Last Wednesday, defensive back Cody Riggs announced that he would be playing his final season of college football at Notre Dame. He will be attending graduate school at Notre Dame after graduating from the University of Florida where he started at both cornerback and safety. Riggs is an experienced SEC defender that should be expected to make an impact for the Irish.
Riggs started at safety in all 12 games for the Gators last season. He was a starter on a defense that gave up an average of only 171.8 yards per game ranking them seventh in the country according to the NCAA’s rankings. Riggs finished the 2013 season with 51 tackles, which was the fourth highest on the team. He also finished the season with 1.5 sacks and three pass breakups.
During his time at Florida, Riggs played in 40 games, starting 26 of those. The Gators’ pass defense finished ranked in the top 12 in passing yards allowed per game all three seasons that Riggs played. They finished 12th in 2010, sixth in 2011 and seventh in 2013 (he was sidelined in 2012 after two games due to injury). He was a big contributor to this success as he left Florida with 107 tackles, two sacks and an interception.
Clearly, Riggs has had success as a defender and played on some of the best pass defenses in the country. Gaining a proven defender will help rebuild the Notre Dame defense after losing some critical starters.
The Irish lost two key pass rushers after the 2013 season. Defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt and linebacker Prince Shembo combined for 13 sacks in 2013 and 41 sacks throughout their career. The loss of these two will mean a weaker Irish pass rush in 2014. If the Irish struggle getting to the quarterback next season, there will be a lot more pressure on the secondary to make plays. The addition of a player like Riggs could really help the Irish recover after the loss of their two best pass rushers.
Also, the Irish lost starting cornerback Bennett Jackson. Jackson finished the season with two interceptions and three pass breakups. He was ranked second on the team in both of these categories. Losing one of their top pass defenders will also hurt the Irish pass defense. Luckily for the Irish, Riggs has experience playing cornerback and should be capable of filling this hole.
Cody Riggs has proven himself on a Florida team that has consistently been one of the top defenses in the nation with him on the field. Notre Dame needs a defensive back to help their pass defense after losing some of its key components from last season. Riggs can come in and make an impact on this defense right away, and given his track record, it should be expected of him.