Grading The Notre Dame Offensive Line vs. Florida State

Handing out grades and providing analysis of the Notre Dame offensive line from the win over Florida State
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Notre Dame entered Sunday night with four new starters in the lineup, and the unit looked like a unit that had never played a game together. The offense put up 41 points and 431 yards despite an offensive line that allowed nine tackles for loss and four sacks.

Notre Dame's blockers had issues in both the run game and pass game. There were far too many assignment and communication mistakes that resulted in Florida State getting free runs at the backs and quarterback, and the offensive line spent far too much time in its own backfield. The inability to get any kind of push up front completely stalled out the run game.

Even more problematic is the fact that Florida State rarely blitzed the line, and there were far too many tackles for loss and sacks in instances where the Seminoles were attacking with just four defensive linemen. That is one of the more problematic aspects of the game, Florida State, a team Notre Dame racked up over 300 rushing yards on last season, completely flipped the script with a bunch of new starters of its own and dominated the Irish offensive line.

Overall Grade: D+

Let's look at the individual player grades and analysis.

JARRETT PATTERSON, CENTER

Grade: C-

Patterson looked incredibly rusty in his first game back after missing the final four games of 2020 season and all of spring practice. He had two bad snaps that resulted in losses, which drags down his grade. Some of that was to be expected, but Notre Dame needs to Patterson to quickly get back on track.

The veteran center struggled to get any kind of movement and his technique on zone schemes was sloppy. Patterson was often out of position and beat to the point of attack on the front line, and his struggles in this department were one of many reasons why the Irish backs had no room to run all night long.

Patterson didn't finish as well as I'm used to in the pass game either, which resulted in him giving up a couple of pressures. Where Patterson did look good was once he got to the second level in the run game.

JOSHUA LUGG, RIGHT TACKLE

Grade: C

Lugg had a strange game. He didn't have many "mistakes" or snaps where he got blown up, which plagued the rest of the line, but he didn't impress much either. Lugg didn't give up any true pressures but he also gave up way, way too much ground with his pass sets, which resulted in him getting knocked back too easily.

Lugg had two big mistakes in the run game that resulted in way too much penetration, but for the most part he was where he needed to be from an assignment standpoint. But again, even in those instances he got almost no movement in the run game and was a part of the line not getting anything going in the run game.

Notre Dame needs Lugg to be more patient in pass protection and more aggressive in the run game. Communication between him and the right guard also seemed off, which is something to expect in the opener but something that must get corrected in a hurry.

BLAKE FISHER, LEFT TACKLE

Grade: C

Fisher was arguably Notre Dame's most effective lineman prior to getting hurt late in the second quarter. Fisher used his exceptional size and length to handle his business, but like Lugg he wasn't physical or dominant. Fisher's footwork was a bit slow and he didn't finish off blocks the way he's capable of, but he was relatively assignment correct, which is both good and bad. It's good that the freshman was as sound as he was from an assignment standpoint, but also problematic that a freshman was arguably the most assignment correct player.

Fisher going down was disappointing, as the odds are good he would have only gotten better and better.

ZEKE CORRELL, LEFT GUARD

Grade: D

Correll was relatively assignment correct in the game but he was far too passive at the snap. He's only 295 pounds, so a player at his size cannot afford to be passive and catch linemen. When that happens he gets driven back, and we saw that throughout the game against Florida State. Correll got racked back far, far too often in the win.

The positive is that Correll did stay engaged for much of the night once he did engage. If he can fire off with more authority and take better angles to the ball he'll be fine, but if he plays like he and the rest of the line did against FSU, which is passive and catching he will struggle.

CAIN MADDEN, RIGHT GUARD

Grade: D-

Madden had some of the better run blocks in the game and he was one of the few blockers that actually came off the ball with force at times. He too got caught catching far too much, but with Madden we did see some snaps where he was physical and got a decent push in the run game.

The issues for Madden were two-fold. One, he had far too many assignment mistakes. On the first allowed sack Madden simply turned a player loose. He clearly thought he had help but nothing about the alignment should have told him he had help. This happened multiple times in the game, and it's to be expected to a degree considering its his first game in this offense.

Two, Madden stopped his feet way too much, especially in the pass game, and that is often why he got beat once he was engaged. He allowed too many pressures, gave up too much ground when he stopped his feet and Madden was responsible for too many negatives.

He'll have a lot to clean up in a short period of time.

MICHAEL CARMODY, LEFT TACKLE

Grade: C-

Carmody was thrust into the lineup when Fisher went down. He battled all game but his technique got him in trouble and he gave up a sack and a pressure on the quarterback. The sack was simply a blown assignment, with Carmody allowing an edge player to fire off the ball and make an easy sack of quarterback Jack Coan.

What I liked about Carmody's game was he played hard. Like the rest of the line he did way too much catching, but once he did catch he was strong enough to then get a push. The block he had on Chris Tyree's short touchdown run is a perfect example. Carmody didn't get any movement at the snap and allowed the DL to get in his face, but once he did that Carmody was strong enough to then drive him back and into the end zone.

I loved the physicality but the footwork needs to improve a lot between now and the next game.

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