Turkovich Ready For Action

Michael Turkovich knew he wasn't going to red-shirt his first season at Notre Dame when offensive line coach John Latina told him he didn't have many players on the left side, and to be ready to play. He was ready to go and saw action in seven games.

Latina and Michael Turkovich had just one conversation about the sophomore's role for this campaign.

"The only conversation I had with coach Latina was know both tackles, know your assignments at guard if you need to play guard, and that was pretty much it," Turkovich explained. "It never really headed towards being in the first lineup or the second lineup. It was just know your assignments and be ready to play whatever I ask you to play."

In line for a starting spot at right tackle, Turkovich has been asked to play a couple new spots in less than two weeks of spring practice. After exclusively playing left tackle last season, he is adjusting to playing on the right side of the line. Then at practice on Monday, the 298-pound Turkovich, up eight pounds, played a little guard. Classmate Paul Duncan has also played both positions this spring.

"We're kind of moving those kids around," Latina said after practice on Monday. "We haven't settled in on anything there. Right now we spent a few days with one inside and one outside, and now we are switching it just to see what's the best fit, see where they fit in best in our system. Spring, that allows you to experiment a little bit and you have to do that.

"You'd like to have your kids somewhat cross-trained between playing guard and tackle, so if you got caught with some injuries, that at least they've had some work at a position."

The Irish are very thin on the offensive line this spring. With center John Sullivan's injury, there is almost no choice but to move the guys around into different spots. This fall six incoming freshman will boost the depth chart, but for now guys are playing in different positions out of necessity.

Graduation has also forced some of the moves. With Mark LeVoir gone, his right tackle position opened up. Turkovich is trying to make the transition to the right side, but it feels like a new world.

"I'm left handed and it feels a little different because I am more left-hand dominant than I am right side," he said. "It feels a little different to get down in a different stance. I worked a whole year being in a left stance."

If that's a big deal, think about playing guard for the first time.

"It's confusing right now, but I think if I know each position it helps (me) realize and learn the overall scheme of the plays," Turkovich explained. "If I'm playing tackle, I know what the guard is doing, it makes my job easier. When I'm playing guard I know what the tackle is doing, it makes my job easier again."

Competing against the first team has been a little rough for young Turkovich. Victor Abiamiri and Trevor Laws were putting it on him last week. Turkovich said he has made the road to the quarterback a bit tougher already this week. After those two beat Turkovich off the ball, they were quick to tell him his mistakes.

"I talk to Victor Abiamiri, he helps me out a lot saying you are doing this or you are doing that," Turkovich said. "Trevor Laws is also a guy I get some ideas from because I've gone up against him a few times."

With lack of depth on the offensive line last season, both Turkovich and Duncan had a lot thrown their way immediately in August. There were growing pains, but the minimal game experience and the abundance of practice reps were huge in the long run.

"They understand things a lot better," Latina said. "They've had enough experience to at least have confidence when they are at the line of scrimmage. That's probably the biggest thing. They know pretty much what to do, now they can focus on how to do it. When you have them the first time, they are trying to make sure they don't do the wrong things, they're confused and it takes away from their aggressiveness. I see a lot more understanding of our system. I see them making strides because of that."

If told, Turkovich will be ready to stride right into the starting lineup.

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