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Friday, April 22, 2005

The Blue-Gray Sky, a rather good Notre Dame blog, has a lovingly detailed post on ND's new "Apache" 4-2-5 defense. It's got pictures and everything.

In summary, they expect a defense that will disguise itself extensively before the snap and help address ND's recent deficiencies against the spread offense. Sounds like the D is heavily dependent on both the strong safety and 'weak' safety (the half-linebacker, half-safety that is the "Apache" position) being able to successfully contest both run and pass. It places a lot of pressure on the cornerbacks, too, as they have just one safety behind them playing the middle of the field and can't be too aggressive. Will it work? I dunno. The Irish should be pretty bad on defense this year after losing 8 starters. Michigan should be able to exploit a young, inexperienced defense with Hart, Henne, Avant, Breaston and company, especially since they'll only have one game under their belts. John L Smith discovered last year that taking a linebacker and giving him a fancy name ("Bandit" in MSU's case) and additional coverage responsibility can't cover up a severe talent deficiency.

The Notre Dame game will provide the first bellwether for the Michigan season. Michigan should be aiming to match the 38 they put up in '03, though ND will definitely not end up with the same 0 they had after that game. It could be a shootout if the Irish can grasp Weis' offense quickly.