As starter in his last twenty-two games, Notre Dame Fighting Irish center, Braxton Cave (52), knows it’s rare that the offensive line gets the accolades. But after opening holes for nearly 300 rushing yards and allowing new starting quarterback Everett Golson and his backfield buddies, Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III, to convert on all seven of their third down attempts, Coach Brian Kelly awarding the game ball to the entire O-Line seemed almost inevitable. And while Kelly says, “I don’t know that there’s one guy, [t]hey work as a unit,” the center is the center of attention, and their center is Cave.
Growing up in nearby Granger–a mere stone’s throw from South Bend–Cave was no stranger to Notre Dame. Considering Cave was named after former Notre Dame running back Braxton Banks, his place, if not position on the Irish squad, seemed almost preordained. Indeed, after a somewhat slow start in his Irish career, Cave settled in at center in a line that went from allowing twenty sacks in 2010 to only five in the nine games Cave started in 2011 before being sidelined with a foot injury. But now Braxton’s back, and, if the Navy game is any indication, back with a vengeance.
“I’ve had offensive lines where we had singularly great players at certain positions [but] the thing that stands out with this group is that all five, including the tight ends…really work well together,” Kelly explains. ”There’s not a lot of missed assignments and miscommunication,” a point on which Cave wholeheartedly concurs.
“(Kelly) relies on us to be a strong point of this team,” Cave agrees. “Obviously we have a lot of experience and we know we have to put it on our shoulders to get the job done. With a new quarterback in, it makes his job that much easier, when we can dominate the line and run the ball like we did.”
Now that Navy is vanquished, Notre Dame comes home to play Purdue, perhaps a more offensively talented team than the Midshipmen, but at the same time a team that Cave and Company paved the way to 287 Irish rushing yards (on 40 attempts) last season. As to whether he’s looking forward to the Boilermakers, Cave merely concluded, “We’re loaded back there. We know if we open up the holes, they’re going to do what they do.”
It may sound primitive, but if “B.C.” and his “Cave”-men can continue to protect Golson’s man-cave the way they did against Navy, the BCS is not out of the question.