Speed big part of Irish D-lineman Stephon Tuitt’s game
By Mark Lazerus 648-3140 or firstname.lastname@example.org September 5, 2012 9:14PM
Updated: September 5, 2012 10:03PM
SOUTH BEND — Brian Kelly said the only word he remembers Stephon Tuitt using during the offseason was “dominate.”
Well, the sophomore defensive lineman is still dominating conversations in South Bend after his 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown in Notre Dame’s 50-10 win over Navy on Saturday, on which he outran the entire Navy offense.
“In practice one time, Tuitt went to drop back in pass coverage,” guard Chris Watt said. “He was covering a wide receiver man-to-man and doing it pretty well. We were watching him on film in camp. It was pretty ridiculous. Plus, he had a beach towel hanging out of his pants, so he looked kind of ridiculous, as well. Any receiver should be able to outrun a D-lineman, but there’s Tuitt.”
Kelly said Tuitt regularly ran with the defensive backs during workouts.
“He’s been on this mission, whatever it is,” Kelly said. “Not just football, it’s everything. He’s just a very driven young man right now.”
Corners coming around: Despite some breakdowns in coverage, junior cornerback Bennett Jackson said the young Irish secondary got some valuable experience in the Navy game. Even getting burned — as he and fellow first-time starter KeiVarae Russell did — is a useful learning experience, he said.
“People are going to catch passes on you, it’s going to happen,” Jackson said. “But we rallied back. We didn’t let up too many passes after that. You try to prevent the big plays, but when they do happen, you have to lock in more. It’s good to get it under your belt so you learn how to play with a short-term memory. But obviously, you don’t want the big plays to happen at all.”
Musical analyst chairs: With Allen Pinkett suspended for the next two games, two Irish All-Americans will take his place alongside Don Criqui in the radio booth. Former ND guard Mirko Jurkovic will handle analyst duties for the Purdue game, while 1987 Heisman winner Tim Brown will call the Michigan State game next week.