Trench Report: Colorado

The Trench Report gives an overview of the offensive line play during the most recent game.  The top performer gets the Golden Sled, a fictitious award that I give with impunity. This award goes to the lineman who scores the best on my grading system.

Because I have no idea what they are taught or what the goals of each play are, I grade based on what they did and the result. Each player can get a between a 1-4 grade:

1 - Huge play block.  

This block led to a score directly or a game-changing play for the good guys. Scores of 1 are rare, but if they are not rare, then you are winning championships.

2 - Mission accomplished.
This block was solid, the block-ee was not part of the play, and the technique looked solid. This is a winning-level score. If a lineman averages close to, or better than 2, then they dominated.

3. Mission Barely Accomplished.  

The play was OK, but the block didn’t help, or in some cases, may have hurt the play — or not even been a block. The closer to 3 that a line averages, the less likely it was to have a good day.

4. Fail.

This led to a terrible turn of events, killed a drive, led to points, or ended in a penalty. Averages around 4 will most likely lead to losses.


Players should be aiming for below a 2.25 grade. That is a consistently high grade that tends to avoid terrible plays (4s). Because I don’t give individual grades for technique, start, and finish, this is just a general feel of each play. If I knew what play was called and what the goal of each position was, I would do the more accurate 3-part grade.

Team Goals:

2 > : A

2.01 - 2.25: B

2.26 - 2.5: C

2.51 - 3.0: D

3.01 < : F

Season Totals

Minnesota: 2.72 (D)

Idaho State: 2.73 (D)

Boise State: Coming Soon

Colorado: 2.69 (D)

Colorado Buffaloes

Week 4 - Saturday, October 1, 2016

Final: 47 - 6 (L)

Total Line Grade: 2.69 (D)

Golden Sled Award Winner:

Dustin Stanton: 2.66

Dustin gets his second Golden Sled award for the Colorado game.  I actually was impressed with the guard play in general this week for two players getting their first go at the position in major game play.  Dustin actually has a fantastic first step and is really athletic in space.  Playing guard allows him to drive block on doubles but also put him out in space blocking linebackers. While sometimes he lost them, I never once all game saw Dustin not make contact with a linebacker when moving to the second level.

The problem Dustin had, and one that he is getting better at, was sustaining his blocks. Often he would make solid initial contact and then the defender would work around him and get in on the play.  Usually faster linebackers were the culprits of this.  Lets not pretend that sustaining blocks on linebackers is easy, unless you get into them and get them on ‘skates’. (Meaning you get them going backwards or sideways because they lose leverage and the ability to maintain their feet).

Best Play Award Winner:

Lavaka, Harlow, Andrews and Stanton.

The first play of the fourth drive was a run by Art Pierce for about 18 yards.  What was perfect about it is that it started with the double team by Lavaka and Harlow, with Lavaka easily sliding ot the next level and blocking out the linebacker.  Then Andrews, who didn’t get much push, was able to muscle the defender to one side giving Pierce and easy lane to run through.  Finally, Stanton flew out of his stance and got a key and excellent block on the linebacker.  This play was a big one and something that should have been called more.


This game was one of those that the offensive line actually could have scored higher, but had whole series where they had too many big whiffs on blocks.  The other side of this is that Colorado regularly just rushed 3 and basically dared the Beavers to throw on them.  Which they tried to do, but with the secondary flooded, we saw what happened.  Colorado’s front 3 were not super active and didn’t have great technique with their hands.

What killed the team was missed blocks in the second level, speed rushes on the edges and delayed blitzes.  Colorado was not fooled by anything Oregon State tried.  Once the QB’s moved in the pocket or sat in the pocket for more than 2 seconds, they would pull the trigger and come in virtually untouched to blow up the play. We also saw a lot of missed blocks by the tight ends that caused some issues on plays that were blocked reasonably well up front.

If I had one complaint, it was honestly how much ground they give up on passing attacks.  Colorado’s defensive line is not super impressive, but we were seeing guys driven into the pocket regularly.  For what Colorado did on defense and for how rarely they showed pressure, we should have seen a better performance on the line overall.  I don’t think the coaches did our line many favors with some of the calls, but I left this review feeling a little more positive about the direction the line is going. We still have a long ways to go and I hope Harlow can get into his old form as that will make a huge difference.  Also, Gus Lavaka really played a good game for the first game by a true freshman.  I thought he looked good on a lot of plays and has a bit of fire to him.

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