Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Alohi Gilman: 'We’re an unfinished product'

September 5, 2019

Notre Dame’s defense came into the season with high expectations and after 10 minutes on Monday night, the Fighting Irish were scrambling. Louisville scored two touchdowns on its first two drives, which included drives of 88 and 75 yards to take a 14-7 lead.
Captain Alohi Gilman was frustrated, but the senior safety also knew he had to keep his defense focused on the message from the staff despite the rough start.
“Adjustments from the coaches and us, but altogether, we were a group that stuck to the plan,” Gilman stated. “Sometimes things go wrong and it’s hard to be positive in that moment, but we continued to work to execute the plan. Guys rallied behind each other and you saw how it turned out.”
Louisville managed just three points over the final 49 minutes of the game and gave up the ball three times, which made Gilman pleased to see the youth on the defense rebound in a positive way.
“It was great seeing guys make a bunch of plays,” said Gilman. “When one guy makes a play, we all feel like we’re making plays. It was nice seeing guys be game-changers.”
Defensive coordinator Clark Lea was breaking in several new players in his two deep on Monday night and Gilman knew there would be an adjustment period for the youth.
“It’s hard to replicate game speed in practice,” explained Gilman. “You can go through the scheme and stuff like that, but game speed is a lot different. After a few series in the first quarter, we were able to settle down and young guys were able to get jitters out.”
One of those young players was freshman safety Kyle Hamilton. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder ended his first game with four tackles and two pass breakups. And while his performance was far from perfect, Gilman was impressed with Hamilton and knows he’s going to be a significant part of the defense moving forward.
“Kyle was huge for us,” Gilman stated. “He came out and made some plays. He did a great job in the packages he was in. He’s going to continue to get better and he makes our team better.”
Hamilton and the other inexperienced players leaned on Gilman and the other veterans to execute Lea’s message, which was pretty simple.
“It was about keeping our foot on the pedal,” Gilman said. “It wasn’t something big we had to fix, but we had to continue to be smart with our scheme and make some adjustments here and there. We had to continue to work on what we could do to execute the plan.”
Notre Dame will have the week off and there will need to be several improvements made over the next week, but Gilman knows the Irish aren’t supposed to be a finished product following week one. 

“We’re going to keep fighting every game,” said Gilman. “We’re an unfinished product. Every week we’re going to get better. It was a sloppy win for us, but as time goes on, we’ll be better and we’re going to work on things we can do to get better to achieve our goals.”

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