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August 11, 2009

Olsen ready for center stage

There is only one thing certain about depth charts in training camp's opening week: uncertainty.

The chances Notre Dame's depth chart will be the same for the season opener against Nevada on Sept. 5 is minute, but when head coach Charlie Weis released his initial depth chart of the fall, the most noticeable change came at the offensive line.

Eric Olsen has moved to the starting center spot with sophomore Trevor Robinson taking over at right guard. Dan Wenger, who is listed as the No. 2 center, now finds himself running with the second team, although even Weis likes how that looks thus far.

Although Olsen admitted he has no experience at center outside of spring practice, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound senior believes he's ready.

"This spring was the first time I actually played center in a somewhat live setting," Olsen said. "Obviously it's practice and not a game, but you know, that was the first time.

"I was excited. I'm very comfortable in the offense now. I'm going into my senior year. I have a great grip on everything. I feel like playing center is a good position for me personally as a player, as a person. I feel comfortable making the calls and all the assignments and all that kind of stuff. I was really excited and I'm excited now."

Changing positions, of course, will not come without its challenges.

Although Olsen appears well-prepared, with three years of experience playing on the interior, there will be some adjustments. Tops on that list might be the center-to-quarterback exchange.

Olsen said he's worked on that since his freshman year - just in case - and has picked up quickly in training camp's opening stages.

"I feel like I've picked it up pretty quickly," Olsen said. "I have to pick it up quickly. As far as the calls and stuff, I like that responsibility. I'm embracing that responsibility; having to do all that stuff. I pretty much do all that mental thinking before the play as a guard, so it's not really that much of a change. As far as snapping the ball, that's something I've been working on with Jimmy from the spring (and) all summer long. That's obviously coming together."

Olsen will also find himself tested during fall camp.

At center he'll have a defensive lineman directly across from him on just about every play, which only complicates matters after using one hand to snap the ball.

During camp, Olsen will find himself lined up against first-string nose tackle Ian Williams, who will take it upon himself to make sure Olsen is ready for anything he might see on Saturdays.

"It's the same with (Olsen)," Williams said. "He goes as hard against me. It gets me better. I do certain things to help him get better. We're gonna have some battles, I'll tell you that. He's a great player and I'm glad he's at center. He's gonna make me better and I'm gonna try and make him better."

If Williams accomplishes that goal, the offensive line depth chart might stay the same.


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