September 15, 2012; East Lansing, MI, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive end Stephon Tuitt (7) and defensive lineman Louis Nix III (9) look over the Michigan State Spartans offense during the 2nd half at Spartan Stadium. Norte Dame won 20-3 Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE

Bye Week Grade: Notre Dame's Defensive Line

No unit is playing better than the Notre Dame Defensive Line. Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix III, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Sheldon Day are all having excellent seasons so far. They are being complimented by Kona Schwenke and Tony Springmann who give Notre Dame’s front line players an adequate break without losing a quality reps. It may be a stretch to state that Notre Dame’s Defensive Line is the best in the country. However, two of Notre Dame’s players (Tuitt and Nix) are projected to be first round picks in the future. It may not be the best but it is close.

Stephon Tuitt

The Sophomore Defense Linemen has been an absolute beast for the Irish so far. One of the plays that really stuck out was in the Michigan game. On a bull rush, Tuitt manhandled the Offensive Linemen with one arm and brought Denard Robinson down with the other. It was one of the most impressive plays that I have seen from a Defensive End in a long time. These types of plays are attributed to his physical stature. Tuitt has already recorded monster stats. He has tallied 14 tackles on the season or a total of 3.5 tackles per game. More importantly, Tuitt has recorded 6 sacks and 4 Quarterback hurries. Against Navy, Tuitt recovered a fumbled and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown. Irish fans probably do not full understand what they have with Tuitt. It is quite possible that next year will be his last season at Notre Dame.

Louis Nix

Nix is the key to Notre Dame stopping the run. When Nix is not in the game, it clear that Notre Dame is not as effective as stopping the Opponent’s running game. A Nose Guard at his size clogs the middle and prevents an Offensive Line from moving, pulling and blocking the play properly. Nix has 16 tackles and 3 tackles for loss. The impact of Nix goes beyond the stat sheet, however, When Louis Nix does his job, players like Dan Fox or Manti Te’o can clean up the play. Manti Te’o and Stephon Tuitt might be the best players on the Defense but Nix makes everyone better.

Sheldon Day

Sheldon Day has been impressive in his Freshman campaign so far. In a stretch of two plays against Michigan State, Day sacked Andrew Maxwell then batted down one of his passes. Against Michigan, Day held contain against Denard Robinson and sacked him in a critical red zone situation. Based on the loss of Aaron Lynch and nagging injuries to Chase Hounshell, Day has been a huge addition for the Fighting Irish Defense. He has a huge future. Day has recorded 9 tackles and 2 sacks.

Without Notre Dame’s Defensive Line, the Fighting Irish may have lost to Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan. The rest of the season will be dictated by how well the team performs. Notre Dame needs the pass rush to cover up a “green” secondary. If Notre Dame gets a pass rush against Oklahoma and USC, they should be able to beat those teams.

Slap the Sign Grade: A+

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