SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) --
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly expects some teeth-gnashing while watching
the Fighting Irish defense this fall.
The 17th-ranked Irish already were expected to be young on defense in
the season opener against Rice on Saturday. That's before learning
they'd be without four players, three of them on defense, who are under
investigation by the university to determine whether they received
improper assistance from others on papers and homework.
Kelly confirmed Tuesday that cornerback KeiVarae Russell, leading
returning receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive end Ishaq Williams and
backup linebacker Kendall Moore will not play Saturday, saying he hasn't
received any update into the investigation announced publicly by the
university on Aug. 15.
When it comes to an academic process involving the honor code, it's
out of his hands, Kelly said. That was the case when quarterback Everett
Golson was suspended from the university last fall for academic
"It does me no good to put a timetable on it. It does me no good to
think about what day. I've moved on and the process will take care of
itself," he said.
The four remained on the roster handed out Tuesday but were not
included on a depth chart that had six freshmen and six sophomores on
the two-deep on defense.
Andrew Trumbetti could become the first true freshman to start a
season-opener on the defensive line for Notre Dame since Anthony Weaver
in 1998, although Trumbetti officially was listed as the backup Tuesday.
"There's a guy that's going to be on the edge of our defense that's
going to play a lot of football for us. We're going to have to count on
him to play very well for us," Kelly said.
Kelly also listed defensive linemen Jhonny Williams and Grant
Blankenship and linebackers Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini as players
the Irish will rely on.
"So there are five freshmen right there that are going to have to
play some form of winning football for us immediately for us to have the
kind of success that we want defensively," Kelly said.
The Irish have ranked in the top 50 in total defense four straight
years under Kelly, but are switching to a more aggressive style under
new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder after Bob Diaco left to become
head coach at Connecticut.
VanGorder paused last week when asked what it would take for Notre
Dame to have a successful defense. He answered that he thinks the Irish
have a "developmental defense."
"Maybe the best answer to that is, let's keep getting better as we go
through the year. We have a lot of work to do. The players know it. But
let's keep improving. Let's keep working. I don't know where we are
right now. The one thing I do know is there's a lot better football in
front of us," he said.
Kelly said although the Irish are young, he believes they have gifted
athletes. Asked Tuesday what could be done to help the defense, Kelly
quickly responded: "Score a lot of points. That will ease everybody's
NOTES: Corey Robinson is listed as the starter despite having surgery
Friday to put a pin in a fractured thumb. Kelly said he was at practice
Monday catching passes. ... Kelly said he hasn't made a decision yet on
captains. ... Kelly said the team will sing the alma mater after all
home games this season. Some fans were upset last season when the Irish
didn't stay on the field for the song after losing to Oklahoma.