Notre Dame: Stephon Tuitt steps into DE role well
By Mark Lazerus 648-3140 or firstname.lastname@example.org September 2, 2012 7:00PM
Navy quarterback Trey Miller, center, passes the ball to Gee Gee Greene, left, while playing against Notre Dame during their NCAA college football game in Dublin, Ireland, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Updated: October 4, 2012 6:22AM
DUBLIN, Ireland — Stephon Tuitt doesn’t want to talk about Aaron Lynch. Well, if Tuitt keeps making plays like he did against Navy, people will soon stop asking about Aaron Lynch.
The sophomore defensive end had a sack and a remarkable 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown — one that’s sure to catch the eyes of NFL scouts — in Notre Dame’s 50-10 rout of Navy on Saturday, as the Irish front seven stifled the Midshipmen’s triple-option offense.
“I don’t really want to talk about Aaron,” Tuitt said of last year’s star freshman defensive end, who quit the team in the spring and transferred to South Florida. “Aaron’s a great player, you saw the things he can do. But during the spring, I just worked on the stuff I have to work on and what I have to get better at for my team to get better. I just did my job.”
On Saturday, that included picking up a fumble forced by Ishaq Williams and outrunning skill-position players all the way to the end zone.
“He was moving,” said tailback Theo Riddick, who’s still not worried about Tuitt making a play for his job.
In all, the Irish held Navy to 149 yards on the ground — a far cry from the 367 yards the Midshipmen put up two years ago in a win over Notre Dame. In fact, ND has given up just 335 yards combined in the two games since.
“I think we’re just carrying on from where we were last year as a defense that is very stingy against the run,” ND coach Brian Kelly said. “We’re very blessed with a physical group and a great scheme that is well-coached. Anytime you can hold Navy to 10 points with one touchdown through the air, you’re feeling pretty good.”
Front-running: The Irish ground game didn’t miss a beat against Navy, despite presumed starter Cierre Wood’s suspension. Riddick ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, George Atkinson III ran for 99 yards and two TDs on nine carries, and even sophomore Cam McDaniel ran for 60 yards on nine carries.
But Riddick said there’s no controversy here. When Wood returns in Week 3 at Michigan State, Riddick thinks he’ll fit right in.
“He just wants to come back as soon as possible,” Riddick said. “We definitely miss him. That’s one of my best friends. I can’t wait for all three of us to be back there. And Cam, too, Cam did very well. I just want us all to be there.”
The fade is in: It’s a safe bet that Notre Dame opponents will see a lot of Everett Golson throwing up jump balls to 6-6 tight end Tyler Eifert in the red zone. Early in the second quarter, at the Navy 5-yard line, Golson hit Eifert on a stop fade, but Eifert landed out of bounds. On the next snap, the Irish ran the exact same play, this time for a touchdown.
“It’s a play we practiced quite a bit,” Eifert said.