One of the big questions when Notre Dame takes to the field to start spring practice was who would be filling the shoes of left tackle Ronnie Stanley. It appears left guard Quenton Nelson may have supplied an answer a few weeks early.
Nelson hinted via social media that starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey was flipping to the left side of the line, finding a new home next to Nelson along the line of scrimmage. That could be the first move along a new-look offensive line as the Irish offense reboots this spring, needing to replace a handful of key contributors as they also kick-start another quarterback battle.
If McGlinchey is indeed moving, that means three new starters will be lining up next to each other as Nick Martin, Steve Elmer and McGlinchey’s positions are all now vacant. We’ve walked through the candidates for starting jobs, but locking in the left side of the line makes complete sense. Remember, in past years Notre Dame leaned heavily on the combo of Zack Martin and Chris Watt, and pairing two mauling starters like McGlinchey and Nelson could give the Irish a similar advantage—especially in the run game.
McGlinchey’s size and power were perfect prototypes for right tackle. They’re just as useful on the left side, with the wildcard being Malik Zaire‘s lefty throwing arm. The move also follows the trend of Stanley starting his career at right tackle then flipping to the left side once the starting job opened up.
The candidates for the starting center job appear to be Sam Mustipher and Tristen Hoge. From there, it gets murky. Alex Bars, who I assumed had a chance to be the starter at left tackle, could now be locked in on the right side. Then again, he could be a candidate to start at guard as well, where he was backing up Nelson last season.
There is no shortage of talent along the offensive line, with veterans like Colin McGovern or Hunter Bivin capable of stepping in or a true freshman like Tommy Kraemer a summer wildcard. While there is no rush to finalize a starting five, the news that McGlinchey will take over the left tackle spot helps bring some clarity to a position with three question marks remaining.