MIAMI — Louis Nix III is the talker. Stephon Tuitt is the thinker.
Put them together, and you've got the start of quite a stout defensive line for top-ranked Notre Dame.
Personality-wise, there would seem to be little that links the loquacious Nix and the church-quiet Tuitt. Yet both on and off the field, they find ways to click in just about every way imaginable — and they're generally considered the two most productive defensive linemen on an Irish team that plays No. 2 Alabama on Monday night in the BCS title game.
Guys want to talk, I like to talk, Nix said Saturday. Tuitt, he just hits people. I think that's the talking he does.
For the Irish, it works.
Nix, Notre Dame's stellar nose guard, leads the line with 45 tackles despite regularly seeing double-teams, at minimum — and he was chosen as the team's defensive lineman of the year. Tuitt had a breakout season, 42 tackles and a team-best 12 sacks from his defensive end spot, along with a fumble return for a score in the season-opening win over Navy.
That seems so long ago. The Irish were unranked then, and now are not only No. 1 in the land, but one win away from maybe a most unlikely national title.
It's exciting. I'm glad to be here, Tuitt said. It's something we've worked for all year. We made it. We've worked hard for six weeks and we're ready to come out and play.
I'm just the person who's just here. I don't really do that much talking.
Except on the field. With his play, that is.
Different styles, different personalities aside, Nix and Tuitt have come to rely on one another, both on and off the field.
They do speak and text often, and Tuitt said Nix — even though the positional duties are considerably different — makes him better.
We're good off the field, Tuitt said. We're two good teammates. We believe in one another. He's a really good guy and I look up to him, because he can teach me a lot of things. It's a different feeling when it's game time. It's time to go out there with the right mindset to help my teammates out. I don't play for myself. I play for my teammates, so that's what makes it different when it's time to play.
No other words need be said.