|Notre Dame's struggles keep Laws from enjoying breakout season|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 04 October 2007 09:55|
Laws not only leads the Fighting Irish in tackles, which is unusual for a lineman, his 41 tackles is the most in the nation for linemen. He's on pace to finish the season with nearly 100 tackles, which would be the most by a Notre Dame lineman since end Melvin Dansby had 103 in 1997 - the only Irish lineman to finish with more than 100 tackles in more than 25 years.
The last defensive lineman to lead the Irish in tackles was tackle Steve Niehaus with 113 in 1975.
A fifth-year senior, Laws came back to Notre Dame looking to improve his draft stock. Coach Charlie Weis said NFL scouts are noticing.
``I think he's having just a banner year. I've had more scouts, for example, last year not notice him. This year almost everyone to a man that comes in says, 'He's playing very well,''' Weis said.
The 6-foot-1, 296-pound Laws had a season-high 10 tackles against Penn State. He had six tackles against Michigan even though the Notre Dame coaching staff flipped him from left defensive end to the right side most of the game to line up against All-America offensive tackle Jake Long. Against Michigan State, Laws had nine tackles, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup and two quarterback hurries.
The dreadlocked Laws, though, has not been able to enjoy it.
Laws is a free spirit, but nobody on the 0-5 Irish takes losing harder than him. The pain of losing is evident on Laws' face after games because his usual carefree smile is replaced with a pained scowl that seems to defy reporters to ask him a question. Seven straights losses dating back to last season have left him miserable.
``It's great to know people think I'm playing well and stuff, but when I'm actually out there on the field and we're doing bad I just feel like I'm not doing good at all a lot of time,'' Laws said.
The individual success on the field comes despite a position change this year.
With the Irish switching from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense this year, Laws - the lone returning starting lineman - switched from a tackle to end, although he's back inside when a linebacker moves up to the line. He is still adjusting and still prefers being inside where things happen faster.
The knock on Laws is that he's not speedy enough. With all those tackles, he only has one sack on a team with just six sacks all season.
Weis said he believes Laws could play tackle in a 4-3 defense in the NFL or end in a 3-4 ``and be a pain in the butt.''
Laws doesn't care where he plays. He just wants to keep playing.
The challenge for Laws now, though, is to provide leadership on a young Irish team that continues to struggle. Laws said his experience being at Notre Dame his first two years when the Irish went 5-7 and 6-6 have helped him deal with this season.
``I know what it is to bounce back. I know what it's like to fight against adversity so I feel like it is up to me a little bit to help bring along some of the guys who haven't been part of that,'' he said.
Still, he acknowledges, it isn't easy.
``It's been a tough season so far,'' he said. ``It's been an emotional ride with a lot of disappointments.''