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Football: Brown and Tenuta look to revamp defense

Jay Fitzpatrick | Thursday, March 27, 2008

After improving Notre Dame’s defense tremendously in his first year as defensive coordinator, Corwin Brown looks to take another step forward this season by making the team more aggressive.

“We’re going to be flying a lot more. That’s how we’ll look,” he said in a news conference Wednesday.

One main reason the Irish defense is going to be more aggressive is the new coaching personnel. After former assistant coach Bill Lewis retired from coaching in December due to health reasons, Irish head coach Charlie Weis hired Jon Tenuta, the former defensive coordinator from Georgia Tech known for his near-constant blitzes.

Tenuta also said he wants to make Notre Dame’s defense more aggressive – something he asserts is a basic part of his coaching philosophy.

“It’s going to be an aggressive ball-hawking defense,” Tenuta said. “I always want to be aggressive. I don’t like offenses dictating to me, I want to try to dictate to them, if possible.”

Tenuta added that the goal for the defense on every play should be to confuse the offensive linemen and make sure the quarterback never has time to set his feet to throw.

Tenuta also said the personnel at Notre Dame are perfect for what he and Brown want to do defensively.

“I think we have the people to do what I like to do, what Corwin [Brown] likes to do,” Tenuta said. “So I think you just take that and build on that from there. I think we’re going to be a pressure package team.”

Brown said he was excited when he learned Weis had hired Tenuta because he feels the new coach is “one of the better football minds” in college football. Brown also said he did not feel threatened by Tenuta’s hiring, and instead considers Tenuta’s experience something that will most benefit the team as a whole. Brown added that the team’s success is his most important goal.

“It’s not about whose ideas it is, or who’s doing this, who’s doing that. It’s about, when we go out on the field on Saturday, do we win, because that’s the only way you feel good on Sunday,” Brown said. “And when you add a coach like Coach Tenuta who has the experience like he has, he’s been there, he’s a football guy, all that matters to him is how well we play and [if] we win. I want to be around guys like that.”

Brown also mentioned a sign Tenuta has on his desk that reads, “There’s no limit to what a man can accomplish as long as he doesn’t care who gets the credit.” Brown said he has always tried to live by that philosophy as both a player and a coach.

“My ego is not that big where I’m not going to listen to a guy that’s been working for 25 years and had the success that he’s had. I’m a bigger person than that,” Brown said. “Because in the end, the more I’m around him and the more he talks and the more we bounce ideas off each other, ten years from now, fifteen years from now, the better I’ll be.”

Tenuta also said the transition of working alongside Brown, as well as other Irish defensive coaches like Jappy Oliver, has gone well.

“So over the course of how many weeks I’ve been here, the numerous conversations that we’ve had about my philosophy, his philosophy, what I know that worked well for me, what he knows that worked well for him, mesh them together, put our players in a position to be successful,” Tenuta said.