Frequent scheme overhauls are not uncommon in today’s nomadic nature of college football coaching. After three different coordinators during the Charlie Weis tenure, Notre Dame ran a conservative 3-4 defense for four seasons under Brian Kelly.
When coordinator Bob Diaco left for Connecticut in December, Kelly tabbed former colleague Brian VanGorder to direct the Irish defense. VanGorder, the 2002 Broyles Award winner at Georgia for the nation’s best assistant coach, has transitioned Notre Dame to a 4-3 alignment.
Much of Notre Dame’s defensive roster was recruited for specific positions in the 3-4, so many players spent the spring adjusting to new roles. Others who were recruited more for their raw athleticism have found the system change more to their liking.
Which Irish defenders will be most impacted by VanGorder’s arrival? Let’s look at the winners and losers of the move to a 4-3 defense.