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Diaco talks defense (and werewolves)

Mar 29, 2012, 6:28 PM EDT

Bob Diaco hat

My affinity for Bob Diaco continues to grow. While some Irish fans still haven’t forgiven him for his defense’s first game against Navy and the option, Diaco has transformed a unit that was among the worst in Notre Dame history into the strength of the football team.

More importantly, he embodies what’s needed as a defensive coordinator. He’s a young, emotional, and fiery leader that’s done everything from work-in on block destruction drills to quote Gandhi. As passionate of a coach I’ve ever seen, Diaco successfully connects with his players because he equates the Xs and Os on the field with the Xs and Os in life — truly believing in the principles he teaches as a guideline to survival both on and off the field.

That said, you’ve got to love Diaco just as much for his interviews. Always inclined to give you a thoughtful response while not trying to give anything proprietary away, Diaco does his best to keep the company secrets protected, but also give a respectful answer to an interviewer or question, even when it’s to his detriment. (His postgame comments after the Navy loss created such a firestorm that the coordinators were kept off limits the rest of the 2010 season.) That’s made for some curious quotes from Bob, who has tongue-tied himself more than a few times as he attempted the delicate balancing act.

Here are some updates Diaco gave earlier this week on the state of his defense, courtesy of BlueandGold.com. For those scoring at home, Diaco also used “werewolf” for the second time publicly, this time bestowing the term on safety Austin Collinsworth after deeming freshman Jarrett Grace one a few months ago.

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Because it’s such a great quote, here’s Diaco on Collinsworth:

“Collinsworth is having a nice spring. He’s a little werewolf, man. I love that guy. He’s hard not to like. He’s all energy. He is a high-collision player. He is fast when he steps on the gas pedal. He’s got some things, obviously, that he needs to work on, but he’s one of the more entertaining players to watch and be around. If your energy bucket is a little empty, hang around Austin a little bit and it’ll be filled back up in a hurry.”

There’s about a dozen great things about that quote, right down to the almost use of passion bucket, a Dan Patrick Show favorite. But for Irish fans wondering about the secondary and Collinsworth’s ability to jump into a three-safety rotation, this seems to support the fact that there are plenty of questions surrounding the unit, but Collinsworth isn’t one of them.

While I wasn’t in attendance for it, new IrishSportsDaily.com contributor Sean Stires also grabbed these quotes from Diaco’s presser:

On Ishaq Williams, and his improvement from last season to this year:

“Ishaq is learning how to practice,” Diaco told ISD. “He’s learning how to compete at this level and prepare to compete at this level. That’s what he’s learning how to do. There’s a lot less plays where he’s loafing or not giving effort. There’s more plays where he’s giving either the expected level of effort and then also what we would consider to be exceptional effort. There’s a lot more of those plays and a lot less of the plays where we’re just trying to get him to learn how to practice. He’s improving his game.”

On Prince Shembo, who is settling in at the ‘Cat’ linebacker position that was manned by Darius Fleming last year.

“Prince is gonna play Cat,” Diaco told ISD. “Maybe (Kelly) was speaking more to the fact that he can play Dog, and that he did play Dog all year long and that those positions are basically mirrored. He’s doing a great job and working hard out there. We’ve got a lot to replace. We had a lot of great players leave the program.”

  1. dickasman - Mar 29, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

    Werewolves of london…

    • jefmaj - Mar 29, 2012 at 6:48 PM

      His hair was perfect….

  2. dickasman - Mar 29, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    I think they should start howling after big plays next year and coming out of the tunnel.

  3. dickasman - Mar 29, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    I hope to see at the least ND defense taking a giant step and start taking over games. I know the backfield is weakness but we should be solid upfront and at the LB.

    Start sending all the guys bobby! Load’em up and send’em! Go get’em son!

  4. NotreDan - Mar 29, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    The sink from the kitchen. Explosive and hungry D will demoralize. Attitude will win games.

  5. cameronemclaughlin - Mar 29, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    It’s nice to hear that Ishaq isn’t loafing on as many plays as he used to, and that there are less plays during which he is not giving effort.

    That quote is a bit disappointing. He’s playing football for Notre Dame, and he’s having trouble finding it within himself to try.

    On the one hand, I’m disgusted. On the other, I’m imagining that this guy must be an incredible athlete. To have motivation problems, yet earn a scholarship at Notre Dame and see the field as a freshman–he must be unbelievable. And unbelievably frustrating during practice.

    • bernhtp - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:25 AM

      Louis Nix couldn’t play his freshman year because he was a fat slob. He got it together, and in a spectacular way. I expect Ishaq, an elite athlete, to also exorcise his demons to make a large contribution this season.

    • irishdog80 - Mar 30, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      Williams played high school football in New York City against weaker competition. He could dominate without having to try very hard. All young players have to make the adjustment to playing against elite athletes at the college level especially at Notre Dame with the schedule we play and the demands of academics. He will become a dominant force once he understands that his hard work and effort will pay off with results.

