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Irish Insights

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Impressive Irish defense

There is plenty to like about Notre Dame's defense.

The Irish, who improved to 10-0 for the first time since 1993 with Saturday's 21-6 at Boston College, are in the top 10 in four defensive categories.

Notre Dame is tied for Alabama for the top scoring defense, with both teams giving up 11.1 points per game.

The Irish also have the nation's No. 6 rushing defense, giving up 95.9 yards per game, the No. 8 overall defense, giving up 295.2 yards per game, and have the 10th best pass efficiency defense at 104.7.

"I like where we are," coach Brian Kelly said of his defense during his Sunday teleconference. "I think you have to play great defense to be No. 1 in scoring defense in the country over the long haul, and against BC that's the first time they hadn't scored a touchdown this year. We felt like (Chase) Rettig was an outstanding quarterback.

"I'm really pleased with what we're continuing to build on defensively, and again, I think there's some young players that are playing even better at this point."

One of the hidden reasons for Notre Dame's defensive success is how seamlessly the Irish are able to switch from playing a 3-4 defense, three linemen, to a 4-3 defense, four linemen.

Kelly said the play of outside linebackers Prince Shembo, who has 43 tackles, 10 for loss, and seven sacks this year, and Danny Spond, who has 33 tackles this season, allows the defense to switch between formations.

"I think we have the pieces because we recruited to it early on that allow us to do it, and I think it's going to get better," Kelly said. "I think the personnel will continue to allow us to do what we want to do in moving both three and four down. But clearly the ability to put Prince Shembo's hand down on the ground and then back him up, and Danny Spond, his ability to play in space, play No. 2 receiver and then line up over at tight end, it starts with those outside backers, and we've got two guys that allow us to do that."

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