Final Impressions: Offensive Line

Irisheyes.com concludes its series on the offensive side of scrimmage with camp impressions regarding the offensive line.

Final Impressions: Offensive Backfield

Final Impressions: Wide Receivers

Final Impressions: Tight Ends

Offensive Line – Rotation

The return of 5th-year offensive lineman Andrew Nuss could prove a key development for the Irish front five: Nuss is the No. 1 backup at both left and right guard (and takes first-team practice reps at both spots); the No. 2 backup at left tackle – at least until Tate Nichols returns from a dislocated knee cap – and can also function as No. 3 center and right tackle…However brief, Nichols injury, coupled with a summer season-ending injury to senior Lane Clelland, has had a ripple effect on OL coach Ed Warinner's group as the Irish technically have two true freshmen on the two-deep (LT Nick Martin and RG Conor Hanratty) – Nuss's versatility will go a long way toward preserving the future eligibility of both…

It's telling that the two of the line's three rookies in 2010, redshirt-freshman Zack Martin and senior Taylor Dever, ranked 1-2 in terms of consistent performance prior to Dever's Week Five injury…I had Braxston Cave No. 3 overall at season's end – it was his first season as a starter as well…Senior guard Trevor Robinson and Cave are near locks to rank as the team's most improved linemen this fall – if they challenge Martin for the Guardian of the Year Award, ND will have its best offensive front since Charlie Weis' veteran group of 2005…Martin's success as a first-time player was one of the season's biggest surprises, most important developments, and a rarity at the program; he was the best first-year starter since Ryan Harris in 2003 (Harris first start in early October at Pittsburgh buoyed running back Julius Jones to a program-record, 262 rushing yards in a Heinz Field upset)…

The staff expects a big year from Cave, the Mishawka Penn (H.S.) product could be a dominant player as a 5th-year competitor, three-season starter in 2012…Dever has redshirt-freshman Christian Lombard nipping at his heels at right tackle but failing injury, the 5th-year senior won't cede his spot this fall: Dever is a good fit for the read-option offense as he showed well in our film reviews last season when released to block in space at the second level…Considering the apparent nip-and-tuck nature of the starting competition at left guard, junior Chris Watt must either struggle at times with A.) pass protection or B.) his assignments, because every indication from staff and Irish defenders suggest he's an absolute bull of a run-blocker – one with a mean streak, to boot…Watt's one of the more soft-spoken linemen off the field but I would have easily guessed he indeed "flips the switch" between the lines as indicated by a post-Sun Bowl conversation we had – Watt took great pleasure in the power game and subsequent, persistent action "through the whistle" the Irish featured vs. the vanquished Miami Hurricanes…

Backup senior center Mike Golic enters the season in the same position as a few of his classmates: wary of the number of incoming recruits that could limit the team's 5th-year seniors for 2012…Golic's versatility (he's a backup guard as well) will aid his cause, so too will the dearth of true centers on the current roster…Should calamity befall the starting five, Golic could start at center or either guard spot; Lombard at both tackle spots; and Nuss at four if not all five of the line's positions – the quartet of freshmen and their eligibility are thus safe from 2011 exposure...

Look for Robinson top play the 12 best games of his Irish career this fall...

Offensive Line – Reserves

Kudos to Nick Martin and Conor Hanratty for winning second-team roles in August camp; considering his brother's success last April and throughout 2010, the precocious Martin brothers must pick up schemes quicker than most…Hanratty has reportedly transformed his body since National Signing Day: his ascent may be a surprise to fans and media but Kelly and Warinner had an early inclination…Early enrollee Brad Carrico is a step behind as he continues toe transformation from high school defensive lineman to full-time collegiate guard (Carrico also played OT in high school)…

Transfer Jordan Prestwood will hone his left tackle skills as a member of the demo teams this fall: further exposure to right defensive ends Kapron Lewis-Moore and Stephon Tuitt will bring out the best in the competitive freshman...We saw OT prospect Matt Hegarty at left guard in most of our media practice viewings but the former 4-star has also seen time at center…Redshirt-freshman Bruce Heggie – a defensive linemen last season – works as the third-team (demo team) center at present…


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