Kuntz Eyes Starting Spot

Corwin Brown's new defensive scheme is opening the door for a few players who have yet to get consistent playing time on the field. Brown was brought in to replace Rick Minter and a change in philosophy has created some opportunities. One of these players looking to capitalize is Pat Kuntz. The 6-2, 272-pound junior wants to expand his role for the 2007 season.

Kuntz is battling another contender for the right to leave the spring time as the No. 1 nose tackle. Chris Stewart, a massive 6-5, 340-pound sophomore, switched over from the offensive line to give it a try over on defense. Stewart's big body appears perfectly suited to take up space in the middle of the defensive line in the 34 scheme. Kuntz has been working with the first-team in practice. Stewart spent Saturday's session on the exercise bike with an injury and it's unknown how long he'll be out.

"My goal is to take somewhat of a lead and be the No. 1 guy out of spring," Kuntz said. "Chris is a great player and I'm going to have my hands full. He's a big kid."

Stewart does have 68 pounds on Kuntz. When Kuntz first heard about Brown and the switch over to the 34 personnel scheme, he was unsure as to what position along the defensive line would suit him for the upcoming season. It could have been either defensive end or nose tackle. Because of Kuntz‘s weight, many expected him to compete for one of the end spots.

"I saw myself playing both," Kuntz said. "When I was watching the Patriots play, I was viewing the whole defensive line. When I talked to Coach Oliver, he told me nose. At first, I thought I might be a little small. Once I started to play, I knew I could fit in and do well here."

Kuntz said he plans to put on weight during the summer months. But he doesn't want it to be bad weight. Kuntz, who has mostly been a contributor on special teams the past two seasons, has started to grasp the inner workings of the nose tackle spot.

"The main thing is leverage," Kuntz said. "You have to get underneath people and get separation and shed. Basically, you have to free the linebackers so they can make the plays. I hope they make a lot of plays. I'm not a selfish guy. I don't care if I make a couple of plays. As long as my team is winning, that's all that matters to me."

Kuntz is sure getting thrown in the battle during spring practice. Everyday, the junior has to get toe-to-toe with center John Sullivan. The fifth-year senior is the leader of the offensive line and a member of the Leadership Committee. Sullivan's experience can do nothing but good for Kuntz.

"He makes me better everyday," Kuntz said of Sullivan. "Right when I think I'm getting even with him, he does something else. I'm getting used to his style and technique. He's a veteran. He knows how to block. He's only going to make me better because he's one of the best centers in the country."

Overall, Kuntz has positive reviews of the new defense. He describes Brown as energetic and the first guy to congratulate people on making a good play. Kuntz also said Brown will be the first to let you know that a mistake has been made and what to do to correct it. He believes that the new style should lead to improvement in 2007.

"I think we'll be able to make a lot more plays," Kuntz said. "People will be able to fly around and play football. I think we were kind of limited the past few years. In my backup role, I could see basic moves. Now, it's going out there and making plays. I like it a lot and a lot of other guys like it, too."

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