Spring Football: Golden talks adjustments for second year with ND, returning linebackers

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 7:05 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The Notre Dame football team is finishing up its first full week of spring practice, and on Wednesday, the media heard from defensive coordinator Al Golden.

Golden is entering his second year with the Irish and his second year back in the college game after spending six years in the NFL. His defense last year held opponents to 21 points or under in seven of its 13 games and ranked 22nd in total defense, according to the NCAA.

Every year, we ask the players how they improved from year to year. But how often do we ask the coaches that?

So, 16 Sports asked Golden, even for a coach of his experience level, what is he trying to do to improve from year one to year two.

“The biggest change for me this offseason was to look at the opponents first and then plan, then chart the course,” he said. “So for me, I learned a lot just by quality control and myself what defenses we need, what didn’t we call that maybe we practiced, what do we need more of, what showed up in the gameplans consistently throughout the year.

“And obviously, I watched some of the opponents ahead of time,” he added. “I got a real good grasp of what we need, what we don’t need, and just trying to keep it as tight as we can from a package standpoint.”

Luckily for Golden, his own position group — the linebackers — are in pretty good shape for next season with a lot of experience returning. Four of his key returners are Marist Liufau, Prince Kollie, Jack Kiser, and JD Bertrand.

Golden explained why that core of returners is so key in the film room.

“It’s almost like being in the NFL in the sense that they give you ideas and they share with you where their eyes are and what they see on certain plays,” Golden said. “And sometimes, you adapt how you coach things or how you teach things or even how you change calls based on their strengths.”

Sophomore linebacker Nolan Ziegler agreed with his coach.

“When the older linebackers, we’re having that talk in the film room, you start to learn the why behind the defenses, which helps you understand it and play more free out there,” Ziegler said. “I really enjoy having Jack, JD, Marist, and Prince all in the film room.”

The Fighting Irish will continue to gear up for the 2023 edition of the Blue-Gold Game, which will take place on April 22 at Notre Dame Stadium.

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