10 Things that will define the 2021 Notre Dame football season
10. How Prepared the Offensive Line Is
At this point, we all know that the consistent strength of Notre Dame football during the Brian Kelly era has been the offensive line. The Irish were solid on the offensive line before the 2012-23 BCS Championship Game against Alabama, then, when they got run through by the Tide, Kelly made a conscious effort to be as strong on the line as possible.
Now, there are more questions on the offensive line that haven’t been there for a long time. The only returning starter is Jarrett Patterson, who until recently, no one knew if he would still be playing center, or moving out to tackle. To fill in the gaps, Notre Dame is likely to use Josh Lugg and Zeke Correll, who both saw playing time last season but weren’t starters.
The Irish also brought in a graduate transfer in Cain Madden, and the former Marshall guard was an All-American last season. Finally, the biggest question mark, true freshman Blake Fisher is going to start at left tackle.
There is plenty of talent on the offensive line, but this is a unit that needs to have great chemistry and work together well. This means communicating on assignments and calling out pressures. There isn’t any proof they can do that, yet. You also have to have some concerns about Blake Fisher.
He is, by all accounts, the next in a long line of great Irish tackles. At the same time, an 18-year-old freshman and a 22 year old senior are world’s different physically. Years in a college weight program matter, and that could lead to some issues.
In a lot of ways, Notre Dame’s season is going to hinge on how well this unit comes together and can handle this stress.