After further review - The O-Line

So many questions about that offensive line, people just wondered how they would do. New scheme, enough verbiage to make a lawyer shriek and people changing spots. Also, Nebraska was without their single best linemen to boot. Could they pass protect against Southern Miss. Could they even block? Well, after further review, here's how it looked to us.

Coming into the Southern Miss. Game, you knew that you were going to hear one word spoke an awful lot when describing what USM was doing on the defensive side of the ball.

Blitz.

The corner-blitz, the linebacker-blitz and coming from about any direction you can imagine. That's what Nebraska was expecting and that's exactly what they got, USM blitzing ad-nausem.

daileyS.jpg - 88435 Bytes
There were a few reaons for the
turnovers by Dailey, but the O-line
wasn't one of them.
This offensive line, still unproven in a "real" game, that meaning against a team that had the personnel to match up, they were big question marks. Could they protect Joe Dailey? Could they open up holes on the inside and seal effectively for plays that went on the edge of the tackles?

The answer for this game is emphatically ‘yes'.

Not securing the ball and bad judgement decided this game and there's simply no way around it. For almost the entire game, Nebraska was able to block the base front of USM very effectively and did have a good deal of success at chipping the blitz or Dailey was able to move well enough to avoid the blitz when it came.

The pass-protection was solid almost throughout, with the only real issues coming when Dailey took the deep-drops. On a few occasions when Dailey went 7 steps or deeper, either Mike Erickson or Dusty Keiser blocking on the right side wasn't able to keep the DE or linebacker in some cases sealed to the inside.

One of the bigger headaches to block in those situations was second-string DE, Matthew Chatelain as when Dailey dropped deep, Chatelain had good success getting to the outside.

The run-blocking was good overall. I wouldn't call it dominant by any stretch of the
RossS.jpg - 67230 Bytes
Ross made a lot out of nothing as
he broke his personal record for
most yards in a single game, but
the offensive line did a nice job
in helping him achieve the feat.
imagination, but they consistently opened up creases that Ross was able to utilize pretty effectively or at least give him an option in either hitting that or bouncing it out as he was want to do.

Except on the deep-drops, you could count the times Joe saw any real pressure from the base front on one hand. And again, even the blitzes weren't probably as effective as USM had hoped.

One of the big leaders in making those blitzes work, especially in backside pursuit was the All-American Michael Boley. He did nothing to diminish his image as one of the better strongside backers around. Between him and weakside linebacker, Antoine Cash, they were easily the biggest force in causing disruptions in the backfield off of the blitz.

Dailey had time, but it was obvious that the tunnel-vision he experienced in game 1 segued into game 2. There were 3 other instances where Southern Miss should have had an interception, one of those in the end zone where Dailey either didn't see the defender in front of the intended receiver or he didn't put the air under the ball that he wanted.

In the instances Dailey was picked, two were simply results of Dailey not seeing the man that was closest to the receiver. He got locked in so much on his guy that players that might have been obviously there were all but invisible to him because he was simply locked into where that play was intended to go.

The offensive line of Nebraska didn't get a huge push all day, but at the same time, they didn't give up much of a push to a line that was certainly trying to do just that. Blitzes are just that and the onus does not fall upon the offensive line to pick those up.

Overall and considering the size of the interior front they faced (averaging 290 a man), the offensive line blocked very effectively, especially in the simpler pass-protection scenarios.

The fine points to work on would be sealing the outside rush inside so that Dailey isn't seeing that edge-rusher consistently on the deep drops and a little more discipline as well.

Unlike last week, this unit was a little less composed at the line, I believe the unit responsible for 3 false starts, one of those attributed to a blocking tight end.

The more I look at this tape, the more convinced I am that this team played a pretty darn good game. From a fundamentals standpoint, they hit most of their blocks, were able to pick up the blitz relatively well and the fullback was also key in blocking outside.

Turnovers were obviously the difference and they only get more obvious as you tear down what the offense could and couldn't do.

They were the difference between a Southern Miss win or a fairly lopsided loss for the Golden Eagles.

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