The Notre Dame rushing defense gets a lot of attention. And rightfully so.
The Irish front seven has stuffed some of college football’s best tailbacks, holding Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell to 77 rushing yards (He averages 137.3 per game), Oklahoma’s Damien Williams to 29 yards (Averages 75.4 per game) and Miami’s Duke Johnson to 22 yards (Averages 78.9 per game).
They’ve given up two rushing touchdowns all year. Two. That’s 0.167 touchdowns per game.
But what about the passing defense? They’ve only given up seven, and that’s Notre Dame’s seventh day gift for the 2012 season.
The Irish ground defense returned Manti Te’o, Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Dan Fox, Carlo Calabrese, Kona Schwenke, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Prince Shembo and Danny Spond.
The Irish air defense returned….Zeke Motta. (And Lo Wood and Jamoris Slaughter, but both were injured early in the season).
Motta came to Notre Dame as a linebacker. KeiVarae Russell was recruited as a running back/receiver. Matthias Farley and Bennett Jackson were receivers. And somehow this grab bag of defenders gave up 16 less passing touchdowns than last year’s secondary made up of Slaughter, Motta, Harrison Smith, Gary Gray and Robert Blanton.
And, sure, Te’o's seven interceptions and a stifling pass rush are a big part of that. But there’s no denying that this year’s secondary have been an unlikely gift for the Notre Dame defense.
Previously on “12 Days of Notre Dame…”