Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco was one of the defensive assistants that talked to the media after practice Wednesday.
Here are his thoughts on some of the players, the tempo of practice and having guys learn multiple things in the defense.
On inside linebacker Anthony McDonald: I'm well pleased with Anthony, but as it relates to standing out at this point, I would caution that kind of word. I don't want to make sound like he's separated from other guys, and I also don't want to put any undo pressure on him. That's not fair to put on him. He's done a nice job. He's really powerful for not a small-frame guy, a medium-frame guy (6-foot-2, 230 pounds), as it relates to some other guys. He's explosive player. He can really uncoil, which helps him to do those jobs inside. He's got a good feel for the game. He's got good football intelligence as far as fitting where the ball may enter and his particular pass responsibility.
On McDonald's past injuries affecting the linebacker: I haven't (noticed). He seems like a rugged guy.
On cornerbacks Darrin Walls and Gary Gray: Darrin and Gary continue to come on, even for older players. They've even, in my opinion, come so far as it relates to what we are trying to get done in the nine practices. They are both physical players. They are both quick twitch players. They both have a feel for reading their key and getting their eyes onto their particular eye-progression responsibility. We are very happy with them. They are doing a nice job of getting themselves ready to have a nice year.
On safety Jamoris Slaughter: Jamoris is a very athletic player. He really athletically could do a lot of different jobs. Really fast, excellent balance, quick twitch, good hands, got a real feel for it, but a safety's mentality. He's a good player, and he's getting better every day too.
On the tempo of practice: The tempo is very positive. Coach (Brian) Kelly's tempo of practice is a really nice thing for us defensively. Because you are having to quickly get back to the ball, quickly look and get the information from the sideline, snap your eyes around, the balls almost snapped, so you are having to process information at a very high rate. It's taxing. It's confusing. And in there somewhere the game needs to slow down for you. And it's not going to slow down; it needs to slow down for you. We try to manage that a little bit with particular guys in call patterns.
On the goal-line defense, which delivered some big hits in the final few minutes of practice Wednesday that was open to the media: Coach Kelly is a hockey player, tough guy. If you are going to street fight, you'd ask coach to come with you. He's a rugged guy, and that's who he is. You know, put the ball down, go mano-y-mano and separate the men from the boys, so to speak. And let's see who's tougher and who's ready to knock a guy off the ball.
On the development of linebacker Steve Paskorz, who played fullback last season: With Steven, what we are looking for with that he doesn't become paralyzed by diagnosing. Don't think too much about what your job is. Get in a particular key, and tell him, when the key does this, you do that. And if the key does that, you do this. Just kind of get him doing those things first.
On Paskorz becoming comfortable at linebacker: I wouldn't say comfortable, but he's getting better.
On trying to teach players one position: We are trying not to move the around. What happens though is when we get into different game scenarios; we have to do different things. We have different sub-packages to address different things in the game. We try to keep it as like as much as we can, but they are going to have three different positions any way … maybe four.