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Bye week grades: Defensive line

DEFENSIVE LINE

Grade: A

Summary: Mel Kiper's Week 1 comments about Stephon Tuitt -- that the sophomore might be the best defensive lineman in the country -- went viral, and Tuitt responded by doing his best to live up to the claim. Tuitt has six sacks through four games and has been a key piece to an Irish defense that did not allow touchdowns to Michigan State and Michigan in consecutive games and is giving up just nine points per game (No. 4 nationally). Louis Nix has shaken off his spring rust and appears to be refocused, becoming a force inside. And fifth-year senior and captain Kapron Lewis-Moore has provided veteran leadership through four games, grinding through a calf injury and reeling in the two young studs he plays beside. This unit was supposed to suffer a drop-off after Aaron Lynch transferred to USF in the spring, but right now it is hard to imagine the Irish's front playing much better, as it has made life miserable each quarterback it has faced. Of the Irish's 14 sacks -- which is tied for 10th in the nation -- 11.5 have come from defensive linemen.

Backups: Sheldon Day, frankly, has not played like a true freshman. The Indianapolis native has a pair of sacks on the season and has proved to be a very valuable second-teamer, filling in capably for the hobbled Lewis-Moore. He has very bright days ahead of him. Tony Springmann has played better than most expected thus far as well, and Kona Schwenke has gotten one start and been a capable No. 2 man in the middle behind Nix.

Previous report cards:

Quarterbacks