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Football: Indispensible

Jay Fitzpatrick | Thursday, August 30, 2007

In 2007, Trevor Laws will play in his third different defense in his Notre Dame career.And now he feels that he can finally show everything he can do.”I’m excited to get out there and show people what I’ve learned and what this scheme can help me do out there,” Laws said. “It’s definitely a new way to play, and I’m definitely enjoying it.”Laws will be the anchor of the defensive line this season as one of two defensive ends in first-year defensive coordinator Corwin Brown’s 3-4 defense. Laws has by far the most experience of the linemen remaining on the Irish roster, having started the last two seasons at defensive tackle.But this season, Laws has had to start from square one along with the rest of the defense – a challenge defensive line coach Jappy Oliver says Laws conquered easily.”More than anything else it’s attitude. Trevor did a nice job over the summer coming back in shape,” Oliver said. “His attitude was second to none in terms of willingness to learn this new package. He just did a great job in terms of the other guys too in terms of keeping them motivated and telling them what to do in certain circumstances.”Laws’ teammate on the line, nose tackle Pat Kuntz, agreed that Laws has been crucial for the defensive linemen’s transition.”Basically [Laws has] been the leader of our group and when things might be down he gets us back up and ready to go,” Kuntz said. “Always having him there is almost like a safety blanket because he’s such a good player, he’s going to make plays no matter what you’re doing.”Kuntz will enter the Georgia Tech game as the starting nose tackle, one of the most important positions in the 3-4 defense. Oliver said that Kuntz spent the summer bulking up in order to play the nose tackle effectively.”I just ate a lot more, and I ate a lot better stuff,” Kuntz said of his summer workout. “Definitely hitting the weight room harder than I’ve ever hit before and trying to be in the best shape conditioning-wise I can possibly be.”Because Kuntz was able to bulk up effectively, Oliver said that the job was his to lose coming into camp.”You just have to know Pat,” Oliver said. “He’s a warrior and you have to be a warrior to play nose tackle in a 3-4 system and he’s just that.”Another strength of this year’s defensive line is dept, according to Brown. Behind Laws at left end is sophomore Paddy Mullen, while freshman Ian Williams is the backup nose guard. At the other defensive end spot, fifth-year senior Dwight Stephenson and senior Justin Brown will both see playing time.One main reason the Irish defensive linemen have been able to adapt so quickly to the 3-4 defensive front is because of Oliver, Kuntz said.”He’s such a good coach when it comes to knowing exactly what to do,” Kuntz said. “I mean, he’s had this defense before and having an experienced coach like him in a situation like this has been nothing but helpful.”Although Oliver was brought to Notre Dame to coach in the 4-3 defense, he said that he has coached it in the past, although Brown has brought some new changes to the formation.Oliver also credited the willingness of the players themselves in the transition.”I think they’ve made the transition pretty good. I like this bunch, they’re hungry, they’re eager to learn. They’re just a good group to work with,” he said.After spending the entire camp playing among themselves, Oliver said his team is as ready as they ever will be for Georgia Tech.”You’re never there but there’s not much else. We’ve done just about all we can do right now its time to let the kids go out and play and have fun.”