Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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12 NOV. 26, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Offensive Line Jelling Amid Setbacks The graduation of two top-10 NFL selections last spring — left guard Quenton Nelson and left tackle Mike McGlinchey — combined with 2012-17 Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand leaving for the NFL last spring, instantly made this a season in flux for that position group. It then experienced another immense setback when potential top-round pick Alex Bars was lost for the season in game five with a torn ACL. Yet the insertion of sophomore Aaron Banks at left guard to join Liam Eichenberg at the position has begun to develop with promising returns. It's been led by fifth-year senior center and captain Sam Mustipher. Meanwhile, on the right side Tommy Kraemer has excelled in the first two November games at right guard, where he has combined with senior Trevor Ruhland, while sophomore Robert Hainsey has provided stability as a second-year starter at right tackle. Kraemer started and played the duration against Florida State when Ruhland was kept out of action because of an elbow strain. First-year of- fensive line coach Jeff Quinn's troops responded with a 365-yard rushing effort against a run defense that entered the game ranked 17th nationally. "Our best game, and that has to do with those guys feeling so much more comfortable with their calls," head coach Brian Kelly said of the line's effort versus the Seminoles. "Sam's running the show there. He's been outstand- ing, holding them to a high standard. "He has been really, really good for those young guys, so having Banks right next to him there has been really good to get him on the same page. We saw a really marked improvement in just the combination blocking from Northwestern to Florida State. We like the way we're moving, as a group, as five guys working together." Meanwhile, instead of thinking about his NFL future, Bars has taken on an instructional role as well while working individual drills with the line- men, especially his successor Banks. "Alex is with those younger guys, that second group … a mentor, and he's going through the script with them," Kelly praised. "He's another coach on the field for us, doing a nice job with them." — Lou Somogyi JERRY TILLERY ONE OF 15 WALTER CAMP SEMIFINALISTS On Nov. 14, senior defensive tackle Jerry Til‑ lery was among the 15 semifinalists selected to the watch list for the 2018 Walter Camp Player of the Year. The achievement is especially more impres‑ sive because among seven quarterbacks and three running backs, Tillery was one of only five defensive players, and two linemen, cho‑ sen. The other four were linebackers Josh Al‑ len (Kentucky) and Devin Bush (Michigan), nose guard Quinnen Williams (Alabama) and defensive back Deandre Baker (Georgia). A force in the trenches during Notre Dame's 10‑0 start (entering the Syracuse game Nov. 17) with both his pass pressure and con‑ trolling the line of scrimmage versus the run, Tillery could become the first Fighting Irish de‑ fensive lineman since Renaldo Wynn in 1997 to be drafted in the first round by the NFL. The Walter Camp Player of the Year is voted on by the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information direc‑ tors. A list of five finalists will be announced Nov. 28, with the winner broadcast live on ESPN SportsCenter Dec. 6. The 2017 Walter Camp Player of the Year was former University of Oklahoma and current Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. The award has been presented since 1967 in conjunction with the Walter Camp Foot‑ ball Foundation All‑America team. Four Notre Dame players have previously won the award: tight end Ken MacAfee (1977), flanker/return man Tim Brown (1987), flanker/running back/ return man Raghib "Rocket" Ismail (1990) and linebacker Manti Te'o (2012). — Lou Somogyi SOPHOMORE DEFENSIVE TACKLE WILL REDSHIRT Head coach Brian Kelly said sophomore defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa‑Amosa, who suffered a broken foot in the opener versus Michigan, would not play the rest of the regular season. Thus, even if he plays in the postseason, he is eligible for a fifth‑year medical redshirt because he would not have played more than four games. "He won't be ready to play for USC," Kelly said the week of the Syracuse game. "He'll be ready to condition, get back in football‑related activities, but he'll be [ready in the] postseason." The Irish offensive line played its best game of the season versus Florida State Nov. 10, clearing the way for 365 yards on the ground against a unit that entered the game with the nation's 17th- ranked run defense. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA Tillery was one of only five defensive players, and two linemen, chosen as a semifinalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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