Inside the Game: T.J. Leifheit

GREENVILLE, N.C. --- North Carolina commitment T.J. Leifheit wasn't expected to play Friday night against Rose.

However, down 13-0 late in the first half, the Hoggard coaching staff allowed Leifheit to play. Hoggard went on to score 16 unanswered points and gain a conference victory.

"We stopped making mistakes [on offense]," Leifheit said. "We were beating ourselves in the first half and we just came together and got the win."

Role

Due to injury, Leifheit didn't start Friday's game and didn't see action until the final drive of the first half. From that point forward, he lined up at left tackle and didn't miss an offensive snap.

Hoggard is primarily a run team. Even on pass calls, the quarterback often would tuck the ball and run.

When Leifheit was on the field, the majority of the run plays were ran either to the left side behind him or to the right with him pulling.

Injury

Leifheit is suffering from a nagging left ankle sprain. He says the injury is minor and will stick with him until he's able to truly rest it. He plans on playing with the injury for the remainder of the season and then allowing it to rest afterwards.

"I probably won't be healthy until after the season," Leifheit said. "But once the season is over, I'll be fine."

Big Play

Trailed 13-0 early in the fourth quarter, Hoggard took advantage of good field position and pushed the ball down to Rose's five-yard line. However, three plays later Hoggard still was unable to put the ball in the end zone. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, Ian Halkias ran through the path created by Leifheit and the tight end on the left side.

"That's our jumbo package," Leifheit said. "We put Ian Halkias – he's about 220 – at quarterback. And we just run right behind me.

"I knew it was fourth-and-goal, so I was going to give it everything I got. I got a pancake on it."

On the play, Leifheit got underneath his defender and completely pushed him to the right. He made the block look effortless and helped provide an opening for the ball carrier.

Statistics

While Leifheit was on the field (6 drives, 34 plays), Hoggard rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns (1 and 13 yards) on 27 carries and accumulated 29 yards on 3-of-7 passing.

Evaluation

Leifheit is a mountain of a man – he is both tall and wide, and has a solid base. Despite his massive size, he moves very well.

While run blocking, Leifheit does a nice job engaging the defender across from him. Once engaged, he displays a mean streak and will fight to pancake and bury the defender, taking advantage of his size. He consistently utilized his long reach and strong hands.

Leifheit doesn't always play with the best leverage and sometimes bends at the hips. Small defenders gave him some problems, but never beat him on a play.

Leifheit quickly gets to the second level but sometimes seemed uncomfortable in space and often struggled hitting moving targets. He also moved well while pulling, but also struggled to adequately hit moving targets in that capacity.

Leifheit's opportunities to pass block were rare. On the few times he did, he showed solid footwork and the ability to keep defenders at bay with his long reach.

Overheard

Leifheit says he's enjoying the ability to relax now that he doesn't have to deal with the burden and pressure recruiting brings.

On Thursday night he watched the UNC-Florida State game.

"It was a great first half – seemed like an electric crowd – and then the second half momentum just all went to Florida State," Leifheit said.

Check back tomorrow for video footage of Leifheit's performance.

T.J. Leifheit Profile


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