Notre Dame defense battle injuries as they prep for UNLV

NOW: Notre Dame defense battle injuries as they prep for UNLV

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind - Several Irish players have been sidelined, especially on defense and that may have played a part in the loss to Stanford.

"When there's days when your offense isn't executing, well the defense we got to play better, we got to play perfect," said head coach Marcus Freeman.

The defense played far from perfect against Stanford. The Cardinal controlled the ball for 36 minutes and while the Irish forced two fumbles, they failed to recover the ball.

"We're getting the ball out. Now we got to get some of those either a bounce our way or, you know, make our own breaks," said defensive coordinator Al Golden. "We got to be more consistent, eliminate the explosive plays again, starts with me the play caller."

The Irish have also been dealing with injuries:

Linebacker and captain Bo Bauer is out for the season with a knee injury.

Cornerback TaRiq Bracy missed week six with a hamstring injury.

Cornerback Jaden Mickey didn't play due to a muscle strain.

And defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola exited the game early with a rib contusion.

"You know, it's that time of the year, man, it's middle October, close to November, there's going to be guys that are going to have to step up," said Golden.

One guy who's been stepping up is defensive end Nana Osafo-Mensah.

Osafo-Mensah took full advantage and helped seal the win against BYU in the final minutes of the Shamrock Series.

From the looks of it, Osafo-Mensah won’t have a shortage of reps moving forward. His coaches can't say enough good things about him.

"The guy who was kind unheralded in that stop was Nana," said Golden. "Nana played with incredible get-off and leverage and set the edge there."

"Nana has really showed up," said coach Freeman. "Sunday, we're watching film, I said, 'How many plays did Nana play? He needs to play more.'"

"I feel like coach Freeman and coach Wash, coach Golden all really have a lot of trust in me," said Osafo-Mensah.

In preparation for UNLV, the defensive unit will need to prevent the Rebels from racking up more total yards than Notre Dame’s offense.

In each loss this season, the Irish gave up more yards to their opponents: 395 to Ohio State, 364 to Marshall, and 385 to Stanford.

"I'm pleased that we're keeping the points down," said Golden. "But like I said, we can't give up those explosive plays."

The Notre Dame defense hasn’t been terrible. They have 16 sacks this season, which puts them in the top 30 in the country. So getting to the quarterback will be key in Saturday's game against the Rebels.

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