Derek Landri reported to Notre Dame with an injury and sat out his entire freshman season recovering. Landri worked hard in the off-season to regain his strength so he could get on the field this season. Once Landri got on the field, he's had to go through the growing pains just like everyone else.
Landri says he's finally starting to understand how to play defensive line at the college level. He's starting to get a good push up field and recorded his first tackle for loss against Purdue. "That comes with experience and getting a lot of playing time," said Landri. "This week I was fortunate enough to improve a lot on my pass rushing technique as most of what I was in for was nickel."
Landri also had his first fumble recovery against Pittsburgh but he says he still has a lot of work to do. "I wasn't satisfied, I did things well and I did things bad. I am not yet where I think I can be – I guess I can say I did better but not yet where I want to be."
The Irish played one of their best games against Pittsburgh and Landri says this team has to step it up to another level this week. "We've got to pick it up another notch. We have to come out with a lot of intensity. The coaches have been talking about it all week – start it fast and make them chase us. That's what we did last week and that worked pretty well for us. We have to come out tense and ready to go."
Landri says the Irish remember the game from last year and don't want to have that feeling again. "Nobody enjoyed that feeling last year from that game."
Victor Abiamiri has played in all five games so far this season and has already made an impact recording nine tackles and two tackles for loss.
Abiamiri says he never thought he'd be playing this much as a freshman. "Not really, I never thought I'd be playing this much. It's been a wonderful experience so far. It's been a tough season, going through training camp and the last couple of months but now I'm liking it, we just got off a big win and now we're trying to win out the rest of our season. It's going pretty good so far."
The Irish take on USC this week and Abiamiri says he knows the importance of this game. "It will be my first Southern Cal/ Notre Dame game and all the seniors have been stressing how bad we felt last year after the loss and how they didn't want to have that same feeling again this year. They're trying to get us freshman oriented to this big rivalry."
Abiamiri's recruitment took many twists and turns but he says he's real happy with his decision and playing at Notre Dame. "Everything has been great, wonderful, I'm playing and I'm happy here. Everything is going well."
The Baltimore native has a ton of potential but he admits he has a long way to go before becoming the complete player. "Right now I think my game is inconsistent. One some plays I can do really well, but there's other plays I'm really lacking. I'm working on staying consistent throughout the whole game and trying to get the same results on every single play. I think I can really improve in that area. I need to improve my overall knowledge of the game and take care of my responsibilities on every play."
The Irish coaches have to be thrilled with their two budding superstars. Both players should be a rock for defensive coordinator to build his defense upon. Defensive lineman Trevor Laws appears to be another star that should emerge soon. Hopefully the Irish will continue to land the top defensive lineman because that is the key to an outstanding defense.