Offensive line has been doing the job
Posted: 09/13/2011 at 1:15 am
By: Rachel Terlep
Click here to view in a gallery.
FILE - This Sept. 18, 2010, file photo shows Michigan State tight end Charlie Gantt celebrating as he scores the game-winning touchdown on a 29-yard pass reception off a fake field goal during overtime of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame, in East Lansing, Mich. It might have been the moment the Spartans stopped being frustrating underachievers and became contenders in the Big Ten. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, FILE)
They don't make impossible one-handed grabs like receivers or heart-pounding, 10-yard surges like running backs.
They have been, however, one of the saving graces in Notre Dame's floundering young season.
In two games full of turnovers, missed connections, subpar special teams and failed coverage assignments, the Notre Dame offensive line has silently done its job effectively and consistently, arguably more so than any other Irish unit.
It has helped RBs Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray average 5.1 yards per carry and has allowed only two sacks by opposing defenses.
But as with anything in football, pat-on-the-back stats aren't what RG Trevor Robinson is focused on.
“Stats you can bend however you want them to look,” he said. “It's not always just sacks, it's is (the quarterback) hurried? Are we giving him the throwing lanes he needs? Are we giving him enough time?”
Though Robinson is generally pleased with the O-line so far, he thinks there's still room for growth.
“When we look at film, we're making big plays 75 out of 85 times,” he said. “But the ones we aren't getting are big ones. We might get most of them, but it's being able to do them consistently every time.”
The missed plays he's referring to are the third-and-short scenarios that Notre Dame failed to convert against Michigan.
It's hard to be upset at 198 rushing yards, but, as Robinson put it, “If it was 201 yards, we'd be in a lot better shape.”
Heading into Saturday's game with Michigan State, LT Zack Robinson knows the legitimacy of his unit's success will be put to test by the physically imposing Spartan defense.
“They have a big, physical D-line and linebackers coming up through the hole,” he said. “They're different from what we've seen so far. They're not going to wow you with a bunch of crazy blitzes.”
“They're the same team every year,” C Braxston Cave said, echoing Robinson's description. “They're going to try to come in and out-physical us. This is a team you want to out-physical.”
Cave said he's itching to show up any doubters this weekend with a win against Michigan State, and that starts with eliminating errors.
“Once we do, things will take off,” he said. “There's not a team out there that can outplay us.”