Notre Dame ready to unleash Sheldon Day on USC

Notre Dame ready to unleash Sheldon Day on USC
October 18, 2013, 1:30 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Sheldon Day has missed some or all of Notre Dame's last four games with an ankle injury, but finally feels ready to return this weekend against USC.

Day's been questionable since injuring his ankle Sept. 14 against Purdue, dressing for games against Michigan State and Oklahoma but not playing. He started Oct. 5 against Arizona State but quickly realized his ankle wouldn't allow him to contribute much.

[More: Watching Tuitt helps Rochell ease into role]

But the sophomore defensive end said he turned missed practice time into a positive, as being on the sidelines has allowed him to do some self-evaluation while watching his fellow defensive ends.

"I feel like I've become more of a coach type of player, telling everybody what I see and how they can do things better, things like that," Day said.

Day specifically pointed to hand placement -- "it was going everywhere" -- as something he discovered he wasn't doing right from watching others in practice. He's worked a lot with freshman Isaac Rochell, and explaining things to a freshman has helped him crystallize some things about his own game, like hand placement.

"I'm seeing it through his eyes, basically," Day said. "He's telling me what he's thinking and then I tell him what I saw and how I would do it. It's been a good thing."

[More: Kelly says Tuitt hasn't made decision on NFL Draft yet]

Notre Dame's pass rush had its best game Oct. 5 against Arizona State, with Prince Shembo recording three sacks and Stephon Tuitt pestering quarterback Taylor Kelly all evening. Getting Day back adds a significant boost to that unit that seemed to be coming together in its last game.

"He doesn't stay blocked," coach Brian Kelly said. "One of the things that makes a defensive lineman a great player is he gets off blocks. Sheldon gets off blocks and is a great pass rusher. He's a guy that early in the season was a great pass rusher and wasn't staying blocked. He'll figure into our game plan on Saturday."