Notre Dame o-line quest: Cautionary tale emerges from transfer portal

Exploring Notre Dame's search to fortify the offensive line brings cautionary tales from the transfer portal.
Exploring Notre Dame's search to fortify the offensive line brings cautionary tales from the transfer portal. / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

It's no secret that the Notre Dame football team's most significant question mark, if not outright weakness, is its offensive line heading into the 2024 season. Nothing that happened in the Blue-Gold game a little over a week ago changed that. It's possible that the offensive line, especially the tackle, is an even more significant question mark for the Fighting Irish than they were before that scrimmage.

Amidst the concerns, there's a glimmer of hope as the Notre Dame football coaches are actively exploring options to bolster the offensive tackle position from the transfer portal. However, it's crucial to note that there's at least one name that has emerged recently, which the Irish might want to approach with caution for their own benefit.

After On3's Pete Nako reported that UCLA offensive tackle Bruno Fina was officially in the portal, some Irish backers hoped Notre Dame would go after him. Some recruiting analysts even believed he was worth big-time NIL money. 

Enhancing Notre Dame football's offensive line: Navigating transfer portal caution

However, when it comes to Fina, there's a definite catch. And some warning signs that point to Notre Dame football being bright about staying far away. Chief among those warning signs is that the offensive lineman scored the absolute worst grade among starting left tackles according to Pro Football Focus.

What's worse, he was shockingly bad against a pass rush. Overall, Fina had a PFF offensive grade of 37.3 over 790 snaps, which was also the worst offensive grade on the Bruins. 

Fina's run blocking wasn't good, but it was a run-of-the-mill 53.1 grade. But against a pass rush? Fina had a grade of just 16.2 for the season. That was worse (quite a bit worse actually) than several running backs for UCLA last year. Worse than several wide receivers. 

In total, Fina was credited with allowing 5 sacks, 11 quarterback hits and 26 quarterback hurries.

After watching a Notre Dame football team's offensive line that had two early NFL draftees in Joe Alt and Blake Fisher struggle at times, it's hard to imagine Bruno Fina being a fit for the Fighting Irish.