Apr 6, 2013, 1:27 PM EDT
Last week, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was unequivocal in his evaluation of rising senior Louis Nix.
“We think he’s the best nose guard in America,” Kelly said.
As good as Nix has been as the centerpiece of the Irish’s defensive line, he might be better in front of a microphone. Nix was made available after the Irish’s practice on Friday and as usual the singularly unique Nix was at his best. The rising senior, who likely enters his final season at Notre Dame, wears his emotions on his sleeve, and never gives an answer that feels canned or rehearsed. How else can you explain his evaluation of where the Irish are this spring, and what their goals might be.
“Coming off that ass whooping from Alabama, we just want to get back on track and get focused,” Nix said. “Make our way back to the national championship game, and hopefully do a better job.”
That kind of attitude, from one of the team’s best players no less, should alleviate any concern Irish fans have about Notre Dame’s players entering next season too confident. Nix’s attitude about his own personal goals was equally as refreshing, avoiding any NFL talk and keeping his focus on the task at hand.
“Just keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Nix said. “Just going with what Coach Kelly, Coach Elston, and Coach Diaco tell me to do. Work in the weight room. Work in the class room. Just keep doing what I do.”
What Nix does is pretty impressive. While he laughed off questions about his added weight (likely not so much a weight gain but an accounting adjustment to better reflect the truth), he’s also taken on an unlikely leadership role, mentoring younger players that’ll be key contributors along the line, but doing so in a way that’s vintage Nix. (Rising sophomore Jarron Jones said Nix’s words of encouragement usually include, “You suck.”)
But Nix’s playful banter with teammates is now juxstaposed with a work ethic that matches his talent. Nix skipped out on spring break this year, choosing to go to Arizona instead, where he ran hills and trained. He plans to do the same in his brief summer break, avoiding a trip back home to Florida.
“I usually go home and do nothing and gain weight and eat. There’s no purpose to do that,” Nix said.
That type of maturity is a long way from the guy we met three years ago. A long way from the guy who spent his freshman season sitting out, working to transform his body while watching his teammates play in Yankee Stadium from his dorm room, or celebrating a long-sought victory over USC on an empty campus over Thanksgiving break. (“So that sucked,” Nix said.)
Nix sees the big picture now, understanding that everything he’s doing now will pay off. Possible as soon as this time next year.
“I’ve got all the time in the world to go on spring break,” Nix said. “I don’t want to ball on a budget. That’s the worst. I want to hopefully make some money in the draft, if hopefully I make it or don’t get hurt, get a couple dollars in my pocket and go do what I want.”
Oct 30, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
With a little over 48 hours until Notre Dame and Navy play, the final pieces of installation around going in before the chess match between two coaching staffs take place. For the Irish, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder gets his first chance at stopping the triple-option in over a decade.
Oct 29, 2014, 3:32 PM EDT
Drop your questions below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.
Oct 29, 2014, 2:11 PM EDT
For a man that’s had more success against Notre Dame than any of his predecessors over the past two generations, Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo certainly doesn’t think he’s figured out the Irish. In fact, for his Midshipmen team to win, Niumatalolo acknowledges that it takes more than just his team playing near-perfect football. He needs Notre Dame’s help as well.
Oct 29, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT
With last night’s announcement had all eyes on the first announcement of the College Football Playoff rankings, the immediate concern is Navy. While we can spend the next five weeks worrying about the view from 30,000 feet, credit Brian Kelly for understanding that the Midshipmen present the most clear and present danger.
Oct 28, 2014, 8:44 PM EDT
The first College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday evening. And Notre Dame has some work to do. The selection committee’s first ballot has the Irish slotted in at 10th in the country, a middle-of-the-pack one-loss team according to the 12-person voting panel.
Oct 28, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT
With a week off between Florida State and Navy, Brian Kelly and his coaching staff had an extra week of preparation for Ken Niumatalolo’s triple-option attack. Allowing his team to leave campus during the university’s fall break, Kelly afforded his players a chance to recharge their batteries after being on campus since June.
