A portent of future Irish practice sessions played out in the midst of Notre Dame’s most recent contest, a much-needed 31-28 victory over SEC heavy LSU last December.
Following a second quarter snap in which current Florida State triggerman Everett Golson was deposited into the Adelphia Coliseum turf, first-time starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey made his way to the Irish sidelines.
That was his second mistake.
The first was a missed assignment and the hit on his quarterback that ensued – the second was applied courtesy offensive line coach Harry Hiestand.
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley soon intervened on his McGlinchey’s behalf. You know, so Hiestand didn’t kill him.
“Coach (Hiestand) and Ronnie have a pretty interesting relationship,” said McGlinchey following the contest. “Ronnie can say things because of the way he is; he knows when it's time to step up and when it's time to listen. There's a fine line at that and Ronnie is the best at knowing it.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do before I can get to that level.”
ONE MORE FOR GOOD MEASURE
Fast forward to the outset of August Camp 2015 at Culver Academies and the Day One verbal evisceration applied by Hiestand on McGlinchey after the latter spent far too long engaged with a defensive teammate post play.
This time no teammate intervened – only the merciful passing of time ended Hiestand’s assault on the senses.
“Coach Hiestand, everybody knows he’s one of the most demanding coaches out there. He’s the best in the business at what he does and I put all my trust in him and everybody in that room does as well,” said McGlinchey. “Every now and then it’s tough to play for a guy that’s so demanding, but I love it, and to be able to want something as badly as he does, it just rubs off on us and it’s making us into one hell of an offensive line.”
DISHING IT OUT
Notre Dame’s five man front is expected to evolve into a six-man rotation, with redshirt-freshman Quenton Nelson starting at left guard and classmate Alex Bars serving as his backup.
Add to that tandem junior Steve Elmer (17) starts, Stanley (26) and two-time captain Nick Martin (24) and it’s clear McGlinchey’s experience level equates more to the newbies than the multi-season starting trio.
Fitting, because McGlinchey’s youthful exuberance remains a stated (per his coaches) and accepted weakness as well.
“That’s my favorite part of the game,” said McGlinchey of the oft-contentious battles in the trenches. “I’ve caused a couple of problems already in this camp being too over-the-edge with my teammates. I probably should have been holding it in a little more.
“But that’s the way offensive line should be played, you have to get after it from whistle to whistle. Make the other guy feel what you’re doing. You’re not out there to get in the way, you’re trying to make him feel pain and loss of energy when the fourth quarter hits.”
Hiestand agrees, but he needs an equal mixture of malice and measure.
“He needs to be right on that line, because all the guys he’s trying to block are trying to beat the life out of the people behind him,” said Hiestand of his junior right tackle. “So he needs to have that physical attitude on every snap. If he doesn’t they’re going to take it out on his teammates.
“He has to be right on the line and as a young player, it’s a process to learn how not to cross it. You turn the switch on, and then when the play is over, you have to let it go. He’s had some moments where he’s not at his best because he was still fooling around with the defensive guy, wasting energy and focus that had nothing to do with the next play.”
Martin, Notre Dame’s man in the middle, takes no issue with his teammate’s desire to dominate.
“He’s no worse than anyone else in that regard,” Martin joked. “He just gets caught more.”
Chalk that one up to inexperience as well.
“Both of those guys have immense athletic ability, big time athletic ability – McGlinchey with the size and Quenton with the strength,” said head coach Brian Kelly of his young pair up front. “But they’re a little limited some times in that they’re both emotional kids and we have to keep them in check at times.
“But they’re both you’d like to go to (battle) with.”
Six days from now, the Irish offense will do just that.