After winning the award last season, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish remain in the hunt for the prestigious award one year later. The Joe Moore Award, which is given to the year’s Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit in college football, released its list of 10 semifinalists and Notre Dame made the cut.
The 10 semifinalists include the Irish, Alabama, Arizona State, Clemson, Georgia, Memphis, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Washington State and Wisconsin. Per the release, these teams have a combined record of 90-20 and average 485 total yards per game, which is 76 yards above the national average.
“As the 2018 college football season heads into the home stretch, the committee felt the semifinalists distinguished themselves by embodying the six award criteria in a way that really stood out on tape,” said Cole Cubelic, SEC Network sideline analyst and Chairman of the Joe Moore Award Voting Committee. “In the end, consistency, technique and physicality will determine who ultimately earns this year’s award.”
The Fighting Irish offensive line, which is lead by head coach Brian Kelly and offensive line coach Jeff Quinn, has helped the offensive gain more than 400 yards in all 11 games this season, as Notre Dame is 11-0 on the season and No. 3 in the country per the latest College Football Playoff Rankings. Notre Dame has also averaged 185.5 rushing yards per game in its four victories over Top25 opponents this season and rank No. 4 nationally in rushing yards per game among teams with at least four games against Top25 opponents.
“Solid improvement from Week 1,” which was noted about Notre Dame in the release. “Not always pretty or consistent, but rose to occasion against a very good FSU front 7. Shoot hands well and initial footwork is solid. Always looks to finish. Maybe a year away, but it’s there.”
The Joe Moore Award voting committee will announce its selection of finalists on Dec. 4, 2018, and the selection of the 2018 Joe Moore Award Winner will be made public after a surprise visit to the winning university’s campus in late December.
“The committee strongly feels the common thread with this year’s semifinalists is that the O-line’s level of play has been integral to the success of their teams,” said Aaron Taylor, CBS college football analyst and co-founder of the Joe Moore Award. Taylor played guard at the University of Notre Dame for the award’s namesake, the legendary offensive line coach Joe Moore. “We’ll expect to see more consistency moving forward however, so these next couple of weeks should tell us all we need to know about which of these units is really ready to earn this year’s distinction as the Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit in college football. The bar will be raised considerably moving forward.”
Semifinalist Criteria and Selection Process
The Joe Moore Award voting committee judges solely on six criteria: toughness, effort, teamwork, consistency, technique and finishing. The 2018 voting committee includes Chairman Cole Cubelic (Auburn, SEC Network); Charles Arbuckle (UCLA, Indianapolis Colts); Randy Cross (UCLA, San Francisco 49ers); Gerry DiNardo (Notre Dame, head coach at LSU); Mike Golic, Jr. (Notre Dame, ESPN); Dave Harding (Duke, Blue Devil Network); Pat Hill (head coach at Fresno State, O-line coach at Atlanta Falcons); Barrett Jones (Alabama, St. Louis Rams); Duke Manyweather (Humboldt State, player and coach); Geoff Schwartz (Oregon, Carolina Panthers); Phil Steele (publisher or Phil Steele’s College Football Preview, ESPN); Aaron Taylor (Notre Dame, Green Bay Packers); and Lance Zierlein (NFL draft analyst, NFL.com).
The Joe Moore Award is named after coach Joe Moore, widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in college football history. He is most notably recognized for his work at Notre Dame and the University of Pittsburgh. Coach Moore sent 52 players on to the NFL, including Bill Fralic, Mark May, Russ Grimm, Jimbo Covert and others. The Joe Moore Award trophy, crafted by legendary sports sculptor Jerry McKenna, is the largest trophies in all of sports, standing at a height of 6 feet and weighing in at 800 pounds. The perpetual trophy is made available for display by the winning university until the conclusion of the following college football season.