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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Roster Review | Offensive Line

March 1, 2024
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With Joe Alt and Blake Fisher off to the NFL along with Zeke Correll transferring and Andrew Kristofic ending his football career, it’s a bit of a rebuilding year on the offensive line for Notre Dame.

It’s one of the reasons why O-line coach Joe Rudolph has got a challenging task ahead of him this spring. There are six players returning who started a game last season, but there still is a lot to figure out in terms of who replaces the two tackles and who ends up starting at the three interior positions.

Total snaps returning

They are returning 2,080 snaps overall, but only 242 of those are at offensive tackle. It was the inverse last year when they had several candidates at guard who had barely played for the Irish.

The snaps that matter at tackle were Charles Jagusah and Tosh Baker playing 61 snaps each in the bowl against Oregon State. It said a lot about what Rudolph projects for Jagusah that he went from redshirt to earning the start at left tackle in that game.

Pat Coogan (761) started every game last season at left guard (761) and Rocco Spindler (559) started every game at right guard before injuring his knee at the end of the Clemson game.

That injury opened up an opportunity for Billy Schrauth (257), who started the final three games of the season in addition to playing 25 snaps against Louisville.

Correll and Kristofic were both injured against Clemson and Ashton Craig (238) took full advantage of that. He more than held his own to close out that game and started alongside Schrauth to end the season.

Notable metrics

There isn’t enough to highlight from what we saw from Jagusah and Baker in the Sun Bowl, but the interior players played enough to give us some insight on them in pass protection.

In true pass sets, Coogan and Spindler ranked 123rd and 124th out of Power 5 guards in pass block efficiency (percentage they didn’t allow a pressure, sack, or hit on the quarterback). That’s clearly not good enough.

Coogan really struggled against Duke and Clemson, allowing seven pressures in each of those games. Spindler had issues with consistency in each game. His misses were often loud misses.

Their performance was a massive drop off from Jarrett Patterson and Josh Lugg, the starting guards in 2022. It’s why neither Coogan or Spindler should be locked in as returning starters heading into spring. They need to go up a level.

Additions

Offensive tackle Guerby Lambert is the top rated prospect from Notre Dame’s 2024 O-line class, but he won’t arrive on campus until June. It’s possible he could get into the mix at tackle then.

Peter Jones, Styles Prescod, and Anthonie Knapp are on campus now as early enrollees. Each of them are likely to redshirt this fall. Prescod projects to play offensive tackle and Jones and Knapp look set to compete at guard and center.

Spring competition

Woo, there should be a lot of competition all around up front. We’ll see if Jagusah is entrenched as the present and future at left tackle or if someone like Aamil Wagner can push there. Wagner took all of his reps at right tackle last year and there big question surrounding him has had to do with physical development.

Wagner at the very least should be in the mix with Baker for the right tackle job. Baker earned the start in the bowl game, but still has plenty to prove.

The dark horse is Sullivan Absher, who redshirted last fall. He’s a massive individual who physically looks similar to Mike McGlinchey. Absher came to Notre Dame extremely inexperienced in pass protection, so the progress he’s made there will likely determine if he’s truly competing there or not this year.

Through two years, we haven’t seen enough from Ty Chan to suggest he’ll be pushing anyone at tackle. Not every offensive lineman has the same timeline, though. Baker is an evidence of that. Chan will need to take a big leap this spring.

It’s going to be very interesting at guard. Spindler may be able to return to practice after recovering from his knee injury. If he does, it will be him, Coogan, and Schrauth battling it out for two spots.

Sam Pendleton shouldn’t be counted out, though. ISD’s Matt Freeman has reported that Pendleton has turned heads in the weight room this winter and he very well could throw his hat into the ring with that top group.

It’s less likely we’ll see that from Chris Terek. He had the most work to do out of all the freshmen in terms of reshaping his body last fall.

It’s Craig’s job to lose at center with Correll and Kristofic now gone, but there’s always the possibility that Coogan slides there to compete as well. He had mostly worked at center his first two years on campus.

Joe Otting might be the most intriguing interior lineman to watch this spring. He’s one of the most athletic O-line prospects they have signed in recent years, but needed to add significant weight to play at the college level. It appears he has done that and he could surprise some people over the next couple of months.

There’s plenty of talent available on the roster. The key will be getting that talent to blossom and fitting the right pieces together to make this the kind of offensive line that is expected at Notre Dame.

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