Notre Dame football: Offense line receives Joe Moore Award as best in nation

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Led by Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, the Notre Dame offensive line had a special season. It paid off with the 2017 Joe Moore Award.

Year in and year out, no matter who’s under center, in the backfield or out wide for Notre Dame, you know the offensive line will be a solid unit.

This year, they were more than just solid. They were the best in college football.

Notre Dame’s offensive line earned the 2017 Joe Moore Award, reserved for the best offensive line unit in the country.

Named in honor of Joe Moore, a long-time offensive line coach regarded by many to be the best ever in college football history, it is the only major award to honor a unit. Specifically, this award values six different aspects of an offensive line’s performance: toughness, effort, teamwork, consistency, technique and “finishing”.

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If you’ve watched Notre Dame’s offensive line on a regular basis, those descriptors fit remarkably well.

And they especially described Notre Dame’s two best players on the unit (as well as the entire team): Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson.

Both set to be first-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft after being named AP All-Americans, McGlinchey and Nelson paved the way for a rushing attack that averaged 6.37 yards per carry (third in the nation).

Nelson was even nominated for the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s best lineman, losing narrowly to Houston’s Ed Oliver.

Even when star running back Josh Adams, who busted out for a career-high 1,386 yards and a brief Heisman campaign, wasn’t healthy, they kept right on opening holes for backups like Dexter Williams, Tony Jones and Deon McIntosh.

Plus, Brandon Wimbush didn’t pull all of his 1,818 passing yards and 765 rushing yards out of thin air.

Offensive line play doesn’t always get much love from the casual football fan, but man: this unit was special.

While McGlinchey and Nelson will depart, center Sam Mustipher, right guard Alex Bars and right tackle Tommy Kraemer should all return for Notre Dame next year and keep the line moving.

Next: Why the Bears should draft Quenton Nelson

It may be a while before this unit dominates quite the way it did this season with two such experienced players on the left side departing for the NFL. But as we’ve seen time and again, Notre Dame will bring in solid talent to replenish the ranks.

And who knows? Maybe we’ll be talking about Liam Eichenberg leading Notre Dame to another one of these awards really soon.