Former Bishop Luers star Jaylon Smith followed his one-tackle performance in the season opener against Temple with five tackles and a pass breakup in Saturday's loss to No. 11 Michigan.
Smith showed both the upside and downside of the No. 21 Irish (1-1) relying on a freshman at outside linebacker against the Wolverines.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Smith made a nice open-field tackle on Michigan receiver Dennis Norfleet, and he fought off a block to keep running back Fitz Toussaint to only a 2-yard gain on Michigan's second series.
Smith also nearly came up with an interception in the third quarter, after Notre Dame cut its deficit to 27-20.
But he also had freshman moments, like when Smith was drawn away from maintaining the edge by receiver Drew Dileo, which allowed quarterback Devin Gardner to run for 35 yards in the second quarter.
Coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday that he can live with some of the growing pains Smith will have this season as the linebacker learns more about the defense and his role in each call.
"The benefits of playing him are that you get a lot of experience early on, and especially with our schedule." Kelly said. "We are not playing easy squads. We are playing good football teams early on, and he's getting an opportunity to learn a lot. You're going to have to live with some mistakes that are made, but I tell you what, he made some really good plays for us as well.
"He's an athletic kid that loves to play, plays hard. Occasionally you're going to be put in some compromising positions. He's a young man that makes up for some of those mistakes with the way he plays, too."