Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

O-line deserves to take bow

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Running backs Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray were every bit the one-two punch against Purdue that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly hoped the would be heading into the season. Quarterback Tommy Rees had his best all-around game and Michael Floyd bounced back from a four-catch performance against Pittsburgh with 12 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown.

Lost in the bouquets being thrown to the skill position players, however, was the job done by an offensive line that paved the way for 287 rushing yards while not allowing a sack.

"They've done a great job of protecting the quarterback, and it's something that we take a lot of pride in," Kelly said. "We spend a lot of time, we really do, in terms of pass protections and getting in the right plays and getting the right things, and that's the running backs, too.
 
"Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray, both those guys need to get due credit, as well, because they picked up some pressures individually that if they don't pick them up, Tommy is going to be on his back. The offensive line has been great, but the backs have been really good, as well."

A veteran offensive line was expected to be a strength for Notre Dame and the unit hasn't disappointed. The Irish are ranked 41st in the nation in rushing offense, 33rd in passing offense and 30th overall. The offensive line is ranked 20th in sacks allowed with five in four games.

Kelly attributes the unit's strong performance against another strong interior tandem to a mentality of physical play that he has tried to instill since arriving at Notre Dame.

"I still believe our players are stronger, they're more fit, and we play physical," he said. "Our backs played as physical as any tandem out there. You've got to look at the way Gray and Cierre Woods ran the ball up inside as well as the speed they used on the edge. They finished off runs, as well, is what we were most impressed with."


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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on October 2, 2011 4:28 PM.

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