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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, September 06, 2017 11:40 pm

Notre Dame's right tackle rotation will continue

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame's rotation at right tackle, between starter Tommy Kraemer and backup Robert Hainsey, will continue Saturday night against No. 15 Georgia (1-0).

How long? The 24th-ranked Irish (1-0) aren't saying, but Kraemer and Hainsey unexpectedly rotated at the position in a 49-16 season-opening win over Temple. Each played around 40 snaps.

"As it relates to the right tackle position, I think we'll continue to evaluate it and see where that ends up as the season moves on," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "I think we'll leave that open-ended in terms of whether we'll have two guys there or not. I really liked the fact that both of them competed and did some good things."

Hainsey had a few hiccups, as he was called for two false starts. He looked confused at times, which was to be expected from a freshman playing in his first college game. Kraemer, though he didn't commit any penalties, was in the same boat.

The two freshmen did not meet with media members Wednesday, but fellow offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey did, and he called it a "solid first week" for Kraemer and Hainsey.

"I only expect nothing but better stuff to come from the two of them, as well," McGlinchey said. "They've done a great job in their preparation. They don't have to be the next Ronnie Stanley, Zack Martin, Mike McGlinchey. They have to be Rob Hainsey and Tom Kraemer. They need to worry about doing their job. They need to worry about working their butts off throughout the week, and that's really all you can ask from them."

Kelly wasn't down on Hainsey for the false starts.

"He competed his butt off," Kelly said, "and Tommy did a pretty good job, as well. I kind of like playing both of them right now, but we'll see how that goes. I don't want to be married to one concept there. I think we'll let that play itself out and see where it goes."

Say this for Kelly: He's not afraid to go out of the box.

A two-man rotation at a spot on the offensive line is unorthodox. Linemen will tell you continuity is vital. Most of the impact will be felt by right guard Alex Bars, whose performance hinges, in part, on building sound chemistry with the man to his right.

For now, the Irish are going to keep playing both Kraemer and Hainsey, which reminds McGlinchey, a senior captain, of the days when he was a young blocker trying to establish himself.

"I see a lot of myself in those two," McGlinchey said. "They're at that point in your career with (Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry) Hiestand it's kind of the make-or-break point. They're getting thrown into the starting lineup. They're the youngest guy on the line, and they take their lumps for sure each and every day at practice, but it's about how you respond to that."