SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin knew he wasn't giving Alabama any classified information last December.
It was no secret Notre Dame leaned heavily on the left side of its offensive line -- comprised of tackle Zack Martin and guard Chris Watt -- last fall. The pair protected Everett Golson's blind side and carved out running lanes for Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, leading Chuck Martin to admit the obvious: He relied on Martin and Watt at a "ridiculous" rate.
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With Martin and Watt back for their graduate seasons, expect more of the same.
"It definitely gives us a lot of confidence, and it's a lot of pride we ran to the left side a lot," Watt said. "But it'll be nice this year, hopefully we can balance it out a bit, keep opposing defenses kind of on their toes, which will hopefully let us score some more points."
On the right side, Christian Lombard returns while right guard Mike Golic Jr. -- and center Braxston Cave -- has to be replaced. Martin's younger brother, Nick, entered preseason camp in position to win the No. 1 center job, while Conor Hanratty took most of the first-team snaps at right guard in spring practice.
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Coach Brian Kelly said last week he wasn't too concerned with quickly locking in a starting five along the line since it's such a tight-knit group.
"That group works so well together," Kelly said. "Boy, they do everything together. They hang out together. There's a continuity in that group that exists in their DNA as offensive linemen."
Martin and Watt are close off the field, too. Watt knew before anyone else that Martin was passing on entering the NFL Draft -- although it was because Martin signed an apartment lease to live with Watt (they also live with quarterback Tommy Rees and linebacker Dan Fox) for another year before making his decision known.
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Between Martin and Watt are 65 career starts. However ridiculous the rate may seem, that's a lot of experience on which Notre Dame can rely again this fall.
"It's going to be my third year starting with Zack. We're looking forward to it," Watt said. "There's a lot of good communication on that side, we play with a lot of intensity and we're looking forward to kind of getting after it (this week) and kind of bringing the whole offensive line together and start rolling in camp."