Let's get the disappointment out of the way, first: New California commit Poutasi Poutasi doesn't have film of him playing against the premier program in his state: Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, so any immediate, easy look at him against the best of the best (and Gorman, with fellow Bears commit Biaggio Ali-Walsh, is the national champ, three years running) isn't available.
But, what we do have, are a few clips from his one-on-one reps at the Poly Bowl in Hawaii (discussed later), and his senior film. So, with that, let's dive in.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1749961-poutasi-poutasi-do...Evaluation: Having worked with some top talent evaluators over the last seven-plus years on this job, one thing keeps popping up: You know, within the first three plays, if a player is a Division I athlete. For me, it took two. Poutasi is a dominant, physical, nasty lineman who plays with an edge and finishes plays, with a strong, explosive power base that allows him to bully defenders and knock them back, out of the play.
He locks out with his arms, keeps his feet churning, finishes his blocks, at both the first and second level. At multiple points in his film, we see him making multiple blocks on the same play (4:15 is a good example, where he sheds the defensive end and then picks up the linebacker flowing to the ball; also, 5:59). He truly plays whistle-to-whistle, which, given what we've heard about this offense being more run-heavy than the spread we've seen the last three years, makes him quite a nice fit. He's flat-out nasty.
The fact that Poutasi is used to playing with his hand in the dirt is a big plus, as it's expected that that's the direction Cal will go with the new offense.
First play, he makes two blocks -- his initial pancake, and then another once the play to the short side breaks down, taking care of a safety to spring his quarterback.
Of course, run blocking is one thing -- it's a lineman's bread and butter -- but pass blocking is quite another. We see Poutasi at 42 seconds in his highlights engage his blocker off the edge by getting up into his chest and locking out, taking control and maintaining leverage with violent hands.
The play at 1:06 is probably my favorite. He drives his defender back nine yards, keeps his feet moving and finishes with gusto.
At 1:20, we see another punishing block as Poutasi kicks out to his right to cut down the angle of an edge rusher. At 1:33, we see how he plays in space, when he's not just firing off the line to run block, or dealing with a pass rusher.
Going play-by-play, I'd be repeating myself quite a bit in terms of what I see, which, in itself, is a huge plus -- he's consistent in his mechanics and his fundamentals. What do you need for a consistent run game? Consistency up front. Check.
At 2:27 and 2:34, we see how well he moves, laterally, at first taking care of a defensive tackle backed down on his own goal line for a 10-plus yard gain, and then, pulling to his left to clean up the run blitz (we see it again at 3:35 and 5:17). At 2:42, he makes three blocks on the same play, again, staying with his defender to keep the middle of the field open. Poutasi is disciplined, and when he does freelance, he makes it count.
The speed and explosion he uses to get to the second level (see 3:43 and 6:55), and his athleticism at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds (he looks much bigger on tape, and may be closer to 300 at this point; his high school roster lists him at 280) are impressive. At 3:14, he gets a real test in a big, long defensive end with his hand in the dirt, and he easily pancakes him, his 10th at that point in the tape. The next play, we see him deal with a defensive tackle, again, showing that he's got the leverage to play against the stouter players inside, where leverage is key. Even highlights from high school will show if a tackle gets over extended, and we don't see any of that here.
At 4:35, Poutasi doesn't have his hand in the dirt -- which had been the case for every play until this point. Again, we see the violent hands, batting down the defensive end's attempts to get up into his chest and keeping free to give his quarterback more time to throw deep. On the next play, he's back to having his hand on the ground and getting on his defender quickly, getting up into his chest before he can make a move, locking him up. We see that again 5:04.
What's impressive, play after play, is that when Poutasi does let his defender get outside of his shoulders (which is rare), he doesn't hold. He finds a way to get his feet back under him and re-set, squaring himself back up. When defenders do get up into his chest (9:04), he drops his hips to re-gain leverage. That's an advanced move.
Because I love pancakes so much (and you should, too), take a look at the play a 9:43, where he flattens an opposing defender.
At 10:25, we see perhaps the best use of his hands, where he's flat-out almost boxing his defender to keep him occupied on the back side of the play, giving his quarterback time hit the dig route.
Total pancake count: 16
Projection: Cal does have an opening at left guard with the graduation of Chris Borrayo. Let's be honest: Neither Poutasi nor the man he replaces in this class -- Casey Roddick -- was going to step in right away and play. Even Borrayo didn't start until the back half of his true freshman season. The linebacker and stand-up end drop back into coverage, but the middle linebacker tries to sneak in the B gap, which Poutasi fills easily, keeping his shoulders down field and moving smoothly to his left without crossing his feet, which is an easy temptation.
Second, the combination of offensive line coach Steve Greatwood, with his three decades at Oregon (the last 10 years running a spread-to-run system) and the ever adaptable Beau Baldwin as offensive coordinator (leaning more towards the pass) is a wild card. We know that new Bears head coach Justin Wilcox wants to run a lot of 11 personnel and, well, run, period. It should look like a power spread, but we don't know exactly what this particular creature will look like until spring football kicks off, so this is all speculative.
Looking at the depth chart, Cal returns guards Dwayne Wallace (redshirt senior) and Semisi Uluave (junior) next season. With super-sub Patrick Mekari likely taking over at right tackle for the graduated Steven Moore, that means that the Bears will likely roll with Wallace and Uluave on the interior, this year, and with Wallace slated to graduate after the 2017 season, it looks like we could see Poutasi at right guard.
He's played both guard and tackle, with most of his experience this year coming at right tackle. Having him and the massive Uluave on the interior certainly, on the face of things, looks like a winning combination, flanking Addison Ooms and whoever succeeds him, be it Ryan Gibson or 2017 pledge Michael Saffell at center.
Poly Bowl Film
Above is our compilation of offensive line-defensive line one-on-ones at the Poly Bowl. Turn to 0:55, and see two reps by Poutasi. Quick thoughts: Again, good feet. He played left tackle at the Poly Bowl, and he's clearly used to the kick slide, really engaging with his hands and controlling his man.