Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco addressed the performances of three defensive players during Wednesday's coordinator's news conference.
Here is what he had to say about Ian Williams, Brian Smith and Darrin Walls.
The 6-foot-2, 305-pound nose guard missed the last four games this season because of injury, but he returns to play his final game with Notre Dame in Friday's Sun Bowl against Miami.
Williams had 37 tackles and 1.5 sacks this season.
Diaco's take on Williams return to the lineup: "There's no disruption of chemistry... The players know exactly where everyone fits all the time. That's our core belief. That's how we operate. We communicate clearly every day with the players as it relates to where they stand. The vision is clear, so there's no backdoor, behind-the-scene conversation. As it relates to Ian, there's no loss of chemistry. We're excited he's back. he's got an opportunity to play in his last college game. He was able to grind it out and work hard to get himself back on position to be healthy enough to contribute."
The 6-foot-3, 243-pound senior had to settle for a backup role at outside linebacker for the first eight games, but he started the final four games at inside linebacker after Carlo Calabrese was sidelined with an injury.
Smith finished the season with 46 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and an interception.
Diaco's take on Smith: "Brian has been positive every step of the way. That's a real credit to him and his perseverance. He was excited about a position change from '09 to '10. The change really suited him. He hadn't had a lot of training out there but it was a good fit. Didn't get upset when he was splitting time with Kerry. Really, I saw him as a starter the whole year - maybe at times it didn't come out that way, but it was 1-A, 1-B out there. And then for him to go inside when we needed him, his energy didn't rise, either. He's been steady Eddie the whole time. It wasn't this big flush of emotion. He's gotten better every day, worked his fundamentals, worked his conditioning, worked his strength and conditioning. He's a bigger, faster, stronger player. Each day he's a little bit farther along. He's continued to develop every step of the way."
The 6-foot, 190-pound senior more than doubled his interception total this season, picking off three passes giving him five for his career.
He is one of six defensive players to start every game, and he had 39 tackles and broke up four passes this season.
Diaco's take on Walls: "Darrin is a benchmark for professionalism. He is someone you can point to on any given day to say this is how you come to work, this is how you come to meetings, this is how you look when you're on campus, this is how you conduct your business. He's clean cut, he looks good, he wears nice clothes. I don't know whether he has the approach that any given day he might meet someone that can change his life, so he better be ready for it. But that's how he operates and conducts his business. He's going to be very successful in whatever he does."