Every Down Lou?

Senior nose guard Louis Nix is ranked among the nation's best college players and pro prospects entering 2013. His season goal? To play more than he did in 2012.

Graduation. Helping the team win more than 12 games. Irish Chocolate video updates if time permits.

That's a macro level short-list of projected All-America nose guard Louis Nix's plans over the ensuing months. At the micro level, Nix has but one personal goal for 2013, and its not that different than any aspiring member of the roster -- Nix would like to play more.

"I just want to be able to play as much as I can and be there for my team. I want to go out there and compete and help in any way I can to help this team win games and be successful," said Nix Sunday afternoon prior to the team's departure for Camp Shiloh and the acclimation period of training camp.

"Throughout the summer I did all the drills and everything (strength and conditioning ) coach (Paul) Longo threw out there in front of us, completely. I did pretty well on them being a big guy. When you put on the helmet and shoulder pads it's a little different, it's a couple more pounds you're running around with. So it's a different type of conditioning but I'm ready for the challenge."

That challenge will prepare the bigger ones that lie ahead.

"I'd like to double my reps," Nix said. "I think the coaches put it in great perspective: I averaged what, 50 plays a game? The defense averages in the 80s. That's 20-30 plays I'm not in. I played 12 game, that's 200-300 plays. If I can stay in the game more, that's 300 plays I can make something happen if I push myself. That's what I'm here to do, gain those 200-300 more plays and help my team."

Full Speed Field Time

Paramount to the 2012 defense's success was the depth of its defensive front. Six true defensive linemen (eight if you include Cat/DE competitors Prince Shembo and Ishaq Williams) earned regular minutes. It's a process that allows the linemen to remain fresh, but also one deemed necessary by the unit's coordinator.

"Because of how we set our participation on defense, there's not 'a starter', and then if you're not a starter, you're not going to participate," said fourth-year coordinator Bob Diaco. "Louis for example. Louis was a starter, but Louis participated about half the game. I'm sure Louis wants to participate more than half the game.

"So as we lay out those spots (in the rotation), the edges sharpen on every single person in that group. All of them. Let's say there are seven to eight functional guys that can go in and participate. The question is: what do you want your participation plan to look like? And

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