Stephon Tuitt shoulders the load on Notre Dame’s defensive line
BY LaMOND POPE Sun-Times Media November 6, 2013 9:45PM
Air Force quarterback Nate Romine, left, eludes the rush of Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Air Force Academy, Colo., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Updated: November 6, 2013 11:06PM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Stephon Tuitt has been the consistent force on Notre Dame’s depleted defensive line.
The junior hasn’t missed a game this season. And he hasn’t felt added pressure shifting around on the line in the absence of Louis Nix III or Sheldon Day.
“I’ll do whatever it takes for my teammates,” Tuitt said Wednesday. “If that means playing all the snaps, it doesn’t matter to me.”
Tuitt is excited about the prospects of having the entire starting defensive line back for Saturday’s game at Pittsburgh. Nix missed the last two games with knee tendinitis. Day has been in and out of the lineup with an ankle injury.
“When that time comes, it comes,” Tuitt said. “It will be awesome to see.”
Tuitt leads Notre Dame with five sacks and 6½ tackles for losses. He has 34 tackles.
Tuitt is a projected first-round pick in the NFL draft. But he will hold off on making any decision on whether to go pro or return until after the season.
“It’s nice because I get the chance to focus and help my teammates and finish off the year strong without any distractions,” Tuitt said.
Tuitt’s attention is on disrupting a Pittsburgh offense that has surrendered 29 sacks.
“We’ve been an inconsistent group up front, and certainly have a lot of respect really for their whole defense,” Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst said during a teleconference. “There are a lot of good players [on Notre Dame].”
Tuitt had five tackles last week against Navy’s option offense.
“[Going against] a more traditional offense this week you will see more from Stephon,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “He can influence the game a lot more than, say, inside where they can simply block back or scramble block on his legs and neutralize. He will have more of an impact on the game this week in terms of what he can do with his size and athleticism than maybe the last couple of weeks.”