Skip to main content

Notre Dame Spring Preview: Guard and Center

Breaking down the Notre Dame guard and center positions heading into the 2024 spring
  • Author:
  • Updated:

Notre Dame technically enters the 2024 spring with a depth chart that has at least one new starter, and likely two new starters, but it's a unit we've seen before. After a season of un-and-down play inside, the one thing we can be certain of is the play of the interior needs to get a lot better.

There will be position battles inside, young players trying to push their way onto the field, and veterans will look to improve and hold down their spots. It will be an interesting spring, but at the end of the day how well this group develops will have a significant impact on how good the offense will be in 2024.


2024 Spring Depth Chart - Guard-Center


Expectations were high for Wisconsin native Billy Schrauth the minute he committed to Notre Dame, and now it's time for those expectations to be met. An injury kept the former Top 100 recruit from doing much as a freshman, but he seemed poised to win a starting job last spring. He ended spring as the top player at left guard, but when fall camp came line coach Joe Rudolph had inserted Pat Coogan into the lineup at left guard.

Schrauth saw very little action during the first 10 games of the season, playing just 76 snaps in the first 10 games. An injury to then starter Rocco Spindler opened up an opportunity for Schrauth to start the final three games. He was solid in his first start against Wake Forest, but his game got better and better the next two weeks and he finished the season on a very strong note. 

In the three games with Schrauth in the starting lineup (along with Ashton Craig), Notre Dame averaged 479.7 yards per game, 7.4 yards per play, 251.3 rushing yards per game, and 6.0 yards per carry. Is that all because of Schrauth? Of course not, but the physical play of the interior of the line absolutely played a big part of that. 

Schrauth is a physical run blocker and a quality athlete, and the more experience he got, and the more comfortable he got, the better he played. When Schrauth is on his game he can drive defenders off the ball, work well to the second level, and he's solid in movement runs as well. He has the potential to be a dominant run blocker up the middle if he can use his past experience to play with more confidence, work his feet through contact and be more assignment correct.

If Schrauth is the player I think he is, we'll see it during his junior season. He'll become a bigger force in the run game, improve his pass blocking and provide the Irish line with a dominant interior player for stretches of the season. Notre Dame could really use a star caliber player to emerge inside, and Schrauth has that kind of talent and potential. If he doesn't take a jump this spring he'll have to once again battle to hold onto a starting job.


There will be plenty of talk about the talented young players, but Notre Dame's veteran guards need to improve their game as well. It shouldn't really matter to fans who starts, the key should be that whoever wins a starting job is someone who earned it with outstanding play. If that means the veterans still hold down spots because they made big jumps, fine. The concern is that line coaches have a tendency to over-value experience at the expense of potential, which keeps the potential from gaining the necessary experience.

Notre Dame's most experienced returner is Pat Coogan, who won the starting left job last season and then started every game at left guard. He had some good moments, including a strong performance against Ohio State, but overall Coogan had a rough first season in the starting lineup. He battled inside, but Coogan didn't move his feet well enough to perform at a high enough level throughout the season. 

For Coogan, he'll need to do a couple of things a lot better this season if he's going to not only hold onto a starting job, but more importantly to play well enough for the left guard position to not be a liability. Coogan needs to work on not having such a wide base, driving his feet through contact and he'll need to sustain blocks better in the run game.

Where Coogan struggled most is in pass pro. According to PFF, Coogan allowed 25 hurries last season and allowed 8 hits + sacks on the quarterback. For context, Notre Dame's starting guards in 2022 (Jarrett Patterson, Josh Lugg) combined for just 21 pressures and three hits + sacks on the quarterback. The film tells that same story, and if Coogan doesn't improve in pass pro, and he's still the starter, the Irish offense will have similar issues in 2024 that it had in 2023, which is the quarterback not feeling comfortable enough to really be firm in the pocket.

Spindler was on pace for almost an identical pass pro season to Coogan before he was injured. He allowed 15 pressures in 10 games and allowed seven hits + sacks on the quarterback in 10 games. Pass pro is without question the area where Spindler needs to make the biggest jump.

Spindler's lows last season were the lowest of any starter, which is concerning, and he'll need to be a far, far more consistent player. This is especially true when it comes to moving his feet and not being so heavy footed with his technique. 

