Projected Depth Chart: Defense

With official depth charts likely to be distributed at Brian Kelly's press conference Tuesday, IrishEyes offers its thoughts defense in Part II of the Depth Chart column.

Note: Text below is the result of observations gleaned from interviews with Notre Dame assistant coaches and Brian Kelly to date, as well as official practice observations through August 19.

Part I, projecting the Irish offensive depth chart, can be found here.

Projected Defensive Depth Chart

Most starting positions are set, but the DOG outside linebacker spot and boundary cornerback battles remain in relative flux as does the backup WILL role after two position injuries in the last 9 days.

Defensive End:

  1. Junior Kapron Lewis-Moore
  2. Junior Hafis Williams
  3. Freshman Kona Schwenke
Note: Defensive line coach Mike Elston noted the roles are mirrored, and if needed, players can flip-flop sides. Expect Lewis-Moore to line up in his more comfortable left defensive end slot for the majority.

Defensive End:

  1. Junior Ethan Johnson
  2. Senior Emeka Nwankwo
  3. Freshman Kona Schwenke
Note: Though knocking on the door according to Brian Kelly, Schwenke is unlikely to play in Week One. Look for a six-man DL rotation, with four rotating at DE.

Nose Guard:

  1. Senior Ian Williams
  2. Junior Sean Cwynar
  3. Sophomore Tyler Stockton
Note: Conversations indicate Stockton is the future potential 8th man in; don't expect that in the opening weeks. Junior DL Brandon Newman is cross-training at NG and DE though not pushing for a regular role as of yet.

"CAT" Outside Linebacker:

  1. Junior Darius Fleming
  2. Junior Steve Filer
  3. Freshman Prince Shembo
Note: Shembo is a No. 3 somewhere, so I've placed him here. Kelly noted as late as Wednesday that he will play from scrimmage this season. Fleming is rock solid No. 1 heading into Game Week.

"DOG" Outside Linebacker:

  1. Senior Kerry Neal
  2. Senior Brian Smith
  3. Junior Steve Filer
Note: Also referred to as the Drop. Expect to see four outside linebackers play ample minutes vs. Purdue at CAT and DOG. Filer's 3rd string designation should probably be an "or" situation at No. 2 for both OLB spots.

MIKE Linebacker:

  1. Sophomore Manti Te'o
  2. Junior David Posluszny
  3. Senior Steve Paskorz
Note: Paskorz elevates to No. 2 if his MRI results (taken Thursday evening) come back clean, though he'd likely be hobbled in Week One.

WILL Linebacker:

  1. Sophomore Carlo Calabrese
  2. Junior David Posluszny
  3. Sophomore Dan Fox
  4. Junior Anthony McDonald
Note: Expect McDonald to return to a No. 2 role when fully recovered from a hyper extended knee. Kelly listed the junior ‘backer as "Questionable" Thursday evening heading into next week.

Free Safety (Field):

  1. Junior Jamoris Slaughter
  2. Sophomore Zeke Motta or Junior Dan McCarthy
Note: I had McCarthy pegged as the free safety and Motta as the strong, but I'm no longer certain.

Strong Safety (Boundary):

  1. Senior Harrison Smith
  2. Sophomore Zeke Motta or Junior Dan McCarthy
Note: See above. Motta is a regular in the team's nickel package and in the role of "BUCK" linebacker.

Field Cornerback:

  1. Senior Darrin Walls
  2. Junior Robert Blanton
  3. Freshman Lo Wood
Note: Blanton (or Gray) is the No. 1 backup at both field and boundary cornerback. Wood will play, but is unlikely to move ahead of Gray/Blanton by the time this depth chart becomes official

Boundary Cornerback:

  1. Gary Gray
  2. Robert Blanton
  3. Lo Wood
Note: Gray and Blanton are 1 and 1A…you could even list them as Blanton and Gray. My hunch is that all three will start vs. Purdue's one-back offense, and that Blanton will be listed as the second starter alongside Darrin Walls.

Special Teams

We'll review the Irish special teams in a separate column to be published later this weekend. For the sake of quick reference: Top Stories