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Football: Laws’ departure leaves void on D-line

Deirdre Krasula | Friday, April 18, 2008

It’s going to take more than one player to fill the shoes that last year’s leading tackler Trevor Laws left behind, but the Irish defensive line said its up to the challenge. Having already played a season together, and despite its final record, the defensive line boasts a little bit more experience and little bit more confidence. But that hasn’t stopped second-year defensive coordinator Corwin Brown from throwing new things at his players.”I’m happy, I like our kids, I like what were doing,” he said. “Once our guys really start to hone in and get comfortable, because everything is still new to them right now, it’s new to me, some of it, so I know its new to them, and the more comfortable they get, the better they’ll get and the better we’ll play.”Throwing new schemes at the defensive line is something Brown has learned from assistant head coach (defense) Jon Tenuta’s aggressive style.”[I’ve learned] how to gang up on the run, how to constantly pressure the other side, constantly,” Brown said of Tenuta. “And sometimes even when you aren’t pressuring there’s a feeling that your being pressured, or those guys have the mindset that they’re being pressured.”Tenuta’s aggressive style has helped to fill the hole that Laws left in the defensive line. Laws brought an energy to the team that is mirrored by Tenuta’s forceful style.”Trevor’s personality was a really big contributor to practice and the atmosphere we had on defense cause he’s a real fun guy, energizer kind of guy,” defensive end Justin Brown said. “As far as coach Tenuta comes, he brings that aggressive mentality, aggressive style of play, just full out coming off the ball, getting in the gaps and playing ball.”But Tenuta’s aggression comes from the sideline and not on the field. The defensive line has stepped up as a whole to take on the energy Laws left behind.”He really brought a lot of passion, a lot of leadership to the position and to the [defensive line], and we’re really going to miss that, but you gotta step up and replace him,” tackle Ian Williams said. “The team as a whole has stepped up, we’re playing a lot better, more aggressive and I just feel a better year is coming this year.”In addition to having a little more fire, the defensive line has gained versatility with experience. “The thing about our system is it really doesn’t matter where you align, everything is just like something else, and the only thing we were doing was just tinkering, moving things around to get different looks,” Corwin Brown said.With Notre Dame’s 3-4 package, Brown and Tenuta have the option to play to the team’s size or speed, while playing down the field is one thing Tenuta and Brown have been stressing at practice.”As a whole we’re a lot more aggressive and everybody’s playing down,” Justin Brown said. “That’s one thing coach Tenuta stresses is playing downhill and that’s one thing I see everybody doing is playing downhill, just coming and playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage.”With the ability to play downhill, the Irish defensive line will likely be able to attack the line of scrimmage with some of Tenuta’s aggressiveness, in a way that will include the defense as a whole, and not just one player.