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Losing the Trenches?

When talking about Notre Dame's strengths heading into the season the offensive and defensive lines were the groups expected to lead this team in overall production. With an experienced crew leading the charge on the and longtime coach and former Irish talent builder Harry Hiestand returning to coach the o-line, it seemed in order for both sides of the line to build off of a successful second half of the season. It seemed like nearly a given that the running attack would be the driving force of this offense because of the production up front and the defensive front would be the tone setters on an equally dominant defense. So far from what we've seen, that's been far from the case.

Offensive Line

Harry Hiestand's guys haven't exactly lived up to the high expectations held throughout the offseason. Since Matt Salerno's circus catch in the second quarter we really haven't seen much firepower from the offense and a lot of that falls on the offensive line. With a depleted wide receiver group, the running attack was going to have to be the leading part of this offense but instead has been rendered useless by the ineffectiveness from the offensive line.

Taking a look at the Ohio State game, Notre Dame had a total of 30 rushing attempts from four different guys (Buchner 11, Estime 9, Tyree 6, Diggs 4) with only 76 yards to show from it. On average that's 2.5 yards per rush.

Now plenty of this comes at the blame of Tommy Rees, whose play calling has proven to be very questionable, but there's clearly some disconnect here that just hasn't been fixed.

Moving onto Week 2 against Marshall, Captain Jarrett Patterson returned to the line where the Irish only mustered 130 yards on 37 carries against a Marshall team that finished 105th in rushing defense last year.

Sure the offensive line took a little while to get up to speed but with the returning production along with Hiestand it's simply puzzling to watch.

Cal's front has looked relatively average against the run thus far. Let's see how things play out this week in terms of performance on the run. I feel that I don't know what my Keys to the Game can be anymore after I emphasized heavily on the run game before the Ohio State game.

Defensive Line

The other side of the line has been one that's struggled as the game progresses. Well, apart from last week I guess.

During the first 3 quarters of the Ohio State game the middle of the line was able to make CJ Stroud uncomfortable which forced him to make some difficult throws in tough situations.

But that final drive against the Buckeyes still looms. 95 yards that took off a massive chunk of time and what sealed it for Ohio State. It’s tough to blame the defense for that after not being able to get off the field all game, but they haven’t seemed right since.

The following week against Marshall saw the Irish giving up 163 yards to one man (Rasheen Ali) and over 200 rushing overall.

There was a lot left to be desired after that game for both sides but the defensive line’s ability to make that initial stop at the line proved to be costly in the late stretch of the game.

People may forget as it was overshadowed by the pick six, but Marshall marched right down the field after starting with the ball inside their own 10 to take the lead.

Maybe the defensive line isn’t the biggest issue out there right now(because it isn’t). But it’s worth noting these inconsistencies. Any improvement can always go a long way-especially with this talent.


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The Irish Tribune
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