Last year, one of Notre Dame’s strengths was the Defensive Line. Fast forward to April 13 of this year when Aaron Lynch decided to transfer to the University of South Florida. At that point, Notre Dame had lost its best Defensive Linemen. Coupled with the loss of Seniors Ethan Johnson and Sean Cwynar, Notre Dame looks to reload on the line this year.
The cornerstone of this year’s line begins with Sophomore Stephon Tuitt. At 6’6” 303, Tuitt may be the most physically imposing player on the 2012 roster. Even at over 300 lbs, Tuitt still appears able to add some weight to his impressive frame. Last year, Tuitt had 30 tackles including 3 tackles for a loss and 2 sacks. He amassed this production over 9 games, 3 of which he started. If Tuitt starts all of the games this season, his production should nearly double. He is a player of unlimited potential. If he lives up to that potential this year, Notre Dame’s Defense will benefit.
Another player with an incredible amount of potential is Nose Guard Louis Nix. Throughout Nix’s career at Notre Dame, he has struggled with his level of commitment at the program. When he is focused, he is a 6’3, 326 lbs force in the middle of the line. Teams inevitably find it more difficult to run the football when he is playing up to his potential. However, occasionally, Nix will allow himself to be outworked by players with less talent than he. If Notre Dame is going to be successful at stopping the run this season, Nix will be a big part of the equation.
Rounding out the line is 5th-year player Kapron Lewis-Moore. As one of this year’s captains, Lewis-Moore is an example of how to handle yourself on and off-the-field. He was already on his way to an excellent statistical season when he suffered a season ending injury against the Trojans of Southern California. At that point in the season, Lewis-Moore had totaled 32 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery and 2 passes broken up. After only playing about half the season last year, he should obviously have a higher output than last season due more playing time this year. The biggest impact that Lewis-Moore may have is that he will guide the younger players on the line into having successful seasons themselves.
Last year, Notre Dame had a collective effort from various players. Some were injured part of year. Some of the Freshman only played a part of the year. Notre Dame will match last year’s effort but will do it in a much different way. The contributions from Tuitt, Nix and Lewis-Moore will be much more significant. The amount of playing time that each of them will have will go up and their statistics will go up as a direct correlation to that. The second team of Day, Schwenke and Hounshell will also assist in Notre Dame having a great season at the Defensive Line position.