When Harry Heistand took the Offensive Line position at Notre Dame, it was unclear who was coming to South Bend. Was he the coach who was mainly a failure at Tennessee or the coach who produced Pro Bowl players for the Chicago Bears? So far, it appears that Notre Dame has landed that later.
The Offensive Line was one of the more known quantities coming into Fall Camp this year. Notre Dame had three returning starters on the left side of the line and multiple players with experience who could vie for playing time for the remaining to positions.
The line is anchored by future 1st-round pick Zack Martin who weighs in at 6’4” 304. The 2012 Outland Watch List player was named one of the captains of this year’s team. Protecting Everett Golson’s (or whoever the Quarterback is) blindside will be his first primary goal this season. Martin should be one of the best at doing this in the nation.
Moving left to right on the line land us at Chris Watt who is beginning his second year as a starting linemen. Watt also played sparingly in 2010 as a back. Watt should be a solid anchor at the Left Guard position. Playing next to Martin for another year should only make him a more potent player.
At Center is Braxton Cave who is recovering from season-ending in 2011. He has made a full recovery to be the starter for his third year. Cave originally started in 2010 against Purdue. Cave is very important for the Notre Dame Offensive Line. Last year, after the loss of Cave, the rushing attack fell off drastically. He is a veteran player who helps get the Irish in the correct protections. This will be extremely important for young Quarterback Everett Golson.
Mike Golic, Jr. is the making his debut at Right Guard after starting at Center following the injury to Braxton Cave. One of the knocks on Golic was that he lacked the strength that was needed to be great at this level. However, he has addressed that in the off-season. Golic should be prepared for an excellent 2012 season.
Rounding out the starting 5 is first year starter Christian Lombard. Lombard played in all 13 games last year as a Special Teams player and back up tackle. Lombard was heavily recruited. At 6’5”, 309, Lombard should be prepared to make a huge impact this season.
Heistand has brought a blue collar attitude to this team that was not here before. Under Ed Warinner, Notre Dame had a very good Offensive Line. However, the nasty may have been lacking. Warinner is more of a thinking man’s coach. Heistand is the type of coach that would be in the “trenches” with his players. The players have definitely bought into what Coach Heistand and his program. That should show itself this season. Notre Dame should run the ball more effectively. More importantly, they should be able to run the ball when it matters and when the game is on the line. Notre Dame may have one of the best Offensive Lines in the country.