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Bye week grades: Offensive line

9/27/2012

OFFENSIVE LINE

Grade: A-minus

Summary: When asked before the season what he knows and likes about his team, coach Brian Kelly said that it's a good feeling knowing you will probably win the battle in the trenches every time out. The Purdue game, in which Notre Dame surrendered five sacks to a standout defensive line, drew some cause for concern, but the Irish offensive line has been top-notch in three other contests, helping to break in a new quarterback while opening crucial holes late in contests to help the Irish run their way to victory. Notre Dame rushed for 293 yards in a season-opening win against Navy, paved the way for a 12-play, 84-yard game-sealing drive at Michigan State and allowed Theo Riddick to rush for 40 yards on 12 carries over the game's final two drives in a win over Michigan. The numbers, outside of Week 1, do not jump off the page, but the line has been instrumental in lifting the Irish to victory in three of their four wins.

Backups: Tackle Tate Nichols has been inactive so far after dealing with a preseason right knee subluxation, forcing true freshman Ronnie Stanley into the fold late against Navy. Redshirt freshman Nick Martin is a valuable and versatile second-team piece. But the Irish have not had to call upon their reserves much through the first-third of the season.

Previous report cards:

Quarterbacks

Defensive line