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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame OL Wants to Dominate Saturday's Fistfight

October 23, 2020

Saturday afternoon should be a classic old fashioned Midwest football game at Heinz Field as Pitt hosts Notre Dame. 

The week has centered around Pitt's defense despite the Panthers giving up more 30 or more points over the last three games and 16 plays over 20 yards. 

Notre Dame is fully aware Pitt will be up for the game and the Irish are focused on getting the ground game going early.

"Coach Rees does a really good job of scheming up runs for us so we can dominate the team that's in front of us," said Notre Dame offensive lineman Aaron Banks. "I think that's a huge part of it. He does a really good job with his scheme. 

"We have a lot of experience across all five positions. I think it allows us to dominate the teams in front of us and play as one." 

Banks and the Irish offensive line are preparing for a day full of tricks from the Pitt defense as Pat Narduzzi will throw the kitchen sink at the veteran group. 

"They have good players," explained Banks. "They're really strong up front and do a lot of things with blitzes and movement that make it hard for teams to move the ball.

"I think we have a really good scheme for them this week and we just want to go out and dominate every single play." 

The California native has also noticed some similarities to a familiar defense and one that might not be getting as much attention heading into this weekend. 

"I think they are kind of similar to our defense in that they play really hard," stated Banks. "I think it will be a good test for us to come out and play physical.

"It's going to be a hard game and it's going to be a fistfight."

The Irish offense moved the ball last weekend against Louisville, but failed to execute in the red zone and scored just 12 points. 

However, Notre Dame's offensive line took over the game as the offense took the final 7:55 off the clock to end the game. 

"I think that's just the strength of our offensive coordinator calling the right plays," Banks said of the game-ending drive. "He calls the plays and we execute them. He did a great job of calling plays that eat the clock up and help us move the ball." 

When it comes to Notre Dame, Banks has been a crucial part of the offensive line's success as he's improved his consistency in 2020. 

Banks also has shown his versatility NFL scouts love to see as he bumped from left guard to left tackle against Florida State for a little over a quarter when Liam Eichenberg left the game due to injury.

"I think having a childhood and going through high school playing a lot of basketball helped me have pretty good feet," Banks said. "They call me the Dancing Bear amongst the offensive line. 

"Having the background of basketball helps me with my versatility along the offensive line. Plus, going from left guard to left tackle isn't too much of a difference. I think switching sides would be a little more difficult, but as far as bumping out, we work on playing guard and tackle throughout camp and throughout the year for instances like where someone goes down." 

Yes, Banks is called the Dancing Bear. 

"Two years ago, I was playing right tackle behind Robert Hainsey and that was when I was kind of starting to figure it out and play better," Banks explained. "Chip Long started to call me the Dancing Bear. He loved that nickname and that's what he called me and called me that the whole season. It just kind of stuck."

And when it comes to his NFL future, Banks will have a decision to make in a few months as he'll be eligible to declare for the 2021 draft, but he's not talking about it in the present.

"We're just focused on Pitt right now." 

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