The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

College

September 10, 2007

Bedford native feels Notre Dame’s pain

STATE COLLEGE — Mike Turkovich’s return to Pennsylvania didn’t go exactly as he had hoped.

Turkovich, a Bedford native who attended Valley Forge Military Academy, started at left guard in Notre Dame’s 31-10 loss at Penn State on Saturday evening. He had about 30 friends and family members in attendance for the game, which saw the Irish offense struggle again.

“I was looking forward to coming home to my family and friends and putting on a good performance,” the 6-foot-6, 301-pound junior said. “We tried, but we didn’t execute the way that we needed to. That’s how it goes sometimes.”

It’s exactly how things have gone for Notre Dame, which started a season 0-2 for the sixth time in school history. The offensive line, which includes three new starters – including Turkovich – has struggled in losses to Georgia Tech and Penn State. Irish quarterbacks have been sacked 15 times and the team has minus-8 yards rushing through two games.

Notre Dame gained 55 yards on the ground Saturday night, but also lost 55 yards. That was actually an improvement over the opener against Georgia Tech.

“The O-line is only as good as its weakest link,” Turkovich said. “We’re not coming together. We’re not jelling right now. That’s the most important thing for an offensive line, is to jel. That’s what we need to work on this week. We need to get better. Zero yards rushing? It can’t get much worse.”

The good news for Turkovich and the Irish is that they will face a Michigan team that has been torched by Oregon and Appalachian State in a pair of losses. And he is hoping that the offensive line begins to play better.

“It’s hard to see any progress when you have zero yards rushing, but I think we are starting to see what we’re doing wrong,” he said. “Hopefully, that will help us this week improve for Michigan.”

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