NCAA FB

Irish have experience on line

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)

(Eds: Updates with details. With AP Photos.)By RICK GANOAP Sports Writer

Everywhere Trevor Robinson looks, he sees familiar faces. And for the veteran Notre Dame guard, that's really a good thing.

For Notre Dame to get where it wants to go this season - a BCS bowl - the Irish will rely on an offensive front that returns four starters. On the day before camp began last week, Coach Brian Kelly quickly pointed to the line as one of the team's strengths.

''There are times where it's tough for an offensive lineman to be a team leader. Just by the nature of what you do,'' Robinson said. ''It's kind of a point we want to get to. We know we can be successful and we want to be the group that takes the team to success.''

Robinson, who has made 27 starts as he enters his fourth season, will be joined by three other returning starters - center Braxston Cave and tackles Zack Martin and Taylor Dever. The only missing piece from last season is left guard Chris Stewart, who played a year ago while attending law school and has used up his eligibility.

The Irish have veterans ready to step in for Stewart in fifth-year senior Andrew Nuss, who played in 13 games a year ago and can also play tackle, and Chris Watt, who can play guard or center.

''This is the most continuity we've had from year to year since I've been here,'' Robinson said, crediting the system that Kelly implemented upon his arrival in December 2009. ''Everything was different and now everything is almost the same. ... Where we are now compared to where we were last year, it's really night and day.''

The Irish allowed only 20 sacks through 13 games a year ago in a spread offense in which the quarterback is often moving.

Robinson and his buddies will be blocking for the likes of Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray when the season opens Sept. 3 against South Florida. On Wednesday, the Irish put on their pads and concentrated on the running game.

Kelly said it was obvious that his two most experienced quarterbacks, Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees, were ahead of sophomore Andrew Hendrix and freshman Everett Golson in this segment of practice. Kelly hopes to announce his starter after the first 19 practices, which would fall around the third week of August.

''Everett and Andrew would obviously show better if we were just playing faster,'' Kelly said. ''And right now Dayne and Tommy have shown the ability to play smarter, getting into the right run checks, making sure that we've got the right plays called. ... Those guys have pushed themselves up a little bit because of the way we are playing right now.''

Tagged: Buffalo, Notre Dame, Chris Stewart, Brian Kelly, Andrew Nuss, Trevor Robinson, Andrew Hendrix

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