Thursday, March 29, 2007

Irish O-Line Taking Shape?

I don't know about you, but I am almost completely frustrated by the near-total lockdown on actual information coming out of Notre Dame's Spring football practices. As I sit here and watch the on-line video provided by Fighting Irish All-Access I ask myself: Why is a grown man sitting here watching bad video of college football players stretching? But I watch anyway because that is all there is to do for now. NCAA basketball isn't any fun anymore since my brackets imploded. (Way to go Kansas!). Baseball has yet to start in earnest. The NBA is unwatchable. So we beg for tidbits from Spring football practice.

As we watch the video we see that the defensive backs and linebackers can catch balls thrown right at them with no offensive players on the field. We are impressed by the running backs' ability to run over small bags without tripping and falling (most of the time). We see how polished all five quarterbacks look handing the ball off. Yes, I said five quarterbacks. Who the heck is #16? But we don't get to see any of the quarterbacks actually drop back and let it fly. We don't get to see if the offensive line can block anybody, or if the receivers can catch. Can the defensive backs cover worth a darn? No way to tell. So we wait for the full open practice on Saturday (can you say "special teams day"?) and the Blue-Gold game. And we hope against hope that the team is making good progress.

In reading the tea leaves available, it does sound like the offensive line may be taking shape, at least as far as an initial version of the starting lineup goes. The recent All-Access interview with Sam Young suggests strongly that Young will be the starting right tackle (duh!) and that he will be playing beside his old high school teammate Dan Wenger. So the right side shapes up as Sullivan at Center, Wenger at Guard, and Young at Tackle. Hopefully those guys can become a reliable trio on 3rd-down-and-2. On the left side, it looks like Paul Duncan has initially established himself as the starter. Who will be the left guard? There seem to be a lot of candidates. has Mike Turkovich penciled in. Eric Olsen is in the mix. Matt Carufel has also been getting some mention as having made big strides in the off-season.

The competition is no doubt fierce. And those guys better step up now, or they could get elbowed aside in the Fall when guys like Emeka Nwankwo show up.

Who do you like on the O-line?

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