The drop in experience between the starters on Notre Dame's defensive line and the backups is significant.
Starting ends Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore and starting nose guard Ian Williams have played in a combined 74 games and have 219 tackles among them.
The current backups – ends Hafis Williams and Emeka Nwankwo and guard Sean Cwynar – have combined to play in 24 games and have five tackles among them.
But line coach Mike Elston said he is happy with the depth the Irish have created through practices.
"The drop off of the play when the twos go in there is much less significant then it was in the spring," Elston said. "The gap is closing."
The team's switch to using three down linemen also affects the gap.
"I feel like the 3-4 allows the defensive line to be morT involved in plays and make plays in the back field," Lewis-Moore said.
But before the line can start making plays, Elston says there is one major part of their play that needs to be fixed before the season opener against Purdue on Sept. 4.
"We need to improve on our get offs in different circumstances in the game, different situations," Elston said. "Sometimes we won't be the first guy off the ball, and there are a lot of situations where we need to be."
The remedy for this, according to Elston, is just getting in more and more reps and the linemen understanding what situation they are in.
"Not everything is first down. It's third-and-one, it's third-and-seven, and this is the stance you need to be in and here is what you need to key in. This is how you need to get off the ball," Elston said.