. State or Stanford.
Status: A step back

Micah Dew-Treadway (3): Was withheld from action last year and has missed the first seven games of his sophomore season due to summer foot surgery. Said Kelly of Treadway prior to the Stanford contest: “He went through a light practice this week. Next week, we’re going to pad him up on Tuesday, and when we come back from the bye, we’re hopeful he can start to get into the practice structure.”
Status: A step back

Ade Ogundeji (4): Future pass-rushing project is serving a season on the scout team with a freshman-year redshirt as expected.
Status: N/A

Brandon Tiassum (3): Could not be farther (literally) or further (figuratively) from playing time.
Status: A step back Top Stories