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Notre Dame Football: Brian Kelly says he will be “very disappointed” if Donte Vaughn and Shaun Crawford aren’t playing against Louisville

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That sounds like a vote of confidence to me.

Donte Vaughn
Mike Miller/One Foot Down

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are one week away from the Blue-Gold game, and we are starting to see a lot of the questions we had heading into spring ball getting closer to being answered.

I felt that the four biggest questions were:

  • Replacing Julian Love at cornerback
  • Linebacker
  • Nickel
  • Defensive tackle

All four are on the defensive side of the ball and for good reason... some of Notre Dame’s best players from 2018 played defense. Here’s the latest info from what Brian Kelly had to say while speaking about the personnel for some of those groups:

Donte Vaughn & Shaun Crawford

They’re getting there. They’re getting there. They factor in heavily in terms of the fall. These are two guys that I told them, if they’re standing on the sidelines with me against Louisville — I’ll be very disappointed. I expect them to be competing and playing for us in some fashion. They’ve both been here a long time, they understand the level that we need to play at. Both are anxious, and want to get in there, and we think some the things we’re doing in coverage will benefit both of them.

This is great news. Although I think Houston Griffith has progressed quite well this spring, Donte Vaughn can still be a very good player and has a ton of experience. While the last impression many fans have of Vaughn is from the Cotton Bowl, he was hip on hip with the Clemson receivers and just couldn’t quite make the play. He had a torn labrum by the way — that has a huge effect on one’s ability to lift their arm up over their head while running.

Nickel was always a liability last year, and a healthy Shaun Crawford would solidify that position like we haven’t seen since 2017 when he played so well there. A veteran secondary of Alohi Gilman, Jalen Elliott, Troy Pride, and Crawford (at the Nickel) would certainly help the Irish keep everything in front of them.

Paul Moala & Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

“I think that’s going to be a position continuously evaluated, but we know we have some answers there more than questions. Does that mean it’s over and done with? No — it’s not. I think there are other options for us there as we continue to vet out the linebacker positions, but having some answers — we wanted some when we left the spring. The Rover position is one that can be taught fairly quickly if you have the right instincts.”

“I think Owusu-Koramoah had a nice day today. He was really good in leverage and tackling situations other than when he didn’t get the memo on Thud vs. Tackle, but that’s Jalen Elliott’s fault. He’s responsible for that. Look, I’d rather have that than if he was looking for the flag to play tag-off. I think both of them become an answer for us but I wouldn’t say the competition is over.”

It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Asmar Bilal is the MIKE, Jack Lamb is the BUCK, and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Paul Moala are battling it out at the ROVER with the former perhaps holding a slight edge at the moment. All three positions still have fall camp to get sorted out, but the wind is blowing in this general direction.

BRIAN KELLY PRESSER