Sunday, August 10, 2008

Notre Dame Football Position Preview: Offensive Line

Previously Covered
Running Back
Wide Receiver
Tight End
Defensive Line

Spotlight: Paul Duncan


Also Returning: Thomas Bemenderfer, Taylor Dever, Eric Olsen, Matt Romine, Chris Stewart, Jeff Tisak, Michael Turkovich, Dan Wenger, Sam Young

Lost: John Sullivan (graduation), Bartley Webb (injuries), Matt Carufel (transfer)

Gained: Andrew Nuss (position change), Braxton Cave, Lane Clelland, Mike Golic, Jr., Trevor Robinson (freshman)

Left tackle is perhaps the most important position on the field. Coming out of the spring, Paul Duncan was named the starting left tackle with Michael Turkovich the starting left guard. But on the depth chart released last Friday, Duncan and Turkovich were given the "or" designation at left tackle, while Eric Olsen was promoted to starting left guard. I hate to speculate on why this change was made, so I won't. But I will say that the passing game's success will hinge on how well the left tackle (whomever it is) can guard the quarterback.

The much-maligned offensive line of 2007 is, if nothing else, a year older and wiser. Of the six potential starters - Duncan, Turkovich, Olsen, Dan Wenger at center, Chris Stewart at right guard, and Sam Young at right tackle - all but Stewart have starting experience from last year.

Yes, this unit is starting to get it together, both in terms of depth and experience. In fact, the only freshman on the two-deep is Trevor Robinson, and he was an early admission who practiced with the team in the spring. High school linemen need time to grow into college linemen, and fortunately not many of the freshman should be thrust into action before they're ready this year.