Notre Dame’s Defensive Line took a big hit during Spring Practice when Aaron Lynch decided to transfer from South Bend to Tampa. Despite the loss of Lynch, Notre Dame’s Line was the strength of the team this season. Several players filled the void left by Lynch and made fans forget that he even played for the Irish.
Tuitt was virtually unstoppable through all 12 games this season. He recorded 11 sacks and scored on a fumble recovery against Navy. The 11 sack total is 2.5 sacks short of 2-time Super Bowl Winner Justin Tuck’s single season record of 13.5. In addition to the 11 sacks, he was responsible for 9 Quarterback hurries. Tuitt had 40 tackles total. In the 3-4 defense, Tuitt was an unmovable force against the run and was unblockable against the pass. Te’o may get all of the accolades but Tuitt may be the best Defender on Notre Dame’s team. Irish fans better appreciate Tuitt. He may not be in South Bend for all four years.
Overall Grade: A+
The Nose Guard position can sometimes go unnoticed in the 3-4 scheme because the player typically encounters double teams. But that is the job of the Nose Guard, to plug the line and allow the Linebackers to make tackles. Louis Nix thrives in this type of Defense. This season, Nix recorded 45 tackles. In addition, Nix added 2 sacks, 3 Quarterback hurries and 5 passes broken up. But the job of the Nose Guard cannot always be measured by how many tackles he records in a particular season. It is measured in how well he controls the gaps and allows other people to make plays. He did that this season.
Overall Grade: A+
Lewis-Moore collected 39 tackles this season after recovering from an injury that he sustained to his knee in the 2011 season. This total was up from last season, which was 32. Lewis-Moore’s sack total expanded as well. In 2011, he had 1.5 sacks. In 2012, he had 6 sacks. Lewis-Moore’s impact was felt off the field more. He was one of the 2012 captains and used that status to lead Notre Dame’s younger players on the field.
Overall Grade: A
Notre Dame needed contributions from players other than Tuitt, Nix and Lewis-Moore. They received a huge contribution from Freshman Defensive Linemen Sheldon Day. Day collected 20 tackles, 3.5 of them were for loss. In addition, he batted one pass down, had one Quarterback hurry and two sacks. Truly, nothing should be expected from a Freshman Defensive Linemen. They simply are not strong enough to compete against Offensive Linemen who have physically prepared in a college weightlifting program for multiple years. However, Day actually gave the Irish a lot. In limited playing time, he almost had as many tackles as former Freshman All-American Aaron Lynch (33). Day can be counted on for years to come.