      He could probably “take plays off” in high school and still make plenty of plays due to his superior athleticism. Under different circumstances, he would have benefited from not playing his freshman year and spent time adjusting to the speed of the game in practice instead of on Saturdays. No worries. He will be a great one.

    • dickasman - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:08 PM

      Ishaq looked like he was completely lost last year. You can tell by the look on his face whenever he played. He had alot of “adjustments” that he needed to make including football and Im not talking about just jock straps. School, homesick, studying, level of competition, etc….. I was afraid he was gonna pull a dingleberry to be quite honest with you.

      I hope he’s at the least more comfortable this year and take a baby step forward! He certainly has the looks of a stud outside OL

  6. degosavage23 - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:50 AM

    Mark my words, Williams is gonna put it together this year. He will be a force.

  7. 1historian - Mar 30, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    Keith – I just started reading this piece and I LOVE YOUR STUFF but you have to work on your english.

    “As passionate of a coach I’ve ever seen” is TERRIBLE ENGLISH. It should read – “as passionate a coach as I’ve ever seen.”

    Just trying to help. Now I can read the rest of the piece.

    • joewyoming - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:07 PM

      If you’re going there, you might as well mention that it’s “werewolves” not “werewolfs.”

      But I’ll take any spelling when it’s positive stuff like this. Go Irish!
      R

      • 1historian - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:19 PM

        You got me there – I missed that one

        GREAT movie

    • dickasman - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      who cares

      • 1historian - Mar 31, 2012 at 7:34 AM

        I do

  8. 1historian - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Does anyone out there know when/if the bookstore is going to start selling those 3 striped practice jerseys?

  9. kazmar619 - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Putting a “prevent” defense in when defensive line pressure is working has not scored any points with me. This year it is going to be even more important to keep the defensive line pressure going considering ND’s inexperienced secondary.

  10. larrynamesauthor - Mar 30, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    I’ve been coaching for 35 years, everything from Pop Warner to college to semi-pro. Diaco is in love with the cover-2, and his cover-2 cost us three games last year. Michigan, USC, and Florida State. Please note that NONE of the top schools run the cover-2 as their primary defense. It prevents the big play – supposedly. But what happened in those games? Michigan got their big plays, didn’t they? USC did, too. FSU found the hole in the middle of the cover-2 and exploited it all through the second half. Stanford just drilled us. Another issue with the cover-2 is it allows the other team to control the ball, and thus the tempo of the game, way too long. Until he gets over his love affair with the cover-2 or he moves on, our Irish will continue to be an 8-win team year after year.

    • don74 - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:26 PM

      Larry,

      Is it possible he played cover 2 because of the talent or lack of talent on hand? When you were coaching did you put your players in situations that you knew were bad for them or did you attempt the best scheme for the talent you had? I certainly don’t know the answer but I have to believe the coaches want to win as much as we want to win. Perhaps the answer is personnel that can play man with LB’s that can play in space.

    • dickasman - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      Larry, High Five….I’ve been coaching for 36 years myself. I agree, that cover 2 crap has got to go! Lovie Schmif did the same thing w bears last year.

      Use the 34 as a shell but really you should “attack” the QB by using the OL…Bobby D need to go look at some tapes of patriots w bruschi and Steelers tapes.

      PLEASE STOP LOOKING AT THE TAPES OF BEARS, THEY SUCK!

      • larrynamesauthor - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:13 AM

        don74, any good coach fits his offensive and defensive schemes to his personnel. But you basic strategy remains the same. You don’t win football games by playing a prevent defense. You win by attacking the opponent’s weakness. Look back the FSU game. Diaco attacked in the first half, and FSU was totally stymied. He switched to the prevent in the second half, and look what happened. I hope he learned from that.

    • footballace - Mar 31, 2012 at 10:24 PM

      I agree with your statement. The Cover-2 has a time and a place, but if your going to use that has your base defense; your going to get carved up. I agree with dickasman; the Steelers and Patriots have made it to a few Super Bowls lately. Moves those linebackers around and keep offenses guessing. Overall I am happy with what Bob Diaco has done with the Irish defense.

  11. smurphdoggy29 - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Production = Simple

    Diaco has produced, learned from mistakes, and produced. If he keeps progressing, no worries.

    Oh and to add from the song…

    “I’d like to meet his Tailor”

    GO Irish
    154

  12. dickasman - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Anybody going to the spring game? Im debating buying a ticket for 6 people for that brunch. that’s freaking 600/pop. Is the brunch tickets worth it? will i be able to mingle and talk ebonics w my favorite college football players?

    • bernhtp - Mar 30, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      I’m going. Wasn’t expecting to but got asked to help with a meeting the day before, so I’m sticking around for the weekend.

  13. dickasman - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Cmon guys, lets stop with charlie weis football and lets go play some Charlie Sheen football, WINNINGGG!!!

    all I do is win win win……

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