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Trench Report: Civil War

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.

Civil War

Week 12 - Saturday, November 26, 2016

Final: 42 - 17 (W)

Total Line Grade: 2.36 (C+)

Golden Sled Award Winner:

Gavin Andrews: 2.31

Gavin has been Mr. Steady all year and really finished the Civil War well.  He has a tough job and often was faced with a 1 technique that was his guy to move.  And move him he did. Countless times he was driving Duck defenders down the field in a dominant fashion.  He had around 5 knockdowns and did a great job giving the Beaver runners a chance to make the play.  He pulled, drove blocked, down blocked, double teamed and pretty much did a bit of everything while also making calls and directing traffic.

Like the rest of the line, their grade is skewed by about ten minutes of pretty bad blocking in the game. For the most part, they were dominant and no more so than Andrews at center.

Best Play Award Winner:

Dustin Stanton and Blake Brandel

It is in the second half, and the Ducks had just put up 10 unanswered points.  Some poor blocking had stalled out the Beavers first two drives and they need to answer an Oregon field goal.  A bunch of well blocked and well ran plays later and they were driving.  It was second and six after a bad block killed a good play on first down.  Art Pierce was in the backfield and on the option play, Pierce gets it.

Stanton, blocking his guts out, nearly loses his guy but re-adjusts and stays on him just enough to give Art a quick cutback when he gets the ball.  Brandel needs a good block on the outside to make this work and turns in his best block all year.  He not only drives his guy five yards down the field, but then he just tosses him to the ground, leaving a great lane for Pierce who scampers for nearly 20 yards on the run getting the Beavers to red zone.  This play was huge because it cemented the momentum of this drive and really demoralized an already shaky Duck defense.

Overview

Like Arizona, it was hard not to just give out 1’s to everyone and call it a day. This report took a while to get out because I had to make sure I could watch it objectively, and not just like a giddy school girl. One drive in, and the Beavers are averaging a B+ and really it is not an A because of a few little mistakes.  It is also hard to watch because the Duck defense was so bad.  On the first play, they ran the good ol’ ‘No one on backside contain’ defense that is never used by anyone.  Linemen, linebackers and even a safety climbed all over themselves to be on the play side while Marcus made a perfect read and followed excellent blocking for a big first down on play one. That was the theme for the day.

The Beavers were definitely the nail, driving Duck linemen all over the field. On the 8th play of the first drive, Sean Harlow is dominating his defender and, after confirming no one was coming, Gus Lavaka comes over and just pounds the Duck defender and knocks him to the ground. It was like that, for 40 game minutes.  There were some issues in the second quarter and start of the second half, but the Beavers continued to pound the ball on Oregon and the blocks got easier and better as the game wore on. For those that like smash mouth football, that was a gem.

The Beavers outscored their last two opponents 76-41 and in that span scored five rushing touchdowns.  They rushed for 481 yards in those games.  While the line is responsible for passing yards too, that type of rushing is indicative of total domination up front. While Arizona and the Ducks are the two worst rushing defenses in the conference, and two of the ten worst in the nation, credit the line for doing what you do against bad defensive fronts. You block the hell out of them.

In terms of momentum and building for the future, those two games will be huge difference makers in the attitude and focus of this team. While many may point to the loss of three seniors as a negative, I would say two players playing the best ball were Gus Lavaka and Blake Brandel.  While Blake struggled early, he finished pretty strong and really showed the right attitude and blocking acumen to win at this level.  All year long I wanted to see the line finish. Finish their blocks, keep their men out and get them on the ground if you can. Gus was a knock down artist the last three games and Blake was finishing blocks, to the point of throwing his body around in the final moments of a play to get a few more yards for the runner. You can build a line around those guys.  With another year to get stronger, faster and better, I look for those two to make a lot of noise heading into next fall.

Ultimately, I just wanted a win and Oregon State did what they could to get one.  It wasn’t always pretty, but when the rain came, so did the line and they produced some beautiful lanes en route to 310 yards rushing and four TD’s on the ground.  Credit the backs for hitting those holes, but credit the line for making sure they were there to hit.  Beautiful game and the very best way to end the season.

Season Totals

Minnesota: 2.72 (D -)

Idaho State: 2.73 (D -)

Boise State: Not available

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: 2.41 (C-)

Arizona: 2.12 (B+)

ducks: 2.36 (C+)

Grading criteria:

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.  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, 1s 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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