Clark Lea helps Irish defense shine

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (WNDU) - The Irish are gearing up to face their former defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder on Saturday.

It’s now Clark Lea's defense, and it's shaping up a whole lot differently. Lea was promoted to lead the defense in 2018 after spending a year as the linebackers coach.

“Coach Lea just kind of personal is kind of like a father figure, if you know what I mean in the role of a coach,” linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah said. “Just to have him in the defensive role and to be my coach is a blessing.”

Notre Dame is currently leading the country with 18 straight games allowing 30 points or less, the entirety of Lea's tenure.

“He's a great guy,” defensive end Julian Okwara said. “We always love having him out there at practice. He always brings energy. The expectation that would happen before practice, just going out there knowing our goals for the game. We always like review that before every game.”

Brian Kelly says Lea's coaching style is better communicated to his players while his players say he's a role model.

“Everybody knows what their expectations are, and he's able to get the best out of them,” Kelly said. “He builds really good relationships with the players. He demands in practice the kind of defensive demeanor that's necessary to play with a physicality, but with the right emotional control.”

Lea and the Irish take on Bowling Green Saturday at 3:30 p.m.