Oct 27, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT
Among the many reasons Charlie Weis lost his dream job coaching Notre Dame was the Irish’s stumbles in November. Even with a guaranteed 10-year contract, Jack Swarbrick couldn’t watch Notre Dame melt down in November for another year, with Weis’ final two seasons ending with Notre Dame going 1-9 after Halloween. That’s a scary movie franchise that needed killing, no matter the expense.
Oct 25, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT
Before we have an Irish-free Saturday, let’s get to some questions. For those of you wondering what you should do on a day usually committed to football, the world is your oyster. Or you could watch some of Notre Dame’s opponents do battle.
Oct 24, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT
When Brian VanGorder’s name surfaced as Notre Dame looked for a new defensive coordinator, there wasn’t necessarily a lot of buzz behind the hire. While VanGorder fit many of the criteria that went along with a Brian Kelly hire, the big-picture reaction wasn’t one of universal support.
Oct 23, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
There is no football game this weekend. For a Notre Dame football team that just played three-straight tight games, that’s a good thing. (For Irish fans, it’s a victory as well. Go buy a pumpkin and get outside in the fall weather.) As promised, let’s look back at the first eight weeks of the season. Notre Dame sits at 6-1, with a place in the College Football Playoff still very much in play.
Oct 23, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT
For the second time in a week, Notre Dame’s recruiting class landed a playmaking linebacker. During a press conference streamed live on ESPN.com, Florida’s Tevon Coney pledged his commitment to the Irish, picking Notre Dame over finalists Miami and Florida.
Oct 23, 2014, 12:07 AM EDT
Drop your questions below. Or on Twitter @KeithArnold.
Oct 22, 2014, 11:43 AM EDT
With Notre Dame’s scheduling agreement in place with the ACC, Jack Swarbrick and the Irish athletic department can find some certainty in their future slates. That certainty was announced Tuesday, with dates for five ACC games in place through 2019 and matchups set through 2025.
Oct 21, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT
After eight weeks, the forecast for the first College Football Playoff is coming into focus. After falling to Florida State last weekend, the Irish lost pole position. But as a one-loss team now likely competing for one of the final spots in the four-team event, Notre Dame remains one of the top dark horse candidates.
Oct 21, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT
At this point, it doesn’t matter that the ACC has reversed course, deciding that the pass interference penalty was on C.J. Prosise after all. And that they’ve acknowledged that the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty they missed for P.J. Williams removing his helmet should’ve set up Notre Dame with a 1st-and-goal at the 9-yard line.
We’re moving on. (I promise.)
Oct 20, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
Usually, Brian Kelly gives his team 24 hours to celebrate a win or get over a loss. That rule was likely tested — and you couldn’t blame him if it was slightly relaxed — after Saturday night’s 31-27 loss.
“We need to give our kids a break. They’ve been going since June,” Kelly said on Sunday. “Our first bye week we kept them here to stay on top of their academics. We’re going to give them a little time off. But we’ll come back recharged, ready to go.”
Oct 19, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT
Upon second inspection, Brian Kelly hasn’t gained any clarity on the offensive pass interference call that took a game-winning touchdown off the board. While the head coach has moved on, with the Irish getting some much-needed time off during fall break, Kelly’s opinion on the play — now that he’s realized the penalty was on Will Fuller, not C.J. Prosise — is even more muddled.
Oct 19, 2014, 2:37 AM EDT
With 13 seconds left, Corey Robinson caught the 4th-down pass from Everett Golson and walked into the end zone, all but uncovered. And for a moment, it looked like Notre Dame pulled off a win for the ages.
Oct 18, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
It’s finally here. Not just the biggest game of the year, but the ultimate test for this Notre Dame football team. Entering Doak Campbell Stadium against the defending national champs and Heisman Trophy winner, we’ll see if the Irish have what it takes to upset the Seminoles.
Oct 18, 2014, 6:08 PM EDT
With the big showdown just a few hours away, let’s get to the mailbag questions.