SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Louis Nix crunched the numbers, and thinks he can make an even greater impact than he did last fall.
Over the summer, the 357-pound defensive tackle spent plenty of time working with strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo in an effort to stay on the field for more plays. Nix said he averaged 50-60 plays in 2012, while Notre Dame's defense averaged 80 or so plays per game.
Nix played a massive part in Notre Dame's success last fall, even if his stamina wasn't where he wanted it to be. He made 50 tackles, including 7 1/2 for a loss, while clogging up the interior.
With increased endurance, Nix thinks he could be on the field for close to all 80 plays per game in 2013. Between 20-30 more plays per game for 12 games adds up quick, and that's where he sees himself becoming an even greater force for Notre Dame's defense.
"If I can stay in the game that whole time, that's 300 plays more to make something happen if I push myself," Nix said.
On a series-by-series basis, the task seems less daunting. Nix's goal is to become a steady three-down player, someone who won't necessarily have to come off the field for a breather a few times during a drive.
"When your best player is on the field every snap, you're a better football team," coach Brian Kelly said. "He committed to that. That's him making that conscious decision that he wanted to be that guy."
While Nix still generated a few laughs during his media session on Sunday -- like suggesting "I think I could" beat Kelly in a race -- the senior had a much more serious, let's-get-down-to-football demeanor. He detailed he and his teammates' motivation to get back to the BCS Championship following January's blowout loss to Alabama, and that being the central focus for Notre Dame this fall.
Being on the field more means Nix will have a greater hand in those efforts. He's projected to be a first-round pick in next year's NFL Draft, but his coach hasn't seen Nix lose sight of the unfinished business at hand in South Bend.
"Here is a young man, again, that knows in his last season of competition, it's his chance to make his mark," Kelly said. "It's his opportunity to help lead a football team back to a championship."