Notre Dame prepares to elevate their defense with new defensive coordinator
SOUTH BEND, Ind -- There are lots of new faces on the Irish staff this season but the one name everyone is talking about is new Defensive Coordinator Al Golden and his ability to improve a defense that ranked 43rd last season.
With all of the changes for Notre Dame defense this season, there's no doubt the biggest difference is the new defensive coordinator, who brings a ton of experience to a group with some holes to fill.
"I was looking for a guy with head coaching experience. That was to me, something that we did not have on our staff that I thought was going to be extremely valuable. He has that," said head coach Marcus Freeman.
Golden checked all of the boxes on Freeman's list and is quickly adapting to the Notre Dame culture.
"They've been great. We've been pushing forward. We're kind of living day-to-day," Golden said.
Golden brings another level of intelligence to the Irish, after coaching a top defensive program with the Miami Hurricanes and in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengal's.
"I knew Al Golden as the head coach at Temple and at Miami, and had an unbelievable reputation," said Freeman.
That reputation is already having an impact on Notre Dame defense.
"Golden's scheme is a little bit more put together I would say. There's more parts to it. There's more plays," said defensive lineman Howard Cross.
"Something that has impressed me is just how smart he is, how much he knows the game. You can tell he's been around the game for a long time. He knows what he's doing," said defensive linebacker Marist Liufau.
Notre Dame set a school record with 41 sacks last season.Three of those sack leaders are back including Isaiah Foskey, who had a team high 11 sacks.
"I was technical with the pass-rush as I was coming into last season, trying to work on my pass-rush, but now this year I'm trying to work on stopping the run," Foskey said.
The man to help Foskey and the defense stop the run will be new defensive line coach Al Washington.
"Greatness is found in the details. That's our mentality. How can we take a good thing and turn it into a great thing? That's our focus and what's driving us," Washington said.
"From a scheme standpoint, we're not really looking so much at that. We're trying to develop the principles that we know are going to endure over the long haul," said Golden.
The Irish defense will have a big challenge right out of the gate in their first game of the season against the Ohio State Buckeyes who ranked number one in offense last year, in all of college football.