This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
Backfield and TE's
I thought the pick six was egregious, he should have never even looked at that side of the field to begin with. The right side of the field had Chesson running wide open on an out route and the LB covering Isaac had 10+ yards of cushion on a 3rd & 3. The other two INT's were probably on Perry. He didn't get sacked, but he did get hit about 7 times on dropbacks (5 were in the 2nd half) plus the personal foul on the sidelines. He targeted AJ Williams on two key 3rd downs... needs to stop doing that. He should have checked the 4th down run Smith got stuffed on to the weak side. I don't know if Harbaugh allows this but we would have converted a weak side run if Kalis, Mags and Williams handle thier blocks. We were outnumbered to the strong side. Also I think he should scramble to pass not to run, as he is the opposite of fast. He played a lot better than I thought live, he was accurate on every ball but the long ones. He went 27/43 and the 16 incompletions break down as:
- 3 INT (one his fault)
- 3 deep throws
- 4 drops (Smith, Perry, Darboh)
- 2 Williams targets
- 1 throw high and behind Butt on which he got hit because Isaac didn't block a blitzer
- 1 failed throwback screen
- 1 PBU intended for Butt
- 1 throw away.
I count only half of those 16 being his fault not including the throw away. He was dead accurate on damn near every single pass he threw. There are only 5 passes I would deem inaccurate or uncatchable out of the 43 he attempted. That is outstanding. Even with the pick six, if Grant Perry runs his route correctly I think that we win this game. To me at least, that bodes very well for the future. On the other hand he did have a paltry 6.5 YPA which is in the CJ Brown/Joel Stave territory. That number has to go up and if he can start hitting the long balls it will. This was a off day for Rudock that looked worse than it actually was so hold off on the "PUT IN SHANE!" chants for now.
Still slow. He missed some cutbacks lanes but also found some cutback lanes. The line didn't get much movement so everything was congested and he had a tough go of it. He should probably follow Kerridge, Poggi and Kalis a bit more on lead blocks. Also had a bad drop. With Drake Johnson still out he and Isaac are the best backs on the roster and as long as he keeps churning out YAC and doesn't fumble he should continue to start unless Isaac breaks out.
I thought he should have got more touches. He looked pretty decent on the touches he did get. He missed a linebacker blitz even though he was staring right at him and got Rudock blown up. This might be why he was stuck ont the sidelines. I think Rudock should throw to him more often if he is split out.
Typical great game from him. He hit people and they went backwards.
They rarely ran his way so all he had were kick out blocks which he still missed about 30% of the time. He did have a nice catch that was behind him and away from his body. Maybe he can get move involved in the passing game but I doubt it. We don't really have another inline TE to play over him so he will probably continue to get snaps.
He didn't make a lot of obvious mistakes. He pretty muched looked like Kerridge Lite out there. He did whiff on a block mid 2nd Q.
This might be the 2012 line right now as far as overall performance. Pretty good in pass protection and not so much in the run game. After the past 2 years that's definitely progress. There were substanstially fewer missed assignments but we were unable to move Utah's DL off the ball. We couldn't consistently get to the second level and we had trouble sustaining blocks on the 1st level. On the bright side though, there were only TWO enforced penalties the whole night. I didn't even see any obvious holding calls the refs may have missed. Overall we got called for a false start (M. Cole) and a snap infraction (Glasgow). The OL got better as the night went on, I'mm very interested to see where we are at by midseason.
He had a lousy start to the game, could not make a block in space to save his life. He got a lot better as the game went on. He got beat a couple times in pass protection but mostly held up. He caused the 1 throw away Rudock had. In the run game he was inconsistent. He is good at sealing and in the 2nd half he got pretty good at blocking guys in open space but when it comes to moving people he still has a ways to go.
