The Irish entered fall camp with what appeared to be their two best safety prospects playing the same position. Irish Eyes felt that Glenn Earl would eventually move to strong safety to fill the void left by the graduation of Gerome Sapp. It made sense to us because Earl is a very solid tackler and playmaker and we felt his talents and leadership could best be used to fill the big hole left by the absence of Sapp.
Coach Trent Walters has been singing the praises of Quentin Burrell since spring practice. Burrell has made the charge up the depth chart after suffering injuries his first two years at Notre Dame. Burrell is known to be a rangy player who can cover a lot of ground and his talents seem to best fit the free safety position.
Our theory was delayed by some strong play from senior Garron Bible. Bible was next in line to take over the strong safety position left by Sapp. Bible suffered a back injury in fall camp and hasn't been 100 percent for a while. He's close to 100 percent but his injury probably had as much to do with the switch as anything.
Glenn Earl says he's fine with the switch. "They're going to put the best players on the field," said Earl of the move. "If they want me play free safety, I will play free safety. If they want me to play strong, I'll play strong. I've played both so it doesn't matter to me."
Earl says Burrell has been playing well this fall camp so he understands why they made the move. "He's playing very good football and getting comfortable out there. He's being very aggressive and playing well."
The switch seemed to come late in camp but Earl believes he can handle playing both positions and that the late move shouldn't impact how productive he can be playing strong safety. "You've got to have a good knowledge of the defense and a good knowledge of football. I've been here a while and I kind of know both. I played strong my sophomore year so I'm familiar with that. It's all about covering all areas of the field and you've got to use common sense."
Earl is very strong against the run and we asked him if he felt the switch was made because of his ability to stop the run. "I don't think in our defense that one safety is dominant to the other one--free (safety) and strong (safety) share equally in the load of stopping the run. I think it was a matter of getting the best players on the field."
Earl said the switch didn't come as a surprise to him and he had spoken to the coaches informing them that he was open to playing either position to help the team. "I've talked to Coach Walters and Coach Willingham about the possibility of doing some things. They realize that I'm a guy who can do both—I've played both and I know the system really well. It's all about doing what needs to be done and what's best for the team."
Earl is in his final season at Notre Dame and a NFL future could be on the horizon. Earl says being able to play both positions will be a plus for him. "Football is football. I don't have tunnel vision on one position. As long as you know your assignment you just play and it's football. I think it's a good thing that I can play both."
Garron Bible will likely start the season as the dime back or 6th defensive back in the rotation. We are not sure how the lineup might change if Bible returns to 100 percent health.