Kelly Wants More From Notre Dame's Left Side
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wanted more from the powerful left side of his offensive line late in the game against Texas.
The combination of senior left tackle Mike McGlinchey and junior left guard Quenton Nelson — perhaps the best side of an offensive line in the country — did not perform up to Kelly’s standards.
“I thought and our left side didn't play as well as I thought,” Kelly said. “In particular, in the later parts of the game when we relied on going left, we weren't as effective.
“That side has got to play better for us, and they know it.”
Notre Dame’s rushing stats show that. After tallying 173 yards on 32 carries through the first three quarters, the Irish ran for just 34 yards on 14 carries in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Longhorns.
Kelly called Notre Dame’s offensive line performance an overall “mixed bag.”
First-year full-time starters in center Sam Mustipher, right guard Colin McGovern and right tackle Alex Bars had difficult matchups against the Longhorns, but Kelly was pleased with their play.
“I think our right side played better than I thought,” Kelly said.
According to Pro Football Focus — which grades every single player and every single play on a scale of -2 to +2 — the Irish offensive line had an overall poor day.
PFF graded McGlinchey the highest overall, giving him a 0.2 grade. The rest of the line got negative grades: Nelson (-1.1), Mustipher (-2.0), McGovern (-1.4) and Bars (-3.3).
In the passing game, Notre Dame’s line graded as follow: McGlinchey (0.6), Nelson (1.2), Mustipher (1.0), McGovern (-1.3) and Bars (0.1). McGovern was credited with allowing a sack and a quarterback hit, while Bars allowed two QB hurries.
In the running game specifically, the Irish were not as good. PFF graded as follows: McGlinchey (-0.7), Nelson (-2.5), Mustipher (-2.2), McGovern (-0.9) and Bars (-3.7).
McGovern, though, had a key block on C.J. Sanders’ touchdown in overtime, while Mustipher battled against Texas nose guard Paul Boyette Jr., a 6-foot-3, 317-pounder.
“I'm fine with Sam, really,” Kelly said. “He gave us the kind of production you need to run for over 200 yards.”
Notre Dame’s five starting offensive linemen each played all 76 offensive snaps.
McGlinchey and Nelson, both projected first-round picks by ESPN’s Mel Kiper, likely have higher expectations in Kelly’s mind. After several dominant games in 2015, the bar has been raised for those two players.
The Irish will look for improvement against Nevada on Saturday.
“We have to play better as a group,” Kelly said.
Subscribe to Pro Football Focus and get premium stats and player grades, as well as fantasy football advice for the 2016 season.