The 17 stops gave Laws 98 for the season. It's the fourth most ever for a Notre Dame defensive lineman and his play should warrant consideration for some post-season honors. The fifth-year senior is just 15 tackles away from being the all-time leader among defensive lineman for tackles in a single year. Steve Niehaus recorded 113 in 1975.
"He's got about 100 tackles for the year," head coach Charlie Weis said on Sunday about Laws. "It seems like every game he's eight or nine tackles, and I think that yesterday a lot of the tackles that he made would have been potentially really big plays if he doesn't make the tackle. So not only was he making the plays but he was preventing some big gainers in the game."
The only possible negative was late in the fourth quarter. Air Force's Shaun Carney had just bulled his way into the end zone from a yard out to extend the Falcons lead to 41-24. On the extra point, a flag was thrown on freshman Ian Williams for a personal foul. As the flag was on the ground, Laws kicked it, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct.
"I had a conversation with him, and I really told him that as much as he's hurting the team, he's hurting himself," Weis said. "Very calmly, I wasn't hammering him. I said, ‘Now, you're about ready to leave this place and go on to play in the NFL. I know there's 32 teams out here and they're watching you do this right now.‘ This was not raise my voice, but he just knew that he lost his composure. He did it out of frustration. Maybe he just wanted to see that guy kick the ball through the uprights on the kickoff.
"The kid is playing his butt off. He's played his butt off all year long. He's given us every penny of his worth. He's worked his butt off all year long. Did he make a mistake right there by kicking the flag? You betcha. But I was just explaining to him as you're moving forward in your career you're always being evaluated by how you act as well as by what you do."
Weis joked his own reaction might have been the same.
"As a matter of fact, if I would have been out there I might have kicked it myself, but I wasn't out there," Weis said.
***It wasn't a banner day for the wide receivers. There were numerous drops on the day. Weis counted eight in total. Imagine what Jimmy Clausen's final stats would have looked like if these drops were caught. The freshman quarterback finished 22-of-40 for 246 yards and three touchdowns. But the drops killed the momentum of a few drives. Add this to the fact that freshman Duval Kamara, fresh off a two touchdown performance against Navy, didn't play because of academic issues.
"I wasn't happy with the volume of dropped balls yesterday," Weis said. "That's for sure. And then Duval didn't play yesterday so I can't really evaluate him coming off his two-touchdown performance of the week before. So I'd say very consistent with my message I've been talking about, I'd say very inconsistent."
***Weis did not have any updates on the players who got injured in the loss to Air Force. Several players were seen hobbling around during and after the game, so much so that the Notre Dame head coach called the training room after the Air Force game a "MASH unit." More will be known about their status at Weis's Tuesday press conference.
***Weis on if the losing has taken its toll on the Irish head coach: "It bothers me with Maura and Charlie as much as anything else because when you leave home, I'm like everybody else. You bring work home with you and you have to deal with how down your wife is and how down your son is. Realistically I've been able to find the one thing to hold onto each week. Like this week the one thing to hold onto is it's the seniors' last home game. That's not phony. It's their last home game. So that's something to hold onto.
"So one thing I will do (on Sunday), and I've already told the staff, is we're going to get in here at 2:00 o'clock and I'm going to have all the seniors stand up, all the fourth- and fifth-year guys will all stand up, and there's a whole bunch of walk-ons that are seniors, so there's going to be a bunch of people stand up. Then I'm going to talk to how they want to end out their home career, and then I'm going to tell everyone who's not a senior how it's their responsibility to make sure they go out with a win. It gives me something to grasp for this week.
"As long as you have something to hold onto, you can hold everything together. It would be a lot different if you didn't have something to hold onto."