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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame OL Growing in Confidence Heading Into Top 25 Clash

September 29, 2023

Notre Dame’s offensive line shined bright against Ohio State last weekend as the group didn’t allow a sack against the Buckeyes hyped pass rush. The Irish running backs consistently found room to run as Audric Estimè averaged 5.0 ypc and Jeremiyah Love checked in at 7.1 ypc. 

The game didn't fall in Notre Dame’s favor and there is plenty to improve, including in short-yardage situations, but Joe Rudolph’s group also gained confidence from the performance. 

“We played really hard,” stated center Zeke Correll. “We played really hard football. We played to level of the standard. We’re playing five as one, playing together. No sacks, a few pressures, one or two against an elite defense that has high-level ball players at every position. Yeah, we’re proud of the way we played.” 

Rico Flores Jr. caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter to cap off an impressive 96-yard drive where Notre Dame ran the ball seven times. 

Notre Dame needed a score trailing 10-7 and they finished the drive, which is something the Irish can build on moving forward. 

“We just know we have a bunch of gritty guys on the offense and we’ve got a bunch of guys that are highly competitive,” explained Correll. “They know what it takes to understand that each play is just as important as the last and just as important as the next. That’s the only one you can control.

“When you go into a drive like that with the mindset that it’s a got-to-have-it situation, you have to put points on the board. You kind of feel like you can’t be denied. That’s what our mindset was in that drive.” 

Entering the season, the country knew about Notre Dame’s offensive tackles, but unknown centered around the guard play. First it was who would be the guards, but Pat Coogan and Rocco Spindler won the jobs in a relatively quick fashion. 

The next step was performing in games as neither had a ton of experience entering the 2023 campaign. 

Correll has been impressed with how they’ve grown through five games and believes Notre Dame’s best football is ahead. 

“I would say Rocco had his best game on Saturday against a really good opponent, especially in his pass sets,” Correll said,. “He really worked on that all throughout last week in practice. He was really working on his pass sets, getting out of his stance, keeping his staggers, stuff like that. 

“Coogan has done a really good job in the run, making sure he has his eyes in the right place. Combo blocks and when teams blitz, it’s fast-flowing. You’ve got to make sure your body is in the right position. He’s done a really good job of getting better at that.” 

The loss to Ohio State probably stung a bit more for Correll, but the Cincinnati native believes the team has put it past them and will be more than ready to go this weekend at No. 17 Duke. 

“No one’s talking about it,” said Correll. “No one’s talking about it anymore. Everyone’s talking about our opponent. I’ve spent all my time with the guys on the offense and they’re talking about their matchups, what they can do to help this offense succeed this week, our game plan going into the game. Stuff like that so our minds are in the right place.” 

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