Notre Dame football updates its offensive line before North Carolina

After a week of speculation, Notre Dame football has confirmed who will be starting as center this Friday against North Carolina. While it was unfortunate to lose Jarrett Patterson for the rest of the season, Notre Dame had strong candidates to choose from when picking a replacement. After close consideration, the Irish went with Zeke Correll, a 6-foot-3, 288-pound sophomore from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Correll’s resume

For Correll, this is his first collegiate start as center for the Irish. He enrolled early at Notre Dame, starting in the spring of 2019. He was a former four-star recruit and has participated in lengthy strength and conditioning programs before. This season, Correll found some playing time against South Florida in September, but that is the extent of his experience. Although he may lack experience, Correll’s ambition and desire to gain knowledge on the field will allow him to succeed as he takes on this new position.

An additional change

As well as Correll moving to center, there is an additional roster change for the offensive line. Senior Josh Lugg will take over as right guard due to an unexpected occurrence with fifth year Tommy Kraemer. Kraemer had to have an urgent appendectomy recently, putting him out for a few weeks. With right guard open, Lugg will have another opportunity to prove Brian Kelly he is worthy to be on the starting roster.

In the 2019 season, Lugg filled in for right tackle Robert Hainsey when he experienced a broken ankle. During those five games as a starter, Lugg demonstrated leadership and adaptability. There is no doubt adding Lugg to the offensive line starting roster will be an additional benefit despite losing two solid players.

Updated roster

After the adjustments, Notre Dame’s offensive line includes the following: left tackle Liam Eichenberg, left guard Aaron Banks, center Zeke Correll, right guard Josh Lugg and right tackle Robert Hainsey. The mixture of experience and size should balance well, as Eichenberg and Hainsey have been tremendous leaders and are fully capable of leading the Irish through adversity.

It is no secret that Notre Dame favors running the ball. Rushing 241.25 yards per game, Ian Book and Co. rely heavily on cohesive blocking. Moving forward with an updated roster, the Irish offensive line will have no room to spare for blocking mistakes or miscommunications.

New Beginning

At this moment, Notre Dame’s new offensive line should not set the team back from future aspirations, such as an ACC Championship. That being said, if more injuries occur, a problem could rise. Notre Dame needs to cap the injuries now, ensuring there will be no last minute changes in the next few weeks. Correll is presumed to play center until the end, unless he underperforms. Until Kraemer is healthy, the current roster will be what Notre Dame depends on in pushing the Irish towards an undefeated season.

While Notre Dame football makes it a priority to have the best five linemen on the field, the Irish have learned that nothing is certain. Like every football team, Notre Dame has experienced set-backs. Ultimately, the Irish have to believe in themselves and be confident that any player put on the field will represent Notre Dame well.

Photo by Anna Mason | The Observer

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