Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame and McGlinchey on the Right Track

March 8, 2017
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It was clear things didn’t go well for the Notre Dame program last season, and Mike McGlinchey wasn’t pleased with how things ended. The 6-foot-8, 312-pounder decided to come back, but maybe more importantly, he had seen his cousin go through something similar.

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons bounced back from an 8-8 season in 2015 to make the Super Bowl this past season. McGlinchey saw Ryan’s work ethic and hopes a turnaround can happen in South Bend in 2017.

“I think the only way a turnaround can occur is the mindset you have, and the work you put into it,” McGlinchey said on Wednesday. “I know for a fact; Matt worked his ass off for a calendar year since the season ended. He got to know the playbook a little better and got his fundamentals back. He got his strength and his health back.

“I think that’s something obviously I can take away. I have looked up to Matt my entire life, and it’s something that anything he does, I am trying to mimic. It would certainly be a pretty good turnaround if I had the turnaround he had last year.”

I am not going to the NFL to be a first round pick on paper. - Mike McGlinchey
If Notre Dame makes a turnaround, it will have started with McGlinchey’s decision to come back for a fifth-year. The Pennsylvania native knew he had work to do before taking the jump to the league and made the decision to work on his craft for another year.   

“I am not going to the NFL to be a first round pick on paper,” he stated. “I want to be the best I can be when I get there. I am setting myself up for a career. Going in early or when you know you have so many areas to improve to be the best you can be and hopefully the best in the country, that’s the motivation for why I came back individually.

“Everyone has an area of improvement or areas to develop. I wasn’t in any position to want to go to the NFL. I wanted to learn from the best coach in the country.”

McGlinchey also made sure to reach out to get feedback on the draft process and life in the NFL from his mentors, and friends.

“I talked to Zack (Martin), Nick (Martin), Ronnie (Stanley), all of those guys. They are some of my closest friends, and they have had the experience. All those guys came back when they could have gone the previous year. It’s a trend here that we want to continue to learn and be the best we can be and have the success we know we can have before any decisions are made because other people are telling us we are ready to go.

“We know how to look in the mirror and on the film to know what we can improve.”

One area McGlinchey wanted to focus on was the weight room. Head coach Brian Kelly said the left tackle was bench pressing 225 16 times last year, but eight weeks into new Director of Football Performance Matt Balis’ program, McGlinchey is up to 24 reps.

“'Built by Balis,' I guess you could say,” laughed McGlinchey when asked about his progress. “Coach Balis has been a blessing on our program. He has done things for me and everyone else in our program. The way we are training, how we are training and everything that encompasses performance, the detail and pride he takes in doing his job is something tremendous.

“The last couple weeks I have put on probably 8-10 pounds and done pretty well in my strength numbers. It’s all attributed to him and the way he has us work and prepare. We have to do the work, but he’s the guy leading us to the oasis.”

On the field, McGlinchey feels Kelly made positive changes within the program, but upward swing starts with the players themselves.

“When we got back on January 17th, guys were ready to hit the ground running,” explained McGlinchey. “We had been off for eight weeks, and guys were a little pissed off about that. It’s just one of those things that change needed to be made from the players first, and we’ve certainly seen those take place so far. Hopefully, we will continue to grow in those as the year continues.”

The attitude inside The Gug has changed, and the intensity of daily life has ramped up a few levels. 4-8 isn’t acceptable at Notre Dame, and the team knows it’s up to them to change it.  

“It’s just the way everyone comes to work,” McGlinchey said of the difference. “There is a life and energy in here now that is just tremendous. Everyone is excited. Everyone is growing and seeing improvement. You’re seeing guy’s bodies change. You’re seeing guys last longer in The Gug.

“At night, I am walking in the hall, and there are more guys in the film room. There are more guys working out together, and doing drills. It’s just one of those things where the chance, and motivation has reached across all aspects of our program.”

It’s just eight weeks into the offseason, and McGlinchey knows there is still six months to go until week one, so there is plenty of work left to do.   

“It’s only March, and you need to do a lot of work before September and August hit, but we’re on the right track,” he stated.

Kelly is also doing his part, and the change is noticeable to all those around the program. The ability to be around the team more is paying dividends, but more importantly, it’s building trust with his players.

“He wouldn’t be having those meetings if he didn’t truly care about what we had to say,” said McGlinchey. “There’s nothing more important to Coach Kelly than his family, and we’re an extension of his family.

“We know he cares the most about us, and when we have something to say, he’s going to listen. Coach Kelly is a great guy. He runs our program unbelievably well. We’re lucky to have him, especially with the way he is approaching this season coming up.”
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