He was wildly inconsistent. He stilll doesn't bend very well and still leans on guys making him susceptible to swim moves and getting his blocks shed. He also plays high which allows the DT to get under him and push him backward. He got blown up on several run plays. A few times that meant making Kalis go around him and delaying the pull which allowed LB's to stop runs closer to the LOS. On the QB sneak where Rudock slipped, ith was because Braden had a DT in his chest pushing him 3 yards back, which caused Braden's right foot to take out Rudock's left, thus ending the play. His pass pro was spotty at best, he needs to anchor down and move laterally to keep guys in front of him or at least fire out at them a bit. He can't just take a lazy pass set, give a guy a punch and expect that to do the job. He can pull though which is comforting. He was called for a illegal lineman downfield penalty but it was declined.
He was our best looking OL as per usual. I saw him pull a few times from the center spot and he looked good doing so. He actually got some movement on their DT's which was impressive given the rest of the OL.
Like Cole he started out with his head in his rear end but picked it up as the game went along. He needs to get more consistent on identifying who he should block when he pulls on power, ideally it should be the MIKE LB and usually it is but he should hit the first guy to cross his face. Too often he lets a guy run right past him and blow up the play and proceed to block no one. He got overpowered a few times but also got a few pancakes.
He was second only to Glasgow in production. I don't think I saw him miss one block and his pass protection was superb. Like the rest of the OL, he didn't get much movement but his guy wasn't making the tackle either.
The WR as a whole played a hell of a lot better than I thought they would. Utah is replacing some pretty good corners from last year but they have put more than a few in the league since Wittingham got the job so its not like he just got lucky with the crop he had last year. Hopefully Utah has a good pass defense and this can be signs of what is to come this season. Obiviously I can't full evaluate the WR because 70% of the time they are off camera but from what I could tell they were more than adequate.
He played better than I expected. He ran some good routes and played pretty physical. He had a couple catches where he bodied out the DB for the ball. He did have two drops but he is without question our best wide out.
I thought he should have been targeted more as he was open frequently from what I could tell from the camera angle. He got open deep twice on an out and up and a seam route, if we can start hitting those it will take this offense to the HNL (Hole Nubba Lebel) and help open up holes in the run game.
He cut his out route short causing an INT and I believe he ran a corner route too shallow which also cause an INT. They were both freshman mistakes that unfortunately resulted in turnovers. He did have two huge blocks to spring Darboh on quick screens. Also was instrumental on the last drive. If he can finish his routes we have a pretty good slot reciever. Did have one drop though.
Not targeted. Too skinny. Needs 15-20 lbs ASAP. In desperate need of spinach.
He caught one screen pass and subsequently got blown up. Thus ended Cole's role in the offense.
Because the one thing we haven't done is talk about the OL enough this offseason, I would like to address some misconceptions about what OL recruting rankings actually mean and what it takes to play OL on the collegiate level.
First up on the mound, recruiting rankings. Recruiting sites rate offensive lineman on pro potential, not college readiness and "pro protential" for a high school lineman is bascally looking at your frame (aka height and arm length) and how well you move your feet. This is why a guy like LTT, who barely knows what he's doing can be a consensus 4*. Scouts saw long arms, wide hips, light feet and 6'7" and named him one of the top 10 high school tackles in the country and all he did to earn that ranking was grow, it had almost nothing to do with his play on the field. When sites say Kyle Kalis is "college ready," they mean he is 6'5" and has 300 lbs of good weight and that's about it. These guys are graded on the physical part of the game which is only about 10% of what it takes to be a good lineman. HOWEVER, it is important because it is the first 10% and if you can't hold up physically, it doesn't matter how good the rest of your game is because DL will just bench press you out of the way as seen here. Joey Burzynski(LG) is stiff armed by CJ Olaniyan and gets no movement. While it helps, having an NFL body is not required to be good in college and there are plenty of examples of players who dominate in college but struggle to make NFL rosters (see David Molk). What makes those guys special is the level of technique they play with and the ability to anticipate the defense.
