Irish defense needs to be strong against Michigan

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (WNDU) - The Irish are gearing up to take on Michigan at the Big House on Saturday and Brian Kelly knows his defense needs to be top level to compete.

The Irish have held opponents to 30 or less in 20 straight games.

This season the Blue and Gold are only allowing 17 points a game.

Michigan's had a bit of a roller coaster season and average 29 points per game.

Last season against the Wolverines, the Irish were able to limit the ground game to just 58 yards but eight different receivers had receptions.

“So giving the corners some help, varying some man and zone looks outside is very, very important, and certainly not giving [Shea] Patterson the same looks every time,” Kelly said. “He's a smart quarterback. He can run if he doesn't like what he sees. What we did really well last year was put some pressure on the quarterback. I think we need to do that again.”

Head coach Brian Kelly says the Irish need to limit the 50/50 balls.

“You know, you have to play some zone coverage,” Kelly said. “You've got to take away the high percentage 50/50 balls because of their size. So you're double zoning, playing some bail, doing some things where you're keeping the corners over the top with some helped underneath. You can't just line up in one coverage there because they're going to win some of those matchups.”

Today Irish captain and safety Alohi Gilman was named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the best defensive back in college football.

Gilman this season leads the Irish with 38 tackles.