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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame's Defense Shines in Win Over Louisville

October 17, 2020

The Notre Dame offense picked up the defense during last weekend’s win over Florida State and on Saturday, it was the Irish defense that picked up the offense in the 12-7 win over Louisville. 

Defensive coordinator Clark Lea made it a point of emphasis to dial back the play sheet this week as he wanted his defense to be a little more free, but also to get the calls in quicker as Louisville can score points in a hurry. 

“I think the biggest emphasis this week was keeping it simple,” stated Notre Dame captain Daelin Hayes. “Keeping it simple and letting our guys line up and play our game. Win our one-on-ones and just do what we're accustomed to doing.

"Last week we didn't really feel great about what we put on film. This week we wanted to get back to the basics and stick to our fundamentals and play our type of ball. We are confident in that and Coach allowed us to go make plays. It was a fun day." 

Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah echoed Hayes as he felt a significant difference this week when it came to the mental aspect of the game. 

"Cutting down the amount of calls we had and making it easy for everybody to understand and to be able to go out and play really fast,” explained Owusu-Koramoah. “That was what we keyed in on this week - playing fast and physical.

"When you take out some of the calls and some of the checks, you start get more comfortable in the defense. Louisville doesn't play a lot of different offenses, so we wanted to make sure we cut down on the defensive calls." 

Notre Dame fans started to become a little uneasy during the second quarter when it became evident the offense wasn’t clicking. The Notre Dame defense stepped up to the plate and allowed just 219 total yards to the explosive Cardinals offense.

However, Hayes never felt the pressure to hold the points down as that’s the weekly standard. 

“At about 2:37 p.m. when the game started,” Hayes said of when the defense knew they had to take the game over. “That's our mindset every time we go out on the field. We tell the offense all they need to do is give us three points and we'll do the rest. 

"That's the mindset we go out and hold ourselves to that standard each time we go on the field." 

Louisville receiver Tutu Atwell and Javian Hawkins entered Saturday's game as two of the most explosive players in the country. 

The Notre Dame defense held Hawkins to just 15 rushes for 51 yards (3.3 ypc) and Atwell recorded six catches for 44 yards.

"The first thing you do with both of them is make sure you understand their tendencies,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “Tendencies are a huge thing when you're talking about great players. With those two, we knew they liked to run long and liked to go on jets. That's one thing we tried to key in on when defending those two." 

Despite the ugly score, Hayes wasn’t down as he was more than happy with the win, but he also noted the Notre Dame has work to do as the schedule starts to become more challenging.

"Coach Kelly always stressed that to us,” stated Hayes. “It's hard to win. It's hard to be consistent and protect your house. Coach always starts with enjoying that and congratulations. 

"We try to keep that at the forefront that it's positive that we won, but we always want to work on the details we need to elevate our game as a team. Our schedule gets tougher from this point on and we have to develop, clean up the mistakes that coach talked about with the red zone on offense and for us on defense, it's getting off the field on third down." 

And Hayes was also fired up with his big stick in the second half, which he made sure to note that he was trying to do his best imitation of Owusu-Koramoah.

“It felt good,” laughed Hayes. “I was trying to do my best Wu impersonation. I tried to shoot the gap. Big Hit Tuesday. It felt great. 

"We were thinking they were going to come back to the wheel. I was sitting on it, got eyes back and saw him flaring out and decided to shoot it. I celebrated with my guys afterward."

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