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Dino Babers: preparing for new-look Notre Dame defense is ‘extremely difficult’

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New defense, new problems

NCAA Football: Louisville at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse coach Dino Babers admitted on Wednesday he is having trouble preparing for Notre Dame’s defense. The issue isn’t in regards to the Irish defense posing an intimidating challenge – in fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Through four weeks, Notre Dame’s defense played so poorly they recently fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder on Sunday. VanGorder was hired prior to the 2014 season, and lasted 30 games. Defensive analyst Greg Hudson was promoted to replace him.

Since the change was made mid-season, Babers said he is unable to properly prepare because the Irish’s defense on Saturday could theoretically look completely different than the one they have used the previous four games (although, due to the fact they only have one week in-between games, it’s more likely to still look somewhat similar with just a few minor tweaks).

“Watching the tape really doesn’t help you,” Babers said on the ACC coaches teleconference. “We’ll look at personnel and look at what they have done in the past. You would like to think they can’t change too much.

“Any time there’s a change in the middle of the season, that’s pretty drastic. We have to be ready for a drastic change on defense as well. So we really don’t know what they’re going to do on that side of the ball, and we’re going to just have to wait and see.”

After four games under VanGorder this season, Notre Dame’s defense ranked as one of the worst in the country.

Points allowed: 33.5, 101st-best mark in the country

Passing yards allowed: 253.0, 87th-best mark in the country

Rushing yards allowed: 201.0, 91st-best mark in the country

Total yards allowed: 454, 103rd-best mark in the country

Opponent third down conversion rate: 42 percent, 91st-best mark in the country

Sacks-per-game: 0.25 (one total), tied for the 126th-best mark in the country (or in other words, dead last)

Despite Notre Dame’s putrid numbers on defense, Babers said the Irish still need to be taken seriously due to the sheer amount of talent they posses.

“The thing that makes it extremely difficult is they are talented,” Babers said. “If you take the 11 players they’re going to put out there, they may have 50 to 55 stars on the football field – those are five-star, four-star kids.

“They’re extremely talented, we have really no idea what they’re going to do and we’re going to have to adjust and improvise as the game goes on.”

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What changes do you expect Notre Dame to make? And how do you think Syracuse will perform against the Irish’s revamped defense? Leave a comment below.