Notre Dame fires defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder after falling to 1-3
The Irish have given up 41 points per game in three losses to Power Five opponents this season
A day after dropping to 1-3 on the season, Notre Dame announced that defensive Brian VanGorder has been dismissed. Coach Brian Kelly made the announcement Sunday afternoon.
"This is a difficult decision," said Kelly in a school release. "I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn't it where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes."
Defensive analyst Greg Hudson will assume VanGorder's duties throughout the rest of the season. Hudson, a former Irish graduate and assistant, re-joined the program this offseason after spending the last three years as Purdue's defensive coordinator.
"It's never easy to make a change on your staff, but I'm confident in Greg's ability to lead our defense," Kelly continued. "As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he'll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms."
The numbers for Notre Dame under VanGorder are anything but flattering. The Irish are allowing 33.5 points per game this season, and 41.3 points per game against Power Five opponents. The defense is ranked 103rd nationally in yards per game allowed. These are issues that extended back to last year.
In #NotreDame's last 6 games against Power 5 teams, the Irish are 1-5 and opponents have scored 25-26 times in the Red Zone with 21 TDs.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) September 25, 2016
Notre Dame's D has allowed a national worst five plays of 60 yards or more this year. Bob Diaco's defenses allowed that many in 4 years.— Irish Illustrated (@PeteSampson_) September 25, 2016
If nothing else, the timing of VanGorder's release is interesting. It comes one day after Kelly said (via Coaching Search)"coaching had nothing to do with the outcome" of Notre Dame's 38-35 loss to Duke and that the defense was the "least" of his concerns.
"You're playing football for Notre Dame. It looks like it's work. Last I checked they were getting a scholarship to play this game," Kelly continued. "There's no fun, there's no enjoyment, there's no energy. We've got to look for the guys that want to have fun and play this game with passion and energy and that's where we got to go."
The Irish will search for that energy without VanGorder.
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