Apr 10, 2013, 7:14 AM EST
As we push closer towards the end of spring practice, one position that deserves the closest look under the microscope is the safety position. With Zeke Motta departed, it’s a fascinating grouping that’s now fully transitioned into Brian Kelly’s personnel.
Both Chuck Martin and Bob Elliott have shown the ability to get good football out of players that didn’t always play it. As the Irish continue to figure out the back end of their defense, they’ll get to do it with players that were hand-picked for the job. Yet it’s Matthias Farley, a player that wasn’t necessarily projected as a safety, that appears to be the constant in this transition.
Elliott met with a small group of media members to discuss his troops, and had nothing but good things to say about Farley, who has continued his unlikely ascent to a front-line starter.
“Matthias Farley has really grown up,” Elliott said. “Last year, he really played pretty solid football for us. Very unexpected for that to happen. But the thing about Matthias, is that he made himself into a player. Every day he came in for extra film study. Every day, he did extra things to get himself ready, and he just got better and better and better as the season wore on. And that continues today.”
It looks as if Farley has locked himself in at the boundary safety position, anchoring the short side of the field, a physical tackler around the line of scrimmage, while also directing traffic in the back end. That leaves the wide side of the field — often times more of a center-field type player — up for grabs.
“He’s assumed a leadership position back there which is what we intended,” Elliott said. “We’ve got young guys at the field safety, so we want the boundary safety to give us more, be more of a presence.”
Right now, the young guys competing starts with Elijah Shumate, who has taken control of the job with Nicky Baratti recovering from shoulder surgery. (Expect Baratti to be heard from though.) Shumate’s physical traits are immense, Elliott lauded him for his ability to tackle, cover and do everything else that’s needed. The challenge, as it is for all young players, is to master the mental aspects of the position. At a position where a mistake could mean six points, that’s critical.
While there are finally adequate numbers at the position, a two deep seems to be emerging. Austin Collinsworth is working behind Farley, still recovering from shoulder and back surgeries. Baratti will force his way back into the conversation this summer, as will touted freshman Max Redfield. Little-used junior Eilar Hardy also has too much talent to discount, and physically he finally looks the part. John Turner and Chris Badger are finally taking their redshirts off.
Still, it appears the glue of the position will be Farley. Just a calendar year from his first days at the position, it’s impressive to see one of the under-the-radar recruits Kelly and his staff identified play such a prominent role.
“I have great hopes for Matthias,” Elliott said. “He’s still going to be a sophomore. He’s only one year away from being a receiver.”
Mar 6, 2015, 3:08 PM EST
A position group that started last spring as one of the biggest question marks on the defense enters spring practice with the chance to be the most talented unit on the field.
Mar 5, 2015, 4:44 PM EST
It’s official: Brian Kelly’s new coaching staff won the press conference. Just about universally positive reviews came from Monday’s official announcements, with new coaches Mike Sanford, Autry Denson, Keith Gilmore and Todd Lyght winning the day.
Mar 4, 2015, 2:25 PM EST
As the focus begins to turn to spring football, it appears one very big roster move is taking place along the offensive line. Matt Fortuna of ESPN reports that starting center Matt Hegarty will be leaving Notre Dame and playing his fifth year elsewhere.
Mar 3, 2015, 11:49 AM EST
With Notre Dame just one season into Mike Denbrock’s tenure as offensive coordinator, Brian Kelly didn’t look like he was in the market for a new offensive coordinator. But in Mike Sanford, Kelly (and Denbrock) found a coach worth making room for.
Mar 3, 2015, 11:32 AM EST
In hiring defensive backs coach Todd Lyght, Brian Kelly decided to bring back to the program one of the most talented players of the Lou Holtz era. While his resume may be short as a coach, one listen to Lyght reveals a man whose DNA is football, with coaching taking root after a world-class career.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:49 AM EST
Notre Dame’s all-time leading rusher is now in charge of coaching the position. Autry Denson’s return to South Bend comes at the perfect time, with Brian Kelly looking to find the right coach and personality to replace Tony Alford on the coaching staff.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:20 AM EST
Notre Dame’s new defensive line coach Keith Gilmore was introduced yesterday, a reunion for Gilmore with former boss Brian Kelly and former college teammates Brian VanGorder and Paul Longo.
Mar 2, 2015, 10:52 AM EST
After weeks of speculation, Brian Kelly has announced his coaching staff for the 2015 season. The result is four new assistants, a few new assignments and the homecoming of a handful of former Irish stars.
Mar 1, 2015, 7:47 PM EST
Before Brian Kelly introduces us to his new coaching staff tomorrow, let’s finish the mailbag. More here on what to expect from Mike Sanford, “committing” to the run, and stopping the option.
Feb 28, 2015, 2:48 PM EST
Well crew, I’ve gotta say… I’m a little underwhelmed by the mailbag question. And in the 150+ comments of people screaming at each other about mostly stupid stuff, I think I speak for everybody when I say:
Feb 27, 2015, 12:40 PM EST
Former Notre Dame president Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., died Thursday night on campus. Father Ted was 97. He said his final mass on Thursday, the day he passed away.
Feb 26, 2015, 3:24 PM EST
Gone are Cody Riggs and Austin Collinsworth. Returning is a safety position that’s struggled, another transfer, a young cornerback on the rise, and (hopefully) an exiled potential star.
Welcome to the Notre Dame secondary. New coaching, same scheme, different players, and one of 2015’s great unknowns.
Feb 25, 2015, 2:34 PM EST
As we get a few extra weeks to prep for spring practice, let’s open the mailbag.
Feb 24, 2015, 6:56 PM EST
A position that looked like a huge question mark entering the 2014 season ended the year with an embarrassment of riches. After watching Will Fuller emerge with a record-setting sophomore season, the loss of DaVaris Daniels and departure of TJ Jones didn’t do anything to slow the Irish passing game down.
Feb 24, 2015, 1:34 PM EST
None of Notre Dame’s coaching changes are official yet. But more arrows point to North Carolina defensive line coach Keith Gilmore joining the Irish staff in the same role.
Feb 23, 2015, 12:43 AM EST
There might not be a deeper unit on the roster than the offensive line. After a lack of depth made it nearly impossible to practice at full speed heading into the 2012 BCS title game, Notre Dame enters the 2015 season with a two-deep most teams would pay for.
Feb 20, 2015, 10:48 AM EST
Whether it’s the Siberian Express rolling through most of the country (sorry, guys) or the grand reshuffling taking place on Brian Kelly’s coaching staff, Notre Dame announced a delay in the kickoff of spring practice.
Feb 19, 2015, 11:44 AM EST
After an incredibly impressive run at the position, Notre Dame enters spring practice with nothing but question marks at tight end. After Brian Kelly watched Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert, Troy Niklas and now Ben Koyack churn through his program, he’ll spend spring trying to figure out what exactly he has at the position.
Feb 18, 2015, 11:47 AM EST
On Tuesday, a flurry of reports had Brian Kelly focusing in on the final pieces of his reshuffled coaching staff. They include two likely additions, one transition, and a position shift.
Feb 18, 2015, 11:18 AM EST
A few days after safety Avery Sebastian announced his intentions, Notre Dame made the commitment and graduate transfer of the former Cal safety official. Sebastian will enroll in graduate school and join the team in June.