Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2022

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM AUGUST 2022 23 room, to schoolwork. The better the group meshes, the better prepared they will be on game day. Individually, Correll has been focused on Hiestand's "one thing" mantra. Each practice — there were 15 during the spring, including the Blue-Gold Game — Hiestand wanted each of his line- men to focus on an aspect of their game. They didn't need to overhaul everything on Day 1, just pick one area to improve upon. Correll easily identified where he wanted to begin. "For me, it's been my first step," Cor- rell said. "If I'm working on a nose guard right in front of me, just making sure I'm going forward instead of stepping underneath myself or behind myself. That will help me move him off the ball. "Then if we're all working together, five guys as one, and we're all moving forward, we move all guys off the ball." Correll added that practices weren't as long this spring as they were under the previous regime, but that doesn't mean Hiestand is letting up. Quite the oppo- site. The intensity has risen, often in an effort to mimic what the Irish might see in, say, Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 3. "Whether we're scrimmaging or just doing team drills, everything we do is competitive, which will prepare us better for games," Correll said. "We'll be in that speed all the time. We'll always be ready." THE FINAL PUSH It seems Correll was often, if not always, ready over the course of the spring. His performance led to whis- pers about a brewing situation on the interior offensive line. It wasn't that Patterson wasn't going to start. That was always a given. But where he might start became a topic that was no longer a pipe dream of Correll enthusiasts. "[The spring] created a little bit of an understanding Zeke can be considered one of the top five," head coach Marcus Freeman told Blue & Gold Illustrated. "We're going to have to find a way to get our top five on the field." Based on what Lugg had to say this spring, it might be a mistake not to have Correll included in that starting group. "He's really taking control of the of- fense," Lugg said in March. "At the cen- ter position, you have to be that guy." At present moment, the winds are blowing in the direction of Correll at center, Patterson and Lugg at guard, and Joe Alt and Blake Fisher at left and right tackle, respectively. Sophomore Rocco Spindler and senior Andrew Kristofic will be in the guard discus- sion as well. "As we go into fall camp, you add J- Patt back in there, so it's not going to be set yet," Freeman said. "But I like that. You have to be able to work with other people and communicate — 'OK, maybe the guy I'm used to being beside isn't there.' That's part of the game. "Can you still communicate and ex- ecute with whoever's beside you? That's going to help us grow." After a brief lull in the discussion due to informal summer workouts and off-campus fun, the topic will move to the forefront of the conversation once again. The previously mentioned uptick in intensity this spring was a good trial run for the rising center, who will need to show up on Aug. 5 prepared to hit the gas. He exited the spring more comfort- able at the center position, and that's likely where he'll pick up. Correll has all the momentum, but he can't just ride that until kickoff on Sept. 3. He will have to earn Hiestand's bless- ing, a monumental task for anyone who crosses the famed coach's path. Luckily for him, he's seen a version of this chap- ter before. ✦ Correll has started at both center and guard during his career. After a strong showing this spring, the former position is becoming the more likely option in 2022. PHOTO BY BOB MYERS

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