Skip to content

Spring Solutions: Offensive line

Mar 17, 2013, 10:24 PM EDT

Chris Watt,  Zack Martin

For an offensive line, nothing is tougher than breaking in a rookie quarterback. For the 2012 Irish, that meant finding an entirely new right side to work with Everett Golson, with Mike Golic playing guard and Christian Lombard taking over at right tackle.

The fact that the Irish o-line played well is a credit to the unit, especially considering they propped Golson up early. Even with an entirely new right side, the offensive line found a way to average 200 yards rushing and passing, answering any uncertainty that came Notre Dame’s way.

With Cave and Golic gone in 2013, there’s work to be done up front. Luckily for Notre Dame fans, left tackle Zack Martin is returning. He’ll be in line to win four straight lineman of the year competitions, a modern equivalent not all that easy to find. Next to him is left guard Chris Watt, who’ll help form a bullet-proof left side.

While Christian Lombard is returning, the Irish need to replace Braxston Cave and Mike Golic. Cave anchored the center position the past few seasons, a hard working power-player. Even with athletic deficiencies, he was one of the keys to the Irish roster. Meanwhile Golic also showed himself to a crucial member along the offensive front. Say what you want about the veteran many expected to ride the pines after spending much of his career on the bench, but Golic’s absence letf a significant hole in the line.

Let’s take a look at the depth chart up front and analyze where Notre Dame is heading into spring drills.

OFFENSIVE LINE DEPTH CHART

Zack Martin, Sr.
Chris Watt, Sr.
Matt Hegarty, Jr.
Nick Martin, Soph.
Christian Lombard, Jr.

Ronnie Stanley, Soph.
Conor Hanratty, Jr.
Bruce Heggie, Sr.
Mark Harrell, Soph.
Steve Elmer, Fresh.

SPRING OBJECTIVES:

Zack Martin: Put simply, it’s Martin’s job to dominate. Sure, he’ll never be a first round monster, the type of guy that drags scouts to the front row. But after three straight years of starting, Martin is one of Notre Dame’s most important returning players, and he’ll anchor left tackle.

Christian Lombard: After a gradual initiation up front, Lombard should be expected to hold his own along the offensive line. That means taking a step forward this spring, owning the right side of the line while a new guard transitions in, and making sure that he’s helping solidify an interior that needs to replace two starters. Lombard should be one of the few anchors along the fairly inexperienced right side of the line.

Matt Hegarty: After worrying that his career might be over, Hegarty’s opportunity to seize the starting job is a key position battle this season. The former blue-chip lineman has recovered from what was believed to be a stroke and he’s ready to challenge for Braxston Cave’s former job.

Hegarty is a top shelf talent. But he’ll need to show he’s able to slide into the battle up front and keep the battle competitive.

Nick Martin: Zack’s younger brother deserves the first shot at the starting job. He’ll never be the biggest and strongest up front, but Martin will go head-to-head with anybody that’s ready to do so. He’s ready to stake his claim as a starting guard, but also has the ability to play at center. He may  not have been capable of playing last season, but Martin’s season in the incubator was more than helpful.

Chris Watt: One of the benefits of being a multi-year starter on the Irish line is that Watt gets to silence some of the unanswered offseason questions up font. With Watt, the Irish are in steady hands, with the offensive line hosting one of the finer guards the Irish have seen in recent years.

Making sure the Irish have a solid gathering this far is important. But if the Irish need someone to take charge up front, there’s a great chance that Watt will fill in a fairly significant hole on the line.

Ronnie Stanley: An elbow injury that ended up saving Stanley’s eligibility will likely determine if the Nevada native is ready to chase a starting job. After an impressive debut season, Stanley needs the opportunity to show off his good side. A mammoth protector, he’ll add some top shelf youth to the rotation if he’s able to contribute.

Bruce Heggie: He’s certainly come a long way from being one of the last low-rated recruits on the roster. For Heggie, finding a place along the line was one of the rare plans that worked out. While he has drawn a long drawn cat calls, Heggie spent his months preparing for his shot to win a job up front. Whether or not he does it, one of Kelly’s first ever RKGs has done a nice job.

Steve Elmer: There’s few players that fit the part of an offensive tackle more than Elmer. While the Irish don’t seem to be aiming at pushing Elmer into the forefront now, he’s looking very much like the type of guy that’s ready to contribute immediately.

Mark Harrell: After redshirting as a freshman, Harrell is ready to compete for an inside job on the line. He’s likely not physically ready, but Harrell should bring another option to the interior of the line.

Latest Posts
  1. After chaotic spring, offensive roles can come into focus

    Apr 20, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT

    Everett Golson, Mike McGlinchey, Isaac Rochell Everett Golson, Mike McGlinchey, Isaac Rochell

    Spring practice is in the books. The Blue-Gold game is history. (Not here, we’ll talk about that thing all week…) So after a frantic few months in the Gug, the focus of Notre Dame’s rebuilt offensive staff can change from planning practices to… planning—well, just about everything.

  2. Irish land commitment from blue-chip OL Liam Eichenberg

    Apr 20, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Rivals Rivals

    While the Blue-Gold game captured most of the headlines this weekend, the biggest victory for Brian Kelly was over Urban Meyer on the recruiting trail. On Sunday, touted Ohio offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg committed to the Irish, just hours after leaving an unofficial visit to Columbus.

  3. Five things we learned: Gold 36, Blue 34

    Apr 18, 2015, 3:40 PM EDT

    Malik Zaire, John Turner, Jarrett Grace Malik Zaire, John Turner, Jarrett Grace

    On a perfect day in South Bend, Notre Dame capped off spring practice with a perfect Blue-Gold game. Let’s go over the five things we learned in the defense’s 36-34 victory.

