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Explaining the defense

Notre Dame's 35-31 loss at Michigan on Saturday night had plenty of frustrating moments.

But no play was more frustrating than when the Irish gave up a 64-yard pass with the Wolverines on their own 20 with less than 30 seconds to play.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson hit Jeremy Gallon after the receiver slipped behind Notre Dame's coverage with the Irish clinging to a 31-28 lead. Robinson followed the big pass with a 16-yard touchdown toss to Roy Roundtree for the victory.

Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said Tuesday that Notre Dame didn't drop a fleet of defenders back because the defense had worked on a coverage leading up to the game that the team felt would work

"At that particular point, we've repped and practiced that particular call, and it was poorly executed," Diaco said. "At the end of the day, I'm responsible for execution, so I take full responsibility."

Coach Brian Kelly also pointed to the running threat that Robinson presents for the Irish not dropping more defenders into coverage.

"Robinson creates a lot of issues," Kelly said. "What if we're in two man? Someone says, well, we're talking about it as a staff on Thursday. We have these discussions 48 hours prior to. All right, let's go two man, run everybody off. Who's the fifth guy that's spying Denard Robinson? Is he good enough to tackle him if he breaks out? We didn't feel like we had one of those guys. He's a pretty special player. So now you're left with, okay, drop eight and rush three, give him all day.

"So at the end of the day, we came up with what we felt was the best thing for us. We've just got to execute it better in that situation."

Kelly and Diaco both stood up for senior cornerback Gary Gray, who has received the lion's share of the blame for the game's final two passes from fans.

"Gary is one of the best players we have on our defense," Diaco said. "We love Gary. I've got a massive amount of respect for him.

"Like I said, I take responsibility for that play. I take responsibility for all those plays. No one in this organization is interested in placing blame on any of the players. That's for sure."

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