Irish coaching shuffle pays off for secondary

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Irish coaching shuffle pays off for secondary

Among the plenty of feel-good stories about Notre Dame's championship run is one that hasn't been covered too heavily: All those coaching shifts and additions that happened last winter wound up paying off for the undefeated Irish.

After last season, offensive coordinator Charley Molnar, offensive line coach Ed Warinner and running backs coach Tim Hinton left the program. Chuck Martin was moved from safeties coach to offensive coordinator while Tony Alford shifted from wide receivers to running backs, filling those two holes internally. Veteran position coaches Harry Hiestand and Bob Elliott were brought on to coach Notre Dame's offensive line and safeties, respectively, to round out the staff.

Specifically, the addition of Elliott has been key in guiding the growth of Notre Dame's safeties. That's not to say the other coaching shifts haven't been beneficial -- Zack Martin said a key reason for his 2013 return was getting to play another year under Hiestand, while Everett Golson has been appreciative of his offensive coordinator's tough love.

And Matthias Farley, a greenhorn safety, credited Elliott for steering him through a sharp learning curve.

"It's been monumental in my growth, because coach Elliott has taken time out his days, after practice, his down time in between coaching meetings he'll sit and watch practice film with me after each and every practice he'll critique it and see areas I need to improve on, on and off the field," Farley said. "It's been a huge asset to have him in my corner."

Farley was a player Elliott figured would fit in on special teams when he first evaluated him in the spring. But when Jamoris Slaughter was lost for the season in Week 3, Farley had to step in, and he's done a solid job alongside Zeke Motta since.

Elliott wasn't some unfamiliar face, though. He coached defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks during each's playing days at Iowa, and brought to Notre Dame 33 seasons of coaching knowledge.

"He's somebody that has a great deal of experience as a coordinator on the BCS level, incredible amount of experience, and he doesn't have an ego," coach Brian Kelly said. "He wants to just fit into the staff dynamics. For us, that's one of our key ingredients to success is to have a staff that puts their egos aside and really works on the development of their players. He's done an incredible job."

While Notre Dame's secondary looked like a major weakness heading into the season, it's grown into a solid group -- even if three of its four starters didn't play much of their current positions in high school. Farley, who was recruited to Notre Dame as a wide receiver, and Bennett Jackson, a high school receiver as well, gave plenty of credit to Elliott and Cooks for their development in 2012.

"A lot of credit needs to go to the coaches and how they've developed us," Farley said. " I have confidence in the fact we can do the roles that are asked of us. Bennett, KeiVarae (Russell) are very athletic, very talented but to also have great coaching behind them is a great combination."

"We would not be where we are without those coaches developing those players to the level they are today," Kelly added.

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland turned in one of his best starts of the season on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the White Sox had nothing to show for it after a 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.

In six innings, Holland allowed four hits, one earned run, and two walks while recording six strikeouts. He was charged with his only run in the seventh, when he allowed a single to Yonder Alonso, who came around to score after Holland had been pulled from the game.

Despite his confidence in the bullpen, which has been one of the White Sox biggest strengths this season, Holland would like to see himself go deeper into the games.

“I should be getting into the 7th and not having 110 pitches,” Holland said. “The bullpen's done a great job of picking us up in the seventh, eighth and ninth. The starters, and really pointing more to myself, we need to...I need to go out there and go longer."

Entering Sunday, three of Holland’s last four starts had been the worst outings of the season – allowing 22 earned runs over those four games. Despite the team’s 5-3 loss, Holland felt his outing was a step in the right direction.

“I felt good about everything out there,” Holland said. “(Omar Narvaez) and I were right on the same page. There were just a couple of things that got away from us. Just one of those things. Defense made the plays for us when they needed to, unfortunately we just didn't come out on top."

Manager Rick Renteria also had high praise for the 30-year-old southpaw, who bounced back from one of his shortest outings of the season.

“I thought Holland, hopefully what's not lost is Holland's outing today was really, really good,” Renteria said. “He kept us in the ballgame. They've got some kids that can swing the bat. They were putting things together. All we were trying to do at the end was minimize any damage they could produce. We weren't able to.”

Honda Road Ahead: Can Cubs slow down Nationals bats?

Honda Road Ahead: Can Cubs slow down Nationals bats?

CSN's David Kaplan and David DeJesus discuss the upcoming matchups in this edition of the Cubs Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

Maybe a four-game series with the N.L. East-leading Washington Nationals will help the Cubs take off. 

It did last year. 

The Cubs swept the Nats early last season, boosting themselves into first place in the National League - a position they wouldn't relinquish. More than a sweep, though, a positive series is vital for a team that continues to hover around .500. 

To do so, Joe Maddon's pitchers must somehow slow the Nationals offense, which has managed to push across more runs than any team in the majors. 

After D.C., the Cubs are off to Cincy for a three-game set with the Reds. 

Watch David Kaplan and David DeJesus preview the upcoming matchups in the video above.