August 18, 2006

A little help from my friends

If you don't believe what the defensive backs and defensive coaches say, just ask a quarterback. Brady Quinn will tell you.

"Talking with Brady and guys on offense, when they see seven defensive backs, when there are guys with that type of speed flying around making plays, it makes his job and the receivers' job a little tougher," said Irish safety Tom Zbikowski, who paced the Irish in interceptions in 2005 with five.

"When slot receivers are used to going against a linebacker out of box, and (the quarterback) sees another corner who can jam up a receiver, that gives him trouble."

Notre Dame's defensive backs would like to be able to give opposing quarterbacks the same kind of trouble. Part of Notre Dame's problem last year-when the Irish pass defense ranked 103rd in the country in yards allowed-was inexperience. Mike Richardson had starting experience (five games in 2004), but Chinedum Ndukwe and Ambrose Wooden were starting on defense for the first time in their collegiate careers. Even Zbikowski entered the 2005 season with just one year of starting experience under his belt, and Richardson didn't become a full-time starter until last season.

"We spent two days a week this summer doing agilities and speed work," said Zbikowski of the defensive backs' off-season conditioning.

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