  4. Stream the Blue-Gold game live

    Apr 18, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT

    Everett Golson

    You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to stream the 86th annual Blue-Gold game.

  5. Pregame Six Pack: Finishing spring practice strong

    Apr 18, 2015, 10:13 AM EDT

    William Fuller, Julian Whigham, Durell Eskridge William Fuller, Julian Whigham, Durell Eskridge

    It’s a spring game everybody can get behind, as Notre Dame’s guaranteed to end this Saturday a winner. With the Blue-Gold game taking place on the LaBar Practice Fields, let’s get ready with the Pregame Six Pack.

  6. Blue-Gold game: Stream it here live

    Apr 18, 2015, 12:38 AM EDT

    Malik Zaire

    With Notre Dame’s annual spring game kicked out of the stadium with massive renovations underway, the Irish are taking to the LaBar practice fields to play on Saturday. But NBCSN will be there to broadcast, and the livestream of the game is also available for you.

  7. Talking through the Blue-Gold game

    Apr 17, 2015, 12:55 AM EDT

    Malik Zaire Malik Zaire

    With the Blue-Gold game set for Saturday afternoon on NBCSN, spring practice comes to an end with a rare opportunity to see Notre Dame faceoff against itself in a live scrimmage. Keith & JJ talk about some of the spring game’s storylines.

  8. With roster still in flux, Kelly plans on being at 85 by Texas

    Apr 16, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    For the first time in over a decade, Notre Dame has a roster crunch. As Notre Dame’s fifth-year candidates submit their applications to the university, Brian Kelly plans on moving forward and using every minute he has to figure out his roster.

  9. Blue-Gold Game: Rules and Format for 86th annual spring game

    Apr 15, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    Louis Nix, Steve Elmer

    Notre Dame released the official rules and format for the 86th annual Blue-Gold game. As the LaBar Practice Fields transform to house an intimate live viewing audience, an elite group of recruits and a NBCSN television production, let’s get the basics down as we begin to dig deeper into the spring finale.

  10. Quarterbacks will be live during Blue-Gold game

    Apr 15, 2015, 12:13 PM EDT

    Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Getty Images

    With Notre Dame Stadium under construction, this was already going to be a different kind of Blue-Gold game. But when Brian Kelly announced that quarterbacks Everett Golson and Malik Zaire were going to be live for the first half, he confirmed it.

  11. Shamrock Series tickets could cost Boston College fans $25,000

    Apr 15, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT

    Steve Addazio Steve Addazio

    When Notre Dame plays Boston College this November in Fenway Park, tickets will be hard to come by. But for BC fans looking for a ticket through the Eagles’ athletic department, they better bring their savings accounts.

  12. Julian Okwara commits to Notre Dame

    Apr 14, 2015, 6:14 PM EDT

    Rivals Rivals

    2016 defensive end Julian Okwara committed to Notre Dame on Tuesday evening, following in the footsteps of his brother Romeo.

  13. Prosise emerging as playmaker at two positions

    Apr 14, 2015, 12:05 PM EDT

    C. J. Prosise C. J. Prosise

    Most thought C.J. Prosise spending spring practice working with the running backs was a contingency plan—finding a capable body to split carries with Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant. But Prosise has emerged as a true wildcard in the Irish offense, with Brian Kelly looking for new ways to get the football in the 220-pounder’s hands.

  14. Even without guarantee, Kelly expects Golson to return next season

    Apr 13, 2015, 11:49 AM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Brian Kelly can’t be sure that Everett Golson will be here in 2015. But after 25 years of coaching college football, Notre Dame’s head coach feels like Golson’s actions are speaking for themselves.

  15. Notre Dame mailbag: Consistency, the D and a fair QB competition

    Apr 12, 2015, 1:29 PM EDT

    Brian Van Gorder Brian Van Gorder

    With a big scrimmage on Saturday to get to and a Sunday at Augusta around the corner, let’s get to some mailbag questions.

  16. Grace opens up about the long road back

    Apr 11, 2015, 3:09 PM EDT

    Jarrett Grace Jarrett Grace

    When Jarrett Grace broke his leg in four places, the linebacker’s career nearly ended. Eighteen months later, Grace is back on the field, and back a part of the master plans for the Irish defense.

  17. Irish eye key OL recruit Liam Eichenberg this weekend

    Apr 10, 2015, 12:03 PM EDT

    247 Sports 247 Sports

    Round one of Notre Dame vs. Ohio State went to the Irish, when Ohio native and coveted 2016 OL recruit Tommy Kraemer committed to the Irish last fall. Round two appears to be coming to a close as both the Irish and Buckeyes battle for blue-chip lineman Liam Eichenberg.

  18. Jaylon Smith cross-training opens up linebacker log jam

    Apr 9, 2015, 1:35 PM EDT

    Notre Dame v Arizona State Getty Images

    As Notre Dame’s defensive coaches try to deal with their latest champagne problem, linebacker Jaylon Smith seems like a lone constant. He’s not coming off the field.

  19. Spring football mailbag: Now Open

    Apr 9, 2015, 12:01 PM EDT

    New Mailbox

    Drop your questions below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  20. Irish QB battle with (understandably) head into fall camp

    Apr 9, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Wednesday, Brian Kelly confirmed what just about every Notre Dame football fan already knew: The quarterback battle between Everett Golson and Malik Zaire will head into fall camp.