Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 19, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 50 of 55 NOV. 19, 2018 51 BY COREY BODDEN E xpectations for former Irish offen- sive guard Quenton Nelson and his professional career were high even before he entered the 2018 NFL Draft, given his strength and power on the interior. The Indianapolis Colts made Nelson the No. 6 overall pick to help shore up their offensive line and protect franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. Nelson quickly stepped into a start- ing role at left guard for head coach Frank Reich's team and earned praise throughout the preseason for his play. Like most rookies, it was an up- and-down start to the season for Nel- son while he continued to adjust to the speed and power of the profes- sional game. Improvement contin- ued for Nelson with more reps, and that was brought to the forefront dur- ing the month of October. Following a stellar month of play, Nelson was named the NFL's Offen- sive Rookie of the Month. He became the first guard to be bestowed the honor and just the seventh offen- sive lineman overall. Nelson is the sixth Indianapolis Colt to win a NFL Rookie of the Month award. "A week-to-week look at his game, video has shown both power and savvy," Jeff Legwold of ESPN wrote early in November. "He's been one of the best of a big group of rookie linemen around the league who were tossed into the lineup right from the start of the regular season. "Nelson has been smooth moving in and out of double teams as he con- sistently makes the right move." In four games during October, Nel- son allowed zero sacks and just one quarterback hit. "Nelson's dominance in the run game has been even better, however," writer Andrew Walker noted. "With the Colts utilizing his strength as a puller often, Indy would rush for more than 200 yards in two straight games for the first time in the same season since 1985. The last time the Colts rushed for 200 yards or more in two straight games was over a two- season span from 2003-04. "Nelson helped pave the way for running back Marlon Mack to reg- ister the first two 100-yard rushing games of his career in weeks seven and eight." Nelson ranked No. 8 in ESPN's midseason top 10 for the rookies, and he has graded out at No. 12 among all the newcomers according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). "Nelson continues to show im- provement after a rough start to his first season," PFF's Mark Chichester said. "Week eight was arguably his greatest showing to date, as he ended the contest with an overall grade of 78.4, which is the highest single-game grade of his season so far. While Nel- son made some key blocks in the ground game, his very best work came in pass protection, where he didn't allow a single pressure all day." MIKE MCGLINCHEY FLASHES ON BIG STAGE While his Fighting Irish linemate Quenton Nelson is making waves in the Midwest, former Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey is doing much of the same out West with the San Francisco 49ers. Through the first nine weeks, Mc- Glinchey graded out, per PFF, as the No. 1 tackle in run blocking with a grade of 85.3. Linemen typically don't make the highlight reel, but McGlinchey found a way during a week nine matchup against the Oakland Raiders on Thursday Night Football from his right tackle spot. The 49ers ran a halfback toss to the right side to Raheem Mostert from their own 48-yard line with Mc- Glinchey leading the way. The tackle flashed his athleticism by running all the way to the goal line while keep- ing Mostert from getting tackled be- fore finding the end zone. "I think the O-line gave him the show-off fine for trying to be on TV following him down the field for so long," head coach Kyle Shanahan told The San Francisco Chronicle. "No, I'm just joking. He did a hell of a job. It was awesome." McGlinchey, who has not missed a game at any level, has played 590 of 593 snaps and been a primary reason the 49ers own the NFL's fifth-ranked rushing attack. "McGlinchey has certainly deliv- ered [on being the No. 9 overall pick in the NFL Draft], and he appears to be primed to lead the next decade in the trenches in San Francisco," PFF's Ben Linsey wrote. "Not only is McGlinchey's 79.4 overall grade the highest of any rookie offensive line- man this season, but it is the highest of any rookie offensive player that has played at least 200 snaps. "He has been a force in a running game that has averaged over 2.0 rushing yards per attempt before the running back is even contacted." ✦ IRISH IN THE PROS NOTRE DAME IN THE NFL: WEEK NINE HIGHLIGHTS • Romeo Okwara (Played at Notre Dame from 2012-15), DE, Detroit Lions: Made five tackles, includ- ing one for loss, in a 24-9 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings … He notched five sacks in his first seven games with the Lions. • Isaac Rochell (2013-16), DE, Los Angeles Chargers: Recorded two tackles and one sack in a 25-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks. • Harrison Smith (2007-11), S, Minnesota Vikings: Notched seven stops in a 24-9 win over the Detroit Lions. • Jaylon Smith (2013-15), LB, Dallas Cowboys: Posted nine tackles and one fumble recovery in a 28-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football. Quenton Nelson Makes History Following his strong play in October, Nelson became the first guard to ever earn NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month honors. PHOTO COURTESY INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

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