Ball hawking is a term that often gets over used in college football but Senior Cornerback Oscar Combs lives up to the nickname. 7 interceptions in 6 games combined with 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries proves that this CB has a nose for the ball. 8 passes defensed and 17 tackles have most analysts wondering why any opposing QB would throw in his general direction.
Combs leads a stingy Irish defense that is currently ranked first in yards given up per game at 241.5. Also in the top 10 for points allowed the Irish defense has only given up 8 TDs in 6 games for 13.7 points per game. The defense has also contributed 1 touchdown of their own to the Irish scoring efforts.
That lone defensive TD was scored by leading tackler for the Irish defense is Senior Inside Linebacker David Arnold with 42 tackles. Arnold also has 3 sacks, 5 stuffs, 3 hurries and 2 interceptions. At 5-11 241 Arnold is built for the next level and is very quick for a player his size. That size/speed combination makes Arnold adept at rushing the passer, stuffing the run and dropping into coverage. Irish fans will enjoy watching Arnold play on Sundays next year.
Although the Irish have several standouts on the Defensive Line, Senior End James Villanueva appears to be the team’s best all-around D-lineman. 18 tackles, 2 sacks, 9 stuffs, 4 hurries and 1 deflected pass have coaches very pleased with this 6’6” 290 pounder. Head Coach Jeff Copeland had this to say “James is just a joy to coach and watch play. He’s a real lunch pail kind of kid. Just shows up, works hard and is very disciplined.”
This senior laden defensive unit is anchored in the middle by James Whitson Defensive tackle. At 6’5” 302 pounds Whitson is the aggressive kind of Defensive Tackle that coaches love to have in the middle of the line. He’s a skilled pass rusher though and not just a hole clogger as he leads the team in sacks with 4. Whitson has also contributed to the team’s leading takeaway status by forcing 3 turnovers.
The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are on an off week before the host rival USC Trojans. This will be a true test of the defensive unit and test they will have to pass if the #17 Irish hope to knock off #2 USC.