Left Side

5th-year senior left tackle Paul Duncan and senior left guard Chris Stewart are ready to put on the pads and start playing football.

"This is Left Side…"

"Strong Side!"

"Left Side..."

It wasn't exactly a Remember the Titans moment (not to mention we're focusing on the other side of the line of scrimmage) but 5th-year senior left tackle Paul Duncan and senior left guard Chris Stewart (who played right guard last season) didn't shy away from my challenge.

"So does 3rd and short run behind the left side this season?"

Stewart: "Hey. That's the goal, that's for sure."

Duncan: "(Laughing) – Well we are the biggest side…there's a pretty good amount of weight over there now – especially with Stewie."

Left Tackle Paul Duncan

Duncan's good natured shot at his teammate belied the serious approach the massive left tackle brought to spring practice in April and will continue to apply to every repetition and snap this fall.

"I'm ready to go. I'm so excited; the first practice was good in helmets but I can't wait to put the pads on and really start playing football again. "I'm going to put it all out there." Duncan continued "All over the place all the time – just leave nothing out on the field (in his final season)."

On his recovery from hip surgery:

"For me in the spring (practice) I didn't think about it and now I don't at all. Just time being out there is the key to getting over an injury. I feel great, I don't think about it anymore."

Duncan added he's been full-go since around the end of Christmas Break.

Regarding his preparation and added strength:

"(He had) pretty intense workouts working out at home this summer. And in the spring, every single rep and every lift was important, especially when you realize you have this short time (remaining at ND).

"And I think everybody (the O-Line) in the weight room realized this. It was an intense atmosphere and when everybody's intense that just makes you keep going and you work harder."

Why the O-Line Will Be Improved:

"I think our experience together really helps us – with so many of us coming back, and playing together. We know how each of us think at this point. We'll have a great time together. "Experience in every aspect of the game will help. Knowing offense, knowing what defense will be facing us in each formation – and recognizing things, seeing stuff and (as a result) just getting after it. As far as our chemistry, you're always moving people along the (offensive) line. We all know how to play just about every position anyway.

On his athletic improvement since his last game – Stanford 2007:

"I had a year to mature, I gained 20 pounds. I got stronger in the weight room and I feel like I'm moving well.

Left Guard Chris Stewart

Regarding staying in shape:

"I think I'm close but the thing with being in shape is you never stop. I'll probably work out every day until the day I die just because of my body. I think I'm in great shape, but I'm going to keep going with it and see how much better I can get. "I'm about 35 now (Note: 335, must be an unspoken rule for the 3-bill crew), about the same I was (at his best last year) but the biggest thing is that its more muscle and I've dropped body fat (about 3%) – lowering body fat percentage is key for a guy like me. I'm probably always going to be around 330 but that's the biggest key I can notice whether I'm running, lifting – even yesterday on pull drill. You just notice."

Regarding the use of pads in spring ball and coming up this month:

"It helps with flexibility, it helps with really getting used to the pads, and helps you be more fluid with the knee braces on – which destroy what little athletic ability most (linemen) have, but yeah, it helps big time."

On Saturday's apparent screen game challenge from C Eric Olsen (Olsen mentioned he and Stewart would have a contest regarding who would get the better downfield blocks):

"Oh my God. Whatever. Eric Olsen and screens? Ask him to look at the film and see who (got the best blocks) on screens…"

Regarding his adjustment to left guard:

"I played there as a sophomore. I'm ready to go. And I played left guard when I first got here. It's more natural then when I first played it or even when we ran the Wing-T in high school – you still put the right hand down even on the left side. The transition's been good so far – it's been a lot more natural, I wouldn't say ‘easy' but it's been comfortable."

(Note: Stewart answered with a definitive "No" when I asked if he missed the Wing-T."

On the difference between left and right guard in Notre Dame's scheme:

"Pass blocking, most guys will tell you that you just happen to have a lot more help as the line slides (to the left side). You have a lot more one-on-one (right side), whereas left guard you get a chance to really be aggressive and if no one comes you can blindside the (heck) out of people, and that's fun from my perspective because it will allow me to be a lot more aggressive."

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