Notre Dame midterm grades: Offensive line

Notre Dame midterm grades: Offensive line
October 11, 2013, 5:00 pm
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Despite protecting a less-than-mobile quarterback, Notre Dame's offensive line has allowed just four sacks through six games, the seventh-lowest total among FBS teams. Part of that comes from Rees' ability to get Notre Dame's pass protection into the right looks (i.e., moving a running back around to pick up a blitzing defender), but it's a number that wouldn't be that low without a good offensive line.

There have been a few hiccups -- most notably, the generally-stout duo of Zack Martin and Chris Watt whiffing on what coach Brian Kelly called a "simple" stunt against Oklahoma, leading to an early pick-six. First-time center Nick Martin has been whistled for a few snap infractions, and is someone who Kelly pointed to as needing to put work in during the bye week.

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Run blocking hasn't been a strong suit for the unit, either, as the line has struggled at times to block against loaded boxes for a unit of running backs that hasn't done itself any favors.

Overall, it's a unit filled with talent -- one that includes freshman Steve Elmer, whose size and versatility make him a solid backup at all four tackle/guard positions -- that's good at picking up "exotic" blitzes, as Kelly put it. There's still room for improvement in terms of run blocking and penalties, but with Martin and right tackle Ronnie Stanley getting more experience those are areas that could improve in the second half.

Position midterm grade: B-

More midterm grades: Quarterbacks, running backs, receivers