SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Among the various changes to Notre Dame's defense brought in by Brian VanGorder, there's a less-noticeable one that's more of a personal choice.
Whereas former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco spent games above the field in a coaches' box, VanGorder will coach the Irish defense from the field. As was the case for Diaco, it's where VanGorder feels comfortable -- he's generally coached from the sidelines over the course of his lengthy career.
Coach Brian Kelly said he's fine with VanGorder's decision, and added that secondary coach Kerry Cooks and defensive line coach Mike Elston will continue to coach from the sidelines as well.
"We'll have an experienced group on the field," Kelly said. "I've always left it up to the coordinator preference-wise. Very rarely have I mandated it, per se. And Brian feels comfortable being on the field because of his experience being on the field."
Notre Dame wrapped up spring practice on Wednesday, and only Saturday's Blue-Gold game separates the team from a three and a half month coaching break. VanGorder's defense has been well-received by players this spring, with his new guys buying in to the aggressive tactics he's brought to South Bend.
And for VanGorder, his players have picked up the defense quicker than he thought.
"I think they're a little ahead of what I thought they might be as young players going into spring ball," VanGorder said. "They're doing a good job. Good job unwinding, a number of different calls and defenses. It's multiple for them. And I think they're coming along, doing a better job than I thought they would."