That's the bad news. The good news is Spindler's highs last season were impressive. He's a massive blocker that can get really good movement at the point of attack when he keeps his pads low, drives his feet and is playing under control. During the spring he'll need to be a more consistent player and continue improving his footwork, especially his ability to change direction without losing balance. 

Notre Dame needs at least one of the two veterans to really break out this spring to at the very least provide really good depth. If both can use their 2023 experience to improve their game I'll feel a lot better about interior this fall. The reason is if they will once again start, but the play of the interior will be better. If they don't start, but still play better, it means the interior will have a chance to be outstanding. 

If Schrauth locks down one of the starting jobs, the question then is what does Notre Dame do with Coogan and Spindler. Do they let them battle for one of the two jobs? Would that mean moving Spindler to left guard to push Coogan, or perhaps Notre Dame moves Schrauth to left guard and has both Coogan and Spindler fighting over right guard. It's one of the questions I have about the spring.


An injury to former starter Zeke Correll opened up an opportunity for Ashton Craig to start the final three games of the 2023 season, and Craig's play in those starts played a key role in Correll deciding to transfer after the season. It is now Craig's job, which means the pressure is now on him to become the anchor of the line.

Craig is an athletic center that has impressive natural strength, and now that he enters his third season he should have much-improved weight room strength as well. Sophomore to junior jumps tend to be the biggest for linemen when it comes to physicality and strength, so Craig is entering the period where his game should really take off. Craig was good in his three starts, so if he makes a jump he'll have a chance to be an outstanding player.

Of course, that jump might not happen. Not every player makes that jump, so it's still a question about whether or not Craig will get stronger, make the necessary technical improvements, and be a more impactful blocker at a very important position for the offense. Being an impactful center is also about mastering the offense and making all the necessary calls, and that's an area where I am most confident in Craig making improvements.

The spring will give us a chance to see if Craig is poised to make that kind of jump. If he is we should see it this spring. We should see Craig being more assignment correct, more effective getting movement in the run game and taking control of the line. 


There is a lot of depth up the middle, and the ideal scenario for Notre Dame is that some of those young players really step up this spring. At the very least improvement from the young players will give the Irish depth and force the veteran players to raise their level of play. If the veterans don't step up it makes it imperative that some of the younger more talented players really make jumps and force their way onto the field.

Sophomore Sam Pendleton is a big, physical lineman who looked good in limited snaps last season. He's an advanced technician for his age and he plays with a nasty streak. Pendleton has spent time at left and right guard so far, and he's the first young player I'm going to keep an eye on this spring in regard to pushing the veteran players. I'd be a bit surprised if Pendleton simply won a starting job this spring, but the ideal scenario is that he plays well enough to at least make it a battle when the team gets back at it in the fall.

Junior Ty Chan has finally moved inside, and he'll get his chance to make a push this spring as well. Chan never looked comfortable at tackle, so the move inside could give him a chance to actually make some noise. He is a big, physical blocker, and he should fit well into the zone schemes. If he's ever going to make noise at Notre Dame we should start to see that this spring.

Notre Dame has three young players also on the roster, including freshman guard Peter Jones, sophomore guard Christopher Terek and sophomore center Joe Otting. Of those three, Otting has the best chance to make some noise this spring. He's already listed as the backup center, and Otting has shown impressive athleticism and toughness early in his career. There's an outside chance that at some point Otting is too good not to play, which could result in him either moving to guard to battle for a starting job, or Otting being inserted at center and Craig moving out to guard. I'd be quite surprised if that happened this spring, but with how well Otting has performed so far it's at least worth discussing.

Be sure to check out the Irish Breakdown message board, the Champions Lounge

Irish Breakdown Content

2024 Scholarship Chart
2023 Football Schedule

Notre Dame 2024 Scholarship Offers

2024 Commit Rankings - Offense
2024 Commit Rankings - Defense

2024 Recruiting Class Grades - Offense
2024 Recruiting Class Grades - Defense


Become a premium Irish Breakdown member, which grants you access to all of our premium content and our premium message board! Click on the link below for more.


Be sure to stay locked into Irish Breakdown all the time!

Join the Irish Breakdown community!
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown YouTube channel
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown podcast on iTunes
Follow me on Twitter: @CoachD178
Like and follow Irish Breakdown on Facebook

Sign up for the FREE Irish Breakdown daily newsletter