Bye Week Grade: Notre Dame’s Offensive Line


Aug. 4, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive guard Chris Watt (66) offensive tackle Zack Martin (70) center Braxston Cave (52) and center Mike Golic, Jr. (57) walk into practice at the LaBar Practice Complex. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Zack Martin

The leader of this veteran offensive line and said to be a high round draft pick ranging from rounds 2-5. Coming back for his senior year he has led the offensive line to a good start so far this season. He has started 30 games in his career at Notre Dame, 28 at left tackle and 2 at right tackle. Protecting the quarterback’s blind side as the left tackle is never easy, but he is the man for the job. Pass blocking is his forte, using great form and balance. Martin’s run blocking while good could use some tweaking since he can sometimes get out of technique by having too much weight forward leading to a missed block, or a poor block.
Overall Grade: B+

Minor improvements will come as the season progresses for Martin. Look for him to improve his run blocking and sealing of the defensive end, which will lead to longer runs.

Chris Watt

A solid offensive guard that can move, at 6’3’’ 310 pounds a good sized guard that has a lot of game experience in his career. Watt has started 17 games, but has seen action in 30 games in his career. Good run blocker, especially when he can go to the next level and block linebackers. When bull rushed he can be exposed at times, but he holds his own and rarely gets off balance.

Overall Grade: A-

He rarely makes technique mistakes, which makes him reliable. The one thing he could work on is blocking a bull rush from a defensive tackle.

Braxton Cave

Good all-around lineman that has missed some time due to injury his freshman and senior year. Cave is a 5th year senior after starting 9 games last year he suffered a season ending injury. Has seen playing time in 39 games in his career (including special teams) and has started 26 games of those games at center. It is hard to find a consistent flaw in Cave’s game, which is why he is the best lineman the Irish have on the team. His compact size, help him combine strength and speed to succeed in both pass and run blocking.

Overall Grade: A-

Being the most consistent offensive lineman so far earns him the grade of A. Cave will keep getting better as the season goes on and could be the most valuable offensive lineman Notre Dame has.

Mike Golic Jr.

Was the backup center in 2010 and 2011, in which he saw playing time as a starter last year when Cave went down with an injury. Golic a 5th year senior has started 8 games over his career and has played in 31 games. To this point in the season he has been the most inconsistent lineman on the starting squad. He can often get off balance and lunge at a defender turning out into a bad play. His run blocking is above average, but he struggles at times with pass blocking.

Overall Grade: B-

As Golic gets more consistent over the season it will turn out great for Notre Dame. Working on his footwork and balance will help him become more consistent when blocking for the pass or run.

Christian Lombard

The one and only Junior on the starting offensive line. Also, Notre Dame’s biggest starting lineman at 6’5’’ 309 pounds. Has played in 17 games and has started 4 at right tackle. Can struggle at times getting to the defensive end on hook blocks, but has played decently well so far this season. Lombard can get caught being too high, which restricts his movement especially the quickness of it. Has much to improve, but these are the first four games he has ever started.

Overall Grade: B-

Struggling at times and bad technique earns him the B-. As an offensive lineman it is all about consistency. I have always said that linemen never get recognized for doing something well, but always get pointed out when doing something wrong.

Slap the Sign Grade: B+

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