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Irish Insights


Notre Dame's offensive line performs well

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was happy with what he saw from his offensive line in Saturday's 38-34 home win over Navy.

The only lineman with significant experience going into the game against the Midshipmen was fifth-year senior left guard Zack Martin.

Notre Dame had to use Conor Hanratty at left guard when starter Chris Watt couldn't play after it was determined his PCL injury was too restrictive.

The Irish also had first-year starters in center Nick Martin, right guard Steve Elmer and right tackle Ronnie Stanley on the line. Nick Martin and Stanley have been starting since the season opener, and Elmer was making his second start after replacing Christian Lombard, who was lost for the season two weeks ago after back surgery.

"Conor went in and battled," Kelly said. "He's a battler. What you love about Hanratty is you've got a chance when a guy goes in there and battles, and he's an aggressive, tough kid. We'll clean up some of the mistakes that he made in there, but it was nice to watch him go in there and compete.

"Nick did a heck of a job. He was on his own most of the night. We didn't give him much help, and he handled himself very well. Then on the right side you have two first-year players that have immense talent and when they start translating that immense talent, they're going to be pretty special. They can make up for a lot of mistakes because they're long and athletic. But on the whole with four guys in there that are playing in their first year, it was pretty impressive."

Kelly said Zack Martin, who has started 48 straight games and is a team captain, has been a great guy for the other linemen to model themselves after.

"For example, on Monday we'll show some clips of Zack in terms of instincts," Kelly said. "You know, when to climb to the second level and when to not climb to the second level, just those instincts. He can pass those instincts because of his experience on to a number of those guys on the offensive line.

"So he's a great guy to model after because of his experience and how he plays the game."