Josh Lugg becomes a full-time starter in his fifth season
Colin Capece | Friday, November 19, 2021
Patience and progression.
This is the best word pairing to describe graduate student Josh Lugg’s Notre Dame career. It’s been a long journey for Lugg, but his hard work and perseverance have finally paid off in his fifth season with the Irish. He’s become a full-time starter for the first time in his collegiate career, anchoring the right side of the offensive line for a Notre Dame team that’s finally hitting its stride on that side of the ball.
After joining the team as a scholarship freshman in 2017, he spent his first year in South Bend exclusively on the scout team. In his sophomore season, he saw the field primarily blocking on special teams. As a junior, Lugg continued to progress, starting the final five games of the season while not allowing a sack on 263 pass blocks. He started the final three games in 2020, including the ACC Championship Game against Clemson.
Lugg credits the leadership of offensive linemen before him with helping him turn into the dependable right tackle he is today.
“Since I’ve been here it’s started from the top-down, with the fifth and sixth-year guys being able to help the freshmen develop,” Lugg said. “Whether that’s on the field or off the field we do everything together. When you see us doing things together off the field, it means on the field we’re going to play as a cohesive unit. We just have to come together all the time.”
Lugg described how much he’s enjoyed playing alongside graduate student right guard Cain Madden, who transferred to Notre Dame after five seasons at Marshall.
“It’s significantly improved throughout the course of our time together,” Lugg said of his communication with Madden. “Cain coming in this summer has been fantastic communicating with everyone. He sees things differently than we might. Being able to work with him has been awesome. We watch a lot of film together and break down defensive opponents.”
Lugg talked at length before the Wisconsin game about the offensive line’s mentality each week. The unit has improved significantly over the course in large part because of the accountability displayed by veterans like Lugg and Madden in focusing on the little things.
“Every week we should have a chip on our shoulder, no matter who the opponent is, no matter how we’re playing,” Lugg said. “We definitely need to execute our fundamentals and go back to the basics so that we can do our job come Saturday. If we want our team to be successful it starts with us up front and doing our job consistently.”
Heading into what could be his final home game, Lugg will definitely be soaking it all in. Ahead of the Wisconsin game, he displayed gratitude for his time at Notre Dame and to the people who have helped him develop over the last five years.
“I need to cherish this game because it could be my last season here,” Lugg said before Notre Dame’s tilt with Wisconsin at Soldier Field. “Understanding at Notre Dame that every snap counts. It’s a really special place and I’ve loved being here. Now in my fifth year being able to take on a full-time starting role for the whole season. I really appreciate all the time the coaches and the training staff and the other players have spent with me to make sure that I can do this here. I want to play my best on Saturday for those people.”