Which brings us to the main point of this diary, OL play is basically football math. Think of every play as a math problem, and offensive lineman have to figure the solution to the problem in their heads presnap, while alsonknowing the problem may change as soon as the ball is snapped, meaning that they have to figure out the solution to the problem at hand and anticipate every way it can change and solve those problems as well, all in the space off the few seconds they have once the defense aligns. This is why a certain long haired blogger we all know and love screams at his television every fall Saturday for the offense to hurry to the line of scrimmage, so the line (and the QB) can have more time to solve the defensive equation. Every second not at the line of scrimmage solving the defense is a second wasted, and a win for the defense.
College OL play is like Calculus, and 95% of lineman come into college with a just basic understanding of simple arithmetic(Addition, subtraction, mulitplication and division) and some come in basically knowing how to count (LTT). This is because the vast majority of high school offensive line coaches have the equivelent of an 8th grade education in line concepts if they're lucky and the physical advantage a lot of these guys have in high school makes the equations they face pretty easy. At that stage, it is about 80-90% physical and 10-20% mental, because the DL that can challenge them physically are few and far between and overpowering guys doesn't take much brain power. Once they get to college, the physical advantage goes away and defensive equations get much more complicated and they have to realize that they have to learn real math, which can be shocking to some guys. It is the job of the offensive line coach to take these guys who are coming in at some level of elementary school math and get them up to speed. They have to learn the high school level concepts of algebra (run blocking), geometry(identifying who to block) and precalc (pass blocking) before they can even dream of doing calculus i.e. getting on the field. Every different play and protection scheme has its own set of techniques and they change for every different front the defense throws at you. Offensive line man have to know what foot to step with first, in what direction and how far, what their aiming point is, who they are supposed to block, how they are supposed to block them when they get there, where each hand goes, where their head goes, and where their eyes should be looking, all while remembering to play with good knee bend and pad level. All of this has been calculated down to inch level precision and each mistake opens you up to exploitiation by the defense so you have to be perfect, and even then there is no guarantee that the play is successful because everyone else has to do their job too. And they have to learn all that so well that they can do it in their heads so fast they barely think about it, because if every play is a Calc problem, you can't be struggling with the algebra because there is no way you can solve and execute the solution in time to make your block. This largley is what lineman are doing their first 2-3 years on campus, along with getting in the weight room, and why they shouldn't see the field on a good team. For most guys, things start to click in their 3rd year on campus, which explains why most players on the line who meets this criteria under Funk have at least put forth solid production.
Last year, Borges demanded that a line where the most experience guard (post GG to center) was a RS FR, the equivelent of about a High School Sophomore mathematically, to solve differential equations, limits, integrals and applied calculus. The young guys understandably got overwhelmed and didn't improve as much as they could have and when they didn't, they got taken out, further stalling said improvement. That is one the biggest reasons we have a new OC, because the responsiblity of a Coordinator is to put their players in the best possible position to succeed and Borges didn't do that nearly enough. What we don't is if Funk is a good Math teacher because this will be the first year the 2012 class (his first full class) should be expected to fully understand what they are doing. The only players Funk has had the oppurtunity to mold from scratch are Glasgow and Miller, Glasgow has worked out well and Miller didn't meet the requirements for the physical 10%, which is not on anybody but Miller. Whether they come in as a 5* (Kalis, Kugler), 4*(LTT, Bosch, Dawson, Mags, Cole) or even a 3* (Braden, Samuelson) they all must learn the mental part of the game to have any sort of positive production.
What we should be looking for this year if fot the RS Sophomores to be around where Glasgow and Schofield were in 2013 and 2011 respectively. By the Ohio game we should have a middling B1G OL, we won't be good, but we shouldn't be the tire fire of last year either. I think we had the possibility of being 10-1 heading to Columbus with a loss at MSU and competing for a title. If we see more of what we saw last year, it is probably time to start looking for a new OL coach.
EDIT: Space Coyote actually has two great write up on pass blocking techniques and schemes on Maize 'N' Brew: