Eye in the Sky: Offensive Line

A full film review of the Notre Dame offensive line vs. Michigan.

A closer look at the play of the Irish offensive line Saturday vs. the Wolverines.

Zack Martin (LT)

Along with Kyle Rudolph, completely whiffed on a kick-out block vs. WLB Jonas Mouton, who cleaned up Allen for a 4-yard loss…beaten by a Craig Roh spin move but stood strong to give Crist just enough time on a 3rd and 14 conversion pass…Overwhelmed DE Ryan Van Bergen to allow Crist a backside running lane and a gain of 19 yards down to the UM 18 (Crist injured on the play)…Secured edge on Cierre Wood's first carry but multiple blocks missed at second level stuffed the play after 1-yard…Per usual, handled his seal assignment well on Nate Montana's 10-yard run; the initial first down produced by an Irish backup QB in the contest as the first quarter neared completion…

2nd Quarter:Missed two blocks on Armando Allen's spectacular 13-yard run over left tackle…Dominated backup right defensive end Jibreel Black on the next series to help spring Allen for an 8-yard gain and an Irish first down…

Second Half: Yet another solid seal block, this time on Jonas Gray's 10-yard draw run…Might have missed an outside assignment, allowing Mouton to come free on 3rd and Goal, forcing Crist to hurry incomplete to Rudolph on a goal line out. Someone should have definitely covered the obvious pass rusher to the strong side and Martin was the only player with a chance…Completely controlled RDE Greg Banks on Allen's 9-yard gain at the shadow of the Irish goal…Called (correctly) for holding on Roh which negated a 5-yard run by Crist at the 4:15 mark…

Observations: Martin has been a positive addition to the 2010 line and has great potential over the next 10 games and through Bowl season; I can only think of two truly poor plays: missing an assignment that caused a Safety last Saturday and a key holding call late Saturday (erased one play later by Crist's 95-yard TD strike to Rudolph).

Chris Stewart (LG)

With 1st and 10 at UM 18-yard line, was part of double-team effort (along with Braxston Cave)that could not handle a Mike Martin interior pass rush; Martin forced Crist into a hurried throw incomplete…Plowed a hole for Crist's 1-yard sneak on the game's opening touchdown. Crist will run behind Stewart and Cave in this situation all year (last year featured Jimmy Clausen sneaks behind Stewart and LT Paul Duncan)…

2nd Quarter:Executed a pulling block in the opposite gap vs. MLB Obi Ezeh to open a 10-yard gain for Allen.

Second Half: Couldn't finish off his initial block of Jonas Mouton, who stopped Jonas Gray after a 10-yard gain…Absolutely brutalized Craig Roh on a pulling block in the hole, but the Irish front was outnumbered 8 to 6 and Allen was dropped for a one-yard loss on 1st and Goal from the 6-yard line; Stewart pancaked the upright Roh who tried to fill vs. the run. The entire Irish O-Line did its job (Robinson and Rudolph owned their assignments as did Dever, who turned Van Bergen inside); the Irish should have checked out of the 6 vs. 8 play with solo coverage on each of the three wide receivers…Again targeted Roh, this time after the latter spun away from a Zack Martin block; Stewart buried the 6'5" pass rusher in his tracks, driving him into the turf (gain of 13 on 3rd and 18).

Observations: Sometimes struggles to find a meaningful block on the quarterback's read-option keepers, but Stewart rebounded after playing what I felt was the worst game among the five starters last week. Stewart gets from Point A to B quickly in a 5-7 yard space.

Braxston Cave (C)

Effectively cut MLB Obi Ezeh in space but (Rudolph and Martin) failed on the game's first carry (4-yard loss)…Displayed poor footwork/balance vs. Martin in pass protection on game's first drive…Beat Martin (low-man wins principle) on Crist's 1-yard QB sneak to open the scoring…Completely whiffed vs. Martin two series later, causing Cierre Wood to be dropped for a 6-yard loss…

2nd Quarter: Lost a block in space vs. Ezi on Wood's 8-yard cut back run; his missed block forced the cutback as Wood would have had a nice lane outside with two-on-two blocking in front of him.

Second Half: Missed Martin on Jonas Gray's 10-yard draw run early in the half but the timing of the play was uninterrupted…Along with Stewart, failed to execute a double-team block on Mike Martin near the end of the 3rd period but Allen turned a sure loss into a 3-yard gain.

Observations: Nose guard Mike Martin represents one of his toughest matchups and he "won" head-up vs. the inexperienced Cave. The redshirt-junior played winning football last week and was on the right track Saturday before UM began overloading the box, daring the Irish to pass.

Trevor Robinson (RG)

Failure to get to nose tackle Mike Martin on a wham block results in a 4-yard loss for Allen on the game's first rush; Martin's penetration destroyed the play, cleaned up by Jonas Mouton…Both Robinson and Dever lost blocks in space in a 1st and Goal situation for Allen on a run to the short side…Contained Martin on first play of second possession – not an easy task as the play flowed left away from Robinson…Failed to secure a double-team (with RT Taylor Dever) of Craig Roh who helped Martin drop Cierre Wood for a six-yard loss…Nice effort vs. Mouton on the move on Montana's first snap, but Irish were outnumbered up front…late getting to MLB Obi Ezeh, who stopped Allen's initial charge on a 3-yard gain; that's a flawed design as Robinson can't be expected to consistently execute that block in the left B gap.

2nd Quarter:Missed what appeared to be an obvious assignment vs. Obi Ezeh, who dropped Wood for a 3-yard loss on 2nd and 2 early in the quarter; the play was otherwise blocked and Wood would have run untouched to the second level…Executed a perfect double team to begin the next series, helping to spring Allen for 10 yards up the gut; Robinson helped Cave bury Martin to open the initial hole…Found and controlled Ezeh in space to clear a path for Allen's 8-yard run for a first down at the 5:27 mark.

Second Half: Pulled from his right guard spot to left tackle to save Allen from a backfield loss at the ND goal line, picking up a well-timed run blitz; Allen gained 9 on the play to the outside…Sealed Craig Roh in space on the following snap…Overpowered by Van Bergen on a bull rush, forcing Crist into a hurried incompletion on 2nd and 10 with under 6:00 remaining.

Observations: Suffered through the worst first half I've seen him play since I began tape reviews in Week One of last season. Was average last week; poor in the opening stanza Saturday, but solid save for one play in the second half during the Irish comeback. Keyed a few of Allen's best runs with the Irish deep in their own territory as well.

Taylor Dever (RT)

Handled S Jordan Kovacs on a sweep late in the 1st period, but Irish were outnumbered elsewhere…Decent protection in pocket situation for Rees early…Like Zack Martin, executes seal blocks well on delay draw runs (shows a pass drop, then seals the penetrating DE outside)…Good job in solo-block at the point on Allen's 10-yard run midway through the 2nd period.

Second Half: Through the key block on Allen's career-best 29-yard run on the half's second series, cracking vs. Jonas Mouton to open up a huge lane of the right side…Completely secured Van Bergen on the outside on Allen's third consecutive carry near the end of the 3rd Quarter…

Observations: Solid in consecutive games; last week he fared well with the toughest assignment on the field; this week he handled Van Bergen one-on-one for most of the contest. Dever has been better than expected through two contests. Handling speed off the edge next week in a hostile environment will be another test for the first-time starter.


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