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Notre Dame Football

BK Pleased With Notre Dame Defensive Front

April 12, 2021

Brian Kelly is certainly pleased with what he’s seen from his defensive line thus far this spring.

“There's a lot of depth there as you guys know across the board inside, out,” the Notre Dame head coach said during a call with reporters on Saturday. “Howard Cross is very difficult to defend; just great leverage, great first-step quickness, very difficult to block.

“Kurt Hinish is a guy that sometimes you think, 'Oh, it's another spring year for Kurt and he can take it off.' But he's had a nice spring.”

Kelly also singled out Jayson and Justin Ademilola.

“Really pleased with both of them, getting better,” he said. “I don't think there's a guy on the defensive line that we would say, 'Man, we're disappointed in them. They're not ascending. They're not getting stronger. They're not putting in the time.'

“Jordan Botelho (pictured above) is showing up all over the place. So, really pleased with the depth there and there's so much depth at that linebacker position as well.”

Kelly believes new Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman is satisfied with what he has to work with up front.

“I think Marcus is very pleased with that front seven in terms of what they're able to provide for us down in, down out,” said Kelly. “It allows him to be really multiple in what we're seeing from four-down to three-down.”

The shifts from three-down linemen to four-down linemen won’t impact the linebackers’ roles because of the stunting, stemming and slanting up front.

“In years past, it would have mattered,” said Kelly. “It doesn't matter because we're moving the front so much. We haven't moved the front as much in my time here as much as we move it now.

“What does that mean? If you didn't move the front in three-down, those inside backers have got to take the guards on straight on. It's Bully Ball. It's big boy ball inside. But we're moving the front so aggressively, so those backers then become single-gap players again much like out of a four-down front.

“It doesn't matter whether it's three-down or four-down because we're moving the front and manipulating it up front so much and with that kind of movement, those backers can be single-gap players and it doesn't matter whether they're in three-down or four-down.”

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