Building blocks for 'D' making progress

Another strong performance by the Notre Dame defense Saturday keyed the Fighting Irish's second straight win. Taking away the Irish's fourth-quarter collapse at Michigan in which it allowed 28 points, the defense as a whole has given up just four touchdowns over 15 quarters.

Head coach Brian Kelly feels the unit has helped tremendously with an offense that is still growing and has been turnover-prone through four weeks.

"We felt like in our recruiting efforts and everything that we've done since we've been here is put together a championship defense and then we'll catch up on offense," Kelly said during his weekly Sunday teleconference. "But I think you have to start on building your defense first and the line of scrimmage, so they're progressing. We've got a good influx of veterans with young players that's given us very good depth. We got some guys who are gonna be able to help us down the road.

"So I think more than anything else it's just been the way we're building the program, and to me the most important thing is to get our defense to a championship level. And we're not there yet, but we're on the right road."

A big source of the defense's surge the past two weeks has been the play of freshmen Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt. Kelly cited the youth in the group when saying he has been pleased with its growth, while cautioning that there is still room for improvement.

"We had to use another timeout on defense because we got some young kids who get confused as to what the signals are," Kelly said. "So there's a lot of room for improvement. ... The plan is to develop our defense and let our offense kind of work its way into who our players are -- in terms of not trying to fit the offense, but to fit the players to the offense right now."