Offensive Line Key To Irish Success

<P>Fall camp is a coming together period. One of the most important pieces to the puzzle this year will be the play of the offensive line. Let me go on record and say that I love offensive linemen. They are usually the guys with the most character. They are usually not arrogant and they usually like any publicity they can get. It's a shame that the offensive line never gets credit for a win but often took much of the blame for the many losses last year and in previous years. </P>

I have been lucky enough to know some of the offensive linemen personally through recruiting and since their enrollment into Notre Dame. I do know one thing, this unit is tired or taking it. When Notre Dame wins a game, we talk about the play that the quarterback made or the wide receiver made. We might talk about the kick that won the game or the 80 yard touchdown by the star running back. Rarely does the offensive line get much of the credit.

When this team loses, the blames lately has been placed at the feet of the offensive line. Many quotes are heard throughout the stadium. "The offensive line isn't giving Carlyle enough time to throw the football." "Julius has nowhere to run. He has no holes to run through."

What I don't think a lot of people understand is that the offensive line was basically playing the last two years with one arm tied behind their back. Notre Dame ran the football on first down. Notre Dame ran the football on second down. If they didn't have a first down by third down, Notre Dame tried to throw the football. Holiday might as well went up to the defense and told them if it was going to be a run or a pass. The funny thing is, Holiday didn't need to tell them, they already knew.

This group of offensive linemen are talented. FSU offered LT Jordan Black. RG Sean Milligan was recruited by every major schools across the country. Jeff Faine was an OC prospect that was offered by every school in the country. Brennan Curtin had offers from quite a few of the top programs in the SEC and committed early before many of the schools had a chance to offer. Nebraska knows an offensive linemen when they see one and they offered Sean Mahan.

Notre Dame has talent at offensive line. They don't have a lot of experienced depth but they do have some talent. Even the second string offensive linemen were heavily recruited by the top programs in the country. I think more than any other unit, this unit is going to embrace the new system. I think this unit needed a breath of fresh air and I think they will benefit the most from the coaching change.

I am not saying that coach Borberly was a bad coach. He took a lot of heat last year and I really don't think it was his fault. Coach Addazio rarely took heat for this and that I didn't understand. I blame the system for the woes of the offensive line. The system made them look a lot worse that what they actually are.

I am no expert on defensive tackle play. I am going to guess that every defensive tackle or nose guard would have loved to play against Notre Dame last year. At defensive tackle or nose guard, you have responsibilities to defend your section of the field. If you knew that Notre Dame would run on first down and on second down, the job becomes much simpler. You just dig in and stand your ground and don't have to worry about the QB play action pass.

With every new beginning, someone has to step up and take charge. Ty can step up and take charge of the team. Each unit needs to have their leaders. Someone on the Notre Dame offensive line needs to step up and take charge. You will get your balance now. Your arm isn't tied behind your back anymore. Someone needs to step and say "we have no more excuses. If we don't do it now, it's going to be our fault."

Is that going to be you Mr. Milligan? You going to step up and motivate the rest of your offensive linemen? Is that going to be you Mr. Faine? You have NFL talent, can you push your brothers to your level? How about you Mr. Black? Your shoulder should be healthy and this is your last year. How about you Mr. Mahan? You haven't played as much as I thought you should. You going to prove the previous staff wrong? What about you Mr. Curtin? A MONSTER of a man and now is your time.

The starters obviously should be the leaders but someone needs to be the leader of the starters. Who is it going to be? Who is going to motivate the second string? Do you want to be second string all your life? The offensive line play will be crucial this year. You have a good QB, give him time. You have talented running backs. You have explosive wide receivers. You have tight ends that are lighter and can catch. You have an offense that will give you back your advantage and you have a very talented defense that should keep you in any game.

The time is now guys. Time for some payback for all the fans that criticized you unfairly last year. Time for some payback for never getting credit when you do win games. Time to go out and earn some respect. You finally have a level playing ground.


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