Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Tagovailoa-Amosa Trying to Set the Tone Up Front

April 2, 2019

2018 was supposed to be Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa’s breakout season. He clearly took a step forward last spring and was ready for a bigger role in the rotation behind starting 3-technique Jerry Tillery.

Unfortunately that breakout never happened because his season barely got started. He broke his foot in week one against Michigan and wasn’t able to return until the Irish played Clemson in the Cotton Bowl.

Tillery is now off to the NFL and MTA is ready to step up in Tillery’s absence. He’s feeling 100% healthy and is poised to have a big role on this year’s defense.

“I feel like this offseason with winter conditioning helped me get back the strength and improve even more,” Tagovailoa-Amosa said. “Running out there with my boys, it definitely feels a lot better.”

Being out there with his teammates is what he missed the most last season. It was not an easy time last fall watching everyone play while he was forced to to the sidelines.

“Definitely there is a spot where selfishness would kick in and you would kind of feel sorry for yourself,” Tagovailoa-Amosa admitted, “But if you’re going to be a good brother for your teammates you’ve got to put that aside and just support them no matter what.

“Obviously there are times where you feel down and you just want to sit out of practice…but at the same time I love this team so much that I just have to put all of that aside, put my selfish things aside, and move forward and support them 100%.”

He did that and worked hard to get back on the field last season, but he had to be patient as the coaches and training staff wouldn’t risk putting him out of the field if there was a chance to re-injure his foot.

“Building up to the SC week there were high hopes for me coming back. Obviously we took the x-ray and it wasn’t as healed as we thought it would be. Coming into Cotton Bowl week we were just checking it back and forth and they called and said it was good.”

With all of that in the rearview mirror, he is focusing on trying to follow in the footsteps of Tillery as an interior defensive lineman. What Tillery was able to accomplish was special and MTA did his best to learn from what made Tillery so successful.

“I think a lot of things I saw with Jerry was that he was a more technical kind of dude,” Tagovailoa-Amosa said. “For instance, Jerry’s hips were more fluid. So if you throw a move, he wouldn’t jump out like most people would think. Jerry Is always going forward. It’s never a jump out, it’s always a fluid motion with his pass rush.”

Pass rush is an area where we have not seen the defensive line have much success during the spring compared to last season. That’s something the group is fully aware of and they are working hard to raise the bar from where it was previously.

“Obviously, going off of our success that we had last year, we’ve just got to go back to looking over film and seeing how Jerry progressed his game. I want (replicate) that, but go even further. I feel like pass rush is something that still needs to be worked on throughout our whole defensive line. For me as well, so I think that was our biggest goal this spring.”

It may have been a difficult season, but he is happy to be in the spot he’s in now as the projected started at 3-technique. The way he looks at things compared to last spring is different and he wants to be a player that leads by example for the rest of the defense.

“The mindset is to go out there and dominate,” Tagovailoa-Amosa said when asked about how things changed from last year to now. “I think as a defensive player you want make your presence be felt on the line of scrimmage and obviously being the starter now going out there with the first team and having first reps, you’ve got to set the tone. You’ve got to be the tone-setter of the defense.

“There’s a lot of things setting the tone has to do with the defense and if you make a play, it just amps your whole defense. It amps your boys to push even more.”

It won’t be easy for the Irish defense to push further than they did in 2018, but with players like Tagovailoa-Amosa stepping in to attempt it, we know they will do everything they can to raise the bar in 2019.

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