Notre Dame Football: Irish defense makes strides in spring practice

With six defensive starters gone from the 2013 roster, including five of Notre Dame's front seven players---many believe the Irish will have to rely on their offense in 2014 to have a successful season.

Throw in the fact that Notre Dame has a new defensive coordinator in Brian Van Gorder and its all who new look on that side of the ball.

Irish defensive leaders Sheldon Day and Jaylon Smith laughed and smile when I asked them after Saturday's Blue-Gold game how far they've come from the first practice under Van Gorder through the end of spring practice.

"Day one, everything was lost," Day, Notre Dame's top returning defensive lineman says looking back. "[Coach Van Gorder] made a call and we looked at him like he was crazy. You can definitely tell that we can line up now, play fast and have fun out there where as the first day was like 'oh my gosh, what's going on.'"

"There was a lot of yelling," Smith, Notre Dame's top returning linebacker says of that first practice. "There were a lot of mental errors and there are still some mental errors that he doesn't like and that we don't like and that we will have to continue to eradicate. We're starting to see the big picture and understand the concepts and now its just about applying it--when you are playing in front of 80,000."

The defense should get a boost by a new NCAA rule that allows for coaches and players to spend more time together in the month of June for film evaluation.

The first game of the 2014 football season is August 30th at Notre Dame Stadium against Rice.

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