October 13, 2006

Freshman corners watch, learn

The first mistake came at the line of scrimmage when Darrin Walls let Purdue's Selwyn Lymon get inside position. The second gaffe came when Walls tried to bat a Curtis Painter pass away instead of focusing on the Boilermakers' receiver.

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Rick Minter didn't let the freshman cornerback mess up a third time.

After Lymon beat Walls and safety Tom Zbikowski for an 88-yard touchdown just before halftime of Notre Dame's 35-21 win over Purdue late last month, Minter pulled the freshman from the game. Walls didn't play much defensive back a week later against Stanford either, capping an up-and-down first half of the season.

"As a corner, that's the world you live in," Walls said. "It's about playing more consistent. I've been on and off."

To help the freshman show more of the former and less of the latter, Minter made Walls watch from the sidelines during much of the last two games.

"Sometimes it's like taking a pitcher out of a ball game when you know he's been shell shocked a little bit," Minter said. "For future benefit you'd better get him out of the game than continue to let him play in the game and work through it."

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