Notre Dame’s offensive line is one of 21 teams among 129 in the Football Bowl Subdivision named to the mid-season watch list for the 2017 Joe Moore Award.
Begun in 2015, the Joe Moore Award is named after the former college offensive line coach who became esteemed for the units and elite linemen/NFL stars he produced at Pitt (1980-85), Temple (1986-87) and Notre Dame (1988-96), and it is the lone award in college football that honors an entire position group.
The voting committee is comprised solely of people who played or coached the position — including all of the current offensive line coaches at the Division I/FBS level — plus former players, coaches, colleagues of Coach Moore (1993 Notre Dame Lombardi Award winner Aaron Taylor among them) and select media.
The voting subcommittee uses game film and coach submitted cut-ups on The DragonFly Division I Network as the primary OL Unit evaluation tool.
Advanced OL data and statistics are provided by STATS LLC, which helps to support the film evaluation process by highlighting key situations and moments over the course of the season, and they also take into account items such as penalties, percentage of negative plays, how clean the pocket is on every passing situation, etc.
This honor is based primarily on six traits: toughness, effort, teamwork, consistency, technique, and finishing. Earning the inaugural Joe Moore Award was 2015 national champion Alabama, and last year by Iowa, whose head coach Kirk Ferentz was a captain for Moore in high school.
Among the 21 teams recognized at the halfway point (or through the Oct. 7 games), only one was listed as possessing five of the six: the University of Wisconsin, lacking only in the “finishing” category.
Five other schools — New Mexico, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, San Diego State and Wisconsin — had four qualities highlighted.
For the Irish they were finishing, toughness, effort and teamwork. Consistency was hurt because of a 55-yard rushing effort in the 20-19 loss Sept. 9 to Georgia. However, Notre Dame does rank second in the FBS in both rushing yards per carry (6.9) and rushing touchdowns (23), and sixth in rushing yards per game (308.0).
Georgia also made the cut with No. 1 Alabama, and the Irish still play four others who made the list: North Carolina State (Oct. 28), at Miami (Nov. 11), Navy (Nov. 18) and at Stanford (Nov. 25).
Alabama could win it a second time in three seasons because its current data include ranking No. 1 in negative rush percentage (3.8 percent) and has had five straight 200-plus rushing outputs while averaging 301.7 yards per contest.
The Notre Dame crew is spearheaded by captains and 2016 third-team AP All-Americans Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson. Seniors Sam Mustipher at center and Alex Bars at right guard also have started every game the past two seasons, while right tackle duties have been split between sophomore Tommy Kraemer (who has also lined up at guard) and freshman Robert Hainsey.
Notre Dame’s identity this season has been physicality up front, and that is expected to be its calling card in what will be a challenging second half this season while competing against five of its six opponents that are currently ranked.
“We stick to what we’re good at,” McGlinchey summarized. “We call plays that play to our strengths, and offensively we’ve just been able to keep grinding it out. Conditioning wise, we feel great, execution wise we feel great and we’ve just got to keep rolling.”