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. Kelly: Less clarity on FSU’s “blown coverage”

    Oct 19, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    Notre Dame at Florida State Notre Dame at Florida State

    Upon second inspection, Brian Kelly hasn’t gained any clarity on the offensive pass interference call that took a game-winning touchdown off the board. While the head coach has moved on, with the Irish getting some much-needed time off during fall break, Kelly’s opinion on the play — now that he’s realized the penalty was on Will Fuller, not C.J. Prosise — is even more muddled.

  2. Five things we learned: Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:37 AM EDT

    Jameis Winston,Everett Golson Jameis Winston,Everett Golson

    With 13 seconds left, Corey Robinson caught the 4th-down pass from Everett Golson and walked into the end zone, all but uncovered. And for a moment, it looked like Notre Dame pulled off a win for the ages.

  3. Live blog — Notre Dame vs. Florida State

    Oct 18, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

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

    It’s finally here. Not just the biggest game of the year, but the ultimate test for this Notre Dame football team. Entering Doak Campbell Stadium against the defending national champs and Heisman Trophy winner, we’ll see if the Irish have what it takes to upset the Seminoles.

  4. FSU Mailbag: Just in time

    Oct 18, 2014, 6:08 PM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Michigan v Notre Dame

    With the big showdown just a few hours away, let’s get to the mailbag questions.

  5. Pregame Six Pack: Showdown with the Seminoles

    Oct 17, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    It wasn’t too long ago that an undefeated Notre Dame team was about to head into some of the most hostile territory in all of college football. A double-digit underdog for a primetime, ESPN game, many expected Brian Kelly’s flawed, but surprisingly undefeated squad to be no match for their opponent. Then the Irish pulled away in a tight game and beat Oklahoma 30-13.

  6. Hardy could return to practice after bye week

    Oct 16, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Navy v Notre Dame Getty Images

    We’ve heard from four of the five suspended Notre Dame football players, with DaVaris Daniels, Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams all acknowledging that they’re out for the season. But Brian Kelly gave an update on safety Eilar Hardy’s status, opening a window for his return to the roster.

  7. Irish add Indianapolis LB recruit Asmar Bilal

    Oct 16, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

    247Sports.com / Blue & Gold 247Sports.com / Blue & Gold

    Notre Dame’s recruiting train keeps rolling with the Irish accepting the commitment of Indianapolis linebacker Asmar Bilal. The Ben Davis product chose Notre Dame over Michigan in a recruitment that seemed to have the Wolverines in the driver’s seat until the football season started.

  8. Golson set to challenge Seminole defense

    Oct 16, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

    Stanford v Notre Dame Getty Images

    It’s clear that Florida State’s defense is showing the appropriate respect for Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Just look at who they’re comparing him to.

  9. Florida State Mailbag: Now Open

    Oct 15, 2014, 7:46 PM EDT

    New Mailbox

    Questions below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  10. Kendall Moore announces his departure from Notre Dame

    Oct 15, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT

    Notre Dame v Stanford Notre Dame v Stanford

    As expected, Kendall Moore took to Instagram yesterday and announced his departure from Notre Dame. The fifth-year linebacker was likely to play a reserve role for the Irish this season before the academic investigation took him off the field, ending his football career before his final season could start.

  11. And in that corner… The Florida State Seminoles

    Oct 15, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT

    Wake Forest v Florida State Getty Images

    The off-field drama can wait. The biggest game of the year awaits. Ben Jones of Warchant.com gives us an inside look at the Florida State Seminoles.

  12. Kelly excited for the opportunity to play Florida State (VIDEO)

    Oct 14, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    North Carolina v Notre Dame Getty Images

    While off-the-field issues have stolen plenty of headlines lately for both programs, Notre Dame and Florida State meet in a battle of Top Five teams that has the makings of a game of the year candidate.

  13. Door potentially open for Ishaq Williams to return in 2015

    Oct 14, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT

    USC v Notre Dame Getty Images

    While the news of DaVaris Daniels’ departure broke just minutes before Brian Kelly was set to hit the podium, the Irish head coach gave a significant update on his five suspended players during his Tuesday afternoon comments. Defensive end Ishaq Williams told his head coach that he wouldn’t play during the 2014 season. But Kelly left the door open that Williams might return and finish his eligibility in 2015.

  14. DaVaris Daniels done at Notre Dame

    Oct 14, 2014, 12:40 PM EDT

    BYU v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Another piece of finality has arrived in the ongoing suspensions of Notre Dame’s five football players. Wide receiver DaVaris Daniels will not return to Notre Dame.

  15. Big test ahead for Irish offensive line

    Oct 14, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT

    Notre Dame v Syracuse Notre Dame v Syracuse

    After an early-season reshuffling, Notre Dame’s offensive line will get its biggest test of the year on Saturday. The starting five in charge of protecting Everett Golson will have to go into hostile territory and take on Florida State’s star-studded defensive line.

  16. Despite the distractions, Winston plans to play against Notre Dame

    Oct 13, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Wake Forest v Florida State Getty Images

    Amidst a university disciplinary hearing and two damning media reports from Fox Sports and the New York Times, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has no intention of doing anything but playing football next weekend. The returning Heisman Trophy winner might have storm clouds surrounding him, but he says he’ll be on the field in Doak Campbell Stadium next weekend.

  17. The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. North Carolina

    Oct 13, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT

    North Carolina v Notre Dame Getty Images

    That the Irish took the Tar Heels’ best shot and still ended up victorious is worth something. Just what that something is might be defined as the games roll on.

  18. Irish get commitment from pass-rusher Bo Wallace

    Oct 12, 2014, 6:03 PM EDT

    Rivals.com Rivals.com

    On a Saturday where Notre Dame failed to get any sacks, the Irish landed a pass-rusher for the future. New Orleans’ Bo Wallace committed to the Irish on Sunday, announcing the decision on Twitter. Wallace and his parents were in South Bend this weekend for his official visit, taking in the North Carolina game and campus.

  19. Five things we learned: Notre Dame 50, North Carolina 43

    Oct 11, 2014, 10:16 PM EDT

    UNC at Notre Dame UNC at Notre Dame

    Every one of the 80,000-plus bodies in Notre Dame Stadium knew that North Carolina was ready to spring a trap on Notre Dame. But wouldn’t you know it, the Irish stepped in it any way.

  20. Live Blog — Notre Dame vs. North Carolina

    Oct 11, 2014, 3:13 PM EDT

    Notre Dame v Syracuse Getty Images

    After a week filled with off-field distractions, Notre Dame takes the field with aims of getting to 6-0. Sandwiched between tough games with Stanford and Florida State, the Irish take on a 2-3 North Carolina team that’s yet to put together a complete game.