Trench Report: Cal

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.

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

1 - Huge play block.  

This block led to a score directly or a game changing play for the good guys.  1’s 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 this block didn’t help, or in some cases may have hurt the play.  Or not even been a block.  The closer to 3 a line averages, the less likely they were to have a good offensive day.

4. Fail.

This led to a terrible turn of events, killed a drive, lead 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 (4’s).  Since 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 +)

California: 2.46 (C)

California Golden Bears

Week 5 - Saturday, October 8, 2016

Final: 44 - 47 (W)

Total Line Grade: 2.46 (C)

Golden Sled Award Winner:

Gavin Andrews: 2.32

Gavin spend most of the game covered by one of the better Cal defensive linemen.  He had to manage him, and in many cases get him turned on his own so that our runners had room.  There were so many holes this week and the scores were pretty good (only one player finished above a 2.5 average), but I felt that Gavin had the best game overall, especially considering how much we ran up the middle and how imperative each and every block of his was.

Best Play Award Winner:

Sean Harlow
I could have given this to a lot of guys, there were a lot of 1’s out there.  The thing is, the play that I feel won the game for us was Nall’s 80 yard TD.  While the other plays and points were great, to come out after kind of a sad end to the quarter and get an explosive play like that really put OSU in the driver's seat and allowed them to withstand the onslaught from Cal in the 4th quarter.



In this play, Harlow had to go up to the second level and block a linebacker, which is tough. The key to the block, in my mind, was that he got upfield on his man, meaning he was farther downfield than his defender.  At the same time, you see Andrews gets a great seal block and Brandel gets upfield on his pull block. So now Nall has a huge lane to run through.

Now Andrews could argue that is block was more important, because if he doesn’t get that one, then the play is dead, but what makes this an 80 yard run and not a 7 yard run is Harlow getting ahead of the linebacker and forcing him behind his block. This allows him to block both guys at once:


Now they may never have caught Ryan, but their angles were so bad because Harlow got upfield so quickly that they had 0 chance now.

Perfectly blocked play and the first play this year where the whole line averaged less than 2 on a play.  Andrews and Harlow both got 1’s.


“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. ”

That was a thought I had last week.  This week, I feel like they fixed that and then some.  Cal is not as fast on defense as Colorado, and their linebackers are much worse, but OSU managed the line and the second level very well. They made their blocks on their backers and fooled Cal often with their formations and play calling.  Here is a good example:

Our line is letting them press up at the edges, while maintaining our pocket integrity. The Beavers have a double team on the nose leaving one extra blocker to go to the second level as needed, but look at their defense.  Outside of the corner at the top, every single member of this defense not rushing the “passer” is going towards the trips side of the field (at the bottom).  That leaves literally nothing between the top hash and the top sideline, where Darrell Garretson rushes and eventually scores a 26 yard TD.

That was the game.  Cal didn’t know where to go, they rushed bad angles and our line manhandled them. We had at least five pancake blocks, we had our center dominate his nose guard and we had hats on every linebacker out there rerouting them or down right flattening them. Even when we lost blocks, it was so far down the field, the damage was already done.  

There were very few big mistakes in this game and overall the Beavers looked far superior in their line than the entire front seven of Cal. Countless times I saw Cal defensive tackles just leaning on our guys, waving the white flag. It was a thing of beauty.

While the grade was still a C, mostly that is because getting a low grade with 5 guys every play is difficult.  That is a winning effort. That means that your line is blocking as intended on every play.  I was very proud of the line and feel like they took a lot of steps forward.  This was a great game because it really represented what I think about when I think about the Beavers players and coaching staff. Tough, smash mouth players.  For the win!

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