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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame Adds Transfer Safety Brandon Joseph

January 8, 2022

Notre Dame needed immediate help in the secondary. It’s not something that anyone who follows the program was unaware of.

They got it with the addition of undergraduate transfer Brandon Joseph. The two-year starter at Northwestern brings experience to South Bend, but much more important than that, he’s also bringing ball production. He has nine interceptions in the last two seasons, none better than this ridiculous one-handed snag against Ohio State in the 2020 Big Ten Championship game.

The Irish just finished playing a game where they desperately needed a play from anyone to get Oklahoma State off schedule. This gives them another player with a track record of making those plays. He has 17.5 Havoc plays (tackles for loss, pass breakups, or interceptions) over 21 games and with Kyle Hamilton moving on to the NFL, that playmaking ability will help fill some of the void left by the All-American safety’s departure.

Houston Griffith and DJ Brown have announced they are both returning for 2022, but neither has proven they can make plays consistently. Brown finished with five Havoc plays in 2021. Griffith had zero.

Joseph has been very good in coverage, giving up an NFL passer rating of 38.7 the last two years. That brings an instant upgrade to the safety position and he has proven he can play deep and split the field.

The area of concern with him is against the run. Though he was solid in 2020, he struggled mightily in ‘21. His angles were often poor and he missed far too many tackles. He missed on 26.5% of tackle opportunities versus the run, which was a bottom 20 number for starting safeties in FBS last season.

The Michigan game contributed to a lot of this. It was a burn the tape performance from him.

That run defense is precisely why I would put him in pencil to start for the Irish and not pen. He may have been named an All-American, but that’s looking at him playing the pass and missing another important piece of the puzzle. He’s not going to stay in the lineup if he repeats that tackling performance at Notre Dame.

The good news is that Joseph has time to imrpove under Chris O’Leary. He potentially has three years to play so if he’s not a finished product immediately, he’ll have a chance to grow and get better. Jalen Elliott was never a great run defender, but he went from bad to solid by the time he left Notre Dame. That’s the path fans should hope to see with Joseph.

He’s jumping into a situation with Brown, Griffith, and Ramon Henderson, and Xavier Watts. Joseph will be right in the mix to start and he changes the ceiling of the defense if he can produce like he did at Northwestern.

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