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Notre Dame Football

Josh Lugg Focused on Leading Notre Dame Offensive Line in 2021

April 22, 2021

It's never easy to replace a 30-game starter along the offensive line. 

Notre Dame is looking at replacing four starters who started at least 30 football games in the blue and gold as Liam Eichenberg, Tommy Kraemer, Robert Hainsey and Aaron Banks are gone. 

It's now on the shoulders of Dillan Gibbons, Josh Lugg and Jarrett Patterson to build the culture in the offensive line room and carry on the tradition of high-level production. 

Lugg and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees had a conversation before spring ball centered around leading a young offensive line room while also entrenching himself as a starter. 

It's tough to become an effective leader and be selfish to win the job, but Lugg has found success through 11 practices. 

"It's a gray line to be able to work and be like, 'Hey, I need to work with these younger guys, but I also need to understand that I need to get more reps for myself.' Not having Rob (Hainsey) there to be able to give that coaching, I have to have a better understanding of self-coaching myself so that I know if my hands are a little bit wider, whether it's in the middle of the play or after the play. 

"Just those little things, being able to understand how I need to balance between being a leader for the guys but also being a leader for myself and pushing myself to another level."

2020 was a challenging year for the offensive line as the injury bug struck Notre Dame. Jeff Quinn managed his line to get through the season by moving pieces around. 

Lugg played tackle, guard and center for the Irish, but also battled some back issues and he hopes a focus on losing weight will help eliminate any problems in 2021. 

"I lost a lot of weight," stated Lugg. "UNC, I played at 321, and in February, I was 291. That was a lot of weight that I cut really fast. Only lost a little bit of muscle through the Dexa and then I was able to put it back on over the next two months with (Matt) Balis and the nutrition staff to where I feel really comfortable right now at 300. 

"Now, my plan is how do I get to 305 or 310 to play at a healthy weight in the season. So how am I able to put on weight that's healthy for my back and for my body, so that I can move efficiently, that I don't feel like I'm carrying around any dead weight at all so that I'm my most athletic self when it comes to Florida State."

The weight loss should help with his health and his game, as more mobility is never a bad thing at guard or tackle. 

"I had a look at myself in the mirror and like maybe if I am a little bit lighter, I'm going to be able to move better and it's not going to be such a strain on my back," explained Lugg. "I think that really helped. I haven't had any issues come up at all now since the end of the season last year. 

"I feel strong. It's on the core, really at this point, if I can have a tight core, I feel that it's really improved on my back and being able to play and feel comfortable."

Eichenberg and Hainsey have stayed around South Bend to train for the NFL Draft and Lugg has connected with them to improve his game and the finer details of the position. 

"I feel like I'm moving a lot better, especially from last year, dropping down some weight," said Lugg. "Working with Liam and Robert and working with them in the film room, doing some extra stuff, being able to move and get my hands on you, using my length outside and also be able to communicate the defense to the rest of the offensive line. 

"When I'm out there, I am closest to the down and distance, so I can see that, echo it, know the situations and just be a more effective football player."

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