Trench Report: Arizona

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 that 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 base my grades on what they did and the result.  

Arizona Wildcats

Week 11 - Saturday, November 19, 2016

Final: 42 - 17 (W)

Total Line Grade: 2.12 (B+)

Golden Sled Award Winner:

Gus Lavaka: 2.00

Gus actually tied for the award, but he had the most knockdowns so he wins!  Gus was scary good, getting huge blocks all game long, knocking guys around and showing some speed on the screen blocks. I really cannot say enough about the play of the line this week, but Gus was a force that Arizona just didn’t have an answer for.  What was the most impressive to me was the finish he showed.  He kept blocking the whole play and that led to a lot of knockdowns.  The other top blocker was Andrews, who also had some huge blocks, but I felt like Lavaka was dominant in this game the way Josh Mitchell and Isaac Seumalo were last year.  I have not seen that dominance all year long.  

Great work for the true freshman!

Best Play Award Winner:

The Whole Line

The first play of the game, Ryan Nall had, effectively, a 20 square yard hole to run through.  The offensive line just mowed down the Arizona defense leaving a cutback lane that was more like a cutback

If you will notice, Ortiz and Harlow both get their players going up field and out of the way of the play. The pull by Lavaka at the top of the play brings his defender to Andrews who drives him across his face away from the hole.  Stanton and Brandel occupy their guys and you can see 5 players being effectively blocked by four.  

Now, as we know, this did not lead to a touchdown, but it was blocked well enough to be a touchdown.  At least by the line.  A shoestring tackle was all that separated Ryan from paydirt.

Overview

Just like I don’t grade on a curve when the opponent is really good, I don’t diminish grades when an opponent is bad.  The line dominated, especially on the inside.  After the first drive of the game, two players had an average of under 2.  That means they averaged huge play blocks, not just getting one. Lavaka and Andrews were battling it out early for the top grade, with both getting perfect blocks and really driving defenders out of the way. Lavaka was a pancake machine early on, having three in the first 25 plays.

The Beaver offensive line was so dominant all game, that it really opened up all of the offense all the time.  The best example of this was on the Beavers’ 4th drive.  After scoring on two straight, they are forced to punt deep in their own territory (getting away with what should have been a safety) and Arizona answers with a new QB and an efficient TD. At 14 - 7 Arizona felt like they were getting a little bit of momentum.  So this 4th drive was paramount in re-establishing control of the game.   And boy did they, starting up front.

I never do this, but because I think this is what dominant play looks like, here are my notes on this ten play masterpiece:

4/1 - 1st and 10

2

2

2

2

1

Huge seal and pancake by Harlow on this play. Solid blocking all the way.

4/2 - 2nd and 1

2

2.5

3

1.5

1

Same as above, but Lavaka gets a great second level block which springs Nall for the first down.

4/3 - 1st and 10

2

2

1.5

2

2

Andrews gets a pancake block and everyone gets good drive horizontally on Arizona.

4/4 - 2nd and 4

1.5

1.5

1.5

1.5

1.5

Everyone blocked very well, getting to the second level and driving Arizona away from the lane.

4/5 - 1st and 10

2

2

2

2

3

Great work by the line, really dominating the front. Only one player  gave up too much and lost his guy at the end.

4/6 - 2nd and 18

1.5

1.5

1.5

1

1

Probably the best blocked screen I have seen all year. Harlow and Lavaka take off down field and get nice blocks to ensure the first down by Pierce.

4/7 - 1st and 10

1

1

2

2

2

Solid blocking but Brandel and Stanton get play making blocks getting around their backers and creating a lane for Pierce to run in.

4/8 - 1st and 10

2

2

3

2

2

Decent push on this play, but one player loses their guy who gets in on the play.

4/9 - 1st and 10

2

1

1

2

2

Really great blocking on this, but the twist stunt pickup by Stanton and Andrews was the best I have seen all year.

For those with calculators or good math brains, that drive averaged to be 1.61 grade.  That drive was AVERAGING exceptional blocks.  I have to tell you, watching Harlow and Lavaka running down field stride for stride while driving two players on that screen to Pierce got me so pumped. There were so many knockdowns and drive blocks and great combo blocks on this drive that it should be clinic film on how to block this style of offense.

For me, this was the game I have been waiting for.  I was super excited for Coach Woods and Coach Simon to come to OSU because of what they had done in the past.  We have seen a lot of personnel changes and struggles up front, but this game was just about perfect. The Beaver line came to play and took care of an inferior opponent far better than they have all year. This effort against Idaho State would have led to a 70 point outburst.

Great work Beaver linemen and great play calling coaches.  For the first time this season I was REALLY looking forward to grading this game.

Season Totals

Minnesota: 2.72 (D -)

Idaho State: 2.73 (D -)

Boise State: Coming Soon

Colorado: 2.69 (D +)

California: 2.46 (C )

Utah: 2.67 (D+ )

Washington: 2.77 (D-)

Washington State: 2.62 (D+)

Stanford: 2.65 (D)
UCLA: 2.65 (D)

Grading Criteria

Each player can get between a 1 - 4 grade:

1 - Huge play block.  
This block led directly to a score or a game-changing play. With that in mind, 1's are rare, but if they weren’t rare, then you would be winning championships, year in and out.

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

3. Mission Barely Accomplished.  
This 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 had good game.

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

Goal:
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 or start and finish, this is just a general feeling about each play. If I knew what play was called and what the goal of each position was, I would do a more accurate three-part grade.

Team Goals:

2 > : A

2.01 - 2.25: B

2.26 - 2.5: C

2.51 - 3.0: D

3.01 < : F

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