Notre Dame: Offensive line full of experience
Posted: 08/25/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Rachel Terlep
Quarterbacks, receivers, cornerbacks, safeties, defensive line — each unit has underclassman featured at starter or next in line.
Kapron Lewis-Moore is the only senior along the defensive line.
Tommy Rees is the only quarterback with starting experience.
Jamoris Slaughter and Zeke Motta are the only defensive backs with significant playing time under their belts.
Then there’s the offensive line.
Braxston Cave, Chris Watt, Zack Martin, Mike Golic Jr. — names have filled in the Irish depth charts for the past three or four seasons.
The importance of a solid, experienced line cannot be understated.
“Playing the offensive line, you have to know everyone’s responsibilities,” Golic said. “One of the biggest parts of the position in general is knowing where everyone else is supposed to be.”
As a young offense — helmed by newly minted starting quarterback Everett Golson — finds its legs, a battle-tested line can buy Golson and the tailbacks crucial seconds in the backfield.
“We’re a really cohesive group,” Golic said of his fellow linemen. “Even though we haven’t necessarily played together for three or four years, we’ve been together for three or four years. Going through spring, going through camp, we’ve been able to take that onto the field.”
The downside of a unit full of veterans can mean that there are four seniors trying to play “general.”
Golic says there’s no room for that along the Irish line.
“We have a lot of older guys along the line right now, Zack, Watt, Braxston, guys who’ve started a ton of games,” Golic said. “Guys who played a lot of live action football so I think that there’s that mutual respect. We all know to yield the floor to each other.”
Experience can only get a team so far, so the line pays credit to new offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, who tweaked and fine-tuned the line to his liking throughout camp.
“Something he has been getting back to is fundamentals and basics and that stuff that we drill a lot,” Golic said of his coach. “Each play, not only knowing your assignment and how the defense is aligned, but also your technique and what you can do to give the offense a chance to run.”
Golic said the line bought into Hiestand’s philosophy shortly after the coach arrived last winter, and that the improvement under Hiestand’s system is noticeable.